Orange groves and lush farmland―that is what Orlando was before a mouse changed the way the world saw this sleepy town of Orlando. A mouse, you ask? Yes, Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney put this laid-back town on the map of the world in 1971. Orlando has never been the same since the opening of Disney World. Did you know that more than 44 million people visit Orlando every single year? That's how popular Orlando is!
This is how it all started: in 1964, a man named Walt Disney had a plan. He started acquiring pieces of land and slowly had property that was twice as big as Manhattan. In 1965, he announced to the world his grand plan of Walt Disney World, but, quite unfortunately, in 1966 he passed away. But even though he couldn't live to see his dream, it did come true when in 1971 Walt Disney World opened its gates. Though tourists come to Orlando to have a gay old time, they are often plagued with questions, like 'Where to go?' 'What to do?' 'Where to stay?' 'And what to eat?' This is because Orlando has so much to offer, the choices can often be mind-boggling.
Orlando is a timeless, yet vigorous city. It seems to be always growing and changing, but still manages to hold on to some of its old world charm. Theme parks and tourist attractions are in a league of their own, but that doesn't mean that Orlando is just a destination for kids; there is all kinds of fun in Orlando. Disney has four parks, Magic Kingdom, Disney MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. And Universal has also made its mark on Orlando with Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. And how can we forget SeaWorld, a park that is every kids dream come true with dolphins and penguins all around.
If you are looking for a cultural and learning experience, you need not even venture out of Orlando, because you can find world-class museums and parks here. The Winter Park, with its works by Tiffany at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, and the Loch Park, with its American art at the Orlando Museum of Art, can appease any culture lover's appetite.
This beautiful city is quite aptly called 'The City Beautiful', and it's a name well earned, what with its verdant views, lakes, rivers, and wildlife preserves and parks. You can also enjoy a relaxing day with a picnic at any of the public spaces and gardens. And for a lesson on flora and fauna, the Harry P. Leu Gardens are the place to be, with more than 50 acres of sprawling land.
Dining options and restaurants are aplenty in Orlando. There are a number of economical to upscale restaurants in Orlando. There is everything from fine dining to fast food chains, and gourmet restaurants to eateries and cafes. You will find plenty of these at International Drive and Sand Lake Road, and Downtown Disney is a great place to catch some grub. The nightlife is as vibrant as the bustling theme parks. The main places to enjoy great nightlife are at Downtown Disney Westside, Downtown Disney, Pleasure Island, Universal Studios Citywalk, and, of course, the ever-popular Orange Grove. You can choose to salsa the night away at Universal's Latin quarter, enjoy the club scene at Tabu Nightclub, or enjoy some foot-tapping music at Disney's La Nouba of Cirque du Soleil fame.
Orlando isn't just fun and games, it is considered to be one of the fastest growing cities. It has a population of almost 2 million, and is a great place for business. Tourism is the main industry in Orlando, with the city having more than 95 attractions, 110,000 hotel rooms, and easy access to everything.