|Orlando Florida Overview
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The city of Orlando is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 185,951 (metropolitan area 1,644,561). A 2005 U.S. Census Estimates population count gave the city population was 213,233 (metropolitan area over 1.8 million). It is the sixth-largest city in Florida, and its largest inland city. It is also at the head of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Orlando-Kissimmee MSA is Florida's third-largest metropolitan area, behind Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater. Additionally, Orlando is home to the second largest university in Florida,
the University of Central Florida.
The city is well known for the tourist attractions in the area, particularly the nearby Walt Disney World Resort, which is in the Reedy Creek Improvement District . Other area attractions include SeaWorld and Universal Orlando Resort. Despite being far from the main tourist attractions, downtown Orlando has recently seen much redevelopment, with many more projects currently under construction or planned. Orlando sees an estimated 52 million tourists a year. Orlando is the 2nd largest city in the country for number of hotel rooms. It is a leader in medical care and research, especially at Orlando Regional Medical Center, the only statutory teaching hospital
in Central Florida.
The city's nickname is "The City Beautiful", though plans are underway to change this title through a local contest. Its symbol is the fountain of Lake Eola.
Some historians date Orlando's name to around 1836 when a soldier named Orlando Reeves allegedly died in the area, during the war against the Seminole Indian tribe. It seems, however, that Orlando Reeves (sometimes Rees) operated a sugar mill and plantation about 30 miles (50 km) to the north at Spring Garden in Volusia County, and pioneer settlers simply found his name carved into a tree and assumed it was a marker for a grave site. They thus referred to the area as "Orlando's grave" and later simply "Orlando."
During the Second Seminole War, the U.S. Army established an outpost at Fort Gatlin, a few miles south of the modern downtown, in 1838. But it was quickly abandoned when the war came to an end.
Prior to being known as its current name, Orlando was known as Jernigan, after the first permanent settler, cattleman Aaron Jernigan, who acquired land along Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842. But most pioneers did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Most of the early residents made their living by cattle ranching.
Orlando remained a rural backwater during the American Civil War, and suffered greatly during the Federal Blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought a population explosion, which led to the city's incorporation in 1875.
The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's "Gilded Era," when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. But a great freeze in 1894-1895 forced many owners to give up their independent groves, thus consolidating holdings in the hands of a few "citrus barons" which shifted operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.
There are a couple of notable homesteaders in the area. First is the Curry family. On their property in east Orlando there was the Econlockahatchee River and everytime it had to be crossed the settlers would "ford the river". This leads its name to one of Orlando's roads, Curry-Ford Rd. Also, just south of the airport in the Boggy Creek area was 150 acres of property homesteaded in the late 1800's by the Ward family. This property is still owned by the Ward family and can be seen from flights out of MCO southbound immediately on the south side of SR-417.
Orlando, as Florida's largest inland city, became a popular resort during the years between the Spanish-American War and World War I.
During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed at the Pine Castle AAF. Some of these servicemen stayed in Orlando to settle and raise families. In 1956 the aerospace/defense company Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) established a plant in Orlando. In 1958, Pine Castle AAF was renamed McCoy Air Force Base after Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy.
Orlando is close enough to Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Kennedy Space Center for residents to commute to work from the city's suburbs. It also allows easy access to Port Canaveral, an important cruise ship terminal. Because of its proximity to the "Space Coast" near the Kennedy Space Center, many high-tech companies have shifted to the Orlando area.
Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World. Although Disney had considered the cities of Miami and Tampa for his park, one of the major reasons behind his decision not to locate in those cities was the threat of hurricanes. The famous vacation resort opened in October 1971, ushering in an explosive population and economic growth for the Orlando metropolitan area, which now encompasses Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake counties. As a result, tourism became the centerpiece of the area's economy and Orlando is consistently ranked as one of the top vacation
destinations in the world.
Another major factor in Orlando's growth occurred in 1970, when the new Orlando International Airport was built from a portion of the McCoy Air Force Base. Four airlines began providing scheduled flights in 1970. The military base officially closed in 1974, and most of it is now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former Air Force Base airport code (MCO). It is considered a world-class facility, and it is one of the most heavily travelled airports in the world.
