Arguably best known as the location of the world famous Walt Disney World Resort, there is much more to this city than Mickey Mouse! The sixth largest city in Florida, there is a huge variety of activities and attractions to choose from.
Orlando was named when early pioneers found the name “Orlando Reeves” carved into a tree, and assumed it was a marker for his grave site – he was actually operating a sugar mill and plantation about 30 miles north. The area started being referred to as “Orlando’s Grave”, and then simply “Orlando”. Orlando was incorporated in 1875, and experienced what is known as its’ “Gilded Era”, making huge profits from Citrus farming. The most critical event in Orlando’s history occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced the construction of Walt Disney World. The resort opened in 1971, starting a boom in the economy of the local area that continues to this day.
Orlando’s climate is warm and humid, with 2 seasons – a hot rainy season from May until October, and a cooler, drier season from November through March.
Orlando is home to many tourist attractions, including Walt Disney World Resort, Seaworld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort.
The Walt Disney World Resort is the largest attraction in the area, and includes many different places to visit, including Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon.
Seaworld Orlando is the home of the famous killer whale Shamu, in Shamu’s Happy Hrabour, among other attractions such as Key West and The Waterfront, along with an amusement park with rollercoasters and water park. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the stables of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, which feature on Budweiser television adverts. The grown-ups will also be able to sample the beers at the Hospitality House!
Universal Orlando is a complex of attractions such as Universal Studios, City Walk, and a theme park, The Islands of Adventure. This is a huge theme park where you can ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster, meet Spider-Man, ride a log boat down Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and visit the incredible Jurassic Park. Don’t miss out on the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, an excellent replica of the Visitor Center of the film, filled with loads of hands-on activities and exhibits, mostly aimed at kids.
Orlando is a great shoppers paradise, with over 50,000,000 square feet of shopping space. Some of the larger malls are The Florida Mall, one of the largest malls in the USA, and The Mall at Mellenia, which features Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.
If you are hunting for a bargain, check out the outlet malls Orlando Premium Outlets and Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets. Pick up bargains from big name designers such as Fendi, Burberry, Lacoste, as well as Gap, Carters and Eddie Bauer.
One of the strangest attractions in Orlando is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Auditorium, where the building actually looks like it is slowly sinking into a swamp – a very strange and amusing sight. One of over 27 museums in 10 countries, Ripley’s is an excellent venue to pass an afternoon, surrounded by some of the Oddest things you will ever see.
A great day out with the kids can be found at the Wet n Wild Orlando Water Park. Lose your grip on reality in the Brain Wash, plummet 76 feet down the near vertical slide of the Bomb Bay, or relax with your family while gently floating down the Lazy River.
Internationally known as Alligator Capital of the World, Gator land is a one-of-a-kind protected habitat for gators, crocodiles, birds, bears and more. The 110 acre park contains a rich variety of activities for young and old, and is open all year round.
For a good meal in a homey atmosphere, check out Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ, which has 3 locations in the Orlando area. Country cooking at it’s finest, you can really pig out!
Getting to Orlando is easy – there are 5 airports within easy reach of the city (Orlando International Airport, Orlando-Sanford International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport, Tampa International Airport and Melbourne International Airport).
Little known fact about Orlando – The Backstreet Boys were named after an Orlando Flea Market!