Central Florida: Orlando and So Much More

Scheduled to appear in West Coast Families Magazine, Vancouver Canada, October 2015

Central Florida: Orlando
Central Florida: Orlando

Whether you’re spending a weekend, a week, or weeks on end in the center of the Sunshine state, you will find much to keep your family amused in the greater Orlando area. In fact, the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau states that it would take 41.1 days to see all the entertaining offerings in just in Orlando alone. Whether you are traveling on a “shoe-string” budget, or have the ability to “do the works,” the Central Florida area has something to offer everyone.

Anyone who has ever heard of Florida knows that the Orlando area has some of the world’s best theme parks including Walt Disney World, Disney-MGM Studios, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and Sea World of Orlando. But the fun doesn’t stop there! In addition to these fantastic destinations, Central Florida also offers high tech attractions such as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the Orlando Science Center. Visitors will find natural attractions abundant, such as Silver Springs, Cypress Gardens, and Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. Water-related attractions are plentiful as well. Water parks such as Wet ‘n Wild and Water Mania provide a day full of fun in the sun. Beaches are less than an hour away, with the most popular being the World Famous Cocoa Beach. If you’re looking for interesting attractions that will get you out of the heat, you can check out Guiness World Records Experience, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Orlando Odditorium, A World of Orchids, Brevard Museum of History and Science, and even ice skate at the Space Coast ICEPLEX. Families looking to enjoy animals will find many to look at, learn about, and even sometimes touch at Discovery Cove, Gatorland, Green Meadows Petting Farm, the Brevard Zoo, Jungle Adventures, and the Central Florida Zoo. Guests looking for a thrill can speed around the go-kart tracks and play in arcades at attractions such as TRAXX at Jungle Village, Fun Spot Action Park. Dinner theaters provide a wonderful way wind down the day while enjoying a great show and fabulous food at places such as Arabian Nights, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, Wild Bill’s Wild West Dinner Show, Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Show. Central Florida also offers a few unique attractions that take visitors to another land, such as Splendid China and the Holy Land Experience.

The Central Florida area also isn’t lacking for great places to stay. The Metro Orlando area has nearly 107,000 hotel rooms, which is the second largest concentration of hotel rooms in the United States. Catering to families has become very popular with the hotel industry. Some hotels offer kid-friendly suites, such as the Howard Johnson EnchantedLand Resort Hotel and Holiday Inn Family Suites Resort. Families looking for a suite hotel with full kitchen can enjoy a pampered suite vacation at resorts such as Summerfield Suites in Lake Buena Vista and Ramada Suites at Sea World. Budget-friendly hotels that still offer high quality service and top-notch accommodations can be found in hotels such as the Hyatt Orlando and the Four Points Sheraton Lakeside. Beachside hotels such as the Cocoa Beach Courtyard Marriott also offer family fun away from the hubbub of Orlando, but still close enough for a day trip to the attractions. Some resorts have been built in a way that they are almost an attraction to themselves, such as Ron Jon Resorts Orlando, which has its own on-site water park.

As with everything else in the Central Florida area, dining options are unlimited. Central Florida dining establishments are plentiful –more than 3,800 – offering every type of fare you may desire. From casual and inexpensive to exotic and high-priced, you are sure to find something that suits your needs. Local one of-a-kind local restaurants, such as Pacino’s Italian Ristorante, offer excellent food and good prices. Well-known national and regional franchise names such as Roadhouse Grill are also at nearly every turn, offering a familiar place for families to visit and dine. Orlando even offers the World’s Largest McDonald’s which has its own arcade, ice cream shop and world’s largest PlayPlace.

Being a native of Central Florida myself, I can recommend a family vacation to the area without hesitation. My family visits the many attractions on a regular basis doing reviews for our website,www.familytravelreviews.com (which provides reviews, links and information about many of the attractions mentioned in this article.) We talk with the many families we run into during our visits and find that many of them are back (often from faraway U.S. states, Canada and even overseas) for their third, fourth or fifth visit. Some families visit this attraction mecca annually throughout their lives. I am certainly not suggesting that Central Florida is the only place in Florida to visit, but I believe everyone should have the good fortune to come at least once. Of course, if you’re going to see it all (which in my thirty-some-odd years I still haven’t done) you should begin annual plans from now until, oh, about 2025!

FYI: Central Florida is the world’s leading vacation destination- Source: The Kissimmee St. Cloud Florida Convention & Visitors Bureau,

Metro Orlando hosted more than 39.12 million U.S. visitors and 2.86 millions of overseas visitors in 1999- Source: City of Orlando

Orlando Population 2000 185,915- Metro Orlando Population 1,644,561- Source: City of Orlando

Hotel Rooms Downtown 1,876 Metro Orlando 106,816- Source: City of Orlando

Helpful Trip Planning/Research Links:

Family Travel Reviews: www.familytravelreviews.com

Visit Florida: www.flausa.com

Orlando/Orange County CVB: www.orlandoinfo.com

Kissimmee/St. Cloud CVB: www.floridakiss.com

City of Orlando: www.cityoforlando.net

Downtown Orlando: www.downtownorlando.com

Walt Disney World Info: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/waltdisneyworld/index

Universal Studios Info: http://www.universalstudios.com/themeparks/html/main.html