In addition to the theme parks, an award-winning food scene, versatile shopping and other hidden gems, Orlando continues to offer new and unique experiences for visitors that create cherished memories. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort™ and SeaWorld® offer hours of fun with exhilarating rides, jaw-dropping shows, tempting restaurants, shopping and endless excitement. With multiple new rides, shows and events constantly on the horizon, there is always a reason to return to this magnificent resort to create life long memories year after year.
Orlando is best-known as home to the world’s top theme parks and water parks including the four theme parks and two water parks at Walt Disney World Resort; the two theme parks and water park at Universal Orlando Resort™; three parks from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment and LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Recently opened in summer 2018, Disney’s Hollywood Studios now boasts Toy Story Land, featuring two new themed attractions, ‘Slinky Dog Dash’ and ‘Alien Swirling Saucers’ in a colourful setting. SeaWorld Orlando has also just opened Infinity Falls: an immersive, thrilling ride with the world’s tallest river drop at the heart of its new rainforest-themed area. With a unique mix of legendary theme parks, water parks, spectacular museums, world-class entertainment and blockbuster rides and attractions, there’s fun for everyone in Orlando.
With approximately 450 hotels and more than 120,000 guest rooms – including 35 AAA Four Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star award recipients – Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any destination in the world. Accommodations range from luxury resorts and themed hotels with family suites to charming bed and breakfasts, economy hotels/motels and campgrounds.
New for 2019, the Margaritaville Resort Orlando brings a sophisticated, island-inspired paradise to life, with both a hotel and private cottages, lagoon pools and waterpark opening in the spring; it is ideal for families, small groups and couples alike. At Universal Orlando Resort™, part of the new Endless Summer Resort is Surfside Inn and Suites, the first of two great value hotels opening summer 2019. Disney also has a new resort opening in fall 2019: Riviera Resort. This will feature a beautiful rooftop restaurant, with stunning views of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ night-time spectaculars.
With thousands of restaurants, Orlando’s dining options read like a world map as visitors from across the globe can find a taste of home here. Orlando’s flourishing and local dining scene feature restaurant options from all over the world. Several new restaurants opening this year include Jaleo at Disney Springs (with authentic Spanish tapas, paella and sangria), City Works Eatery and Pour House (also at Disney Springs, with 80 beers on tap), Lotus Asia House, serving Pan-Asian cuisine inspired by street food at Pointe Orlando and a second location for popular Black Bean Deli’s authentic Cuban cuisine.
Whether you are the most serious of foodies or the most casual of diners, you’re in for a treat, because Orlando has plenty of delicious options to satisfy every taste and budget. From theme park dining to upscale, gourmet restaurants, we suggest that you arrive hungry! Experience local favourites inspired by a variety of global and regional cuisines, from the lively atmosphere of Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando to the authentic, locally sourced Southern cooking of The Ravenous Pig.
Once the sun sets, the pulse quickens as Orlando’s thriving nightlife comes alive. From ultra-hip bars and high-energy dance clubs to laid-back pubs and multi-venue entertainment complexes, Orlando offers plenty of hot spots to live it up. Mango’s Tropical Café features exciting live shows, dancing and world-famous cocktails within a vivacious Miami-style club. Also open late is Morimoto Asia’s Forbidden Lounge, offering pan-Asian bar food and cocktails well past the hours of the general restaurant. Disney Springs also has a lively nightlife, with Enzo’s Hideaway, inspired by Roman Aperitivo bars, serving Prohibition-era cocktails along with delicious dishes.
Despite the tremendous appeal of Orlando’s world-famous theme parks, one of the top reported activities for visitors is shopping. Within a 20-minute radius in the heart of Orlando’s attractions area, visitors will find seven versatile shopping malls and outlet centres. Encompassing a strip of Southwest Orlando, the tourism district is home to the area’s most upscale mall, Central Florida’s largest mall and three outlet shopping centres. No other destination in the U.S. offers fashionistas the world’s most sought-after brands including Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and Rolex, among hundreds of other brands all in one city. Shoppers will also find major department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, along with plenty of trendy, independently-owned boutiques. For a change of pace, three key shopping districts showcase Orlando’s eclectic side: Winter Park, Ivanhoe Village and Thornton Park in downtown Orlando.
To make the memories really last, both Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have their own shopping complexes, including the world’s largest Disney character store and Star Wars Galactic Outpost as well as the Quiet Flight Surf Shop and the Universal Studios Store at Universal’s CityWalk.
