Top 21 in 2021

As we look back on 2021, we wanted to share some of our favorite moments in Lake Nona

January 04, 2022

In 2021, Lake Nona welcomed new businesses and families to our neighborhood, celebrated our hometown world-class athletes, met the first babies born in Lake Nona, marveled at new community artwork, rode autonomous shuttles to new destinations, spent the night the world’s most tech-savvy hotel, made lasting memories during community events, and so much more.

As we look back on 2021, here are 21 of our favorite moments in Lake Nona:

1. Disney brought even more magic to Central Florida. The Walt Disney Company announced plans to build a new regional campus in Lake Nona. The 60-acre campus will be home to more than 2,000 cast members in the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division.

2. Orlando’s hospitality industry reached new heights. The 17-story Lake Nona Wave Hotel made its official debut. The 234-room hotel features the latest technology, two unique dining concepts, and a dazzling collection of artworks including the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden featuring masterworks such as Arturo di Modica’s “Charging Bull.”

3. Local businesses leverage 5G. On top of building out a high-speed 5G wireless network, Verizon opened its new Lake Nona 5G Innovation Hub where business owners from across Central Florida can explore how 5G can impact their operations.

4. Innovative health care conversations went virtual. For the first time ever, the Lake Nona Impact Forum went virtual in collaboration with Microsoft Research. The online event was free and open to the public featuring industry leaders including Moderna Co-Founder and Chairperson Noubar Afeyan and Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg.

5. State-wide recognition for mobility innovation. In 2021, Lake Nona was named the Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) Summit Leadership and Innovation Award recipient for excellence in advancing automated mobility technologies. Lake Nona operates the largest and longest single AV network in the U.S.  

6. Global professional services leader created new jobs. KPMG debuted its new Capability Center in Lake Nona Town Center. The KPMG Capability Center brought 350 new jobs to the region, with plans for additional jobs in the future. Equipped with the latest technology, the facility enables the firm to deliver select, high-quality advisory and tax services to clients across the country.

7. Signature events brought the community together. From lakeside fireworks to the return of the annual Run Nona 5K, the first-ever Pineapple Festival, parachute performers on Veterans Day, and visits with Santa at Oh, What Fun!, Lake Nona events brought neighbors and visitors together for one-of-a-kind experiences. Hosting nearly 1,000 events each year, Lake Nona is one of the region’s top entertainment destinations.

8. Silicon Valley of the East Coast expanded resources for entrepreneurs. Lake Nona announced a $30 million Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Fund that invests in global seed-stage companies while the leAD Lake Nona Health & Sports Tech Accelerator program welcomed six new startups from across the globe for its second cohort.  

9. Mobility pioneer covered new ground. The Move Nona autonomous shuttle fleet, operated by Beep, added new routes to the UCF College of Medicine and the Orlando VA Medical Center connecting even more people to new destinations throughout our community. Beep also moved into its high-tech headquarters in Lake Nona Town Center where staff monitors the company’s complete portfolio of autonomous projects both locally and nationally. 

10. The region’s most advanced fitness center redefined the workout experience. With first-of-their-kind amenities and partnerships, the Lake Nona Performance Club welcomed members in summer 2021. The 130,000-square-foot facility provides a tailored approach to whole-person health for members of all ages and skill levels, and unique programs with Limitless Minds and the Chopra Mind-Body Zone and Spa.

11. National health care leader made a big move. InnovaCare Health Inc., a trailblazer in integrated and value-based healthcare services, announced plans to move its headquarters from New York to Lake Nona Town Center creating 60 new, high-paying jobs for the region. 

12. A new college tennis champion was crowned. College tennis stars from across the country competed at the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships in spring 2021. The Florida Gators took home the DI men’s championship and the Texas Longhorns won the DI women’s championship.

13. New neighbors moved in. Lake Nona welcomed residents to our newest community at Isles of Lake Nona and continued to break residential sales records welcoming more than 700 new families to the community. We look forward to welcoming even more to residents to Laurel Pointe, Summerdale Park, and the Laureate Park expansion in the next few years.

14. Going for gold. There was more than one familiar face from Lake Nona on Team USA during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula, and Frances Tiafoe all represented Lake Nona on Team USA Tennis. While Lake Nona resident and Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser brought his Team USA Beach Volleyball teammates to Lake Nona for a special exhibition match.

15.  High-tech meeting space and new hotel in the works. Plans for an all-new Aloft Hotel Lake Nona were announced. Aloft will bring its signature music programming and the hospitality industry’s latest technology, along with a 10,000-square-foot conference center and full-service restaurant, to Lake Nona in fall 2023.

16. Local ladies dominated the LPGA Tour. The Lake Nona Golf & Country Club (LNGCC) welcomed 120 of the best female golfers for the 2021 Gainbridge LPGA Tournament. Among the LNGCC members who participated was Lake Nona resident Annika Sorenstam, who returned to the LPGA Tour for the first time since retiring 13 years ago.

17. Expanding to the health care ecosystem. The UCF Lake Nona Hospital added a third dimension of care to Lake Nona’s health and life sciences district with dedicated services for adults, complementing the Orlando VA Medical Center and Nemours Children’s Hospital. The hospital’s state-of-the-art Family Birthing Unit welcomed the first babies born in Lake Nona – twins Liam and Teddy.

18. Suite new addition. An all-new SpringHill Suites opened at Lake Nona Creekside on Boggy Creek Rd and Lake Nona Blvd. The all-suite hotel blends design and functionality with modern amenities to keep guests refreshed and connected.

19. Cheers for five years of service. From supporting entrepreneurs to convening top health care officials and thought leaders to discuss the future of the industry, the GuideWell Innovation Center has grown into a nationally-recognized epicenter of innovation and collaboration since opening in 2016.

20. Easy as 1-2-3. Lake Nona’s newest public school, Village Park Elementary School, opened its doors to more than 800 students. Village Park joins NorthLake Park Community School and Laureate Park Elementary School — both A-rated schools by Orange County Public Schools.   

21. The future of flight found a new home. SIMCOM Aviation Training broke ground on its global headquarters and training center. The aviation industry leader is the latest to join Lake Nona’s expanding aerospace ecosystem while building on Orlando’s longstanding legacy as a hub for the world’s top aviation, simulation and training companies. 

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