Orlando, Florida - "The City Beautiful", "O-Town"
Orlando is a city in the U.S. state of Florida and a popular tourist destination. Located in Central Florida, it is the county seat of Orange County and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. Orlando had a population of 238,300 according to the 2010 census, making it the 77th largest city in the United States. The Greater Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2,134,411, making it the 26th largest metro area in the United States, the sixth largest metro area in the Southeastern United States, and the third largest metro area in the state of Florida. Orlando is the fifth largest city in Florida, and the state's largest inland city.
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 its tourist attractions draw more than 51 million tourists a year, including 3.6 million international guests. The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth busiest airport in the United States and the 29th busiest in the world. Buddy Dyer is Orlando's mayor.
As the most visited American city in 2009, Orlando's famous attractions form the backbone of its tourism industry: Walt Disney World Resort, located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971; the Universal Orlando Resort, which consists of the two parks of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; City Walk; SeaWorld; Gatorland; and Wet 'n Wild Water Park. With the exception of Walt Disney World, most major attractions are located along International Drive. The city is also one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions.
Like other major cities in the Sun Belt, Orlando grew rapidly during the 1980s and into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, which is the second-largest university campus in the United States in terms of enrollment as of 2012. In 2010, Orlando was listed as a "Gamma−" level of world-city in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. Orlando ranks as the fourth most popular American city based on where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.
Before European settlers arrived in 1536, Orlando was sparsely populated by the Creek and other Native American tribes. There are very few archaeological sites in the area today, except for the ruins of Fort Gatlin along the shores of modern-day Lake Gatlin south of downtown Orlando.
Prior to being known by its current name, Orlando was known as Jernigan. This originates from the first permanent settler, Aaron Jernigan, a cattleman who acquired land along Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.
City officials and local legend say the name Orlando originated from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who died in 1835 during a supposed attack by Native Americans in the area during the Second Seminole War. Reeves was acting as a sentinel for a company of soldiers that had set up camp for the night on the banks of Sandy Beach Lake (now Lake Eola). There are conflicting legends, however, as an in-depth review of military records in the 1970s and 1980s turned up no record of Orlando Reeves ever existing. The legend grew throughout the early 1900s, particularly with local historian Kena Fries' retelling in various writings and on local radio station WDBO in 1929. A memorial beside Lake Eola – originally placed by students of Orlando's Cherokee Junior School in 1939 – designates the spot where the city's supposed namesake fell.
Local historians have come up with a more credible version of the "Reeves" story. 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. Most pioneers did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Many early residents made their living by cattle ranching. One such resident was a South Carolinian Orlando Savage Rees. Rees owned several large estates in Florida and Mississippi. On two separate occasions, relatives of Rees claimed their ancestor was the namesake of the city. F.K. Bull of South Carolina (Rees' great-grandson) told an Orlando reporter of a story in 1955; years later, Charles M. Bull Jr. of Orlando (Rees' great-great-grandson) offered local historians similar information. Rees most certainly did exist and was in Florida during that time period: in 1832 John James Audubon met with Rees in his large estate at Spring Garden, about 45 minutes away from Orlando. In 1837, Rees also attempted to stop a peace Treaty with the Indians because it did not reimburse him for the loss of slaves and crops. The story goes Rees' sugar farms in the area were burned out in the Seminole attacks in 1835 (the year Orlando Reeves supposedly died). Subsequently, he led an expedition to recover stolen slaves and cattle. It is believed he could have left a pine-bough marker with his name next to the trail, and later residents misread the sign as "Reeves" and thought it was his grave. In the years since the telling of this story, it has merged with the Orlando Reeves story. Some variants attempt to account for Reeves having no military records by using the name of another 'Orlando' that exists in some written records – Orlando Acosta. Not much is known about Acosta and if he even existed.
In 1975, local historian, and then chairman of the county historical commission, Judge Donald A. Cheney put forth a new version of the story in an Orlando Sentinel article. Cheney is the son of Judge John Moses Cheney, a major figure in Orlando's history who arrived in Orlando in 1885. John Cheney knew James Speer – another major figure who proposed the name of Orlando. Cheney's retelling relates how Speer proposed the name Orlando after one of the main characters in the Shakespeare play As You Like It. Speer, "was a gentleman of culture and an admirer of William Shakespeare...According to him, [Orlando] was a veritable Forest of Arden, the locale of As You Like It." One of the main streets in downtown Orlando is named Rosalind Avenue, after Rosalind, the heroine of the play. Speer's descendants have also confirmed this version of the naming and the legend has continued to grow.
