Orlando and all its wonderful attractions are often the
first things that come to mind when people think of Central
Florida, and the four Walt Disney World parks are enough to fill an
entire holiday all on their own. Disney's Magic Kingdom is an
enchanting destination for young children, but the seven themed
lands, covering 107 acres, offer up something for the older kids -
and the kid in all of us - too. Enjoy the more sedate nostalgic
rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise, and then
hit the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster or the Twilight Zone Tower of
Terror for a thrill. The park is great fun after dark; don't miss
the SpectroMagic! parade, a thrilling combination of lights,
fibre-optics and music.
A visit to Epcot is an opportunity for entertaining education.
It is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, so you may want to plan
on spending more than one day exploring Future World, where you can
experience Mission: Space, a simulated space adventure, and World
Showcase, where you may have lunch in Japan and dinner in
Movie buffs will want to head straight to Disney-MGM Studios, a
theme park based entirely on movies and movie making. Animal lovers
will revel in observing wildlife in the most natural habitats
possible in a zoo setting at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Take a
Kilimanjaro safari and then visit Dinoland U.S.A. to take a trip
more than 65 million years back in time.
If you're not travelling with children, or your children are
older, you might want to forego the Magic Kingdom for Universal
Orlando's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Both
offer enough high-speed roller coasters and exciting movie-themed
attractions to satisfy even the most discerning teenager.
Sea World in Orlando
Seaworld Orlando is loaded with family-friendly shows, rides
and, of course, animal attractions. Shamu Adventure, starring that
world-famous killer whale, is a must-see but don't miss Pets Ahoy!
and Clyde and Seamore, two shows that will leave you in awe of just
what those little sea critters can do. Marine animal attractions
include Stingray Lagoon, Manatee Rescue, Penguin Encounter and the
ever-popular Shark Encounter, the world's largest underwater
Visit Discovery Cove for up-close-and-personal marine animal
encounters. Swim with dolphins, snorkel among rainbows of fish and
exotic rays or just laze on the beach in gorgeous tropical
surroundings set off by lagoons, reefs and grottos.
Plan a stop at Gatorland for some old-fashioned Florida fun.
Once a roadside attraction, this affordable diversion has blossomed
into a 110-acre adventure offering the opportunity to observe
thousands of alligators. Stop in at the aviary, cool off at the
water park - free of gators - and giggle your way through the
petting zoo. Whatever you do, make time for the Gator Wrestling
Show, something that is sure to be the height of your Gatorland
There is so much more to Central Florida than the theme parks,
though. Known as Florida's Lakes Country, the area boasts 554
lakes, and there are plenty of things to do that don't involve
hair-raising inverted loops. Eco-tourists will think they've
discovered their own version of the "magic kingdom" when they
explore the wide range of nature preservation areas in Lake
Wales, an area that hosts more endangered species than any
other in the United States. Start off in the cool of the morning
walking the Caloosa Nature Trail, a desert-like ecosystem and home
to unique flora and fauna. Green Swamp supports almost 40 percent
of Florida's nature vertebrate wildlife species, excluding
saltwater fish, and Lake Kissimmee State Park protects more than 50
species of rare and endangered animals. Take a peaceful canoe ride
through a canopy of oaks along the Peace River and marvel in the
graceful waterfowl taking flight while alligators sun themselves on
rocks and riverbanks.
Other lake areas provide ample opportunities for anglers.
Eye-popping largemouth bass are regularly pulled from Lake
Mattie, Lake Juliana, Lake Crago and 6,000-acre Lake
Hatchineha, all of which provide public-access boat ramps
where you may launch off to enjoy inspiring natural beauty while
dropping your lines.
Historic downtown regions provide lots of shopping venues.
Browse among the boutiques and bring home anything from flattering
designer fashions through to handmade jewellery and homemade candy
from the area's famous citrus groves.
Golfers won't be disappointed either. The variety of golf
courses available in Central Florida run the gamut from traditional
courses groomed over rolling hills through to courses placed amid
wondrous natural wetlands.
As if all this, and beautiful weather year-round, wasn't enough,
Central Florida affords enough fabulous dining venues - from
family-friendly to haute cuisine - and events, such as the Florida
Strawberry Festival held each spring, that you may have to schedule
several holidays here before you feel you've truly experienced all
that Central Florida has to offer.