Visiting Orlando - What to See and Do
(Orlando Sanford International Airport SFB, USA)
The home of Disney and a clutch of other amazing theme park attractions, Orlando
is a city that encourages visitors to have fun. Most people come here to spend a week playing at Disney's Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios or SeaWorld. These top-class theme parks create their own little fantasy city, and you don't even need a resort property to enjoy a complete vacation.
Those who venture into Orlando proper will find a fairly large city with excellent hotels, luxury spas and lots of high-end shopping. There is little historic charm here, but the fantastic golf courses, boating waterways and other recreation options certainly make up for it.
NBA basketball fans can catch a home game with the Orlando Magic basketball team, or some spring-training baseball games. You can also be on the beach within an hour or two. However, in reality, few visitors bother to venture outside the realm of Disney, because it has the best of everything that this part of Florida has to offer.
Ten things you must do in Orlando
- Disney's Magic Kingdom is the fantasy escape that started it all in Orlando, and it remains the most enchanting of all the major theme parks in the city. After a recent massive renovation, the park is looking better than ever. Space Mountain still roars, the Haunted Mansion is still spooky and the daily 'Wishes' fireworks display each evening rounds off every visit to Disney World.
- Part zoo, part safari, part theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of the most appealing attractions in the Disney family of theme parks. Enjoy one of the Kilimanjaro Safaris, trek through African jungle trails or take on the peaks of the Himalayas. This park covers the planet's highlights, offering a different approach to exploring each environment.
- Universal Studios Florida won't give Disney all the limelight. Its twin parks of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure combine state-of-the-art visual shows with lots of thrilling rides. The detail of the park's various themed sets is outstanding, and its thrill rides are some of the best in the world. Enjoy your favorite movie sets along with plenty of gut-dropping excitement.
- Orlando's famous SeaWorld attraction manages to teach you a little about our underwater environment while entertaining you at the same time. There is no denying that SeaWorld makes sea creatures thrilling and fun. For more excitement, simply head over to Aquatica, a high-speed ecological water park. There is even a relaxing facet in Discovery Cove, where swimming with dolphins and chilling on the beach are the highlights.
- Orlando's Mall at Millenia is an absolutely massive, modern and very upscale shopping center. The anchor stores like Macy's and Neiman Marcus are surrounded by 200 other top-flight specialty shops and some of the best restaurants in the city.
- Disney World alone operates five impressive 18-hole golf courses, but there are around 150 more courses to choose from within an easy drive of Orlando. This makes the city one of America's top golfing destinations, with highlights such as the Shingle Creek Golf Club (18 holes) and the Villas of Grand Cypress (45 holes).
- The spas available around Orlando's theme park zones are outstanding attractions. They mainly cater to high-end service and lots of pampering, but they rarely lack for customers. From the spa at the Peabody Hotel to the Neu Lotus Spa and Mandara Spa, there are many options to keep your body fit and rested while playing in the parks.
- Hot-air balloon rides are one of the most popular activities for travelers who want to take in the entire panorama of the theme park zone from above. Several companies operate flights every day when the weather is clear. Most of the balloons take off from the Lake Buena Vista area in Disney World, with the sunrise flight being the most popular for many reasons.
- Sports get a lot of headline space in Orlando, evident in the massive ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Here, you can catch the Atlanta Braves in spring training at their special baseball stadium or watch the local sporting activities of just about every other sport known to man. The 200-acre / 81-hectare facility also contains one of the world's biggest bowling alleys, and its indoor and outdoor facilities regularly host major sporting events that are held in Orlando.
- From October to April, it is possible to watch the Orlando Magic basketball team play their home games at the Amway Center in the downtown district. With more than 40 home games in a regular season, there is a fair chance of getting tickets if you know the right people or make your plans well in advance.