Orlando's hotel and event venues are constantly evolving. Between new openings, expansions and renovations, it can be hard to keep up. Here are some highlights of what's new in Orlando for 2019, starting with some big tourism news.

Visit Orlando announced a record 75 million visitors to Orlando in 2018, ranking as the number one U.S. travel destination. About 10 percent of this business is attributed to the MICE groups coming to Orlando, according to Visit Orlando CEO George Aguel.

[Related Content: What's New for Meetings at Disney's Swan and Dolphin]

The destination saw a 4.2 percent increase in visitors from 2017, which also marked Orlando as the most-visited place in America.

Secret Speakeasy

Orlando World Center Marriott recently opened its 45-capacity secret speakeasy, which is exclusively meant for meetings and events.

Speakeasy at Orlando World Center Marriott, Credit: Marriott
Speakeasy at Orlando World Center Marriott, Credit: Marriott

Bartenders can create crafted cocktails specifically for your event.

Additionally, the hotel completed a renovation of its Palms Ballroom and lobby in January 2019 and added six new breakout rooms.

Even More Harry Potter Hype

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened in June at Universal Orlando Resort. It's the world’s first “story coaster,” featuring sets, an actual forest with more than 1,200 trees, ground-breaking coaster technology and a captivating storyline. Attendees can experience the ride during any after-hours themed event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Hogsmeade.

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Credit: Universal Orlando
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Credit: Universal Orlando

Brand-New Ballroom

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is adding a 25,000-square-foot ballroom that will add 32,000 square feet of prefunction and event space at the resort, doubling the current ballroom space. With its expansion, the resort will offer a total of 102,000 square feet of flexible meeting space including two ballrooms, exhibit space, 45 meeting rooms and  outdoor venues.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Ballroom Rendering, Credit: Hyatt
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Ballroom Rendering, Credit: Hyatt

The outdoor facilities are capable of hosting groups of 10 to 1,000.

That's a Lot of Cake!

Meetings at Orlando’s Rosen Centre just got a little sweeter.

In May 2019, the hotel—which is conveniently located next to the Orange County Convention Center—announced that pastry chef Alon Gontowski, the top prize-winner of Food Network’s “Sweet Genius,” will oversee all expanded pastry options for special events.

[Related Content: 4 Group-Friendly Restaurants in Central Florida]

Gontowski has had stints at hotels across the country and was also a team member of a Guinness World Record treat—the world’s largest wedding cake.

Convention Center Updates

The Orange County Convention Center is beginning a $605 million facelift to its North/South building, set for completion in 2023. Two major updates are being made.

Orange County Convention Center, Courtesy: Visit Orlando
Orange County Convention Center, Courtesy: Visit Orlando

(1) Convention Way Grand Concourse

An enclosed connection between North and South concourses that will add an 80,000-square-foot ballroom, 60,000 square feet of additional meeting rooms and a new entrance plaza.

(2) Multipurpose Venue

Also adding connectivity to the North and South concourses, this new 200,000-square-foot venue will be divisible, column-free and able to accommodate 18,000-20,000 people.

[Read This Next: Gran Destino Tower Opens at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort]