The already massive Orlando-area Gaylord Palms resort readies to open its largest expansion ever

click to enlarge Crystal River Rapids at the Cypress Springs water park at Gaylord Palms - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
Crystal River Rapids at the Cypress Springs water park at Gaylord Palms

With evidence of pent-up demand for travel post-COVID, the industry is preparing for another roaring '20s, with travel fully recovering by mid-decade, if not earlier. Few in the Orlando area are as ready for this return of tourists as Gaylord Palms.

click to enlarge An aerial image of the Gaylord Palms expansion. The 'L-shaped' Gulf Coast tower can be seen in the bottom center with the convention center expansion directly to the right of it. The Cypress Springs water park can be seen in the center of the image. - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
An aerial image of the Gaylord Palms expansion. The 'L-shaped' Gulf Coast tower can be seen in the bottom center with the convention center expansion directly to the right of it. The Cypress Springs water park can be seen in the center of the image.

The 19-year-old Osceola County resort is best known for its expansive, highly themed atriums and large convention center. That may soon change thanks to a multi-phase addition that launched a decade ago. Balancing its convention and business traveler offerings with ones for families, Gaylord Palms opened the Cypress Springs water park in 2012 and has been adding to it ever since. It includes multiple body slides, a water play structure, a surf simulator, and a zero-entry swimming pool. Gaylord Palms is now expanding the water park as part of a $158 million expansion, the resort’s largest expansion to date.

click to enlarge The Citrus Ballroom at Gaylord Palms - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
The Citrus Ballroom at Gaylord Palms

For Cypress Springs, this includes a new high-tech action river, Crystal River Springs. Unlike lazy rivers, action rivers provide swimmers with multiple thrilling elements. Numerous waterfalls can be found along the river, with various other water features, including some interactive ones, will keep guests entertained. Natural-looking limestone walls and lush landscaping help with the Florida aesthetic. The lazy river has a state-of-the-art sound system. For those colder Florida mornings, the lazy river is heated.

Numerous alcoves allow for moments of relaxation. Two spas with massage jets and views of the water park are also ideal for those looking for a little less adventure in their water park.

Private cabanas, day beds, sun deck chairs, and poolside seating can all be reserved. A new counter-service café, Crystal River Refreshments, offers riverside cocktails and comfort food, including loaded waffle fries and flatbreads.
"We can’t wait to debut this elevated attraction to our already thrilling Cypress Springs Water Park,” said Johann Krieger, General Manager of Gaylord Palms. “Everyone can find something they love; whether it’s our relaxing South Beach Pool, the daring drop and racing slides, the multi-level water playground, the FlowRider Surfing Experience or this new action river, there is truly something for every member of the family."
click to enlarge The new Gulf Coast tower at Gaylord Palms. - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
The new Gulf Coast tower at Gaylord Palms.
Gone are the views of Interstate 4 and Osceola Parkway. Hugging the outer edges of Crystal River Rapids and the water park is the new Gulf Coast tower, with its more than 300 rooms. Once the new building is complete, Gaylord Palms will have 1,718 rooms.

click to enlarge The Mangrove Lawn at Gaylord Palms - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
The Mangrove Lawn at Gaylord Palms

The resort hasn’t left its business and convention roots. A new 12,000-square-foot event lawn, the Mangrove Lawn, sits just beyond the rapids river. It frames the newly expanded convention center where 96,000 square feet of carpeted meeting and pre-function space will open later this year. The lawn allows for unique group events that can include access to the river or nearby South Beach Pool.

The rapids river is set to open on March 1, with the full expansion opening later this year.
click to enlarge The Rotunda in the Gaylord Palms convention center - IMAGE VIA GAYLORD PALMS
Image via Gaylord Palms
The Rotunda in the Gaylord Palms convention center



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