Orlando, a city in central Florida, is home to more than a dozen theme parks. Chief among its claims to fame is Walt Disney World, comprised of parks like the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, as well as water parks. Another major destination, Universal Orlando, offers Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter straddling both.
The city of Orlando is located in one of the world's most visited tourist regions, which draws tens of million visitors every year. Among its principal tourist attractions are Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Orlando. Within easy reach, too, is the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral.
What to see in Orlando?
Walt Disney World is Florida's most popular family attraction and has been for many years. Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Theme Park, and MGM Studios are just some of the highlights that have long entertained children and parents. There is enough to see and do to keep families occupied for days on end.
Orlando's SeaWorld, with its huge aquariums, dolphin and whale shows, touch pools, and extensive list of rides, draws a large family crowd. It also allows opportunities for close up encounters with dolphins and other residents. SeaWorld in Orlando is among the world's largest marine parks.
Universal Studios offers a look at the film studio of Universal studios, but also offers all kinds of other attractions and entertainment. This combination theme park and working studio was designed in consultation with Steven Spielberg to give visitors an interactive experience with the movies. As a result the attraction is designed to entertain adults and children and draws a large number of families.
Located next to SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove is one of the areas premier attractions. Visitors can experience some of the mysteries of the sea in an island resort setting. Some of the options including swimming with the dolphins, snorkeling along a reef, and wading among stingrays.
Typhoon Lagoon is one of Disney's most popular water parks, with all kinds of slides and rides, a wave pool for surfing, and areas for small children to enjoy themselves. Shark Reef gives visitors an opportunity to swim with leopard and bonnethead sharks, along with sting rays and other fish.
Located at Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure has five unique islands, each designed in their own theme, complete with rides and various other forms of entertainment.
One of Florida's first water parks, Wet 'N Wild contains enough fun and thrill rides to entertain people all day long. On site are a wave pool, water slides, chutes, raft rides and flumes. There are both individual and multi-person rides.
The Orlando Science Center showcases several branches of science from mechanics to biology and applied technology. There are a variety of themed exhibits. Among the top favorites is "Kids Town". Kids Town is available to children under 48 inches tall with stimulating interactive exhibits. There are also laser shows and large format films at the Dr. Phillips CineDome.
Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine was built in the 1980s. This large church can seat 2,000 people and is adorned with impressive stained glass windows. The church contains an 8 ft marble statue of Mary, created by sculptor Jill Burkee. In the outdoor chapel is another sculpture of the Mother and Child by Jerzy Kenar.
Gatorland has thousands of alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles, some of which perform in daily shows and demonstrations. The "Alligator Jumparoo" show and "Gator Wrestlin'" are two examples. The facility is also home to rare leucistic alligators which are white.
Epcot, originally EPCOT Center, is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division.
Magic Kingdom Park is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando, Florida.
Disney's Hollywood Studios, originally Disney-MGM Studios, is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. It is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company through its Parks and Resorts division.
Amway Arena was an indoor arena located in Orlando, Florida. It was part of the Orlando Centroplex, a sports and entertainment complex located in Downtown Orlando.
Camping World Stadium is a stadium located in Orlando, Florida. The stadium is located in the West Lakes neighborhoods of Downtown Orlando, west of new sports and entertainment facilities including the Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the under-construction Orlando City Stadium. It opened in 1936 as Orlando Stadium and has also been known as the Tangerine Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, and Orlando Citrus Bowl.
The Incredible Hulk is a launched roller coaster located in the Islands of Adventure theme park at Universal Orlando Resort. As the name suggests, the ride is themed after comic book superhero character, the Hulk.
The Mennello Museum of American Art is an art museum locacted in the Howard Phillips' house in the Loch Haven Park next to Lake Formosa in Orlando, Florida.
Bright House Networks Stadium, sometimes referred to as "The Bouncehouse", is an American football stadium located in Orlando, Florida, United States, on the main campus of The University of Central Florida.
The Bob Carr Theater is a major performing arts auditorium in Orlando, Florida and seats 2,518. It was part of the larger Orlando Centroplex organization which manages several facilities.
Spaceship Earth is the iconic and symbolic structure of Epcot, the second of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The Morocco Pavilion is a Moroccan-themed pavilion that is part of the World Showcase, within Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, United States.
The ImageWorks is an interactive exhibit area at Epcot's Imagination! pavilion, described in the closing spiel of the original Journey Into Imagination as "the creative playground of the future".
Best time to visit Orlando?
The best time to visit Orlando is January to April. That's the time of year you'll find the most pleasant weather (mid-70s most days) and agreeable prices on travel and lodging. Summertime is the worst season to plan a trip to the area - that's when hotels take advantage of the school break to drive prices up.