In addition to McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando also had a naval presence with the establishment of the Orlando Naval Training Center in 1968. Providing training to recruits as well as being a base for selected post basic training programs, the base had a prominent presence in the area. In 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission ordered that the base be closed. The base continued in a diminished capacity until the base closed for good with the last graduates of the base's Naval Nuclear Power School leaving in December of 1998. The former base has been developed into tracts for upscale housing called Baldwin Park.
In the hurricane season of 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne battered the Orlando area, causing widespread damage and flooding and impeding tourism to the area.
Orlando has a warm and humid subtropical climate, and there are two major seasons each year. One of those seasons is hot and rainy, lasting from April until October (roughly coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season). The other is a cooler season (November through March) that brings more moderate temperatures and less frequent rainfall. The area's warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low elevation and its position relatively close to the Tropic of Cancer, and much of its weather is affected by the movement of the Gulf Stream.
During the height of Orlando's very humid summer season, temperatures rarely fall below 70 F (21 C), and daytime highs average in the 90s (32-37 C). Although the city rarely records temperatures over 100 F (38 C), extreme humidity often pushes the heat index to over 110 F (43 C). The city's highest recorded temperature is 102 F (39 C), set in 1998. During these months, strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over Central Florida, and they often bring high wind, damaging hail, heavy rainfall (sometimes several inches per hour), and violent
lightning. Orlando is sometimes referred to as the lightning capital of the world, but it is actually second to parts of Central Africa in its frequency of strikes. It does have more lightning than any other city in the United States.
During the winter season, humidity is lower and temperatures are more moderate. Average lows in January are around 50 F (10 C), and the highs average near 70 F (21 C). Temperatures rarely reach below 32 F (0 C), although the coldest temperature ever recorded was 16 F (-9 C) in 1985. Because the winter season is dry and most freezing temperatures occur after cold fronts (and their accompanying precipitation) have passed, Orlando experiences no real snowfall. Although no measurable amount of snow has ever fallen (though areas just west recorded up to 2" in 1977), trace amounts were officially observed on December 23, 1989, and trace flurries of ocean
effect snow were also reported in nearby coastal Brevard County on January 24, 2003. When flurries do occur, most are isolated incidents that are never officially recorded.
The average annual rainfall in Orlando is 50.1 in. (128 cm), most of it occurring in the period from June to September. The months of December through May are Orlando's driest season. During this period (especially in its later months), there is often a wildfire hazard. During some years, fires have been severe. In 1998, an El Niño condition caused an usually wet January and February, followed by drought throughout the spring and early summer, causing a record wildfire season that created Greater Orlando's first instances of unhealthy air quality alerts.
Orlando has a considerable hurricane risk, although it is not as high as it is in South Florida's urban corridor or other coastal regions. Since the city is located 40 miles inland from the Atlantic and 60 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes usually weaken before arriving. Storm surges are not a concern since the region is 100 ft (30 m) above sea level. Despite its relatively safe location, the city does see strong hurricanes. During the notorious 2004 hurricane season, Orlando was hit by three hurricanes that caused significant damage, with Hurricane Charley the worst of these. The city also experienced widespread damage during Hurricane
Donna in 1960.
Arts and entertainment
Orlando has been the home of several notable acts since the mid 1990s, including Britney Spears, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, as well as Creed, Trivium, From First to Last, matchbox twenty, Seven Mary Three, DJ Icey, DJ Baby Anne and DJ Jimmy Joslin. Sister Hazel and Less Than Jake are from near by Gainesville, as is superstar Tom Petty.
The hip hop music scene, metal scene, rock music scene, Latino scene, are all active within the city and is largely home to the Florida Breakbeat movement.
Comedian Wayne Brady is also from Orlando, as is actor Wesley Snipes.
