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Orlando (Florida)

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Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Florida Central Florida Orlando

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Introduction

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Disney Orlando home available

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Orlando, Florida, is host to over 52 million visitors each year. Famous for its theme parks, the city and local area has more hotel beds than any other city in the USA, except for Las Vegas. It is the county seat of Orange County. Located in Central Florida, it is the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which had a population of 2,387,138, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released in March 2016, making it the 24th largest metropolitan area in the United States, the sixth largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States, and the third largest metropolitan area in Florida.

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Neighbourhoods

There are over 100 neighbourhoods in Orlando.

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Sights and Activities

Walt Disney World

Four theme parks - Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom, and two water parks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon - comprise the world famous Walt Disney World Resort. It is said that people should allow seven full days to explore the 47 square miles of pure fun. Magic Kingdom's Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm are considered to be amongst the best family theme park rides in the world. Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur and It's Tough to Be a Bug are also widely known as great thrill and 3-D simulation rides respectively.

Universal Studios Florida

Love films? Love shopping? Universal Orlando Resort may live up everyone's expectations. All the rides and attractions at Universal have been designed so that people can feel immersed into the most popular Universal Studios films. Men in Black Alien Attack, Back to the Future: The Ride, E.T. Adventure, Terminator 2: 3D, and the Simpsons ride have been highly rated by theme-park fans. Universal Studios' sister site, the Island of Adventure offers the most innovative rides and attractions ever created, such as The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Incredible Hulk Coaster. For those looking for other type of entertainment, CityWalk is full of shops, restaurants and clubs.

Seaworld

When visiting Orlando and particularly the theme parks, it is strongly advisable to start with SeaWorld Adventure Park, as its stadium style shows ensure short queues under the heat. The park features sea lion, dolphin and orca shows, which run at particular times. Therefore it is also good to plan in advance the day with the help of a show schedule.

Discovery Cove

Discovery cove is not the typical park in Florida, it is more about interacting with nature and animals. People have the chance to swim with dolphins, learn about exotic birds, tropical fishes and land mammals, explore artificial coves. Situated just opposite to SeaWorld, there are no roller coasters and all people need is swimming suits and snorkels for the day.

Wet 'N Wild

Considered America's best water park, Wet'N Wild has attractions for the entire family. It was also given the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Waterpark Association thanks to its high quality service and world-class thrill rides, which ensure a full-day of fun. It is run by Universal Studios Recreational Group since 1998 and it is strategically located on International drive.

Aquatica Park

Aquatica, SeaWorld's waterpark has got the most thrilling rides amongst Orlando's water parks. There are two river rides, a couple of massive wave pools, more than 30 water slides and white sand beaches, surrounded by the most amazing and exotic sceneries. The park is part of the Worlds of Discovery, who also run Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Central Florida Zoo - This zoo features over 125 different animal species in addition to ZOOMair - a ropes course above the trees.
  • Mandara Spa - With locations across the world, Mandara offers relaxing spa treatments for everyone.
  • Eo Inn and Spa - Orlando's premiere boutique hotel and day spa.
  • Kennedy Space Center - Take a special look into NASA, train in a space simulator, meet a real astronaut - and if you come on the right day you can even watch a rocket launch.
  • Fantasy of Flight - An educational exhibit on the history of air flight.
  • Revolution: The Off Road Experience - Offers 4-wheeling, 4x4, dune buggying and more.
  • Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre - http://www.sammyduvall.com/ - Riding on watercrafts and parasailing above Disney make this an experience for people looking for thrills in and above the water.
  • Green Meadows Farm - Kids and families will enjoy this peaceful petting zoo.
  • The Holy Land Experience - A religious museum/theme park re-creating the biblical times.
  • Gatorland - An alligator preserve that allows you a hands-on experience.
  • Enzian Theater - A cinema for the indie/alternative crowd that also offers food and alcoholic beverages.
  • The Orlando Eye - Standing at 400-Feet high, The Orlando Eye is the largest observation wheel on the East Coast. Enjoy the view of Central Orlando in all directions , with sights of downtown Orlando’s skyline, theme parks, lakes and lush landscape, and on a clear day, views of Cape Canaveral on the east coast. Address: 8401 International Drive, Phone: (866) 228-6438

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Events and Festivals

Check the Orlando Events Calendar for more information.

