More Tastes for Orlando’s ICON Park

Orlando , Expert View Column
Large white ferris wheel with fountains in front and palm trees. Beneath the wheel is a sign which says SEA LIFE.
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
The big entertainment centre at the heart of International Drive has completed a major revamp of its Food Hall.

Regular readers of our blog will know we are big fans of the ICON Park entertainment centre on International Drive. When there are changes in the line-up there, it definitely gets our attention.

And there has been a LOT of attention-grabbing in recent months!

The big changes started back in January when the large Spanish-style restaurant Tapa Toro closed and we were told to be ready for a whole new concept in that space, with the replacement being Helena Modern Riviera, a Mediterranean-themed venue. 

It was a major surprise as Tapa Toro had always seemed a popular choice and the food and entertainment were extremely consistent. But then, Orlando is a highly dynamic market and this kind of thing happens at regular intervals.

In fact, some Orlando visitors may still know the site of ICON Park as The Mercado Mediterranean Village back in the 1990s, so the new restaurant will be turning the clock back somewhat! 


A white building with wooden panels on top floor, circular walls with lights and a white sign which says "Helena Modern Riviera". Surrounding the building there are square plant pots and umberella's.


Helena Modern Riviera, for all its strange name (we’ve no idea who Helena is, nor if she is particularly modern, and what riviera she might inhabit), is an elegant indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring live music and entertainment based on Ibiza, Havana and Marrakech, with an excellent weekend Brunch (11am-3pm Sat and Sun).

The food is labelled a “culinary journey that celebrates the vibrant spirit of Mediterranean dining right in the pulse of Central Florida,” which is all a high falutin’ way of saying it is inspired by the French and Italian rivieras, Sicily, Cyprus and Morocco, with healthy doses of seafood and a wide variety of meat dishes.

We’ll miss Tapa Toro, but we’re ready to give Helena a chance, whoever she turns out to be.

If that was Change No.1, then No.2 made an even bigger splash in March when it was announced that Britain’s Merlin Entertainments company – owners and operators of the LEGOLAND and SeaLife entertainment parks worldwide – was taking over the ownership of The Wheel at ICON Park.

The unmissable 400ft-tall observation wheel attraction will revert to being called The Orlando Eye (its original name, after cycling through three others since it first opened in 2015) and be reunited with stable-mates such as LEGOLAND Florida, the Peppa Pig Theme Park, SeaLife Orlando and Madame Tussauds Orlando.

Merlin originally managed the oversized attraction when it made its debut, but then the ICON Park owners took it completely under their wing in 2018 and renamed it The Wheel at ICON Park.


Box shaped restaurant coloured red and beige with a lighter red sign reading "Sloppy Joe's" with the white Orlando Eye in the background.


Now the Wheel has come full circle (ahem), and reverted to its starting point, but with full ownership by Merlin, which allows them to package it more thoroughly with their other theme parks and attractions.

Merlin Entertainments CEO Scott O’Neil insisted: “The Orlando Eye by Merlin Entertainments will become an unmissable stop on visitors’ itineraries, delivering an elevated experience with unobstructed 360-degree views of the ICON Park area and beyond.” 

In truth, the Orlando Eye has pretty much always been a major attraction in the heart of I-Drive since it first opened its doors nine years ago, and this announcement simply underscores its value as a major piece in the Merlin portfolio.


Crispy piece of fried chicken and fries on a wooden board next there is a white circular pot of ketchup.


Just as interesting was the latest news, hot off the press this week, that ICON Park has completely revamped its marketplace-style Wheelhouse Food Hall inside the main building. Here’s how they explain it:

“Reimagining traditional ‘grab-n-go’ dining to instead focus on authenticity and fresh ingredients, ICON Park has reopened its Food Hall – located at the base of the 400ft Orlando Eye – with three new concepts offering ‘fast comfort’ street foods from different cultures around the world.

“Guests can now enjoy easy, quick street foods – including crunchy Korean fried chicken, tender sliced Lebanese shawarma, hand-crafted bubble waffles and meticulously sourced boba teas – while they stroll through the 20-acre ICON Park or relax on The Lawn to live music.”

What that means in plain language is there will now be three fascinating new outlets to enjoy, completely refreshing a rather tired, if not downright ordinary, menu of options. The trio are:


Three square plates on a wooden table, one with chicken kebabs with vegetables, another with lamb kebab and potato chopped into small squares and a salad and last of all, a plate with brown rice mixed with beans. There are three small pots of sauces.


EVOO: Fresh Mediterranean Kitchen, a Central-Florida-based concept that is known for creating Lebanese fast-casual dining with traditional cooking methods and fresh, whole foods – and is famous for its tender shawarma and a full range of vegetarian dishes.

The Bone: Korean Fried Chicken, from the taste sensation that is currently sweeping the globe, here is something really tastebud-tantalising. The Bone specialises in numerous Korean fried chicken recipes and street food favourites, including Korean Ramen, Spicy Rice Cakes and more. Signature dishes include their soy garlic wings and traditional gochujang-infused glazed wings.


Five large clear cups of different drinks, from left to right, there is a yellow drink with ice saying "It's a win with every cup", a dark red drink with ice with the logo on it, an orange drink with ice, a brown milk tea with small black tapioca pearls in and lastly a pink drink with slice of orange in.


The Winnie Tea Bar: Ready for Boba teas and Mochi doughnuts? Here come another bunch of flavours that have become all the rage, and with good reason. The new Tea Bar creates a unique twist on the traditional boba tea experience, serving an exclusive selection of artisanal, hand-crafted boba teas with premium ingredients and carefully sourced tea leaves, from classic tastes to inventive new creations. Each drink is meticulously prepared to ensure a perfect balance of taste, texture and visual appeal. For a double dose of sweetness, try one of their delicious mochi doughnuts with a tea.

That’s the story for now, but rest assured there will be more culinary tastes and excitement to come at ICON Park in future. One of their prime sites remains vacant, while another is due for a resfresh in the next few months.

And, on top of other new restaurants in the last few years – notably Sloppy Joe’s and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ – this is now a wonderful one-stop shop for dining and entertainment.


Darkly lit restaurant with black metal chairs surrounding dark wooden square tables with southern American country theming. There are barrels and neon signs on the wall with a tv playing sports events.


Be sure to check out’s ticket page for The Orlando Eye and other Merlin attractions here.

Have you visited ICON Park in the past? If so, tell us about it on the friendly Attraction Tickets Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

Orlando , Expert View Column