What is known for certain is Jernigan became Orlando in 1857. The move is believed to be sparked, in part, by Aaron Jernigan's fall from grace after he was relieved of his military command by military officials in 1856. His behavior was so notorious that Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wrote, "It is said they [Jernigan's militia] are more dreadful than the Indians." At a meeting in 1857, debate had grown concerning the name of the town. Pioneer William B. Hull recalled how Speer rose in the heat of the argument and said, "This place is often spoken of as 'Orlando's Grave.' Let's drop the word 'grave' and let the county seat be Orlando." Through this retelling of history, it is believed that a marker of some sort was indeed found by Jernigan (or one of the other original pioneers); but, others claim Speer simply used the folk legend to help push for the Shakespearian name.
After Mosquito County was divided in 1845, Orlando became the county seat of the new Orange County in 1856. It remained a rural backwater during the Civil War, and suffered greatly during the Union blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought on a population explosion, which led to Orlando's incorporation as a town on July 31, 1875, and as a city in 1885.
The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's Golden Era, when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. But the Great Freeze of 1894–95 forced many owners to give up their independent groves, thus consolidating holdings in the hands of a few "citrus barons" who shifted operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.
Notable homesteaders in the area included the Curry family. Through their property in east Orlando flowed the Econlockhatchee River, which travelers crossed by fording. This would be commemorated by the street's name, Curry Ford Road. Also, just south of the airport in the Boggy Creek area was 150 acres (0.61 km2) of property homesteaded in the late 19th century 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.
After Industrial Revolution
Orlando, as Florida's largest inland city, became a popular resort during the years between the Spanish-American War and World War I. In the 1920s, Orlando experienced extensive housing development during the Florida Land Boom. Land prices soared. During this period several neighborhoods in downtown were constructed, endowing it with many bungalows. The boom ended when several hurricanes hit Florida in the late 1920s, along with the Great Depression.
During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed at the Orlando Army Air Base and nearby Pinecastle Army Air Field. Some of these servicemen stayed in Orlando to settle and raise families. In 1956 the aerospace and defense company Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) established a plant in the city. Orlando AAB and Pinecastle AAF
were transferred to the United States Air Force in 1947 when it became a
separate service and were re-designated as air force bases (AFB)
In 1958, Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base after Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy, a former commander of the 320th Bombardment Wing at the installation, killed in the crash of a B-47 Stratojet bomber north of Orlando. In the 1960s, the base subsequently became home to the 306th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), operating B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, in addition to detachment operations by EC-121 and U-2 aircraft.
In 1968, Orlando AFB was transferred to the United States Navy and became Naval Training Center Orlando. In addition to boot camp facilities, NTC Orlando was home of one of two Navy Nuclear Power Schools, and home of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division. When McCoy AFB closed in 1975, its runways and territory to its south and east were imparted to the city to become Orlando International Airport, while a small portion to the northwest was transferred to the Navy as McCoy NTC Annex. That closed in 1996, and became housing, though the former McCoy AFB still hosts a Navy Exchange, as well as National Guard and Reserve units for several branches of service. NTC Orlando was closed in 1993 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and converted into the Baldwin Park neighborhood. The Air Warfare Center had moved to Central Florida Regional Park near UCF in 1988.
Tourism in history
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 regions of Miami and Tampa for his park, one of the major reasons behind his decision not to locate there was due to hurricanes – Orlando's inland location, although not free from hurricane damage, exposed it to less threat than coastal regions. The 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. Orlando now has more theme parks and entertainment attractions than anywhere else in the world.
Another major factor in Orlando's growth occurred in 1962, when the new Orlando Jetport, the precursor of the present day Orlando International Airport, was built from a portion of the McCoy Air Force Base. By 1970, four major airlines (Delta Air Lines, National Airlines, Eastern Airlines and Southern Airways) were providing scheduled flights. McCoy Air Force Base officially closed in 1975, and most of it is now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former Air Force Base airport code (MCO).
Today, the historic core of "Old Orlando" resides in Downtown Orlando along Church Street, between Orange Avenue and Garland Avenue. Urban development and the Central Business District of downtown have rapidly shaped the downtown skyline during recent history. The present-day historic district is primarily associated with the neighborhoods around Lake Eola where century old oaks line brick streets. These neighborhoods, known as "Lake Eola Heights" and "Thornton Park," contain some of the oldest homes in Orlando. Orlando is also the favorite place of Elder Kevin Price, protagonist from the "Book of Mormon" musical.
Geography and cityscape
The geography of Orlando is mostly wetlands, consisting of many lakes and swamps. The terrain is generally flat, making the land fairly low and wet. The area is dotted with hundreds of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Apopka. Central Florida's bedrock is mostly limestone and very porous; the Orlando area is susceptible to sinkholes. Probably the most famous incident involving a sinkhole happened in 1981 in Winter Park, a city immediately north of downtown Orlando, dubbed ""The Winter Park Sinkhole".
