Skyplex Approved by Orange County Commissioners

track1aIt looks like Skyscraper, the world’s tallest roller coaster, will be coming to Orlando’s International Drive.

Orange County’s Board of commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the proposed $500 million Skyplex Orlando development on the I-Drive and Sand Lake Road intersection.

Skyplex, a project by Wallack Holdings LLC, is expected to include the 570-foot Skyscraper roller coaster, the Skyfall 450-foot drop tower, built inside the framework of the roller coaster and offering the guests a free fall ride, the Skyfly- a 600-foot zip line that shoots riders backward and upward toward the Sky Plaza retail, entertainment and dining center, as well as the Skysurf park and a 350-room hotel.

Skyplex developer Wallack unveiled Skyscraper’s design at 2014 IAAPA trade show at the Orange County Convention Center. The project has been a target for criticism from some big players in the area like Universal Orlando for months. Universal leaders have been citing concerns that the Skyplex tower will bring unwanted light pollution, noise and traffic to the area.

Despite the Federal Aviation Authority ruled in July that the 570-foot Skyscraper roller coaster did not pose a threat to aviation traffic and approved the tower’s height up to 700 feet, in October, the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission had voted 4-3 against the proposal for the $500 million Skyplex complex and recommended the Skyplex parcel for rezoning.

The fighting between Wallack and Universal was fierce and long. Universal has been sending out mailers against Skyplex and a website, Save Our Orange County Community, dedicated to stopping the project, was created.  A group affiliated with Universal launched a petition that gathered 1,520 signatures. The petition asked that Orange County “limit” the height of the Skyplex tower to 300 feet. However, anoter petition to let “Skyplex become a symbol of Orlando” had 1,621 signatures.

Eventually, after 46 people spoke during the nearly three-hour public meeting yesterday, Orange County commissioners approved the rezoning request for Skyplex.

Joshua Wallack noted that that construction of the tower will start first and he is currently looking for funding from Chinese backers. The complex is expected to open in 2018.

There are rumors that Universal has a contract to buy a property about 2 miles away from the Skyplex development and the theme park is looking to expand its entertainment holdings in the area maybe to build a third theme park.