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Orlando Overview

 

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 ORLANDO AT A GLANCE

 

ORLANDO, Fla. - With seven of the top theme parks all in one sunny location,Orlando is the theme park capital of the world. And, with more than 66 millionvisitors in 2015, this Central Florida city is also the most visited touristdestination in the United States. In addition to the theme parks, award-winningfood scene, versatile shopping and hidden gems, Orlando continues to offer new,unique experiences for visitors that create cherished memories.

 

ATTRACTIONS

Orlando is best-known as home to the world's top themeparks and water parks including the four theme parks and two water parks atWalt Disney World Resort - Disney's Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach Water Park,Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon; the twotheme parks at Universal Orlando Resort - Islands of Adventure and UniversalStudios Florida;  three parks fromSeaWorld Parks and Entertainment - SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark and DiscoveryCove; and LEGOLAND FloridaResort. Witha unique mix of legendary theme parks, water parks, spectacular museums,world-class entertainment and blockbuster rides and attractions, there's funfor everyone in Orlando.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Withapproximately 454 hotels and morethan 117,000 guest rooms - including 35 AAA Four Diamond and Forbes TravelGuide Four-Star award recipients - Orlando offers more lodging options thannearly any destination in the world. Accommodations range from luxury resortsand themed hotels with family suites to charming bed and breakfasts, economyhotels/motels and campgrounds. Vacation ownership units, private condominiumsand homes are also available.

 

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE

Withthousands of restaurants, Orlando's dining options read like a world map asvisitors from across the globe can find a taste of home here. Orlando's flourishing and local diningscene featurerestaurant options run the gamut from African toVietnamese and include eateries by popular celebrity chefs, intimate cafes andwine bars, dinner shows and dining experiences in uniquely themed environments.New to the lineup are Disney Springs venues Morimoto Asia, offering pan-Asiancuisine from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and The BOATHOUSE, an upscale,waterfront dining experience.

 

Oncethe sun sets, the pulse quickens as Orlando's thriving nightlife comes alive.From ultra-hip bars and high-energy danceclubs to laid-back pubs and multi-venue entertainment complexes, Orlando offersplenty of hot spots to live it up. Newly opened, Mango's Tropical Café featuresexciting live shows, dancing and world-famous cocktails within a vivaciousMiami-style club. Also open late isMorimoto Asia's Forbidden Lounge, offering pan-Asian bar food and cocktailswell past the hours of the general restaurant.

 

SHOPPING

Despite the tremendousappeal of Orlando's world-famous theme parks, one of the top reportedactivities for visitors is shopping. Within a 20-minute radius in the heart ofOrlando's attractions area, visitors will find seven versatile shopping mallsand outlet centers. Encompassing a strip of Southwest Orlando, the tourismdistrict is home to the area's most upscale mall, Central Florida's largestmall and three outlet shopping centers. No other destination in the U.S. offersfashionistas the world's most sought-after brands including Burberry, Chanel,Dior, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and Rolex, among hundreds ofother brands all in one city. Shoppers will also find major department stores such asBloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus and Macy's, along with plenty of trendy,independently-owned boutiques. For a change of pace, three key shoppingdistricts showcase Orlando's eclectic side: Winter Park, Ivanhoe Village andThornton Park in downtown Orlando. Theme park souvenir shops, museum stores,art galleries and antique shops add to the wealth of shopping options.

 

ENTERTAINMENT & SPECIAL EVENTS

Orlando continues to add new entertainment optionsbeyond the theme park gates with large-scale complexes that combineone-of-a-kind entertainment experiences with shopping and dining.. Arial Withthe re-imagination of Disney's "downtown" area, Disney Springs is doubling insize by adding multitude of new restaurants many with international celebritychef acclaim, one-of-a-kind shops and entertainment venues, including newelements to the permanent Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba. Universal CityWalkis home to the Blue Man Group show, more than ten restaurants and nightlifevenues, including a karaoke club featuring a live band and back-up singers. Andnew to Orlando's tourism corridor is I-Drive 360, an entertainment destinationfeaturing restaurants, shops, live entertainment, attractions and the 400-foot(122-meter) "Coca-Cola Orlando Eye" observation wheel. Nearby, Pointe Orlando features several entertainment venues,including an IMAX Regal Cinemas and the Orlando Improv Comedy Club & DinnerTheatre, in addition to its collection of outdoor shopping and dining options.

 

Orlando also hosts more than 450 year-round events to please everyone and add more vacationvariety. For a comprehensive calendar of events, go to Visit Orlando's officialwebsite, VisitOrlando.com.

 

SPORTS AND OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

Sports fans are in their element in Orlando thanks tothe area's robust lineup of collegiate and professional sporting events. Fromthe National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic and the University ofCentral Florida Knights football to Orlando Solar Bear hockey, OrlandoPredators arena football and spring training with the Atlanta Braves, theOrlando sports scene gives fans plenty of reasons to cheer. And now, sportsfanatics have even more reason to visit, with the recent launch of the OrlandoCity Soccer Club, Orlando's first Major League soccer team. The team is led byworld-renowned Brazilian player and former FIFA World Player of the Year, Kaká. Orlando is also a top golf destination, hostingsome of the sport's most talented players each year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

 

With mild temperaturesand sunny blue skies year-round, outdoor activities are virtually limitless foradventure enthusiasts. More than 2,000 lakes, rivers and springs invitevisitors to enjoy Orlando for fishing, kayaking or waterskiing. The surroundingnational parks and acres of lush foliage are a paradise for hikers, cyclists,horseback-riders and those who enjoy adventure trekking, off-road driving andziplining.