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Weather

Orlando has a temperate tropical climate with generally warm and humid weather. Winters last from December to February but it's mostly around or slightly above 20 °C during the day and around 10 °C at night. Snow and frost are very rare, but have occured during extreme circumstances when winds directly from the north blow down to Florida. Summers from late May to September are unbearably hot and humid with days generally over 30 °C and nights between 20 °C and 24 °C. Most rain falls during this period, but a shower or two is also possible during the winter months. From June to November is also hurricane season, though Orlando is not as severely hit as coastal areas in general.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max21.6 °C22.6 °C25.6 °C28.3 °C31 °C32.5 °C33.1 °C33.1 °C32.1 °C29.2 °C25.8 °C22.7 °C
Avg Min9.2 °C9.8 °C12.9 °C15.2 °C18.8 °C22.1 °C22.8 °C23 °C22.4 °C18.8 °C14.2 °C10.7 °C
Rainfall58.4 mm76.7 mm81.5 mm45.7 mm90.2 mm185.9 mm184.1 mm172.2 mm152.7 mm61.5 mm58.4 mm54.6 mm
Rain Days5.165.83.87.211.91413.810.25.84.64.8

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Getting There

By Plane

  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the major airport for the city and many airlines serve destinations within the USA and to Europe and South America. The airport is located about 11 kilometres from the CBD of Orlando. It's the second busiest airport in Florida and even in the top 30 worldwide.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: Lynx provides a sub-station at the airport with service to Downtown Orlando and other area routes.
  • A complimentary coach transportation service for guests staying at Walt Disney World resort hotels. The motor coach service is operated by Mears Transportation. Guests have to book in advance reservations.
  • Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, SunCruz Casinos, Sterling Casinos and Mears Transportation all run scheduled buses from the airport to Port Canaveral for incoming cruise passengers
  • The community of The Villages in Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties operates a shuttle between the community and Orlando International Airport. The shuttle stops at Lake Sumter Landing and Spanish Springs
  • Taxis and rental cars are both widely available at the airport as well.

By Train

  • The Silver Service/Palmetto, operated by Amtrak, travels between New York and Orlando.
  • The Autotrain travels between Lorton, Virginia (near Washington DC) and Orlando.

By Bus

Greyhound Lines serves Orlando, linking with its national routes.

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Getting Around

By Car

The car is omnipresent in Orlando, and it is a very easy and convenient (if not congested) way to get to your destination. Orlando is a sprawling city with most attractions lying far to the south of the CBD and into adjacent cities like Kissimmee. The roads are all wide and easy to drive on with all major attractions well signed, but traffic jams around downtown are common in the afternoons, and around the touristy areas on Friday nights and all day Saturday. Orlando ranks 8th in the nation in terms of traffic congestion, and there are numerous ongoing construction projects on area expressways.

The main highway through Orlando, and the only interstate serving it, is Interstate 4 (commonly called "I-4") which runs diagonally from northeast to southwest across the Orlando area. In recent years major construction on it has widened it through areas south of S.R. 528 making it a commuter-friendly highway (except for traffic during rush hours and Friday and Saturday evenings). Downtown Orlando; International Drive; Amway Arena; the Mall at Millenia; Arabian Nights dinner theater; and theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Discovery Cove, the Holy Land Experience, and Wet n' Wild are all conveniently located along/near I-4.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Sixt Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Taxi

Orlando is visited by millions of tourists each year and this means that the region require more taxis to serve this great population of travelers. There are several taxi companies that are operational in the region.

By Public Transport

Lynx provide local bus services which reach most corners of the Orlando area. They call at the Disney Transportation Center, which there are transfers to Disney's own transport to their parks and resorts.

