Orlando, Florida Travel Guide
- Home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and other major family-focused attractions
- Warm, sunny weather virtually year round
- Inexpensive flights to and from Orlando from most major airports
- Abundant family-friendly accommodations across the price spectrum; large number of hotels means relatively inexpensive rates for the quality for the hotels
- Tons of golf
- Orange County Convention Center, second largest meeting facility in the U.S.
- Little natural beauty
- Few museums and non-theme-park-related cultural attractions
- Relatively large distances between attractions make a rental car almost a necessity.
- Unimpressive local dining scene
- Far from the ocean
- Disney World: Four of the world's largest theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney's Hollywood Studios), two water parks, five golf courses, and 25 Disney-owned hotels spread over an area roughly the size of Boston
- International Drive: A busy thoroughfare connecting the Universal Orlando Resort, the enormous Orange County Convention Center, SeaWorld, and many hotels and resorts
- Lake Buena Vista: A municipality southeast of Orlando that encompasses all of Walt Disney World itself plus a small area outside the Disney property that's home to a handful of non-Disney hotels
- Universal Orlando: An area comprised of Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and the Volcano Bay water park
- South of Disney: This is the name we're giving to a huge area south of Disney where you'll find residential housing developments and large condo-style, non-Disney golf resorts. (It includes properties in Kissimmee, Celebration, ChampionsGate, and Reunion.)
What It's Like
Orlando is a sprawling, landlocked city to which tens of millions of tourists travel every year for one primary reason: Walt Disney World. Two other major parks -- Universal Studios and SeaWorld -- and a handful of smaller ones vie for tourist dollars, but Disney remains the center of the Orlando universe, even though the Disney property is technically in the municipality of Lake Buena Vista, which borders Orlando to the south-west. The other major draw of the city is the Orange County Convention Center, the second largest such facility in the U.S.
In a city where Mickey is king, it's no surprise that this town is about as family-friendly as they come. The area is relatively inexpensive; the locals have dispositions as sunny as the weather; the restaurants almost universally have kids' menus; and -- oh yeah -- there are those world-renowned theme parks, which have kept children smiling continually since Disney World opened in 1971.
Orlando is not a city of sweeping vistas and open views. Other than the impressive rides and infrastructure in the parks, and an assortment of golf courses, the city is far from picturesque. It's attractions are connected by massive four-lane highways, and interspersed with countless strip malls and chain restaurants. Renting a car is highly recommended, particularly for those planning to see sights and theme parks outside of Disney World.