Orlando has also been called Hollywood East because of numerous cinematic enterprises in the area. Until recently, Walt Disney Feature Animation operated a studio out of Disney/MGM Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. Feature Animation-Florida was primarily responsible for the films Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and the early stages of Brother Bear and contributed on various other projects. Nickelodean Studios, which through the 90s produced hundreds of hours of GAK-filled game shows targeted at children, operates out of Universal Studios Florida. It now functions primarily as a tourist attraction. The Orlando Film Festival is one of the largest in the
country located outside of California and attracts budding filmmakers from around the world.
The Orlando Metropolitan Area is home to a substantial theatre population, as well. Several professional and semi-professional houses and many community theatres dot the area including Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Mad Cow Theatre, Theatre Downtown, The Osceola Center for the Arts, Winter Park Playhouse, Theatre Winter Haven, and Seaside Music Theatre. In addition, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center brings national tours through town on a regular basis. Each spring, local theatres and downtown venues play host to the Orlando International Fringe Festival, which draws touring companies from all around the world as well as
readings and fully staged productions of new and unknown plays by local artists. Also in the sp
The Orlando area is home to a wide variety of tourist attractions, including the Walt Disney World resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando. The Walt Disney World resort is the area's largest attraction with its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando is a large adventure park that features numerous zoological displays and marine animals alongside an amusement park with roller coasters and water park. Universal Orlando, like Walt Disney World, is a multi-faceted resort comprised of Universal Studios, CityWalk, and the
Islands of Adventure theme park.
Other attractions in the Orlando area include: Arboretum of the University of Central Florida
Blue Spring State Park, which is the winter home of large numbers of Florida manatees that come upstream from the St. Johns River to bask in the warm 72 F (22 C) waters of the springs. Canoeing, swimming and fishing are popular activities at Blue Springs.
Central Florida Zoological Park, located in Sanford on Lake Monroe. This 100 acre zoo is home to a butterfly garden, herpetarium, and numerous tropical animals. The zoo originally started as a collection in the Sanford Fire Department, but grew into a regional zoo in 1975. It is currently in the planning stages of expansion and renaming the facility to "Zoo Orlando at Sanford".
Church Street Station, a multi-level shopping mall and entertainment center that once featured an abundance of specialty shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. Purchased in the late 1990s by TransContinental Talent owner Lou Pearlman, it is now virtually defunct, as the area suffered in post-9/11 tourist-industry slump. The area is being redeveloped with residential condominiums.
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba, in Downtown Disney West Side, features its renowned blend of acrobatics and special effects with more than 70 artists from around the globe performing in a custom-designed, 1,671-seat theater.
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, situated on the campus of Rollins College, features significant loans, recent acquisitions, and items from the Cornell's renowned permanent collection. Admission is free.
Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, an amusement park opened in 1936. This park features beautiful botanical gardens, 40 rides, 5 roller coasters and a water park. But it is most famous for it lovely southern belles and world-reknown Ski Shows.
Discovery Cove, a resort that is part of the SeaWorld Adventure Park complex. Some attraction features are tropical fish in a coral reef, snorkeling with stingrays, and interacting with birds in an aviary, as well as swimming and playing with dolphins during a half-hour session.
Gatorland houses thousands of alligators and crocodiles. A few of Gatorland's residents have made wrangling appearances in movies, television shows and commercial spots. The 54 year old park combines a petting zoo, bird sanctuary, mini-water park, eco-tour and outdoor entertainment, including daily alligator wrestling.
Hard Rock Café is the Orlando location of the famed restaurant chain with the typical HRC music memorabilia. There is also Hard Rock Live, a 3,000-capacity live music venue, and the Hard Rock Hotel, a resort hotel with a California-style restaurant called "The Kitchen". It is one of eight worldwide, and one of three in Florida. (Miami and Tampa are the other two.)
International Trolley and Train Museum features 14 model railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling through an indoor garden with 12 foot (4 m) high mountains, waterfalls, and more than 30 trestles and tunnels. Also on display are toy trains from the 1920s to the present. Visitors can catch a ride in a California Victorian-style half open/half closed trolley or the 5/8 replica of an 1880 locomotive (a Mason Bogey) with its passenger cars.