There are 115 neighborhoods within the city limits of Orlando and many unincorporated communities. Orlando's city limits resemble a checkerboard, with pockets of unincorporated Orange County surrounded by city limits. Such an arrangement can be cumbersome as some areas are served by both Orange County and the City of Orlando. This also explains Orlando's relatively low city population when compared to its metropolitan population. The city and county are currently working together in an effort to "round-out" the city limits with Orlando annexing portions of land already bordering the current city limits.
Orlando's climate has characteristics of a tropical climate, but is situated on the southern fringe of the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), and on the border of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9B and 10A. There are two major seasons each year. One is hot and rainy, lasting from May until late September (roughly coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season). The other is the dry, relatively cool season (late October through April) bringing less frequent rainfall, yet still with warm temperatures. The area's warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low elevation, its position relatively close to the Tropic of Cancer, and its location in the center of a peninsula. Many characteristics of its climate are a result of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which flows around the peninsula of Florida.
During the height of Orlando's humid summer season, high temperatures are typically in the lower to mid 90s °F (32–36 °C), while low temperatures rarely fall below 70 °F (21 °C). The average window for such temperatures is April 19 – October 11. The area's humidity acts as a buffer, usually preventing actual temperatures from exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), but also pushing the heat index to over 110 °F (43 °C). The city's highest recorded temperature is 103 °F (39 °C), set on September 8, 1921. 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. They are highlighted by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rain (sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as well as occasional damaging hail.
During the cooler seasons, humidity is lower and temperatures are more moderate, and can fluctuate more readily. The monthly daily average temperature in January is 60.2 °F (15.7 °C). Temperatures dip below the freezing mark on an average of 2.4 nights per annum, and the lowest recorded temperature is 18 °F (−8 °C), set on December 28, 1894. Because the winter season is dry and freezing temperatures usually occur only after cold fronts (and their accompanying precipitation) have passed, snow is exceptionally rare. The only accumulation ever to occur in the city proper since recordkeeping began was in 1948, though surrounding areas did accumulate 6 inches (15 cm) in a snow event in 1977. It is also quite possible that accumulations occurred in connection with the Great Blizzard of 1899. Flurries have also been observed in 1989, 2006 and 2010.
The average annual rainfall in Orlando is 50.6 inches (1,290 mm), a majority of which occurs in the period from June to September. The months of October 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, a strong El Niño caused an unusually wet January and February, followed by drought throughout the spring and early summer, causing a record wildfire season that created numerous air quality alerts in Orlando and severely impacted normal daily life, including the postponement of that year's Pepsi 400 NASCAR race in nearby Daytona Beach.
Orlando is a major population center and has a considerable hurricane risk, although it is not as high as in South Florida's urban corridor or other coastal regions. Since the city is located 42 miles (68 km) inland from the Atlantic and 77 miles (124 km) inland from the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes usually weaken before arriving. Storm surges are not a concern since the region is 100 feet (30 m) above sea level. Despite its 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.
Tornadoes are not usually connected with the strong thunderstorms of the summer. They are more common during the infrequent cold fronts of winter, as well as in passing hurricanes. The two worst major outbreaks in the area's history, a 1998 outbreak that killed 42 people and a 2007 outbreak that killed 21, both happened in February.
Metro Orlando has a total of 71 completed skyscrapers. The majority are located in Downtown Orlando and the rest are located in the tourist district southwest of downtown. Skyscrapers built in downtown Orlando have not exceeded 441 ft (134 m) since 1988 when SunTrust Center was completed. There has never been an official reason why, but local architects speculate restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, as the Orlando Executive Airport is located four miles (6 km) east of downtown Orlando.
As of 2010, there were 121,254 households out of which 15.4% were vacant. As of 2000, 24.5% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.97.
In 2000, the city's population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $35,732, and the median income for a family was $40,648. Males had a median income of $30,866 versus $25,267 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,216. About 13.3% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.0% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.
Orlando has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in Florida and their cultural impact on Central Florida is similar to that of the large Cuban population in South Florida. Orlando is home to the fastest growing Puerto Rican community in the country. Between 1980 and 2010, Hispanic population share rose from 4.1 to 25.4%. Orlando also has a large and growing Caribbean population, with a large West Indian community (particularly Jamaicans and the Trinidadian and Tobagonian population), and an established Haitian community.
As of 2000, 75.43% of all residents speak English as their first language, while 16.60% speak Spanish, 1.93% speak Haitian Creole, 1.33% speak French, 0.99% speak Portuguese, and 0.54% of the population speak Arabic as their mother language. In total, 24.56% of the population 5 years and older speak a language other than English at home.
