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An Overview of Orlando

By Heather Duffield

The busy city of Orlando is known for quite a few things. It is renowned for its connections to the music and movie industries, as well as being the amusement park center of the world. When one reviews the possibilities of adventure in Orlando, one will find multiple amusement options for the entire family. The city is integral to Florida for other reasons as well; As the county seat of Orange County, it makes for a fine administrative center.

The Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area is the third most populous in Florida, which should show what an important region it is. The city is important not only for the number of recreational tourists that visit the city each year, but also for the number of people who visit for business; Conventions of all types occur frequently within the city’s limits. Places like the Orlando Events Center and Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center. The combination of draws this city offers makes evident why Orlando receives over fifty million visitors a year.

The city is steeped in history, as Florida was one of the main areas in which settlers from Europe first migrated to. One such historic tale is how the city got its name; supposedly, the city is named for a plantation owner who fell during the Second Seminole War. Further changes over time have help to shape the city into what it is now-a traveler’s Mecca. The city is home to some of the best attractions in the United States. It is also so centrally located that one can get to most Florida attractions from Orlando within a few hours’ drive.

Walt Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Orlando, or in the United States for that matter. Walt Disney proposed constructing the theme park behemoth in 1965; his plans came to fruition when the park opened its doors in 1971. It has been central to the Orlando economy ever since. Disney World is much more than your average theme park- it actually consists of four theme parks, two water parks. Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom make up the four main parks; Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are the two water parks. All the parks are home to famous rides, such as the Indiana Jones spectacular or the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Other famous rides include Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. Hop on any of these rides and you are sure to have a blast in Disney World.

Other great Orlando attractions exist as well. Universal Studios is located nearby Disney World and is home to many famous rides as well. The park mainly features rides which are themed after famous movies, such as Jaws. One special section is being opened in 2010 which focuses on the magical world of Harry Potter. They will have sections imitating Hogwarts, Hogsmead, and more. Any fan of the book will love a trip to Orlando.

Discovery Cove is popular with tourists and is considered the favorite of many. Swimming with dolphins in crystal waters is one of the main draws of Discovery Cove. Exotic birds can also be viewed throughout the park. You can snorkel among the sting rays and exotic fish species. A tropical reef is available for your exploration as well; ride the winding river through exotic vistas on your way to a quiet getaway in a tropical paradise. Discovery Cove is more than an attraction-it’s an experience.

You can find much scenic beauty in Florida; another great place to visit in Orlando is the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The locale features over three miles of scenic trails set amidst gorgeous backdrops. A tropical steam garden, the largest collection of Camellia outside of California, and a butterfly garden await visitors who come to the gardens. Another great attraction that will be unlike any other experience is a day spent at Gatorland. Gatorland is a place where you enter through the gaping jaws of an alligator statue, so you can imagine what awaits you. The park is privately owned by the same family that opened it in 1949. Thousands of gators, an observation tower, aviary, petting zoo, and much more make up the park. Kids and adults alike will be fond of the memories made at Gatorland. For more spectacular animal fun, you can head on over to Seaworld, where the biology of the sea is front and center. The park houses whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, flamingoes, and more. Pet the creatures or watch them perform; interactive shows is what Seaworld is known for. The park has everything from food to fun and more; one great new show is the Viva La Musica music festival. Entertainment comes easily in Orlando.

Golf is another thing that Orlando is well known for. One of the best places to visit for great golf is Osprey Ridge Golf Course; you will find this lush golf paradise inside Disney World. Other golf options exist as well, including Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge, which has two championship courses and a nine hole short course. It also features the largest driving range and practice facility in all of America. Golf is big in Florida, but if you are not big on real golf, go on over to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. Buccaneers and waterfalls make up the lush landscape at Pirate’s Cove. Play some mini golf here and you will have a blast. For your other tourist needs, mainly dining and shopping, Orlando offers some of the best options available. Shop at any of the fine establishments within the aforementioned parks, or swing by the Mall at Millenia, an upscale mall with every store you could want. Dining in Florida is something that one experiences, not something one does. The Outta Control Dinner Show by Wonder Works is an experience you won’t soon forget. Eat while watching a magic show, comedian, and improvisation. Audience participation is expected in this hilarious interactive dinner event. Shows occur twice nightly, starting at 6pm and 8pm and the cost is cheap for the level of fun you get. Costing only $24.95 per adult and $16.95 for kids and seniors, this show serves up serious fun and delicious food.

Orlando is one of the best cities in which to take a vacation. The location is ideal for a Florida vacation. You will be close enough to get to either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico and you will also be close to some world class attractions. Orlando has a long history, make it part of your vacation history by planning your trip today.


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