Located in the center of the state of Florida, Orlando is the county seat of Orange County. This city is located on one hundred square miles of land and has a population of two hundred thousand residents in the city limits. If the surrounding area around Orlando is taken into consideration, the population of the metropolitan area skyrockets to over two million. This makes the city the third largest metropolitan area in the state of Florida. Orlando was incorporated in 1875 and originally started out as the center of the citrus growing region. Today it is best known for its amusement attractions and resorts.
One element of Orlando’s economy that is growing at a rapid pace is its technology industry. It is estimated that the cities technology industry is worth over thirteen billion and is growing at an almost exponential rate. This industry employs over fifty thousand people and includes subsections such as digital media, aviation, aerospace and computer software. Orlando’s secondary economic activity is tourism. Over fifty million visitors come to Orlando every year to visit the amusement parks, historical landmarks and other tourist attractions. Orlando’s economy is also boosted by a thriving convention industry. This city competes with other American cities such as Chicago and Las Vegas, in the amount of convention attendees that visit Orlando every year.
The most popular attraction in Orlando is Walt Disney World. This theme park opened in 1971 and features several main areas which include Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disneys Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Displaying over seventeen hundred animals from over two hundred and fifty species from every continent of the world is Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This huge five hundred acre park is divided into seven distinctive areas; Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia and Dinoland. In each of these sections visitors get a chance to interact with real and fantasy animals and sometimes even touch them. Animal Kingdom also offers its visitors entertainment that features parades, bird shows and stage shows. After the shows guest can check out the fine dining that includes cuisine from North America, Asia and Africa. This park also offer shopping venues where visitors can buy souvenirs, imported crafts and Walt Disney memorabilia.
Another popular attraction is Sea World Orlando. A major feature of this park is its Shark Encounter Exhibit. Its the largest underwater viewing tube that visitors can walk through and get a first hand view of some of the most dangerous predators in the world, sharks. Other features of this park include Dolphin Cove, Penguin Encounter, Stingray Lagoon and Wild Arctic. The park also has rides, shows, arcades and fine dining. Also, there are many hotels in the area around the park. Just adjacent to Sea World is Discovery Cove. This attraction allows visitors to interact and swim with a whole lot of different marine animals, including most notably dolphins.
Though not technically in the city of Orlando, Central Florida Zoo is only a few minutes from the city. This zoo was originally started in 1971 and features many indigenous animals as well as animals from around the world. They also offer educational programs and summer camps. Also just a short trip from Orlando are two very popular animal attractions. These are Green Meadows Petting Farm and Gatorland.
Another attraction to visit is Universal Orlando Resort. This theme park is a partnership between the Blackstone Group and NBC Studios. This popular resort is composed of two seperate parks; Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure. Also on site are three hotels and a night time entertainment destination called CityWalk which contains venues such as the Hard Rock Cafe. Just adjacent to this attraction is the Wet ‘n Wild Water Park. This sixty acre park has water rides such as slides, thrill rides and river expeditions.
An often overlooked attraction to visitors of Orlando is the Bok Tower Gardens. These gardens were founded in 1921 by Edward W. Bok, a famous editor and Pulitzer prize winning author. The gardens were established by the planting of ten thousand azaleas, a thousand oaks, five hundred gordonias, three hundred magnolias and over a hundred palm trees. Also hundreds of holly and blueberry shrubs were planted. Main features of this garden include a carillon tower and a wading pool.
Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine is also another attraction worthy of noting. This Shrine is composed of a two thousand seat church,a Rosary Garden, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Mother & Child Outdoor Chapel, a Museum, and a gift shop. The museum displays works of church art from around the world and the shrine features an eight foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.
The Holy Land Experience is another religious oriented attraction. It is located on fifteen acres and was built at an estimated cost of over fifteen million dollars. It features exhibits and various presentations that are based on a biblical theme.
Orlando is also a city that has a large number of museums and art galleries available to visitors. These include the Anita S. Wooten Gallery, Mennello Museum of American Art, National Vietnam War Museum, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Science Center, The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium, Harry P. Leu Gardens, The Titanic Exhibition, Orange County Regional History Center and the Orlando Fire Museum. Other interesting locations in this beautiful city include the B-52 Memorial Park, SAK Comedy Lab, Trainland International Trolley & Train Museum and the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture. Orlando is also home to a popular and fun medieval theme chain restaurant called Medieval Times. Its definitely a great place to check out with the family or with your friends and coworkers.