Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Phase 3 Plan for Outdoor Expansion

By Holley Long

The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is one of the best places to enjoy live entertainment in Downtown Orlando, and it has plans to become even better. The non-profit recently released renderings for phase 3 of its planned expansion, and they involve projects right on the center’s front lawn. 

The Front Yard 

In December 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Phillips Center transformed its front yard in order to host a six-month festival that helped bring live entertainment back to Orlando. With outdoor stages and socially-distant seating, the non-profit gave actors, musicians, and other performers the opportunity to provide joy to audiences during an otherwise dark time. 

front yard of dr phillips with outdoor concert setting including metal railings

The festival was a hit, and community support encouraged Dr. Phillips Center to extend the festival to the end of 2021. After the festival, though, the center’s front yard went back to being, well, a yard. The Phase 3 expansion seeks to change that.

Phase 3 Plan 

The Phase 3 expansion will enhance the front yard, plus the side and back parcels. Renderings show that the plan will include the construction of an outdoor auditorium that would accommodate up to 7,000 guests, a massive 10,000 square foot exhibition and event space, a 750-seat theater, a rooftop garden, restaurants, and more amenities. This area is estimated to host up to 1,000 free events annually!

top view of front yard expansion with second story

top view of doctor phillips expansion with people walking

"It’s an exciting time at the arts center as we continue the journey to complete the 9-acre campus. We have an opportunity to enhance our region’s global destination which attracts international, national and local artists and guests. This will be another engaging visitor and community cultural amenity for hundreds of years to come.”

Kathy Ramsberger, president & CEO of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

side view of front yard expansion with large immersive building

Estimated to cost around $175 million, Dr. Phillips is seeking $145 million from the Tourist Development Tax and $15 million from the City of Orlando (the non-profit will foot the rest of the bill). When it comes to operation and maintenance, the arts center will be responsible for the estimated cost of $11.5 million annually.

blueprint master plan for dr phillips expansion

Development Over The Years

Dr. Phillips Center has been developing the master planned 9-acre campus for quite some time, opening Phase 1 in November 2014 with the three-level Walt Disney Theater (which can accommodate nearly 3,000 audience members), the more intimate Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, and other performance and event spaces. 

In January 2022, Phase 2 opened with the concert hall Steinmetz Hall, with four seating levels and space to hold up to 1,741 guests. Soon to open is Judson’s, a cabaret-style, 150-seat music room for emerging artists. 

Once all phases are complete, the performing arts center says it will have a total economic impact of $400 million with 3,600 jobs in Orange County.

concept art for final master plan of the arts center

 Images by Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts


Dr. Phillips Center is already a spot full of life and entertainment, and this latest expansion would offer even more ways to enjoy some of the best live performances in Orlando. If all goes according to plan, the outdoor entertainment and event space will begin construction within the next year and half, and could open some time in 2027. We expect there’ll be a huge turnout when it does! 

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts & Downtown Orlando

The Dr. Phillips Center broke ground in 2011, and officially opened in late 2014. It was built to become the main performance venue in Orlando, and it definitely lives up to this, hosting all kinds of performances and events from comedians and musicians, to UCF events and Broadway musicals. Whether you love music or art, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to check out their schedule and find a date where you can visit this magnificent performing arts center.

The Dr. Phillips Center is located in Downtown Orlando right in the heart of the city, and is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. Some of our favorite places to stop for some drinks or a bite before a show include SoDough Square, The Wellborn, or one of the area’s newer bars - Proper.

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