Travel Scene: Sky's the limit for Florida tourism, No. 2 in U.S.

The planned Skyplex development in Orlando, Fla., will feature the world's tallest roller coaster.

Tourism in Florida — the second-most visited state in the U.S. — has been on a roll for years, and 2015 has been no exception. And 2016 and beyond likely won't be, either.

Latest figures from Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency, indicate that the final visitor total for this year likely will top the 100 million threshold, the fifth straight record-breaking year for the Sunshine State.

Visit Florida predicted several months ago that the state would crack the 100 million mark this year for the first time in history, and the prediction seemingly is proving to be accurate. Florida welcomed 79.1 million visitors through Sept. 30 of this year, a 5.5 percent increase over the same period in 2014. The third quarter growth, according to Travel Weekly, was driven by an 8.2 percent increase in domestic tourists.

Florida trails only California, which boasts Hollywood and Disneyland as its most major attractions. as the most popular state to visit in the U.S.

For next year, in addition to a host of new Florida attractions that already have been announced by Disney World and other world-class amusement parks, the always-popular Kennedy Space Center will unveil several immersive live game attractions in February.


Collectively called Cosmic Quest, the games will combine story-telling, technology, math and science to engage children as well as adults, according to an article in Travel Weekly.

In one attraction, named NASA's Next Rocket Launch Adventure, "trainees" will assemble a launch team and then feel vibrations and steam as the rocket lifts off the pad.

At Mars Colony Adventures, participants will build either a research exploration base or a permanent colony.

Coming up a year or two away, a major attraction in Orlando is now on the drawing board that will feature the world's tallest roller coaster.

A $500 million Skyplex Orlando project has won approval from the Orange County Board of Commissioners. As a result, the developer can move to the planning and construction phase to build a 570-foot "Skyscraper' coaster and surrounding entertainment complex on Orlando's International Drive, reports the Associated Press.

World-famous International Drive is located about 20 miles outside of downtown Orlando. It is a 11-mile strip of shops, restaurants and hotels situated between Universal and Sea World Orlando.

The Skyplex complex also would include two other rides, a 350-room hotel, restaurants and stores.

The current tallest roller coaster is the 450-foot "Kingxda Ka" at New Jersey's Six Flags Great Adventure. It features a 418-foot drop. The coaster in Orlando would have a 450-foot drop.

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