According to the American Community Survey of 2006–2008, 69.3% of Orlando's residents over the age of five spoke only English at home. Spanish-speakers represented 19.2% of Orlando's population. Speakers of other Indo-European languages made up 9.0% of the city's population. Those who spoke an Asian language made up 1.9% of the population, and speakers of other languages made up the remaining 0.6% of the populace.
Metropolitan statistical area
Orlando is the hub city of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area, colloquially known as "Greater Orlando" or "Metro Orlando". The area encompasses four counties (Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake), and is currently the 26th-largest metro area in the United States with a 2010 Census-estimated population of 2,134,411.
In 2000, the population of Orlando's urban area was 1,157,431, making it the 3rd largest in Florida and the 35th largest in the United States. As of 2009, the estimated Urban Area population of Orlando is 1,377,342.
When Combined Statistical Areas were instituted in 2000, Orlando was initially joined together with The Villages, Florida, Micropolitan Statistical Area, to form the Orlando-The Villages, Florida, Combined Statistical Area. In 2006, the metropolitan areas of Deltona (Volusia County) and Palm Coast (Flagler County) were added to create the Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach, Florida, Combined Statistical Area. This new larger CSA has a total population (as of 2007) of 2,693,552, and includes three of the 25 fastest-growing counties in the nation—Flagler ranks 1st; Osceola, 17th; and Lake, 23rd.
According to rankings at Neighborhoodscout.com, which utilizes "the most up-to-date and fully vetted data with complete national coverage that is available", Orlando ranks 67th on the list of 100 Most Dangerous Cities.
Greater Orlando Metropolitan Area
Apopka, Astatula, Mount Dora, Eustis, Tavares, Leesburg, The Villages Eatonville, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Deltona, DeBary, Orange City, DeLand Winter Park, Casselberry, Oviedo, Winter Springs, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach,
Windermere, Ocoee, Winter Garden, Clermont, Bushnell, Union Park, Avalon Park, Chuluota, Bithlo, Christmas, Titusville, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Lake Buena Vista, Celebration, Davenport, Winter Haven, Lakeland, Haines City Edgewood, Belle Isle, Kissimmee, Poinciana,
Saint Cloud, Harmony, Holopaw, Kenansville, Yeehaw Junction, Melbourne, Palm Bay
Orlando is a major industrial and hi-tech center. The metro area has a $13.4 billion technology industry employing 53,000 people; and is a nationally recognized cluster of innovation in digital media, agricultural technology, aviation, aerospace, and software design. More than 150 international companies, representing approximately 20 countries, have facilities in Metro Orlando.
Orlando has the 7th largest research park in the country, Central Florida Research Park, with over 1,025 acres (4.15 km2). It is home to over 120 companies, employs more than 8,500 people, and is the hub of the nation’s military simulation and training programs. Metro Orlando is home to the simulation procurement commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
Lockheed-Martin has a large manufacturing facility for missile systems, aeronautical craft and related high tech research. Other notable engineering firms have offices or labs in Metro Orlando: KDF, General Dynamics, Harris, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Siemens, Veritas/Symantec, multiple USAF facilities, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), Delta Connection Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, GE, Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation (AFAMS), U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command United States Army Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC), AT&T, Boeing, CAE Systems Flight & Simulation Training, Hewlett-Packard, Institute for Simulation and Training, National Center for Simulation, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Systems. The Naval Training Center until a few years ago was one of the two places where nuclear engineers were trained for the US Navy. Now the land has been converted into the Baldwin Park development. Numerous office complexes for large corporations have popped up along the Interstate 4 corridor north of Orlando, especially in Maitland, Lake Mary and Heathrow.
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, a cruise ship terminal.
Orlando is the home base of Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden and the largest operator of restaurants in the world by revenue. In September 2009 it moved to a new headquarters and central distribution facility.
Film, television, and entertainment
Another important sector is the film, television, and electronic gaming industries, aided by the presence of Universal Studios, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Full Sail University, UCF College of Arts and Humanities, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, and other entertainment companies and schools. The U.S. modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T) industry is centered on the Orlando region as well, with a particularly strong presence in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to University of Central Florida (UCF). Nearby Maitland is the home of Tiburon, a division of the video game company Electronic Arts. Tiburon Entertainment was acquired by EA in 1998 after years of partnership, particularly in the Madden NFL series and NCAA Football series of video games. Nearby Full Sail University, located in Winter Park, draws new-media students in the areas of video game design, film, show production, and computer animation, among others, its graduates spawning several start-ups in these fields in the Orlando area. The headquarters of Ripley Entertainment Inc. are also located in Orlando.