Kennedy Space Center is 45 minutes from Orlando and south of Daytona Beach. Visitors can tour launch areas, see giant rockets, "train" in spaceflight simulators, and much more. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open every day except Christmas Day and certain launch days. Apart from the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Space Center bus tours run every 15 minutes with stops at an observation gantry and the Apollo / Saturn V Center. Other guided tours include NASA Up Close, Cape Canaveral: Then and Now, and Lunch With An Astronaut. Combo tickets offer maximum access admission, plus one guided tour.
The Kerouac House, in the College Park neighborhood or Orlando, is where writer Jack Kerouac lived during the time his novel On the Road was published and released, making him a national sensation and Beat Generation icon. He lived in the house with his mother Gabrielle from July 1957 to the spring of 1958, and wrote his three-act play, The Beat Generation, a 51-chorus poem called Orlanda Blues, and the novel The Dharma Bums during his time there. In 1997, the Kerouac Project of Orlando formed, and restored the Kerouac house. It is now a haven for aspiring writers who can live in the house as they create their own work.
Harry P. Leu Gardens, which is an inner city oasis covering 50 acres (20,000 m²) and features colorful annuals, palms, an orchid house, a floral clock and a butterfly garden.
The World's Largest McDonald's PlayPlace, located on the corner of Sand Lake Road and International Drive, looks like a fry box from the exterior. The interior features an arcade with 60+ games with prize redemption, a 1950s room, a waterfall and a gift shop. The Bistro Gourmet at McDonald's features chef-prepared food, such as panini and deli sandwiches, pasta, soup, desserts, and hand-dipped ice cream, plus the standard McDonald's menu.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, in Kissimmee. Six brave knights on horseback compete in tournament games, jousting, and sword fighting while guests dine on a medieval-style banquet.
The Morse Museum of American Art, located at Rollins College, houses a permanent Tiffany & Co. exhibit featuring the world's "most comprehensive" collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany. It includes Tiffany art glass, jewelry, pottery, and the chapel interior designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. There is also an exhibit on the Tiffany home, and American paintings from the 19th century. The museum was founded in 1942.
Old Town, in Kissimmee, features eight restaurants, fifteen amusement park rides and 75 shops along its brick-lined streets. Classic car shows every Friday and Saturday feature hundreds of vintage automobiles. Admission and parking are free.
The Orange County Regional History Center Features exhibits and artifacts from the earliest days of the region to the modern day. Includes information on everything from the time of the Seminole Indians to the founding of the city to the Civil Rights era to the Disney period to today.
The Orlando Museum of Art, which has ongoing exhibitions of American portraits and landscapes, American impressionist works, and art of the ancient Americas.
The Orlando Science Center, is a 207,000 square foot (19,000 m²) hands-on learning center with hundreds of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. Images surround visitors on the giant screen of the Dr. Phillips CineDome. Other attractions include the Body Zone, teaching health and fitness, as well as an observatory. The center has the largest refracting telescope in Florida.
The Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium is located in a building artfully constructed to appear as if it were collapsing to one side, which may be a sly reference to central Florida's infamous sinkholes. Visitors can explore bizarre artifacts, strange collections, weird art/hobbies and interactive exhibits in sixteen odd galleries. It is one of 27 Ripley museums in ten countries.
Wonder Works A funhouse located on International Drive. Can be easilly indentified as an upside down white building.
Wekiwa Springs State Park, which comprises around 7,000 acres of wild Florida. The springs pump out 42 million gallons of crystal clear water a day. Popular activities at the park include canoeing, swimming, picnicking and fishing.
World of Orchids, featuring thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical rainforest. World of Orchids is a working greenhouse shipping orchids and other plants nationwide. A greenhouse covers nearly an acre , and in this controlled climate of warm, humid air some 1,000 orchids are displayed in a natural jungle setting, with streams, waterfalls, and squawking parrots. World of Orchids also has a 1,000 foot long boardwalk meandering off into nearby wetlands. Admission is free.
Wet n' Wild A large waterpark located just minutes from Universal Studios on International Drive