Orlando holidays

Experience Orlando

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, partly thanks to the abundance of activities and attractions on offer. By far the most popular attraction on Orlando holidays is the Walt Disney World Resort. This enormous entertainment centre features four theme parks, two water adventure parks, 32 resort hotels, five golf courses, a wedding pavilion, the Wide World of Sports Complex and Downtown Disney.

SeaWorld is another popular place to visit. This marine adventure park includes amazing shows featuring various aquatic animals such as dolphins and whales, thrilling rides such as the Kraken rollercoaster, and up-close animal encounters. Once known only for its marine animal shows, the park has added rides to enhance its appeal.

Universal Studios Florida is one of the newer entertainment options, having opened to the public in 1990. Since its opening, it has made a name for itself by featuring an array of movie-themed rides and attractions that allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of their favourite stars. The 3-D rides place visitors in some of the most exciting scenes from their favourite movies. For a more traditional theme park experience, guests can head next door to Islands of Adventure, which is equipped with a rollercoaster and other rides designed to thrill and excite.

If visiting during the hot summer months, a trip to one of the water parks offers welcome reprise from the sun. One of the most exciting water parks is Wet 'N Wild, featuring waterslides, a wave pool and kids' pools. It's an excellent place to enjoy Florida's usually sunny weather.

Ripley's Believe It or Not offers a collection of oddities from various points in history. Even the Bavarian-style building itself is an oddity and was built to give the illusion that one side has disappeared into a sinkhole.

However, it's not just about theme-parks; a trip to Orlando just wouldn't be complete without a trip to a basketball game. Orlando Magic games are spectacular events - although booking tickets in advance is highly recommended.

For visitors who'd prefer to soak up Orlando's scenery, the Harry P. Leu Gardens are a must-see. The gardens boast a citrus grove, a butterfly garden and more than 1,000 rose bushes.

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Top Landmarks

Aside from its world famous theme parks, holidays to Orlando offer a few other interesting landmarks for those willing to venture beyond Walt Disney World. Titanic the Experience is centrally located among the tourist attractions of International Drive. You can explore the full-scale re-creation of the ship on an hour-long guided tour that includes the viewing of more than 200 artefacts. It's also an opportunity for visitors to experience the same cold temperatures felt on that fateful night.

The Orlando Museum of Art may not be on the top of many holidaymaker's itineraries, but it's worth spending a lazy (rainy) afternoon perusing the works that are on display. Some of the pieces are pre-Columbus and Mesoamerican, while others are 19th century American and African art.

Orlando Speed World shows off a variety of race cars travelling at incredible speeds, manoeuvring around sharp curves, uphill and downhill. The track also has crash and skid events for the crowd to cheer on. This is a perfect place for adrenaline junkies.

With a limited selection of rides, Epcot is not the same sort of theme park that is usually associated with Orlando holidays. The focus of this theme park, which is part of Walt Disney World, is technology and world cultures. Future World explores technology and its potential role in the future. World Showcase is just that - a showcase of world cultures and cuisines from 11 countries around the world. Epcot is popular for its edutainment.

Entertainment

With visitors booking package holidays to Orlando from all over the world, it doesn’t fail to keep the most discerning thrill-seeker entertained. One of the most popular and most convenient entertainment venues is Universal City Walk, an entertainment complex where there are options all under one roof – each within walking distance. The options here are vast and range from movie theatres, top restaurants and live bands, to karaoke and sports bars. There is something for everyone in this entertainment complex.

International Drive is a famous strip in Orlando where visitors from all over the world converge. On this strip, you’ll find several bars with plenty of alcohol and entertainment on offer. Icebar Orlando is a cool, hip spot featuring 70 tonnes of sculpted ice and drinks served in crystal ice glasses. When it's time for things to heat up, head to the Fire Lounge for music, dancing and unique cocktails.

Also located on the famous International Drive are a host of piano bars, featuring duelling piano shows and live bands. Often, bands take song requests and then encourage the crowd to sing and dance along.