Orlando has two non-profit hospital systems: Orlando Health and Florida Hospital. Orlando Health's Orlando Regional Medical Center is home to Central Florida's only Level I trauma center, and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and Florida Hospital Orlando have the area's only Level III neonatal intensive care units. Orlando's medical leadership will be further advanced with the completion of University of Central Florida's College of Medicine, a new VA Hospital and the new Nemours Children’s Hospital, which will be located in a new medical district in the Lake Nona area of the city.
Housing and employment
Historically, the unemployment rate in Greater Orlando was low, which resulted in growth that led to urban sprawl in the surrounding area and, in combination with the United States housing bubble, to a large increase in home prices. Metro Orlando's unemployment rate in June 2010 was 11.1 percent, was 11.4 percent in April 2010, and was about 10 percent in about the same time of year in 2009. As of August 2013, the area's jobless rate was 6.6 percent. Housing prices in Greater Orlando went up 37.08% in one year, from a median of $182,300 in November 2004 to $249,900 in November 2005, and eventually peaked at $264,436 in July 2007. From there, with the economic meltdown, prices plummeted, with the median falling below $200,000 in September 2008, at one point falling at an annual rate of 39.27%. The median dipped below $100,000 in 2010 before stabilizing around $110,000 in 2011. As of April 2012, the median home price is $116,000.
A vital part of the Orlando area economy is tourism. The Orlando area is home to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando. Over 48 million visitors came to the Orlando region in 2004. The convention industry is also critical to the region's economy. The Orange County Convention Center, expanded in 2004 to over two million square feet (200,000 m²) of exhibition space, is now the second-largest convention complex in terms of space in the United States, trailing only McCormick Place in Chicago. The city vies with Chicago and Las Vegas for hosting the most convention attendees in the United States.
The Walt Disney World resort is the area's largest attraction with its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando is a large 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 comprising Universal Studios Florida, CityWalk, and Islands of Adventure. The Wet 'n Wild water park is another famous attraction. SeaWorld Orlando also comprises more than one park, alongside Aquatica and Discovery Cove. Orlando attractions also appeal to many locals who want to enjoy themselves close to home.
Orlando has the most hotels, and the second largest number of hotel rooms in the country (after Las Vegas, Nevada), and is one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions. Accommodations in Orlando historically catered to the budget-conscious family and few luxury hotel options existed outside of Walt Disney World property. With the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center in 2004, luxury hotels began opening in the city. This started with the opening of the JW Marriott Orlando and the Ritz-Carlton Orlando at Grande Lakes. As of 2010, Orlando offers several 4 Star hotels throughout the market. The newest luxury hotel to open in Orlando is the Waldorf Astoria-Orlando, completed in 2010. It is the first Waldorf Astoria built from the ground up since the flagship hotel opened in New York City in 1931.
Numerous golf courses can be found in the city, with the most famous being Bay Hill Club and Lodge, home to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Entertainment and performing arts
The hip hop music, metal, rock music, reggaeton and Latino music scenes are all active within the city. Orlando is known as "Hollywood East" because of numerous movie studios in the area. Major motion picture production was active in the city during the mid-to-late 1990s, but has slowed in the past decade. Probably the most famous film-making moment in the city's history occurred with the implosion of Orlando's previous City Hall for the movie Lethal Weapon 3. Orlando is now a large production center for television shows, direct-to-video productions, and commercial production. In early 2011, filmmaker Marlon Campbell constructed A-Match Pictures and Angel Media Studios; a multi-million dollar film and recording facility that has been added to the list of major studios in the city.
Until recently, Walt Disney Feature Animation operated a studio in Disney's Hollywood 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. Universal Studios Florida's Soundstage 21 is home to TNA Wrestling's flagship show TNA Impact!. Nickelodeon Studios, which through the 1990s produced hundreds of hours of GAK-filled game shows targeted at children, no longer operates out of Universal Studios Florida. The Florida Film Festival which takes place in venues throughout the area is one of the most respected regional film festivals in the country and attracts budding filmmakers from around the world. Orlando is very popular among independent filmmakers. Orlando's indie film scene has been active since Haxan Film's The Blair Witch Project (1999) and a few years later with Charlize Theron winning her Academy Award for Monster (2003). A Florida state film incentive has also helped increase the number of films being produced in Orlando and the rest of the state.
The Orlando Metropolitan Area is home to a substantial theater population. Several professional and semi-professional houses and many community theaters include the Central Florida Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Mad Cow Theatre, and IceHouse Theatre in Mount Dora. Orlando Theatre Project, closed in 2009. Additionally, both University of Central Florida and Rollins College (Winter Park) are home to theater departments that attract an influx of young artists to the area.
The Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre hosts national Broadway tours on a regular basis. This venue, built in 1926, will be replaced by the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in 2012.
The Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, which draws touring companies from around the world, is hosted in various venues over Orlando's Loch Haven Park every spring. At the festival, there are also readings and fully staged productions of new and unknown plays by local artists. Also in the spring, there is The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, hosted by Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Founded in 2002, the Orlando Cabaret Festival showcases local, national, and internationally renowned cabaret artist to Mad Cow Theatre in Downtown Orlando each spring.
The Florida Mall is the largest mall in Orlando and one of the largest single-story malls in the USA at over 1,849,000 sq ft (171,800 m2). There are over 250 stores, seven anchor department stores, and the Florida Mall Hotel & Conference Center Tower. It is located outside the city proper in unincorporated Orange County.
The Mall at Millenia is a contemporary two-level upscale shopping mall, including the department stores of Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Neiman Marcus. The mall covers an area of 1,118,000 ft² (103,866 m²). IKEA Orlando opened adjacent to the mall on November 14, 2007.
Orlando Fashion Square is the nearest indoor shopping mall to Downtown Orlando and one of the first to open in the city. The mall features 4 anchor department stores and a 14-screen Premiere Cinema theater.
Festival Bay Mall on International Drive is home to stores and a theater.
Orlando is the home city of the Orlando Magic NBA team, the Orlando City USL Pro soccer team, the Orlando Predators Arena Football League team, the Orlando Solar Bears ECHL ice hockey team, and the UCF Knights college athletics teams. The city has hosted the NBA All-Star Game twice: in 1992 at the old Orlando Arena, and in 2012 at the current Amway Center.
It has also been home to several successful minor league sports teams which have won two Arena Bowls, two titles in ice hockey, three titles in minor league baseball, one title in soccer, one title in arena football, and one title in roller hockey.
The original Orlando Solar Bears were part of the International Hockey League until the league folded in 2001, and won their last Turner Cup championship.
Many major athletes are from Orlando, such as baseball players A.J. Pierzynski and Johnny Damon, football players Warren Sapp, Chris Johnson, Brandon Meriweather, Deacon Jones, Brandon Siler, Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon Marshall, and basketball players Amar'e Stoudemire and Darius Washington, and soccer player Michelle Akers. Orlando is home to many notable athletes former and present, including baseball players Carlos Peña, Frank Viola, Ken Griffey, Jr.; basketball player Shaquille O'Neal; and many golfers, including Tiger Woods, Mark O'Meara and Arnold Palmer. The area's golf professionals reside largely in the Isleworth and Lake Nona neighborhoods.
Orlando is the center of the 19th-largest media market in the United States according to Nielsen Media Research as of the 2010–11 TV season. Its primary newspaper, Orlando Sentinel, is the second-largest newspaper in Florida by circulation. The Sentinel's Spanish language edition, El Sentinel, is the largest Spanish language newspaper in Florida.
Newspapers - Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Business Journal, Orlando Weekly, The Watermark
Orlando is governed via the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote. The six members of the city council are each elected from districts.
Public primary and secondary education is handled by Orange County Public Schools. Some of the private schools include Orlando Lutheran Academy, Forest Lake Academy, The First Academy, Trinity Preparatory School, Lake Highland Preparatory School, Bishop Moore High School and Orlando Christian Prep.
Area institutions of higher education
The University of Central Florida Library
Full Sail University
University of Central Florida
Florida A&M University College of Law
Seminole State College of Florida (Sanford, Oviedo, and Altamonte Springs)
Private universities, colleges, and others
Adventist University of Health Sciences, Main Campus
Anthem College, Orlando Campus
Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando Campus
Belhaven University, Orlando Campus
Columbia College, Orlando Campus
Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Orlando Campus DeVry University, Orlando campus
Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, Barry University
Florida Institute of Technology, Orlando campus
Florida Metropolitan University, Orlando campus
Full Sail University (in Winter Park)
Herzing College (in Winter Park)
Hindu University of America
International Academy of Design & Technology-Orlando
ITT Technical Institute, Lake Mary Campus
Keiser University, Orlando Campus
McBurney College (Orlando Campus)
Nova Southeastern University, Orlando campus
Palm Beach Atlantic University, Orlando Campus
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando campus
Remington College of Nursing, Lake Mary, FL
Rollins College (in Winter Park)
Strayer University, Orlando campus
University of Florida College of Pharmacy (in Apopka)
The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is Orlando's primary airport and currently the second busiest airport in the state of Florida closely behind Miami International Airport. The airport serves as a secondary hub and corporate headquarters for AirTran Airways and a focus hub city for Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Frontier Airlines. The airport serves as a major international gateway for the mid-Florida region with major foreign carriers including Lufthansa, Air Canada, British Airways, Air France, WestJet, Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus, TAM, and Aeromexico.
The Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in nearby suburb of Sanford, Florida serves as a secondary airport for the region and is a focus city airport for Allegiant Air.
The Orlando Executive Airport (ORL) near Downtown Orlando serves primarily executive jets, flight training schools, and general small-aircraft aviation.
I-4.svg Interstate 4 is Orlando's primary interstate highway. Orlando is the second-largest city served by one interstate, preceding Austin, Texas and is the largest metropolitan area in the US serviced by a single interstate. The interstate begins in Tampa, Florida and travels northeast across the midsection of the state directly through Orlando, ending in Daytona Beach. As a key connector to Orlando's suburbs, downtown, area attractions, and both coasts, I-4 commonly experiences heavy traffic and congestion. I-4 is also known as State Road 400.
Toll Florida 408.svg East-West Expressway (Toll 408) is a major east–west highway managed by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. The highway intersects with I-4 in Downtown Orlando, providing a key artery for residents commuting from eastern and western suburbs including the University of Central Florida and Waterford Lakes area. The highway also intersects with the Central Florida Greeneway (Toll 417) and Florida's Turnpike. By late 2006, the I-4/408 interchange had almost completed undergoing a major overhaul that creates multiple fly-over bridges and connectors to ease heavy traffic. The agency recently[when?] finished construction of lane expansions, new toll plazas, and sound barriers along the roadway, though much work remains to be done.
Toll Florida 528.svg Beachline Expressway (Toll 528) provides key access to the Orlando International Airport and serves as a gateway to the Atlantic coast, specifically Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.
Toll Florida 417.svg Central Florida Greenway (Toll 417) is a key highway for East Orlando, the highway is also managed by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and serves as Orlando's eastern beltway. The highway intersects with the East-West Expressway (Toll 408), the Beachline Expressway (Toll 528), and begins and ends on Interstate 4.
Toll Florida 429.svg Daniel Webster Western Beltway (Toll 429) serves as Orlando's western beltway. The highway serves as a "back entrance" to Walt Disney World from Orlando's northwestern suburbs including Apopka via Florida's Turnpike.
Toll Florida 414.svg John Land Apopka Expressway (Toll 414) A new east to west tollway serving northern Orlando. Phase I opened on February 14, 2009 and extends from US 441 to Florida State Road 429. Phase II will link SR 429 to US 441 several miles west of the current SR 429 intersection.
Florida's Turnpike shield.png Florida's Turnpike (Toll 91) is a major highway that connects northern Florida with Orlando and terminates in Miami.
Rush hours and traffic
Orlando, like other major cities, experiences gridlock and traffic jams daily, especially when commuting from the northern suburbs in Seminole County south to downtown and from the eastern suburbs of Orange County to Downtown. Heavy traffic is also common in the tourist district south of downtown. Rush hours (peak traffic hours) are usually weekday mornings (after 7 am) and afternoons (after 4 pm). There are various traffic advisory resources available for commuters including downloading the Tele-Traffic App (available for iPhone and Android), dialing 5-1-1 (a free automated traffic advisory system provided by the Florida Department of Transportation, available by dialing 511), visiting the Florida 511 Web site, listening to traffic reports on major radio stations, and reading electronic traffic advisory displays (also called Variable-message signs, information is also provided by FDOT) on the major highways and roadways.
The Orlando area is served by one through railroad, CSX Transportation's A line (formerly the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad's main line), and some spurs, mostly operated by the Florida Central Railroad. Amtrak passenger service runs along the CSX A line. See also a map of these railroads.
Amtrak intercity passenger rail service operates from the Orlando Amtrak Station south of downtown. The Mission Revival-style station has been in continuous use since 1927, first for the Atlantic Coast Line, then the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (signage for which is still displayed over the station's main entrance). Amtrak's Silver Meteor and Silver Star service Orlando four times daily, twice bound for points north to New York City and twice bound for points south to Miami. Orlando also serves as a transfer hub for Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach bus service. Orlando Station has the highest Amtrak ridership in the state, with the exception of the Auto Train depot located in nearby Sanford.
Historically, Orlando's other major railroad stations have included:
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Orlando station (now Church Street Station, a commercial development)
Seaboard Air Line Railroad Orlando station (Central Avenue Station; 1898–1955.)
