Orlando, Florida, United States of America
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Orlando Introduction

Nicknamed 'The City Beautiful', Orlando needs little introduction. A palm-lined paradise of action-packed thrills and magical family days out, the sun-baked region is regarded as the world’s theme park capital. But there's a quieter side to Orlando too, with unexpected gardens, wide tree-lined boulevards to stroll down, lush parks to spend lazy days in, and countless museums to explore.

Things to see

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is sure to ignite the imaginations of kids and grown-ups alike. With the iconic Cinderella Castle as its centerpiece, the whimsical fairytale land pays homage to all the beloved Disney classics. Within the resort you’ll also find the Downtown Disney complex, a colorful hub of shops, dining, and entertainment - all liberally dusted with that distinctive Disney magic. For movie buffs, theme parks don’t get much better than Universal Studios Orlando. With adrenaline-inducing rides and showbiz-styled attractions, visitors will find themselves stepping into some of their favorite blockbuster movies. Right next door, Universal’s Islands of Adventure is sure to thrill any budding explorer. With themed islands, including Jurassic Park and the ever popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter, adventure comes as standard. With its captivating marine-zoos, rides, and attractions, SeaWorld Orlando merges thrills and fun, with a little bit of deep-sea learning.

Hotels in Orlando

There’s certainly no shortage of hotels in Orlando. Whatever your taste and budget, the sheer choice on offer allows you to be picky. Five-star American luxury comes in the form of marble-clad hotels set within tropical gardens, complete with glittering pools, swanky restaurants, and lush green golf courses. The mid-range choices aim to indulge too, with plenty of deluxe amenities as well as Disney-themed hotels to stay in. For those who prefer a little American independence, rental villas are a great way to go. Cheap accommodation in Orlando is also in good supply, with comfortable motels and budget hotels all over.

Where to stay

If you want to immerse yourself in all the Disney magic, a stay within Walt Disney World will put you just a stone's throw from all the family-friendly attractions. Here you can rub shoulders with Mickey and co in the Magic Kingdom, encounter exotic animals in the Animal Kingdom, and take a ride in the ball-like Spaceship Earth at Epcot. If you're after lively nightlife, Downtown Disney's home to buzzing bars, live music shows, and restaurants dishing up everything from tasty Deep South dishes to freshly-netted fish while Lake Buena Vista's home to designer outlets where you can pick up big name brands at bargain prices. International Drive is packed with more action and where you'll find Universal Studios, SeaWorld Orlando, and the Wet'n Wild water park.

How to get to

With flights to and from most American and European destinations, Orlando International Airport will be the gateway into Florida for most visitors. Getting to your hotel from the airport shouldn’t be a problem, with plenty of bus and shuttle services traveling to and from the main hotels and resorts. Some hotels, such as those at Walt Disney World, provide a complimentary transfer service.

When are the best times to travel to Orlando?

For a balance of fine weather and low Orlando hotel rates, travel to the sun-struck Florida city in the months of January, March, and early April. Aside from the mid-March spring break mayhem, the city is quieter during this time, and enjoys balmy days and blue skies. Dedicated sun seekers and fun loving families should travel in the summer, when Orlando’s theme parks are in full bloom. The calm early autumn also offers sunny days, alongside discount hotels.

What are the top must-see attractions in Orlando?

Swing by the Harry P. Leu Gardens, a spread of expertly arranged green grounds dotted with trickling fountains and flowerbeds, and overhung by mossy Oak and golden Magnolia trees. The Gardens centre around the whitewashed 19th-century Leu House, which contains a small history museum. Orlando’s theme parks champion plenty of top sights too – like Magic Kingdom Park’s Cinderella Castle, designed in Romanesque Revival style of sharp-pointed towers, and the 18-story-tall geodesic dome – known as Spaceship Earth – in the EPCOT park.

What are the best types of food and restaurants in Orlando?

Orlando’s cuisine scene ranges from classic Americana cooking to international delights. In Downtown Orlando, you’ll find a variety of flashy steakhouses, gastropubs and relaxed wine bars serving stylish small plates – not to mention plenty of easy going chain restaurants. Unsurprisingly, the sprawling Orlando theme parks are full of great restaurants, too – like the world food restaurants in Epcot, and Downtown Disney’s raft of themed family-friendly eateries. For fine dining, check out the restaurants inside the luxury hotels in Orlando.

What are the top things to do in Orlando?

Film loving families will go wild for Universal Orlando, a gigantic resort containing 2 theme parks and a nightlife entertainment complex. One of the theme parks, Universal Studios Florida, offers movie themed roller coaster rides. For an alternative family-friendly amusement park, visit the expansive Walt Disney World Resort. Here, the kids will fall in love with the wonder of Magic Kingdom Park – with its gentle rides and fantasy-like settings – while slightly older kids will get inspired in the futuristic Epcot, which celebrates technological achievements and world culture.

What are some fun facts about Orlando?

Walt Disney World is so big that all of Manhattan could fit within its borders. The city and surrounding area is studded by shimmering blue lakes, but Orlando’s most famous one – Lake Eola – isn’t a lake at all, but a vast, dizzyingly deep sinkhole. There are 3 stories as to how Orlando got its name – the city was either named after the soldier Orlando Reeves, after the rancher and land owner Orlando Rees, or after the protagonist Orlando in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

What kinds of public transport are there in Orlando?

Orlando boasts a bountiful fleet of public buses, run by LYNX, which serve central Orlando and the wider metropolitan area. These buses are an inexpensive, easy and reliable way to travel in Orlando and to the nearby theme parks, like Walt Disney World. A free public Lymmo Bus also runs a frequent circuit around Downtown. For total convenience, get around by taxicab – you’ll find plenty throughout the city, particularly gathered outside the hotels.

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