The City of Orlando is nicknamed “The City Beautiful” and its symbol is the fountain at Lake Eola. Orlando is also known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World” and in 2014 its tourist attractions and events drew more than 62 million visitors. The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth busiest airport in the United States and the 29th busiest in the world.
Since 1971, when Walt Disney World opened, Orlando has developed into one of the world’s top holiday destinations. More than 44 million visitors, domestic and international, make their way to this area annually to experience its seemingly endless array of diverse and unique attractions.
Disney World itself comprises four theme parks and more than two dozen smaller attractions, tens of thousands of hotel guest rooms and there are also large numbers of restaurants and nightclubs.
Universal Orlando is also a huge complex, adding to the choices available here, with two theme parks and three luxury resorts. Universal also boasts an entertainment complex, an array of unique restaurants and entertainment venues and clubs – and of course numerous shops. SeaWorld’s attractions include two theme parks and a dining, entertainment and shopping district.
In all, including the smaller operators, there are 95 attractions that keep families on the go however no matter how long they stay here on holiday. Restaurant options range from fine dining to fast food and many of the casual restaurants are based on themes, keeping in the spirit of the large parks. For accommodation, more than 112,000 rooms, villas, and suites provide options from the luxurious to the basic.
Beyond the theme parks and all the fast-paced excitement is the unspoilt natural environment of central Florida. The city is home to over 300 lakes, rivers and springs which are just waiting to be discovered, explored and enjoyed. In addition, there are parks with trails for walking and hiking as well as wildlife sanctuaries protecting Florida’s animal inhabitants. The variety in outdoor recreational opportunities adds to the area’s significant appeal, as does Orlando’s rich history and culture.
Orlando experiences a warm, humid subtropical climate with two distinct seasons. The hot, rainy season lasts from April until October and roughly coincides with the region’s hurricane season. The second season is cooler, running from November to March, bringing with it moderate temperatures and less frequent rain. The area’s humid climate is primarily due to its low elevation and latitude, which is near the Tropic of Cancer. Much of its weather is affected by the movements of the Gulf Stream.
During the summer season, temperatures rarely fall below 21oC and in the daytime, average highs are in the 32-37oC range. The extreme humidity here often pushes the heat index to 43oC and higher. During this time, strong thunderstorms are the norm most afternoons and are frequently accompanied by high winds, violent lightning, heavy rainfall and sometimes damaging hail. More lightning occurs in Orlando than anywhere else in the US.
In the winter, the humidity is lower and temperatures are more moderate. January’s average lows tend to be about 10oC, with daily highs approaching 21oC. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing and snowfall is very rare. The average annual rainfall in Orlando is around 50 inches, with most of the rainfall from June to September. December through May are Orlando’s driest months.
Orlando’s temperate climate brings visitors to the area throughout the year. From early September through until mid November is ideal for a visit, as children in the US are in school, meaning that the theme parks are less crowded and the weather is still very mild. Spring break sees the busiest time of year in the city with waiting times sometimes being unbearable.