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Your destination - Orlando

Ideal climate makes Orlando an all-year vacation haven located in the heart of the central Florida lake district. The story of Orlando is one that can be told before and after the arrival of Mickey Mouse in 1971. Before, it was a quiet town whose life and economy revolved around citrus fruit. After 1971, it was a booming, exciting, modern metropolis known far and wide as the home of Disney World. This area has since become internationally famous as a tourist attraction and a national center of high technology. Today, the sprawling 4-county metropolitan area surrounding Orlando has an estimated population of more than 1,390,000.

Downtown Orlando is city of brick streets, beautifully landscaped gardens, and stately oak trees draped with Spanish moss. At the heart of downtown is a park surrounding Lake Eola. The area is served by Amtrak, the Orlando International Airport, and a major cross-state freeway system. Although the Orlando area economy is dominated by theme parks attracting 30 million tourists a year, other key economic factors are citrus fruit processing plus emerging aerospace, electronics, and computer industries.

The area was long occupied by Seminole people before white settlers arrived in 1830. The town grew up around a fort built during the Second Seminole War (1835-42). It got its name during that war when Orlando Reeves, an American soldier, was killed after alerting his company of a sneak attack by the Seminoles. In gratitude, the soldiers who remained in the area after the war named their town Orlando. It was incorporated as a city in 1875. The character of the area changed dramatically when some 27,000 acres of swampland were transposed into Walt Disney World, defining Orlando as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations.

Notable attractions are Disney’s Wild Kingdom, futuristic Epcot, and Disney-MGM Studios; Sea World of Florida; Universal Studios; the Flying Tigers Restoration Museum displaying World War II aircraft; the Orlando Science Center, Gatorland; Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum; the Orlando Museum of Modern Art; Pleasure Island, a popular complex of restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs; paddle boats on Lake Eola; hot-air balloon rides; musical reviews and dinner shows. Other points of interest include the Seminole artifacts in Orange County Historical Museum; the Florida Symphony Orchestra; the ballet and opera companies; and the Shakespeare Festival every spring. For fans of professional sports, the city offers the Orlando Magic NBA team, and it is the spring training home of the Houston Astros major league baseball team.


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