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Eat

A wide variety of restaurants can be found in CityWalk at Universal Orlando, including Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Pastamore, NASCAR Cafe and much more. Parking is $14 during the day and $3 after 6PM (except during holidays or special events, such as Halloween Horror Nights). Much choice can also be found in Disney Springs, including Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and Wolfgang Puck Cafe. Texas de Brazil, is a Brazilian steakhouse in the heart of downtown, serving beef, chicken, lamb and pork in many preparations.

  • Fulton's Crab House - A traditional style crabhouse right on the water located in Downtown Disney.
  • Kres Chophouse - An upscale steak house located in Downtown Orlando.
  • Emeril's - Famous chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurant located at Universal's CityWalk.
  • Luma on Park - American cuisine with an extensive wine list.
  • Funky Monkey Wine Company - A restaurant featuring a variety of sushi and wine.
  • Norman's - Impeccable, somewhat affordable food inside the Ritz Carlton.
  • 310 Lakeside - Classic American cuisine overlooking Lake Eola.
  • Cala Bella - A seafood restaurant located at Shingle Creek Resort.
  • Ming Court - Nightly oriental folk music performances compliment a wide selection of sushi, dim sum and more.
  • K Restaurant Wine Bar - Upscale American dining.
  • Le Coq Au Vin - A modern twist is given to classic french foods at this restaurant.
  • The Black Olive - Mediterranean inspired Italian cuisine.
  • Urban Flats - Flatbreads and wine are the centerpiece of this modern-casual restaurant and wine bar.
  • Hamburger Mary's - A gay-friendly burger joint with drag shows and drinks.
  • Cuba Libre - A cuban restaurant that turns into a Latin dance club by night.

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Drink

Orlando nightlife away from the theme parks is centered mostly around Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Here you can walk and find many bars. A short walk away is the tiny Thornton Park District, located near the intersection of Washington and Summerlin. Among the dozens of cafes and pubs, you might stop in for a drink and a quick bite at Dexter's on Washington. For local flair head across the street to Burton's Frosty Mug, or sample the hip urban environment at the trendy HUE at the corner of Washington and Central.

Although most of the downtown Central avenue crowd is comprised of the "twentysomething" generation, for a more 30's and over entertainment experience, one can enjoy live jazz on many nights in the lounge of the Grand Bohemian Hotel located downtown on Orange Avenue. The jazz is excellent and the ambiance is quite comfortable, although drinks tend to be pretty pricey here.

There are quite a few places to enjoy quality dining and drinks along Park Avenue in Winter Park, an adjacent suburb which is just northeast of Orlando. Winter Park is known for its many older grande homes that dominate the more historic sections of this suburb affectionately referred to by many as the center of Orlando's "old money." Park Avenue is an active pedestrian street featuring trendy shoppes, galleries, restaurants and nightspots. It has recently grown from becoming a one street attraction to more of a district, as several nearby streets have now added similar attractions.

