Robert Silk
Robert Silk

A newly proposed megamall in the Miami area is the latest of several fanciful projects that could enhance Florida's already formidable tourism landscape.

American Dream Miami, to be built by Triple Five Worldwide, would be the nation's biggest mall, topping Triple Five's Mall of America in Minneapolis. Far more than just a spot for shopping and restaurants, the northwest Miami-Dade County complex would feature what Triple Five is calling the world's largest indoor ski-dome, with artificial powder substituting for real snow. The country's largest waterpark, an ice arena, a Ferris wheel, a performing arts center, a sea lion show and a lake in which submarines would take visitors past a live coral reef are also part of the concept, according to Triple Five's proposal to Miami-Dade County as well as an emailed statement the company provided to Travel Weekly on March 9.

Should the 200-acre project get the necessary development approvals, completion is expected in approximately four years, according to Michael Hernandez, spokesman for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Rendering of the waterpark at American Dream Miami.
Rendering of the waterpark at American Dream Miami.

The American Dream Miami project comes as three attention-grabbing tourist attractions are either under construction or being pursued in the Orlando area. Furthest along is Orlando Eye, the massive 400-foot-tall observation wheel on International Drive that developer Merlin Entertainments says will open on May 4.

Not to be outdone, developer Joshua Wallack's nearby Skyplex complex on International Drive will feature Polercoaster, which at 55 stories will be the highest roller coaster in the world, according to Skyplex officials. The tracks of Polercoaster will wrap around the 460-foot-high Skyfall attraction, which the developer says will be the largest drop ride on the planet. Skyplex is slated for a 2017 opening. 

Meanwhile, in nearby Kissimmee, the new development company Xero Gravity Action Sports announced on Feb. 10 that it is planning the 75-acre Action Sports & Entertainment Resort. Estimated to cost $309 million, the park would contain a surfing lake with waves of up to 10 feet, a rock-climbing wall, skydiving pods, free-fall jump zones of up to 120 feet and a 20,000-square-foot dodge ball and trampoline arena, among other attractions. The park's centerpiece would be a 14-story, outdoor ski and snowboard mountain. A Hyatt hotel would also be located on site. 

A rendering of the Action Sports & Entertainment Resort in Kissimmee.
A rendering of the Action Sports & Entertainment Resort in Kissimmee.

Xero Gravity CEO Larry Walshaw says the park will cater both to families and to the growing contingent of competitive extreme sport athletes.

Florida drew nearly 100 million visitors in 2014 by relying on its longstanding draws of beaches and theme parks. Even so, some critics might label projects like American Dream Miami, Skyplex and Action Sports and Entertainment Resort as extravagant. After all, the Sunshine State does seem an unusual spot for two different skiing attractions.

Greg Dunn, managing director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida, said that he views these new projects as efforts to compete with the major theme parks run by Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World.

“I think they are just trying to be really creative with new and unique landmark attractions outside of a big park setting,” Dunn said. He added that they will help solidify Florida's standing as a leading destination in the theme entertainment world.

Walshaw said that in the case of his planned action sports resort, the changing desires of consumers is what is driving his concept.

“I believe this is what the market is wanting,” Walshaw said.


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