 

SPA SERVICES

Everyone deserves to be pampered - especially onvacation - and Orlando has that covered with more than 20 spectacular destinationspas, including the Waldorf Astoria Spa, Mandara Spa, The Ritz-Carlton Spa andSenses, and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. From mini manicures and men'ssport facials to invigorating body wraps and exotic treatments, Orlando's spasoffer the ultimate respite. New to Orlando is The Spa at Four Seasons, atranquil escape that rolls out the red carpet for every guest. The Spa offersadvanced aesthetic services, beautiful body therapies and fitness programsdesigned to help guests look and feel their best.

 

ARTS & CULTURE

The same ideals ofcreativity and innovation that rank Orlando's theme parks among the best in theworld, not to mention raw talent and showmanship, overflow to Orlando'ssurrounding community, making the area a haven for artists and performers. Orlandois home to hundreds of museums, galleries, theatres, gardens and historic homes.A new highlight in Downtown Orlando is the Dr.Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, home to the best international,national and local artists including Broadway, ballet, orchestra, jazz, rock,pop, dance and more.

 

MEETING SPACE

Orlando, named byCVENT as the number one meeting destination in the country in 2015, hosts more than 5 million delegates each yearand offers a variety of facilities thataccommodate small groups as well as large citywide conventions and trade shows.Orlando's Orange County Convention Centeris ranked second in the United States in terms of exhibition space with morethan 2 million-square-feet (640,080-square-meters). The Center also offers479,190 square feet (14,605 square meters) of meeting rooms and is the largestconvention center in the world to receive LEED Gold EBOM certification. Withits $187-million expansion, the convention center now has 7 million square-feettotal. There are more than 17,000 hotel rooms within close proximity of thefacility. Also, more than 4.6 million square feet of meeting space is availablein the area's hotels.

 

AIRLINES

Orlando's major airport is Orlando International Airport (MCO),located within 15-miles (24-kilometers) of the Orange County Convention Centerand major attractions. With 39 scheduled airlines, MCO provides nonstop serviceto 76 destinations in the U.S. and 49 international cities. More than 35million passengers use Orlando International Airport annually; making MCO amongthe top 15 busiest airports in the U.S. Orlando Sanford InternationalAirport is located within 18-miles (29-kilometers) of Orlando city limits and 45 minutes from theOrange County Convention Center and major attractions with eight airlines andtwo charters serving 68 U.S. and 19 international destinations. Orlando Executive Airport,located 3 miles (4.83 kilometers) from downtown Orlando, is ideal for thebusiness traveler with a private jet or charter plane. 

 

GROUND TRANSPORTATION

Majorhighway networks provide easy access for visitors to reach their destinationsand for traveling in and around the Greater Orlando area. Primary roadwaysinclude Interstate 4, the Florida Turnpike (toll), Highway 528 (BeachlineExpressway-toll), Highway 408 (East-West Expressway-toll), Highway 417 (CentralFlorida Greenway-toll) and State Road 429 (toll). Orlando's main train service is Amtrak, serving 29 Florida communities. There'salso the service of SunRail, a Central Florida commuter rail line connecting 12SunRail stations through three different counties. The I-Ride Trolleys serve the popular InternationalDrive Resort Area year-round. In addition to taxi and limousine service toanywhere in the Greater Orlando area, the city's LYNX bus system provides economical and dependable public transportation.For a leisurely spin arounddowntown Orlando, carriage rides and bicycle rickshaws are also availablethrough local vendors. Go to VisitOrlando.comfor more information on local transportation.

 

HISTORY

BeforeMickey Mouse called Orlando home, the destination was a leader in the emergingcitrus industry, fulfilling the country's need for grapefruits, tangerines andoranges. As the citrus industry flourished, the City of Orlando was officiallyincorporated on July 21, 1875. Capitalizing on Orlando's near-perfect,year-round flying weather, aviation brought another economic boom to the city.Orlando's Municipal Airport became the Orlando Army Base and quietlycontributed to the war efforts both before and after World War II as one of thefirst places to train bomber pilots. The military built a second Air Force Basewhich today is the Orlando International Airport. TheWells' Built Museum of African American History preserves Central Florida'sunique African-American history and heritage through tours of the museum andSouth Street Casino, home to famous performers like B.B. King, Louis Armstrong,Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. The Orange County Regional HistoryCenter chronicles life in Orlando when the area was first known for itscattle ranches and, later, orange groves.

 

For more informationabout vacation experiences in Orlando, to order a complimentary vacationplanning kit that includes a comprehensive Official Visitors Guide or topurchase discount attraction tickets, visitors can log onto Orlando's officialwebsite at VisitOrlando.comor call an Orlando Destination Specialist at 1-800-972-3304 (United States andCanada) or 407-363-5872. For real-time updates, follow Visit Orlando onTwitter at Twitter.com/VisitOrlando orFacebook at Facebook.com/VisitOrlando. While inOrlando, visitors may stop by the Official Visitor Center located at 8723International Drive.