In 2005, federal and state funding was granted for the establishment of SunRail, a local commuter rail service, to operate on the CSX A line tracks between DeLand and Poinciana, passing through the downtown area and surrounding urban neighborhoods along the way. The service was expected to substantially reduce traffic congestion along the I-4 corridor, especially between Downtown Orlando and the suburban communities in Seminole and Volusia Counties. The federal and state funds would have covered approximately 80% of the estimated $400 million cost for track modifications and construction of stations along the route. The counties involved had approved local matching funds in 2007 and the line was projected to begin operations in 2011. However, the project was ultimately voted down by Florida State Senate in 2008 and again in 2009 due to an amendment that would have approved a $200 million insurance policy for the system. Although there had been growing concern the system would be scrapped, a deadline extension combined with a new insurance arrangement with CSX brought new hope that SunRail will be completed after all. In a special session in December 2009, the Florida Legislature approved commuter rail for Florida, which also enabled high-speed rail federal funding. SunRail is now underway[clarification needed] and is slated to open for passenger service beginning in May 2014. Phase I of the rail system will run from Debary to Sand Lake Road in South Orlando. Phase II, which isn't expected to be completed until 2016, will connect from DeBary and continue north to DeLand. Also as part of phase II the track will extend from Sand Lake Road in Orlando south to Poinciana. SunRail is expected[by whom?] to make a significant impact Central Florida's economy.
Attempts to establish a smaller light rail service for the Orlando area were also considered at one time,[when?] but were also met with much resistance.
High speed rail
On January 28, 2010, President Obama said that Florida would be receiving $1.25 billion to start the construction of a statewide high speed rail system with Orlando as its central hub. The first stage would have connected Orlando and Tampa, Florida and was expected to be completed by 2014. The second stage was to connect Orlando and Miami, Florida. The project was canceled by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011, and on March 4, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously turned down the request of two state senators to force Scott to accept federal funding for the project.
Orlando is served by LYNX, which provides local transit service covering a five-county area: Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk, and Volusia.
Greyhound Lines offers intercity bus service from Orlando to multiple locations across the country. The Orlando Greyhound Station is located west of Downtown Orlando.
Orlando is served by a collection of independently owned taxi companies, including Mears Transportation, Star Taxi, and United Taxi among others. While traveling in downtown Orlando, taxis can be hailed on a regular basis. Taxis are also available in and around the Amway Center, Orlando Convention Center, and all major attractions/theme parks (i.e., Universal Studios, Disney World, etc.).
Transportation between the Orlando International Airport and various locations in and around Orlando are provided by airport shuttle services including Orlando Airport Van, Mears Transportation, and Super Shuttle. Several shuttles operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Given Orlando's status as a busy international tourist destination and growing industrial and commercial base, Mexico and the United Kingdom opened consulates in Orlando. Other countries operating consulates in Orlando are Argentina, Austria, Italy, Haiti, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, the Ivory Coast, and Jamaica. As a result, Orlando now has the second highest number of foreign consulates in Florida next to Miami.
In popular culture
Portions of the 1959 novel Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank take place in Orlando including McCoy Air Force Base (now Orlando International Airport). Orlando was later revealed to have been destroyed in two nuclear bomb blasts, one downtown and one at the air base. The main town in the series, Fort Repose, was based on nearby Mount Dora.
The low-budget films Ernest Saves Christmas, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, and Never Back Down take place in and were filmed entirely in Orlando. Other major motion pictures filmed in Orlando include Passenger 57, D.A.R.Y.L., Jaws 3, My Girl, Parenthood, Problem Child 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Dead Presidents, The Waterboy, Olive Juice, and Monster.
Scenes were also filmed for the Transformers: Dark of the Moon sequel at the Orlando International Airport in early October 2010.
Exterior shots of Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium were used in the television series Coach. In the show, the Citrus Bowl was the home stadium of the fictional Orlando Breakers franchise during the series' final two seasons (1995–1997).
Orlando is home to numerous recording studios and producers, and as a result, contributed heavily to the Boy Band craze of the mid-1990s. The groups Backstreet Boys, NSync, and O-Town all started in Orlando before becoming nationwide successes. The alternative groups Matchbox Twenty and Seven Mary Three are from Orlando, as is the Christian hip-hop act Group 1 Crew. The city is home to Florida Breaks, with prominent DJs DJ Icey and DJ Baby Anne hailing from Orlando. They still spin at Orlando clubs. Orlando also has a prominent metal scene, spawning bands such as Death.
The songs "Orlando" by The Ugly Americans, "Welcome to Orlando" by Kilowatthours, and "Orlando" by Smilez & Southstar are based on the city. Orlando is also mentioned in Wyclef Jean's "Thug Angels" and "Perfect Gentleman", "Area Codes" by Ludacris, "I Am Not Locked Down" by TReal, "Whoot! There It Is!" by 95 South, and many songs from DJ Magic Mike.
In the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, Elder Price's dream mission location is Orlando. He treats Orlando as a sort of paradise, and dreams of escaping there.
The Chevrolet Orlando is named after the city. In the novel Paper Towns by John Green, the setting is in Orlando Florida, and many references are made to the city of Orlando and how it is a paper town.
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