Destination Spotlight: Orlando

Orlando, FL – The City Beautiful

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Located in the heart of the Sunshine State, the City Beautiful, as called by many, offers a variety of attractions. Orlando has something for everyone. To start, it is home to world-class renowned theme parks that include Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Parks, as well as water parks and other themed attractions. It’s no wonder Orlando has been recognized as the most-visited city in the nation for several years.

Located roughly 21 miles southwest of downtown Orlando, Walt Disney World covers an area of over 30,000 acres, including four theme parks, two water parks, 23 on-site themed resort hotels, a campground, two spas and physical fitness centers, five golf courses, and other entertainment spots such as Downtown Disney, which offers shops, restaurants, a Cirque De Soleil show, a multiplex movie theater, and live music and dancing at the House of Blues, a restaurant and nightclub venue. It is the world’s most-visited theme park and resort, attracting a variety of national and international tourists.

One of Orlando’s newer theme parks, Universal Orlando Resort originally opened as Universal Studios Florida in 1990. The resort now consists of two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, where visitors can ride the movies, as the park’s slogan goes, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which features premier roller coasters, the award-winning Spiderman experience, and the whimsical world of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando Resort also includes CityWalk, an entertainment venue offering shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, in addition to concerts at the Hard Rock Live, and three first-class Loews hotels, as well as a Loews movie theater. It is the second-largest theme park in Central Florida.

For those who love animals, especially those creatures that call the ocean home, Sea World will delight and entertain, with its fish, shark, penguin, and sea turtle exhibits that are paralleled by none. The park also features captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows, and is home to Shamu, the most famous killer whale to ever grace the East Coast.

But theme parks aren’t all Orlando is known for. The city is also a hub for conferences and conventions, thanks to its state-of-the-art convention center that attracts businesses near and far. There’s also downtown Orlando, a metropolitan mix of hip bars and nightclubs, cool, kitschy shops, and restaurants with cuisine to fit any appetite. For sports fans, Orlando is home to the Amway Center, one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the world, with 18 high-resolution displays inside and a large exterior display of over 5,000 LED sticks, making it hard to miss on your drive down Interstate 4, the city’s main highway. The Amway Center is also home to the Orlando Magic basketball team and the Orlando Predators arena football team. In 2012, it hosted the NBA All-Star Game, and starting in fall 2012, the Amway Center will also be home to the reincarnated Orlando Solar Bears hockey team.

And for those who like art and culture, Orlando has a variety of museums, a thriving arts district downtown featuring an eclectic mix of galleries, and several professional and semiprofessional theater houses.

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