TORONTO — Kissimmee, the gateway to Walt Disney World, and vacation home rental capital of the world, is adding a thousand new vacation homes in the next 12 months, most of them right outside the gates of Disney.
In addition, after three years in Las Vegas, the World Food Championships is relocating to Kissimmee this year. The event, described as “the premier cooking competition in the world,” will see celebrity chefs competing in various categories including Dessert, BBQ, Chili, Sandwich, Seafood, Burger, and Pasta with more than $300,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs.
The competition, which is open to the public, takes place Nov. 3-10 and tourism officials say the move shows the promise of being a signature annual event for Kissimmee.
At a travel trade VIP luncheon in Toronto on Thursday, Nori Rodriguez, Media Relations Manager Domestic Midwest & Canada for Experience Kissimmee told Travelweek that Kissimmee, which is known as the gateway to Walt Disney World, is an affordable destination with a variety of hotels and is also the vacation home rental capital of the world.
“Some have arcades and theatre rooms. “You can even have private chefs that can come and cook for you.”
Other news revealed by Kissimmee tourism partners:
- ‘Kissimmee Destination Magazine’ is a new publication that was launched to inspire consumers and travel agents to sell the destination. Stories in the 64-page issue include five top nature experiences; fun in the Florida sun; and what’s new in the theme parks.
- Magic Village Resort, a new luxury concierge-style community located a mile from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, is set to open in August with 180 villas. The three and four-bedroom suites (each with its own bathroom) sleep six and eight people respectively. The property, which does not allow smoking, has free WiFi and free parking. Unlike many condo-type properties, the Magic Village will have staff available 24 hours. Rates start at US$250 per room per night.
- Fun Spot America, a family-owned amusement park in Kissimmee (near Disney), and another in Orlando, has begun promoting itself in the Canadian market. It offers free general admission, as well as free parking and free WiFi. There are more than two dozen rides and the best prices can be had by purchasing online at fun-spot.com.
Meanwhile, Kissimmee is adding a thousand new vacation homes in the next 12 months, most of them right outside the gates of Disney, according to DT Minich, Experience Kissimmee CEO, who addressed the audience.
“We have something unique in that we can offer the man-made world famous theme parks but we can also offer the true Florida experience,” he said.
“One day you can be in the shadow of the world’s most famous castle and the next day you can be kayaking the headwaters of the Everglades in the shadow of 200 and 300-year-old cypress trees.” He said many people are unaware of a rivalry between Kissimmee and an area in Alaska for having the highest American Bald Eagle population in North America.
“During my first week on the job I took an airboat ride and saw 14 Bald Eagles in one hour,” said Minich, who grew up in Hinton, Alberta.
“Canada is our number one market and we’re excited about the future. We’re continuing to put resources into this market,” he said, adding that as of October, Kissimmee tourism, which had been managed by the government is now handled by a private organization which will allow more flexibility to “react quicker and work outside the box.”