Disney, designer shopping and super-sized dining make Orlando one of the world’s top holiday spots
Orlando has come a long way since the 1960s, when Walt Disney picked the town as the perfect spot for his theme park. These days, 49 million people visit Walt Disney World annually, although The Magic Kingdom is now just one of many attractions, with Universal Studios, the Epcot Centre, Wet ‘n’ Wild and SeaWorld making Orlando one of the world's top holiday destinations.
In addition to the world-famous amusement parks, this popular Florida city offers great dining options, designer shopping and a wealth of golf courses. Head north of town to find the art museums of Loch Haven Park, boutique shopping at Winter Park and golf courses dotted across the landscape.
Orlando offers an incredible array of recreational activities, shopping and dining experiences, complete with comfortable accommodation. And there's more to Orlando than Mickey and co - with more than 95 attractions, you’ll never be short of a day trip. Take in the action-packed thrills of Universal Studios, catch a show at SeaWorld or head to Gatorland where you can enjoy a leisurely walk and some wildlife. In the evenings, Universal's bustling nightlife district CityWalk offers plenty of bars, or stuff yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
When to go?
The worst time of year to visit Orlando is during spring break (usually the two weeks around Easter). During this period, the crowds reach fever pitch, so you’ll spend the majority of your trip in queues. School holidays can also prove a challenge with flight and accommodation prices at a premium. The best time to visit is during school term time, when you stand the best chance of avoiding the long lines. Weather-wise, Florida is well known for its afternoon downpours, but these frequent storms are usually over in a flash. If you get caught in a downpour, pop to one of the many indoor attractions, such as Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Universal Studios.
How to get there?
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and US Airways all offer direct flights to Orlando from London Gatwick. From regional UK airports, Virgin Atlantic fly direct from Manchester but the cheapest fares are with US airlines and usually involve a stopover in another US city – a great excuse for a twin-centre break!
If you tire of the frenetic pace (and never-ending queues) of Disney World, head to SeaWorld where walruses, polar bears and dolphins put on a show, or enjoy film-themed attractions at Universal Orlando. Away from Disney, take an afternoon of hang-gliding at Wallaby Ranch, skim across the Everglades at break-neck speed with Boggy Creek Airboat Tours, enjoy a round of golf or discover the charms of downtown Orlando.At Walt Disney World, reserve breakfast with Mickey Mouse or Snow White for an experience children will never forget, or if you fancy some foreign fare, hop over to Epcot Center with global dining options in the World Showcase restaurants. If you fancy giving your credit card a workout, pop to the family-friendly shops of Downtown Disney, or splurge at chic boutiques along Winter Park’s Park Avenue.