Orlando’s bowling future

July 21st, 2010  |  Published in Business

There are two main tourist thoroughfares in the Orlando area: International Drive, which winds past the giant Orange County Convention Center, and U.S. Highway 192, east of Disney World and Interstate 4.

Generally speaking, the tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants along International Drive have fared reasonably well during the ongoing recession. But it has been a different story for the businesses that straddle Highway 192, many of which are struggling to survive. Early this year, an effort to “brand” the area was initiated by a number of the local business people.

“For too long, we have lived off the crumbs of what Walt Disney World left us,” Mark Brisson, marketing director for Fun Spot of Florida Inc., told the Orlando Sentinel. “We need to make this area unique.”

As those efforts continue, the Orlando Business Journal reports that the former site of the Water Mania water park and motel — part of the Shoppes of Celebration mixed-use development — could be transformed into a $3 million bowling center and arcade.

Originally, that 6.3-acre plot was earmarked for a 294-room hotel/condominium complex, but Osceola County officials recently granted approval to change the permit category to entertainment/office.

Meanwhile, discussions continue about constructing a county sports complex that would include a 50,000-sq.-ft. indoor facility. However, bowling lanes were not mentioned as part of that complex’s mix of sports venues. Last year, the plug was pulled on plans to build a 100-lane bowling facility on the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.

However, at the recent International Bowl Expo in Las Vegas, one BPAA official mentioned that there’s still a possibility that a massive bowling facility — large enough to host the annual national tournaments of the USBC — could be constructed in the Orlando area, presumably by an independent business entity.

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