When in the mood for a few laughs, try out a comedy club. Such clubs are great environments to grab a bite to eat while enjoying a few chuckles. Many of the comedy clubs have some of the biggest comics from across the country.

Dining Out

Just as there’s a vast choice of entertainment on package holidays to Orlando, the cuisine on offer is equally as eclectic. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, and this isn't lost on its restaurants, especially in a diverse, tourist-based city like Orlando.

There are cuisines to be sampled from all over the world and different dining options are seemingly available at every turn. It is easy to find American, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Chinese and a host of other cuisines. Take a stroll along the Universal City Walk and let your nose lead the way.

Florida is known for its barbeques and there are plenty of restaurants who specialise in firing up the grill. These restaurants range from moderately priced establishments like Tony Roma's Steakhouse, to the inexpensive Sonny's Real Pit BBQ chain. Sample a wide variety of barbequed meats accompanied with side vegetables, potatoes, and macaroni and cheese, all prepared the southern way.

For an entertaining dinner show that includes a pricier, more high-end dining experience, sit in at one of the mystery dinner shows. Guests mingle with characters as they try to solve an exciting who-done-it mystery.

Beach

Those desiring sun and fun at the beach will have to travel about one hour east of Orlando to either Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach. Both offer glorious white sand, and a host of different water sports. While these destinations are close enough for a daytrip, those wishing to stay the night will find an abundance of accommodation in close vicinity to both beaches. Many of the hotels are located directly off the beach and include their own private entrances to the beaches.

Romance

Though holidays to Orlando are known for being family friendly, there are plenty of things here to attract romantic couples. One of the most popular experiences for couples is a romantic dinner with American River Cruises. You'll have access to a full menu as you and your partner take in the sights of the St. John's River aboard a three-deck cruise ship.

Family

When looking for family fun, Orlando is one of the premiere locations in the world. Everything you encounter from the moment your plane lands screams family fun. Orlando is hands down the most exciting destination for an unforgettable vacation with the family, with its many theme and water parks pulling in the crowds. Choose between a Walt Disney World break or a day out at Wet 'N Wild, the choices for child-friendly days out are endless.

Adventure

There are a number of adventure activities for visitors to enjoy. Thrill-seekers will have access to bungee jumping, water-skiing and swimming with aquatic animals, all of which are easy to arrange. However, when visiting central Florida, no adventure vacation is complete without a tour of Florida's swamplands. There are plenty of tours that offer the chance to cruise across alligator-infested waters in an airboat. For an added thrill, try taking one of these tours in the dead of night when you'll be able to observe, first-hand, the nocturnal activities of the alligators.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

English is the official language of the United States. However, the country is a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures, especially in the large cities. Many different languages can be heard while travelling around Orlando, a city that is made up of a diverse spectrum of people. The most common language spoken here, other than English, is Spanish, as Orlando has seen an influx of Hispanics over the last few decades. While English is the main language here, locals will pronounce certain words differently from UK visitors. While this may not necessarily cause problems, it can make for comical encounters.

Currency

Visitors will need to convert their money to US dollars, the local currency. Most credit cards are widely accepted. Travellers' cheques are widely accepted and can be replaced if lost. Exchanging currency can be done easily in any of the numerous banks across Orlando. ATMs are available throughout the city, however, there may be transaction fees incurred, so double-check. As is the case whenever travelling abroad, you should notify your bank of your travel plans, especially if you plan on using your ATM or credit card. While ATMs tend to be open 24 hours a day, bank opening hours can vary. Many are open between the hours of 9am and 4pm, although there are a few that are open between the hours of 9am and 6pm.

Visas

If travelling from the UK, you will need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). Restrictions apply depending on the type of passport you hold, your nationality, criminal history, and countries you may have recently visited. The VWP allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days. All visitors from the UK must have an up-to-date passport. Visitors in any doubt should contact their local passport office for further information.