Orlando continues to add new entertainment options beyond the theme park gates with large-scale complexes that combine one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences with shopping and dining. With the re-imagination of Disney’s “downtown” area, Disney Springs has doubled in size by adding a multitude of new restaurants, many with international celebrity chef acclaim, one-of-a-kind shops and entertainment venues. Universal CityWalk is home to the Blue Man Group show, more than ten restaurants and nightlife venues, including a karaoke club featuring a live band and back-up singers. Nearby, Pointe Orlando features several entertainment venues, including an IMAX Regal Cinemas and the Orlando Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre, in addition to its collection of outdoor shopping and dining options.
Orlando also hosts more than 450 year-round events to please everyone and add more vacation variety, including the popular SeaWorld’s Seven Seas food festival, running every weekend from 9th February until 5th May. You will discover globally inspired flavours while enjoying local craft beers and beverages from around the world, as well as live performances at the Bayside Stadium featuring top artists. For a comprehensive calendar of events, go to Visit Orlando’s officialwebsite, VisitOrlando.com.
Sports fans are in their element in Orlando thanks to the area’s robust line up of collegiate and professional sporting events. From the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic and the University of Central Florida Knights football to Orlando Solar Bear hockey, the Orlando sports scene gives fans plenty of reasons to cheer. And now, sports fanatics have even more reason to visit, with Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando’s first Major League soccer team founded in 2015. Orlando is also a top golf destination, hosting some of the sport’s most talented players each year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
While Orlando is best known for its world-famous theme parks, the city is full of unique outdoor attractions and sporting activities that everyone can enjoy. Between the massive, state-of-the-art United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus, the NFL Pro Bowl, acclaimed golf courses and tournaments, professional sports teams, miles of running terrain, and other outdoor adventures for the whole family, Orlando is a premier destination for sportsmen and sportswomen alike.
With mild temperatures and sunny blue skies year-round, outdoor activities are virtually limitless for adventure enthusiasts. More than 2,000 lakes, rivers and springs invite visitors to enjoy Orlando for fishing, kayaking or waterskiing. The surrounding national parks and acres of lush foliage are a paradise for hikers, cyclists, horseback-riders and those who enjoy adventure trekking, off-road driving and ziplining.
Escape the monotonous nature of adult life and experience the joys the most visited tourist destination America has to offer. The lively themed dining experiences at Disney’s restaurants will instantly transport you to another world, leaving behind the pressures of modern life. Alternatively, Disney and Universal both offer exclusive nightlife areas (such as the ever-popular CityWalk) and Downtown Orlando’s thriving nightlife (including the Wall Street Plaza, promising a true ‘Orlandoan’ experience) is not to be missed. For a more sophisticated and romantic dining experience, Orlando also has a plethora of chic restaurants to choose from, such as the family-owned, local favourite Italian Enzo’s On the Lake, with impressive lake views which make a perfect backdrop for an evening meal.
Make the most of the theme parks, with private VIP tours of the Walt Disney World parks, experiencing and learning fun facts at your own pace whilst still feeling the excitement of childhood. They even include door-to-door service from resorts, VIP viewing areas for night-time spectaculars and itineraries, which can be customised to suit your needs. Universal Orlando Resort also offers VIP guided tours to give guests exclusive backstage access and instant access to the most popular rides, including all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. Also, made popular by Disney’s BibbidiBobbidi Boutique, Disney character-inspired makeovers are not just for children. Disney’s new Character Couture packages offer sophisticated hairstyles, as well as detailed makeup and nail designs inspired by Disney characters including Cinderella and Minnie Mouse.
Orlando is typically associated with its resorts and theme parks, yet it is a flourishing shopping destination. Re-discover your inner shopaholic and explore the vast range of shops. With something to suit every budget, there are premium outlets at International Drive, offering huge discounts on popular brands such as Nike and Ralph Lauren, and the luxurious shops in The Mall at Millenia, including iconic brands such as Chanel and Gucci. If magical gifts and souvenirs are what you desire, head to Disney Springs or Universal’s CityWalk for memorabilia which will allow your visit to be truly unforgettable. Disney Springs also has live entertainment shows and a unique blend of restaurants inspired by various cultures, from Bongo’s Cuban Cafe™ to the Japanese roots of Yesake.
For a more exhilarating escape from normality, why not take the challenge of Screamin’ Gator Zip Line’s and fly over alligators and crocodiles at breakneck speeds? Or, for the more faint-hearted among us, why not visit Brevard Zoo, committed to wildlife conservation, join America’s only guided kayak tours and meet some of Florida’s incredible wildlife. Almost anything is possible in Orlando- you can even experience a once-in-a lifetime opportunity of swimming among dolphins and snorkelling with tropical fish at Discovery Cove. After the excitement of Orlando’s brash nature, pay a visit to a calming spa at one of the many luxury hotels and unwind in a haven of bliss surrounded by tropical, citrus aromas and treatments inspired by the local area itself.
With all this to offer and more, Orlando really is the escape from reality that we all need.