The most famous resident of this central Florida city is Mickey Mouse, the cartoon creation of animated movie tycoon, Walt Disney. His vision has turned Orlando, and the adjacent Lake Buena Vista and Kissimee areas, into the world's busiest, biggest and best-known concentrated tourist paradise. Disney bought up land in the area with the aim of establishing his dream theme park back in the 1960s. He died before the first park, the Magic Kingdom, officially opened in 1971. But his legacy lives on. Currently the Disney empire in Orlando includes four theme parks, dozens of smaller attractions, thousands of hotel rooms and holiday apartments, hundreds of restaurants and snack bars, and even two cruise ships.
It is not only the Disney dazzle that draws visitors to Orlando. There are plenty of other attractions, like Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and the beloved SeaWorld, all adding to the maelstrom of thrills this city is now renowned for.
Most of Florida is GMT -5 (GMT -4 from March to November), but a small portion of northwest Florida is GMT -6 (GMT -5 from March to November).
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Plugs are mainly the type with two flat pins, though three-pin plugs (two flat parallel pins and a rounded pin) are also widely used. European appliances without dual-voltage capabilities will require an adapter.
English is the most common language spoken but Spanish is often heard in the south-western states.
There are no specific health risks associated with travel within the USA. Medical facilities are excellent, but expensive. Only emergencies are treated without prior payment and treatment can be refused without evidence of insurance or proof of funds. Good medical insurance is essential.
A 15 percent tip is expected by taxi drivers, bartenders, hairdressers and waiters, but don't tip in fast-food or self-service restaurants. In expensive restaurants or for large parties, tip 20 percent of the bill. It is normal to tip staff such as valets and porters in hotels; this is discretionary, although a minimum of $5 is expected. Most services are customarily tipped if the service is good.
Travel within the United States is generally trouble-free, however, travellers should be aware that the US shares with the rest of the world, an increased threat from terrorist incidents. Security has been heightened, particularly at airports. Restrictions on hand luggage apply and travellers are advised to check on the latest situation with airlines in advance. Travellers should also be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities and should use common sense and take basic precautions. Hurricanes are common between June and November, putting the southern USA, including the Gulf Coast and the eastern US at risk. There is a risk of wildfires in many dry areas in the US, particularly on the West Coast from March to November.
Laws vary from state to state, including speed limit, fines and punishment. The age at which you may legally buy and consume alcohol is 21 years.
Famed for one of the US's most popular attractions, Walt Disney World, Orlando boasts many other noteworthy attractions besides the iconic Magic Kingdom. Head a little further into this Floridian city to discover Universal Studios, its two theme parks, entertainment complex, and film sets. Visiting during the summer? Wet 'n Wild is a must for cooling off, while Sea World has earned itself a reputation as one of the best marine parks in the world for more than 25 years.
Florida's second most popular attraction is the Kennedy Space Centre at the nearby Cape Canaveral. Visitors can walk through a giant model of the new International Space Station, view authentic rockets, and marvel at all the original artefacts from the moon landing.
The Orlando Museum of Art is a must for fans of fine arts, while adrenalin junkies should make a pilgrimage to the NASCAR Daytona Speedway. For something a little stranger, look no further than the Orlando Odditorium where exhibits of weird and wonderful things, amassed over a period of 40 years by explorer Robert Ripley, can be viewed.
Travellers planning on extensive sightseeing should consider buying a Go Orlando Card which grants free entrance to various attractions as well as providing a full-colour guide book with in three, five or seven day sightseeing options. Go Cards are available at the Official Visitor Centre or Festival Bay Mall.
Floridian food is a melting pot of flavours, spices, and sensations. The food of Orlando represents its cultural diversity, with restaurants serving old American classics as well as fusion cuisine with strong Caribbean and Spanish influences. From fast food to fine dining, Orlando has it all.
'Floribbean' cuisine incorporates flavours and styles from the neighbouring Caribbean islands, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, and even the American Deep South. As a result, dining out in Orlando is an experience for the senses. Seafood is a staple, so be sure to sample signature dishes such as muscles in rum and butter sauce, fried gator bites, and roasted red snapper.
Head down International Drive to choose from some of the trendiest restaurants in town, or spend some time in Downtown Disney or Universal's CityWalk where more traditional cuisine is provided. With so many options, diners will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Orlando.
You never know where the night will take you in Orlando. Live music, high-energy dance clubs, sleek lounges, side-splitting comedy and other options are all part of our brilliant nightlife, as are world-famous events such as November’s Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Orlando. What’s more, no matter where you choose to stay in Orlando, you’ll find a vibrant, walkable entertainment district close by.
Orlando experiences holiday weather all year, with temperatures typically ranging between 52°F (11°C) in mid-winter and 91°F (33°C) at the peak of summer, with a humid, subtropical climate. Summer temperatures can be uncomfortably hot in August, and winter is dry and temperate, with night time temperatures occasionally plunging surprisingly low. Thunderstorms are common between May and September, offering some respite from the heat. Summer is hurricane season, between June and November.
The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people differ hugely across the country. Dreams come true in Orlando, and for countless reasons — not the least of which is the commitment to creating enchanting, memorable adventures for all visitors. A highly inclusive destination, Orlando has been a pioneer in LGBTQ+ tourism dating back to the original Gay Days in 1991 and was named the first-ever “City of the Year” by GayCities.com. Orlando has also earned a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, which measures the LGBTQ+ inclusiveness of cities' laws, policies, and services.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.
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