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Sleep

With a hotel around virtually every corner (actually 4 or 5 around every corner) it seems impossible to throw a rock and not hit a hotel. There are hotels to meet every traveler's need, whether it be a hostel or a 5-star resort, although many visiting families often prefer to rent their own private villa as they usually provide much more personal space and have their own private facilities. There are also a large number of lodgings in the surrounding cities and towns.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Rodeway Inn Orlando7050 S. Kirkman RoadHOTEL67
Palm Lakefront Resort & Hostel4840 W.Irlo Bronson Hwy 192 Kissimmee, Florida 34746HOSTEL-
Ramada Convention Center I-Drive8342 Jamaican CourtHotel-
Sunstyle Suites7209 S Orange Blssm Trail Orlando, FL 32809Hotel68
Tuscana Resort1395 Tuscana Lane Champions Gate, FlHotel-
Knights Inn Maingate Kissimmee7475 W Irlo Bronson HighwayHotel-
Magical Memories Villas - Disney Area2801 N Poinciana BoulevardApartment-
Orlando Continental Plaza Hotel - International Dr6825 Visitor’s CircleHotel-
Monumental Hotel Orlando12120 International DriveHotel-
Monumental Movieland Hotel6233 International DriveHotel68
Record Parkside4651West Irlo Bronson Memorial HighwayHotel-
Best Western Airport Inn & Suites8101 Aircenter CtHotel-
Hampton Inn Melbourne194 Dike RoadHotel-
Super 8 Titusville Kennedy Space Center Area3480 Garden St. I-95 Exit 220Hotel-
Days Inn Orlando Convention Center/International D9990 International Drive I-4 Exit 72 To Exit 1 to I-Dr.Hotel-
Orlando Metropolitan Resort8444 International DriveHotel-
Days Inn Florida Mall9301 S Orange Blossom TrailHotel-
Orlando Metropolitan Express6323 International DriveHotel-
Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa8112 Poinciana Blvd.Apartment-
Palisades Resort14200 Avalon RoadApartment-
Comfort Inn & Conference Center2025 West SR 434Hotel-
AAE Universal Maingate5827 Caravan Court Days InnHOSTEL-
Ramada Suites Orlando Airport7500 Augusta National DriveHotel-
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Near Universal5605 Major BlvdHOTEL-
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort1850 Hotel Plaza BlvdHotel-
Rodeway Inn6119 S Orange Blossom TrailHotel-
DoubleTree by Hilton5780 Major BlvdHotel-
Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort2000 Hotel Plaza BlvdHotel-
Quality Inn International7600 International DriveHotel-
Red Roof Inn Orlando International Drive9922 Hawaiian CourtHotel-
Hampton Inn7110 South Kirkman RoadHotel-
Motel 6 Orlando - International Drive5909 American Way I-4 at Kirkman Road, Exit #75-A Orlando, FL,HOTEL-
Motel 6 Orlando-Kissimmee Main Gate East #4645731 W Irlo Bronson HighwayHotel-
Motel 6 Orlando-Kissimmee Main Gate West #4367455 W Irlo Bronson HighwayHotel-
Orlando Grand Hotel3155 South John Young ParkwayHotel67
Quality Inn Universal6101 Sand Lake RoadHotel-
Ramada Gateway Orlando7470 West Irlo Bronson Highway KissimmeeHotel-
Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal7800 Universal BoulevardHotel-
Royal Plaza Located in the Walt Disney World1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd Lake Buena VistaHotel-
Rosen Inn At Pointe Orlando9000 International DrHotel-
Clarion Lake Buena Vista8442 Palm Pkwy. Lake Buena VistaHotel-
Rosen Inn Universal6327 International DriveHotel-
Holiday Inn Main Gate East5711 West U.S. Hwy 192Hotel-
World United International House4400 Simmons Rd.HOSTEL-
Vista Cay Resort by Orlando Resorts Rental4874 Cayview AvenueAPARTMENT-
World United International Hostel Kissimmee4640 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (U.S. 192) KissimmeeHOSTEL-
World United Cabin Hostel3401 South Hiawassee DriveHOSTEL-

Mid-Range

The Ramada Convention Center on International Drive is two miles from Universal Studios and SeaWorld, five miles from Walt Disney World.

Upscale

  • Hard Rock Hotel - The famous rock 'n roll themed hotel combines restaurants, clubs and shows to provide an entertaining place to stay.
  • Nickelodeon Family Suites - A hotel aimed at kids and families offering up a chance to see a Nickelodeon show taping, experience a 4-D movie, and get splashed with the famous green slime.
  • Rosen’s Shingle Creek Resort - A stunning resort complete with a spa, golf course, pools and beautiful suites.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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County
Orange County
Population
227,907 (City)
Area
261.5 sq. km
Time Zone
UTC -5
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 28.533513
  • Longitude: -81.375789

Contributors

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Orlando (Florida) Travel Helpers

This is version 47. Last edited at 9:06 on Sep 9, 16 by Utrecht. 24 articles link to this page.

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