Featured Hotels in Orlando
Acclaimed by many as the world's number 1 theme park and family holiday destination, Orlando in Florida attracts 60 million visitors a year with its unique mix of entertainment, shopping and dining options, as well as its gorgeous year-round weather. Its global fame as a centre for family fun is largely due to a single name -- Disney, and Walt Disney World -- and its wealth of similar legendary attractions are the reason it has become known as the Theme Park Capital of the World. However, beyond theme parks, Orlando holidays offer a host of other pleasure options worth exploring.
It's certainly true that for many people, the name Orlando conjures up one image above all others, and that is Walt Disney World -- despite the fact that it is not actually located in Orlando at all, but about 35 minutes south-west of the city centre. Still, most people stay in Orlando in order to visit Walt Disney World, which is in fact a complex of four theme parks and two water parks, plus a dining and shopping area, and various hotels and recreational activities. The largest of the four theme parks is Magic Kingdom, and if you only have a short time and are looking for vintage Disney, this is where you should start.
This is because Magic Kingdom is where you will find all the classics, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan and Big Thunder Mountain, as well as Cinderella Castle, the Haunted Mansion, and "it's a small world" -- and there are always new excitements being added, like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The other parks include Disney Hollywood Studios, celebrating the magic of Hollywood, and offering popular attractions like Star Wars and Toy Story Magic, and Disney Animal Kingdom, where you can come face to face with live animals, and enjoy shows like Festival of the Lion King. Epcot, the futuristic park, invites you to soar above the earth on Soarin', or journey to the depths of the sea with Nemo.
If all this magic is not enough for you, there is plenty more at a wide variety of other parks, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a wizard-themed area that spans two theme parks at the Universal Orlando Resort -- Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida. The two areas are connected by the Hogwarts Express, and between them they cover the whole enchanted Potter world, with some of Orlando's most exciting thrill rides, including the Flight of the Hippogrill and Dragon Challenge. Devotees can even queue up at Ollivander's Wand Shop to be personally chosen by one of the wands.
Something for Everyone
Whatever your interest, the incredible array of theme parks at Orlando will have something to offer you. There's Sea World, where you can soar over the park on the Kraken and Manta rollercoasters, or swim and snorkel with dolphins, stingrays and shoals of tropical fish, or Gatorland, a 100-acre theme park and wildlife preserve known as the Alligator Capital of the World, home to thousands of crocodiles and alligators, as well as a petting zoo and one of America's largest bird rookeries. The Holy Land Experience is an inspirational Bible-themed park, designed as an interactive replica of Jerusalem in biblical times.
Away from the theme parks, Disney's Boardwalk is a quarter-mile promenade between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, built around the pretty Crescent Lake and lined with 1920s-themed shops and restaurants. From here you can hop on one of the slow-moving canal boats that chug along between the resorts, or just relax at one of the many enchanting pools. At night the wooden walkway comes alive with a myriad street performers.
Wealth of Options
Although the theme parks are the main factor that keep Orlando's millions of visitors coming back year after year, there is plenty more to Orlando holidays, including more than 2,000 rivers, lakes and springs, for boating, swimming, fishing and waterskiing, or the 9 world-class malls for sensational shopping. In fact Orlando is a unique destination, where adults and children of all ages can enjoy once-in-a-lifetime adventures, encounters and experiences. Whatever brings you here, your holidays to Orlando will stay in your mind long after your return.