US Route 192 in Central Florida is the smorgasbord of the hospitality industry. Anchored by Disney World, this highway has a touchpoint with every component of the hotel business. Corporate events are stock-in-trade at the Orlando World Center Marriott and the Gaylord Palms. The crossover musician Jimmy Buffet is adding a colorful twist with his Margaritaville resort. Budget travelers can find a Motel 6 or Quality Inn to fit their needs. Those who are frustrated by their hotel experience can easily go online and find a nearby villa through Airbnb or similar internet booking site.
US Route 192 is more than just hotels and resorts. Visitors who grow tired of the Magic Kingdom can venture down the road to Machine Gun America to shoot an automatic weapon. Or they can stop at Old Town to ride a bungee-cord attraction called the Slingshot. Further afield, cowboys salivate at the bi-annual Silver Spurs Rodeo, while dramatists find their groove at the ever-enduring Medieval Times Dinner Theater. Those looking for total escape can board a deluxe coach for the hour-long ride to Port Canaveral to depart on an ocean-going cruise.
US Route 192 stretches for about 75 miles, but its soul is found in Osceola County. This segment of the highway is a massive source of tourism tax revenue, explaining heavy government outlays on road infrastructure. The City of Kissimmee, the Osceola County seat, brings order to the commercial chaos with zoning restrictions; it adds a touch of humanity with its public-landscaping efforts. The magnate Irlo Bronson, after whom the highway is officially named, became an Osceola County legend after his death in 1973. His one-time land holdings form a core part of Disney World.
US Route 192 is a lodestone for private capital. Or at least it was until the pandemic. Behind the scenes is an army of bankers and brokers, acting as intermediaries for project sponsors and a mix of financial and strategic investors. The return-on-investment for many of these commitments would appear to be generous. Savvy businessmen talk about high season and low season. Concerns about an economic downturn are never part of polite conversation. After all, according to local hospitality-industry lore, international visitors—including those from China, Brazil, and India—balance exposure to the American consumer, ensuring endless cash flow.
Banner shows representative actors. Guests at the Medieval Times Dinner Theater, a mainstay of US Route 192, experience knight-to-knight battle. Credit: Wdigital at Can Stock Photo.