Information & Facts
Orlando experiences jolly holiday weather all around, with its
subtropical and very humid climate. Summertime temperatures can be
uncomfortably hot though. Winter is dry and temperate, and
occasionally night time temperatures can plunge surprisingly low.
Thunderstorms are common between May and September and tend to be
short but heavy, offering some respite from the heat. Summer is
also hurricane season from June to November.
Floridian food is a melting pot of flavours, spices and taste
sensations owing to the state's geographic position and visitors to
Orlando will notice that restaurants boast old American classics as
well as fusion cuisine with strong Caribbean and Spanish
influences. From fast food to fine dining, Orlando has it all.
Home to 'Floribbean' cuisine which incorporates flavours and
styles from the neighbouring Caribbean islands, Cuba, Trinidad and
Tobago and even the American Deep South, dining out in Orlando is
an experience for the senses where lemongrass, ginger, scallions
and fresh tropical fruits like pineapple, papaya and mango are
combined with gentle flavours of almond, rum, key lime and coconut
milk in many dishes and red curries and seafood can be found on
Peppered around the city, many of Orlando's restaurants cater to
younger children and dines will find kids' menus at most eateries.
Head to International Drive for the trendiest restaurants in town,
or spend some time in Downtown Disney or Universal's CityWalk where
loads of restaurants cater to the tourists. With so many options
and types of cuisine, diners will be spoilt for choice when it
comes to eating out in Orlando.
Anyone staying at a Disney resort or official Disney hotel need
have no qualms about getting around the Orlando magic kingdom. An
unlimited free transportation network runs throughout, with buses,
monorails, ferries and water taxis connecting all the parks and
attractions before, during and for a couple of hours after opening
hours. The I-Ride Trolley operates exclusively in the busy
International Drive resort area; the fare is $1 per ride, and
various passes are available. Those wishing to take a break from
the world of Disney and travel elsewhere are advised to hire a car,
particularly as during peak holiday seasons, buses are likely to be
crowded. Mears Transportation runs a bus service covering all
Orlando's surrounding attractions, even as far away as Busch
Gardens in Tampa. Taxis queue for passengers in front of most of
the resorts in the area; they can also be ordered by telephone.
Fares tend to be high, however.
The home of Mickey Mouse, it goes without saying that Orlando is
one of the most popular holiday destinations in the United States
for families travelling with kids. With plenty of sunshine and
boasting such attractions as Sea World, Walt Disney World and
Universal Studios, Orlando is a children's playground and very
often tops the list of places kids would most like to visit.
Universal Studios is great for older kids too as there are
plenty of thrilling blockbuster-themed rides to enjoy as well as
games and other interactive activities to enjoy, while the
'littlies' can enjoy a Fieval's playground, Woody Woodpeckers
Nuthouse Coaster and a 'Day in the Park with Barney' a live stage
production for little ones to sing along to their favourite songs.
Kids will also love a visit to Gatorland, a theme park and wildlife
preserve that is nicknamed 'the Alligator Capital of the World',
where thousands of crocodiles and alligators can be viewed from a
boardwalk suspended above the marshy swamps below.
Take the little ones to Water Mania or Wet 'n Wild to cool off
in the hot Floridian sun, take them on a historic and educational
tour of the Kennedy Space Centre, spend the day hiking and
picnicking in the Turkey Lake Park, check out what's happening
round Lake Eola or simply let the kids run around in the nearby
playground while you take a breather.
With all these options and more, kids will have a fabulous time
on holiday in Orlando, but parents should note that during the
spring and summer months the main tourist attractions and theme
parks are heaving with visitors and a better time to visit Orlando
may be during the slightly cooler months of autumn or winter.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
There is no shortage of shopping opportunities for travellers in
Orlando and with luxury department stores and upscale boutiques to
antique shops and farmers markets, shoppers will have a hard time
deciding where to begin. Many hotels offer free shuttle services to
major shopping destinations too - what more could a woman ask
Start off at one of the largest single-storey malls in the
United States, the Florida Mall, which features more than 250
stores including Macy's Sears, JCPenney, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth
Avenue as well as an outdoor shopping plaza where shoppers can
enjoy all those sunny days. The Festival Bay Mall on International
Drive is home to stores, a skate park, and a theatre, the Waterford
Lakes Town Center is an open-air mall featuring large chain stores,
small shops, restaurants and even IMAXDigital, and the Mall at
Millenia boasts designer names like Betsey Johnson, Chanel and
Antique hunters need look no further than Orlando's Antique Row
on Orange Avenue in downtown where a wide variety of collectables
can be found, while bargain hunters should head over to Flea World
in Sanford and Osceola Flea & Farmers Market in Kissimmee where
collectively more than 2,600 wholesale dealers can be found
providing everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to old books,
leather goods, jewellery, souvenirs and beachwear.
Of course the main souvenirs in Orlando are anything Disney or
NASA-related so be sure to pick up your caps and t-shirts from the
gift shops before you leave.
Famed for one of the United States' most popular attractions,
Walt Disney World, Orlando boasts other noteworthy attractions
besides the justifiably iconic Magic Kingdom.
Head a little further into this Floridian city to discover
Universal Studios where its two theme parks, an entertainment
complex and film sets will keep visitors on the edge of their
seats. Visiting during the summer? Wet 'n Wild is a must for
cooling off while Sea World has earned itself repute as one of the
best marine parks in the world for more than 25 years and is not to
Florida's second most popular attraction is the Kennedy Space
Centre at nearby Cape Canaveral, where 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
The Orlando Museum of Art is a must for lovers 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 doing lots of sightseeing might think
about buying an Orland Go Card which grants free entrance to
various attractions as well as provides a full-colour guide book
for as many days sightseeing as you'd like in a three, five or
seven day options. Go Cards are available at the Official Visitor
Centre or Festival Bay Mall.