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Updated: 5:44 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 | Posted: 3:27 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

Orlando



Special

The 27th largest metropolitan area in the United States, Orlando has a population of more than 2 million and is the home of Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando. According to a 2010 report by Forbes magazine, more than 48 million people visited the city last year, making it the most visited city in the country .

History

This area of Florida was sparsely populated by Creek and other Native American tribes before it became a European settlement. Initially the town was known as Jernigan, named after the first permanent settler, Aaron Jernigan. Eventually that name changed, and Orlando became a city in 1885. Some references indicate the name Orlando originated from a soldier named Orlando Reeves, who died in the area during the Second Seminole War. Other stories point to the name "Orlando Acosta" found carved in a tree by early pioneers, while some say the city was named after one of the main characters in the Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” One of the main streets in downtown Orlando is named Rosalind Avenue, after Rosalind, the heroine of the play.

Why you should go

The main draw in Orlando, of course, is Walt Disney’s Epcot, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Magic Kingdom, as well as Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios them parks. Then there are the nature parks: Wekiwa Springs, Rock Springs, and Tibet Butler Reserve, which offer hiking, swimming, canoeing and rafting. There are plenty of museums to see, too: the Orange County Historical Museum, Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of Folk Art and the Orlando Science Center.

Main attractions

* Walt Disney World Resort: The Walt Disney World Resort is the world's largest and most visited recreational resort. It occupies a 30,080-acre area southwest of Orlando and includes four distinct theme parks, two water parks, and 23 on-site themed resort hotels. It opened in October 1971 with only the Magic Kingdom theme park and has since added Epcot , Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park . www.disneyworld.disney.go.com

* Universal Orlando Resort: A joint partnership between NBC Universal and the Blackstone Group, the Universal Orlando Resort has two theme parks -- Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure -- a night-time entertainment complex known as Universal CityWalk and three hotels operated by Loews. www.universalorlando.com

* Downtown Orlando: From a busy center of commerce boasting multiple industries to fine restaurants, first-rate hotels, art galleries, nightclubs, museums and more, Downtown is the heart and soul of Orlando. For the tourist looking for the true spirit of the city, downtown Orlando has much to offer. www.downtownorlando.com

* Golf: Great weather means great golf. There's plenty of courses for the avid golfer to choose from. http://www.visitorlando.com/things-to-do/golf/

How to get there

Non-stop by air from Atlanta to Orlando is about one hour and 20 minutes. By land, it’s pretty much a straight shot down I-75 South (just under 400 miles) and then another 40 miles or so on the Florida Turnpike. It’s about a seven-hour drive.

Links of interest

* Chamber of Commerce: http://www.orlando.org/

* Tourist/Lodging/Dining Information: www.visitorlando.com

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