Orlando’s I-Drive corridor may soon be welcoming the world’s tallest rollercoaster.
The Federal Aviation Administration has given development rights to developer Joshua Wallack to build higher than 700 feet, thus clearing the way for his planned $500 million Skyplex entertainment complex to ascend into fruition.
“We got clearance to build up to 720 plus feet, but we’ll be in the approximately 595-foot zone,” Wallack told GrowthSpotter. “It’s a huge deal to get and we got it.”
The developer submitted the FAA application about eight months ago, after reconfiguring original plans. With federal approval granted, Wallack said he can begin proper massing and site plans.
“The [rollercoaster] is the only piece currently fixed,” Wallack said. “Everything else we can play around with. Hopefully by early next year we have site plans ready to go before the county.”
Located near the busy I-Drive-Sand Lake Road intersection, the project is slated to feature an indoor entertainment complex, a parking structure (which will be built first), retail and restaurant components and an upscale hotel.
Orange County commissioners unanimously approved the zoning for the Skyplex Orlando development in 2015, despite lobbying from Universal Orlando against the project. The theme-park company recently announced plans to develop a fourth new theme park resort called Epic Universe, just a couple of miles away from the Skyplex entertainment complex.
In 2016, the father and son development team made amendments to the Planned Development after expanding its holdings in the area. Original plans to include a tower-top restaurant and observation deck were dropped to make the project more feasible, Wallack said.
Dubbed the Skyscraper, the most recent plans for the rollercoaster tower features different experiences including a drop ride called SkyFall, a free-fall dive experience called SkyJump and an experience called SkyLedge, which will allow willing participants to walk along the tower’s exterior and lean out backwards while strapped to cords.
US Thrill Rides created and patented the concept. JLL was brought on to conduct a market study for the site.
Wallack is part of the family-owned real estate and development company, Wallack Holdings LLC. He and his father, David Wallack, are founders of the Mango’s Tropical Cafe brand, which has opened locations on I-Drive and Miami’s Ocean Drive.
Once built, Skyscraper will surpass the worlds current tallest rollercoaster: Kingda Ka in Jackson, New Jersey. It opened in 2005 and stands at 456 feet.
In Orlando, it will join other towering attractions directly across the street at Unicorp National Developments’ 20-acre ICON Park. The Wheel observation wheel attraction, for one, stands glowingly at about 400 feet, while its StarFlyer ride can whip passengers around at about 450 feet in the air when spinning on its axis.
Earlier this summer, the park introduced two new attractions that will also win record-breaking heights. The park is slated to open the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, dubbed the Orlando Gyro Drop Tower in 2020 along with the worlds tallest slingshot attraction, the Orlando Slingshot, which will tower at 300 feet in height.
The Orlando Slingshot and the 400-foot Orlando Gyro Drop Tower are owned by the Slingshot Group of Companies. That same firm brought the StarFlyer attraction to ICON Park.
Wallack said the Orlando metropolitan area is the only region in the United States that the Skyplex entertainment complex belongs in.
“It’s absolutely appropriate,” he said. "Look at how quickly I-Drive has changed in the past five years.... This is the long-game, like in Monopoly. At one point, you’re in the buying and mortgage phase and then later at some point you’re building hotels.
“We’re building something that’s never been done before. It’s special. We’re being very careful with what we’re doing.”