Na'vi River Journey - Disney's Animal Kingdom
Orlando is the number one tourist destination in the world today with current figures estimating that over 45 million tourists visit every year. There are hundreds of attractions and places of interest to visit ranging from the high-octane rides found at the theme parks to the peace and tranquility of an afternoon on the beach, it can all be found in or around the Orlando area.
Many of the better-known attractions and theme parks are located to the south of Orlando. They include Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Islands of Adventure, Discovery Cove, Aquatica and of course the Walt Disney World Complex with its four parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios), two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) and Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Also in the area is International Drive (I Drive), which is home to over 150 restaurants and an abundance of attractions including Wonderworks, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Medieval Times.
A little further a field to the North East on the Atlantic coast you’ll find miles of glorious golden beaches at Daytona and Cocoa, as well as the Daytona International Speedway where many of high profile races are held including NASCAR, and you may even be lucky enough to experience a rocket taking off from the Kennedy Space Center.
An hours drive to the west of Orlando will bring you to the Gulf coast and the fantastic Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa. If you continue further down the Gulf coast you will pass through a number of picturesque towns such as Clearwater, St Petersburg, Fort Myers, Naples and Marco Island, all of which have beautiful beaches and are well worth a visit. Special mention must go to the white sandy beaches at St Petersburg and Clearwater.
A lot of tourists come to Orlando to experience the theme parks but there is so much more on offer. You can take a helicopter or balloon ride, ride an airboat through the swamps, have a picnic or try out some water sports in one of the many State parks, go horse riding, visit the museums, catch a game at one of the many pro sports teams in the area, or even go swimming with the dolphins at the excellent Discovery Cove.
No matter how many times you visit or how long you stay there is always something new and exciting to experience.
After the theme parks the second biggest lure Orlando has for many is its rich Golfing environment. With its good all year round weather and a huge choice of full size courses (upwards of 125 courses with-in an hours drive of the theme parks) the majority of which are open to the public, Orlando is literally a golfer's paradise.
The nightlife in Orlando offers many different options. There are hundreds of well-priced restaurants serving dishes from all around the world to be found and many locations have live music so you can dance the night away. Especially popular are the varies dinner shows such as Medieval Times and Pirates Dinner Adventure, which mix a full three or four course meals with a live action show, a sure winner for all the family.
Disney Springs is a fun place to visit at night. It is made up of West Side, the Marketplace, Town Center and The Landing, and features a number of attractions, shops, live entertainment, restaurants and a number of clubs. Also there are Universals CityWalk and Old Town, both of which offer similar amenities to Disney Springs and are well worth a visit.
Finally, you can't talk about Orlando with out mentioning the 52 million square feet of retail space!! Home to a large number of malls and retail outlets including Mall at Millenia, Osceola Square Mall, Belz Factory Outlet, Belz Designer Outlet Center, Disney Springs Marketplace, Church Street Station, Market Street at Celebration, West Oaks Mall and Orlando Fashion Square, you truly can shop till you drop in Orlando!