Climate

Undoubtedly, one of Orlando’s biggest draws is it’s year-round sunshine. Summer highs can reach 32 - 36°C, while even during winter, visitors can expect an average of 15.7°C.

The majority of Orlando’s rainfall occurs between June and September, and travellers should be aware that the city also comes with a hurricane risk.

Main Airports

The main airport in Orlando is Orlando International Airport (MCO). It is the second busiest airport in the state of Florida after Miami International Airport. Another airport in the area is Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), which is located in nearby Sanford, Florida. Both of Orlando's airports offer direct flights to London-Gatwick and Manchester year-round.

Flight Options

When travelling from the United Kingdom to Orlando, there are several viable options. Orlando International offers direct flights from London-Gatwick and Manchester to Orlando year-round. It's also possible to connect with the UK through another major US airport, such as Miami International.

Travel Advice

It is best to avoid travelling to Orlando and its theme parks during American school holiday periods, as the parks tend to get crowded with long queues. During the off season (October and early November), cheaper flights can be found. Orlando Sanford International Airport services low-cost flights, but the location of this airport is not as convenient as Orlando International Airport. Medical insurance is an absolute must. Failure to purchase effective medical insurance can result in hefty hospital bills.

Other Transport Options

As a major destination in Florida, Orlando is served by not only flights but Greyhound buses from locations all over the country. Amtrak offers train services into the city from other points in the country, including Miami and New York. It’s also possible to self-drive here, thanks to the country's excellent network of highways.

Getting Around

Shuttle services to the various theme parks and tourist attractions run from resorts and major tourist hotels. However, if you wish to stray away from the main tourist attractions, renting a car is the best option. Taxi service is another viable option, with cabs readily available from the airport and downtown areas of the city.

Bus

The LYNX bus system covers the entire city of Orlando, including Universal, Walt Disney World and SeaWorld. Bus stops are clearly identified by the Lynx paw symbol. Costs for one-way adult tickets are reasonable. Downtown, there is a free bus service that usually runs from 06:00am to 22:00pm, or midnight at weekends.

Taxi

Travelling around Orlando by taxi can be expensive, yet cabs are often a convenient option for short rides. There are hundreds of taxi firms to choose from, however, some are unlicensed, so it’s best to ask your hotel for a recommendation.

Car

The best and most convenient way of getting around Orlando is to hire a car. Renting a car is easy as there are a handful of international and local depots. Prices are very reasonable when hire is booked in advance for multiple days. Driving in the area is unchallenging for experienced drivers. It’s best to carry change in the car, just in case you decide to make use of the region’s toll ways.

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ORLANDO`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Orlando boasts more than 100 lakes.
  2. Standing at 441 feet, the SunTrust building is the tallest in Orlando.
  3. Covering 290,000 square feet, the Orlando Public Library is one of the largest in the state of Florida.
  4. Orlando is America's second most popular tourist destination, superseded by Las Vegas.
  5. Once the home of sprawling citrus groves, Orlando is the seat of Florida's Orange County.
  6. Much of the land that houses Disney Land was previously used by cattle ranchers.
  7. Jack Kerouac, author of 'On the Road', lived in Orlando in 1957.
  8. Orlando is also known as 'The City Beautiful' and 'O-Town'.

FACTS

  1. Orlando boasts more than 100 lakes.
  2. Standing at 441 feet, the SunTrust building is the tallest in Orlando.
  3. Covering 290,000 square feet, the Orlando Public Library is one of the largest in the state of Florida.
  4. Orlando is America's second most popular tourist destination, superseded by Las Vegas.
  5. Once the home of sprawling citrus groves, Orlando is the seat of Florida's Orange County.
  6. Much of the land that houses Disney Land was previously used by cattle ranchers.
  7. Jack Kerouac, author of 'On the Road', lived in Orlando in 1957.
  8. Orlando is also known as 'The City Beautiful' and 'O-Town'.

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