A "notice of commencement" was filed with the Orange County comptroller's office for excavation work in the same area where, according to plans Universal filed earlier, a new hotel with 1,000 rooms and 159,000 square feet of meeting space could be built on 20 acres. The site is between Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Royal Pacific Resort.
Documentation shows UCF (which apparently stands for Universal City Florida) Hotel Venture III, which has a Universal Orlando address, has contracted for the excavation work at the site.
A Universal spokesman would not comment.
State law requires that before construction work begins, a company must file public documentation about its details. The work generally happens within 90 days.
In June, Universal submitted documents with the comptroller's office showing possible plans for an additional three hotels on its property. The resort already has four hotels. The newest, Cabana Bay, opened in the spring.
More polar bears at SeaWorld?
SeaWorld Orlando says it has not yet decided whether to bring in more polar bears at its Wild Arctic attraction after the death of its last bear, Johnny, late last month.
Johnny, a 24-year-old bear, died after a physical examination. Another SeaWorld Orlando polar bear, 18-year-old Klondike, died unexpectedly last year as well. Polar bears have been part of SeaWorld's Wild Arctic attraction since it opened in 1995.
"We have one priority —– making sure we know what caused his death so we can share the information with other zoos around the world," spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said in an email. "It's premature to talk about replacing him at this stage, and we are in the process of identifying what our options are at Wild Arctic. We do know that we must continue to create awareness about the Arctic and the animals and habitats that need protection."
Disney, part-timers to start talks
Now that a contract with Walt Disney World's largest union group has been approved for full-timers, negotiations will begin this week on another contract covering about 12,000 part-time workers. Disney and the Service Trades Council, a coalition of six unions, will begin negotiations Thursday.
The negotiations should take just a few days, said Ed Chambers, president of the Service Trades Council.
Earlier this month, 67 percent of about 7,000 full-time workers voted in favor of the new contract. Hourly pay will rise from $8.03 to $9 an hour this year. It will then go to $9.50 the following year and $10 in 2016. The 51/2-year agreement keeps in place the company's pension plan for new hires. The contract also will freeze weekly health-insurance costs for employees in 2015. Costs could go up from there, but the contract will provide a cap. Chambers said the union is proposing the same pay scale for part-timers.
Tourism credited with 75,000 jobs
Tourism expansion in 2013 is credited with the creation of more than 75,000 jobs with an average annual salary of more than $43,000, according to a new Florida TaxWatch report.
TaxWatch based its findings on numbers from Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing corporation.
"Florida added 38,389 tourism-related jobs, which is expected to induce or indirectly result in an additional 37,382 non-tourism-industry jobs for Floridians," said TaxWatch, a business-backed think tank.
The non-tourism jobs are in industries such as retail, administrative services and construction.
Job fair to offer 1,000 positions
And speaking of tourism jobs, lots of them will be available at a job fair this week near SeaWorld.
Hosted by Job News Orlando, the fair will be Thursday at the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at 10100 International Drive. Organizers say more than 1,000 jobs will be available at the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Companies looking to hire include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Orange Lake Resorts/Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Diamond Resorts International, Hilton Grand Vacations and others.
Recruiters will be hiring drivers, servers, security officers, housekeepers, maintenance workers, sales agents and more.
Applicants can register online at JobNewsOrlando.com. There is no charge for admission or parking.