Monday, March 24, 2008

Orlando - A Vacation beyond Disney

Copyright © 2008 Terry Hely

Orlando, Florida is known the world over as the home of Walt Disney World and is undoubtedly the entertainment park capital of the world. While most people know the Disney name, very few know that the total Disney experience includes separate parks for the Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach Water Park, Typhoon Lagoon, River Country Water Park and Pleasure Island. There are over 11 pages of ticket combinations available when booking online for the Disney parks!
Universal Studios Florida actually comprises 2 side-by-side parks. Universal Studios is the number one movie studio theme park in the world with real movie sets and attractions that put you right at the center of your favorite movie scenes. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure consists of five islands, each with its own character and offering something for everyone.

Making up the "big 3" parks is Seaworld Orlando, a renowned marine park that lives up to its reputation for making education fun. With over 200 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and a 17acre lagoon, there is absolutely no location like it anywhere else in the world.

Visitors explore the mysteries of the oceans, experience the beauty of the Arctic, have face to face encounters with polar bears, walruses, seals, beluga whales and get to touch and feed dolphins.

Orlando is also home to a host of other world-class entertainment parks such as Gatorland, Wet 'n Wild, Water Mania Florida and the Central Florida Zoological Park.**

The entertainment parks are naturally the #1 attractions that entice millions of visitors each year to Orlando and the adjacent towns of Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista which are the locations for many of the park attractions. However, central Florida offers plenty to see and do apart from the theme parks.The Harry P. Leu Gardens is located just a few minutes from downtown Orlando and consists of 50 acres of botanical magic. The gardens house one of the largest camellia collections in North America and the Leu House Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Orlando Museum of Art is considered to be one of the finest art museums in the southern USA, with outstanding collections of American art, ancient Americas and African art plus excellent educational programs.

Like everywhere else in Florida, Orlando and the surrounding areas of central Florida has numerous private and public golf courses. Many of the resort courses are restricted to resort guests.

Cracker Jack Stadium, completed in 2002, is the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves baseball club. The spring training matches at the stadium provides an opportunity to see the professional players up close before the regular season gets underway.

Orlando has its own basketball franchise in the NBA and the Orlando Magic play approximately 40 of their regular-season games in the 17,500-seat TD Waterhouse Center which is their home venue.**

The Blue Springs State Park, located near Cassadaga, is about 40 miles (65km) north of Orlando. The park is a leader in the fight to protect the once endangered Florida manatee and is an historic area that for hundreds of years was home to the Timucuan Indians.

The Ocala National Forest is an enormous reserve renowned for its natural springs and lakes, and offers excellent facilities for hiking, canoeing, fishing and swimming. The park is near the town of Ocala, about 60 miles (96km) northwest of Orlando.The reserve consists of three major spring areas. The beautiful Juniper Springs has crystal clear waters and is an excellent canoeing location. Salt Springs and Alexander Springs both have walking trails through cypress forests.

A popular attraction is Lake Eaton Sinkhole, 80ft (24m) deep and 450ft (135m) in diameter, with a staircase leading to the bottom. Nearby Lake Eaton provides a popular spot for swimming.

Disney World is a fantastic attraction but next time you take a trip to Orlando, make sure to experience some of the other attractions that Florida has to offer.


Terry Hely writes travel destination guides that are valuable planning resources for holiday makers. Find out more about Orlando vacations as well as the best choices for Orlando accommodation from his Go Florida website

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