What do most people envision when they hear Orlando, Florida? Why, they envision Disney World, of course! While Orlando can certainly boast about their coveted Disney World, they actually have a lot more to offer, which makes it a ‘must-return’ destination for visitors.
Orlando attracts tourists from all over the world and made over $30 billion in tourist spending in 2008. Tourism accounted for 31% of total employment in the Orlando three-county area (orlandoinfo.com/research/market/index.com). Florida has such a high rate of income from tourism that it’s residents do not have to pay income tax. Tourism in Orlando seems to peak during spring vacation, normally around March and April, and summer vacation, in June and August. Orlando’s spring weather averages highs in the 80’s. Their summer weather averages highs in the 90’s, with rain for a short time practically every day, which quickly dries up in the intense heat. It is generally hotter and more humid in August.
The Orlando attractions are less crowded during their “off season.” Your vacation can be so much more enjoyable when you don’t have to spend so much valuable time in line just waiting to experience each ride or other entertainment.
Visitors of Orlando often stay in the city as well as the surrounding areas of Lake Buena Vista, which is where Disney World is actually located, and in other surrounding areas such as Kissimmee, Winter Park, Alamonte Springs and Davenport. Lake Buena Vista features many Disney resorts, from value resort hotels, to moderately priced resorts, and on up to luxury resorts and deluxe villas, all located in very close proximity to the Disney World attractions. Over 300 species of wildlife roam free at Disney’s more upscale resorts, just to give you an idea of the magnitude of thought they have put into providing a fantasy experience for you. There are many other resorts, timeshare properties, and themed hotels, many with indoor and outdoor water parks, also fit to suit a variety of budgets.
Orlando is best known for it’s Disney World attractions; however, there are many other attractions that are very popular, which include the Universal Orlando Resort located on International Drive (1-407-363-8000), SeaWorld Adventure Park Orlando on SeaWorld Drive (1-407-351-3600 or 1-800-327-2424), Aquatica located at 5800 Water Play Way, and Discovery Cove at 6000 Discovery Cove Way (1-407-370-1280). You also may have heard of Holy Land Theme Park located at 4655 Vineland Road, Gatorland at 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail, from whom you can get more information by calling 1-407-855-5496 or 1-800-393-JAWS, and Wet ‘N Wild, at 6200 International Drive (1-407-351-1800 or 1-800-992-WILD). You can usually find bustling crowds in downtown Orlando as well. You can enjoy a wonderful dinner, visit the theater, enjoy a museum, take in a concert or visit a nightclub. Golf country clubs and courses on acres of beautiful, expansive greenery abound in the Orlando and surrounding areas.
You can also take in as much shopping as you can handle at any one of Orlando’s several malls. The Florida Mall is located at the crossroads of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road and The Mall at Millenia, Orlando’s most upscale mall, is located on the Conroy Road exit off of I-4 a few miles south of Downtown. Orlando Fashion Square is a little over a mile northeast of downtown, located on East Colonial Drive and Macguire Blvd. If you prefer outlet mall shopping, Orlando Premium Outlets mall is close to Disney World right off of 535 and visible from I-4, Prime Outlets International mall is located at 4951 International Drive, just off I-4 and The Florida Turnpike, at the north end of International Drive, and the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores are located at 15657 S Apopka Vineland Rd (SR 535) near International Drive, just two miles from Disney World Resort.
In addition to possessing many tourist attractions, Orlando is the host to many conventions and trade shows. Two of its meeting venues are Orange County Convention Center, located at 9860 Universal Blvd (1-407-685-1061) and Universal Orlando Meetings & Events, located at 1000 Universal Studios Plaza (1-888-266-2121). By hosting your meeting in Orlando you increase the likelihood that two of the critical components of meeting events will be successful. Those two critical components are good turnout of exhibitors and a good attendee presence. As an added bonus, special rates on Disney World attraction tickets will be available to those involved with your convention.
As you can see, there is a lot of fun to be had in Orlando. There are so many ideas for things to do, people return to Orlando year after year. You should visit a Disney or Universal Orlando attraction at least once, even if you don’t have children. Orlando can really bring the kid out in you, and you won’t know what you’ve been missing until you experience it for yourself.