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Orlando Travel Guide

flights to Orlando

Who's the leader of the club that`s made for you and me M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Yes Orlando Kingdom of the Mouse, theme park central, America’s biggest playground. If you’re looking to let the child in you run riot, this is the best place on earth to do so. For a twisty, turny, upside downy, round and roundy adventure there is nowhere quite like Orlando. When uncle Walt decided it was time for world domination it was from here he launched his initial attack. Disney World Florida opened its doors in 1971 (Walt left to meet his own creator in 1966). It was an instant success and has continued to expand and made obscene amounts of cash ever since. The knock on effect from Disney World is the creation of several other theme parks in the area. Add this to the City’s proximity to Cape Canaveral and you can start to appreciate its appeal. After all this is, for many, what modern America is all about movies and astronauts!

We may as well cut to the chase here and get the essentials out of the way. If you are going to Orlando you would be foolish not to visit Disney World. Whatever you think about the King of Cartoondom (especially in the light of recent unfavourable exposes) you have to hand it to him WDW is a truly mind blowing experience and one that should be savoured to the full. At this juncture I would like to pause and spare a thought for all those poor souls dressed as huge bears, dinosaurs, dogs, ducks and mice we’re talking average temperatures of 90o in Summer and it never drops below 50o.

The main attraction of Disney World is, of course, The Magic Kingdom where you’ll find the legendary Space Mountain and Extra TERRORestrial Alien Encounters. Disney MGM Studios Theme Park the rides are mainly interactive 3D and simulator based and it has to be said are mostly superb. A really fascinating attraction, and one that should be visited during the week, is the Magic of Disney when you get to see animators actually working on the latest feature. The EPCOT Centre is split into two main sections Future world which includes Spaceship Earth, Wonders of Life and Body Wars (think Inner Space, Fantastic Voyage). The latest addition is the 500acre Animal Kingdom, which is Disney`s largest park and home to 1,000 animals and 3,000 species of plants and trees. As with other Disney parks Animal Kingdom is split into several areas; Africa, Asia, Dinoland USA, Camp Mickey and Minnie etc.

Disney’s main rival is the 444 acre Universal Studios. As well as the incredible rides Terminator 2 3D, Back to The Future, Earthquake (8.3 on the Richter scale), you can visit enormous soundstages actually used in TV and movie production, see props from your favourite movies and programmes and learn about the film making process. One of the most entertaining attractions is the Beetlejuice Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard Revue which features turns from the famous Universal Monsters – Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman. Wizards of the Screen is not to be missed… who would turn down the chance of doing battle along side Xena and Hercules.

When you tire of all things thrilling and surreal head for Florida’s Space Coast. For anyone who was a child on the sixties it is a place of absolute reverence. This is where our childhood heroes were sent hurtling into space – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn (virtually gods). To tour the Kennedy Space Centre is fairly inexpensive and absolutely wonderful. You get to visit see the Titan launch pads, Shuttle launch strip (and Shuttle) and an actual moon rocket in the Saturn V area. The International Space Lab Facility allows you to watch through glass as technicians work on actual space modules. There are three Imax movies that recreate space missions to startling effect. But the highlight is the Rocket Garden with the original Mercury Rockets and full-scale replica of the Shuttle. KSC is also the heart of a wildlife preservation area and the surrounding wilderness and nearby gorgeous beaches are all part of protected national parkland. There are plenty of opportunities for watersports and trekking and great (and inexpensive) accommodation including superb camping.

If you like wildlife, Orlando is for you. The highlights are Ocala National Forest with its natural springs, lakes and beautiful scenery. This is a favourite area for fishing, canoeing, swimming and hiking. Blue Spring State Park is situated about 40miles north of Orlando and is home to the manatee here there is a major drive to save the animal from extinction and offers an excellent chance to see these charming animals up close. Sea World is also worth checking out. The centre is partially a tourist attraction and partly a centre for the preservation and welfare of various endangered species. The performing animals are made up of creatures rescued in the wild. They also breed various animals for reintroduction to the sea. Gatorland is amazing. Here you get a chance to get up really close to these most dangerous of reptiles (fortunately there is toughened glass between you and the beasts). You can see the Gator Jumparoo where they jump for meals or best of witness bona fide gator wrestling in the aptly named Wrestling Stadium.

It’s hard to imagine anyone visiting Orlando other than for the theme parks and, to be honest, there isn’t an awful lot else to do. As you’ll have gathered even things that aren’t actual theme parks are still given some kind of theme park slant. Virtually everything in the area is geared towards tourism and as a purely touristy destination its one of the picks of the bunch. Even the countless restaurants, clubs and bars seem to have fallen victim to the theme park theme syndrome. That’s not to say that the food and entertainment are bad. Far from it you can eat yourself around the world, drink some of the America’s best beer and dance yourself dizzy in world-class discos. OK so it’s really for kids with small concessions to adult visitors. But that, my friends is just what makes it so good!

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Orlando Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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