The Walt Disney World Resort entertainment complex, in Bay Lake near Orlando, is the flagship of the Disney worldwide corporate empire. Opened in 1971 it is the most popular vacation resort in the world, with attendence of around 19 million visitors a year at Magic Kingdom alone.
Theme parks include: Magic Kingdom with classic & beloved charactors, parades, fireworks, and entertainment; Epcot Center with exhibits of technological innovations + entertainment and dining inspired by the cultures & cuisines of 11 nations; Animal Kingdom Park, one of the world's largest animal theme parks; Hollywood Studios featuring glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, plus attractions based on movies and TV shows. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza features bronze busts of beloved legends of screens both large and small, including gay icons such as Bette Davis and Elizabeth Taylor.
Typhoon Lagoon water park offers a storm of fun in the sun, snorkeling in a coral reef with sharks, stingrays and tropical fish, rushing rapids, sandy beach sunning, and lazy river raft rides. The Blizzard Beach water park simulates a ski resort that has melted into slushy slopes, to slide on of the world’s tallest and fastest waterslides. Floating down a tranquil river or white-sand beach sunbathing are some less strenuous options.
Also the resident Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba, can be seen at Downtown Disney. Here the fantastic world of circus artists collides with that of the Urbains, wearing dark, monochromatic outfits, introducing magical and amazing feats and bright, fluorescent colours into the paler, more mundane lives they encounter. Shows take place Tuesdays through Saturdays and tickets may be bought at the Cirque website, which has full information.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Launch Operations Center has been used to launch every NASA human space flight, including Skylab (1973), the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975), and the Space Shuttle program (1981-2011) since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. Located on Merritt Island, the center is north-northwest of Cape Canaveral on the Florida Atlantic Coat, midway between Miami and Jacksonville, and just one hour's drive from Orlando.
The Visitor Complex features exhibits and displays, historic spacecraft and memorabilia, shows, two IMAX theaters, public tours of the center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, bus tours of the spaceport, and the Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulated ride into space. The Launch Control Center tour provides a look inside Firing Room 4, the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled. The separate Apollo/Saturn V Center and United States Astronaut Hall of Fame are included among the tours.
The rocket garden between the Visitor Complex entrance and the Debus centre is an outdoor display where visitors can walk up to and around the base of historic rockets of the kind that once carried astronauts and satellites into space. The Apollo/Saturn V Center houses a restored Saturn V launch vehicle among other exhibits related to the Apollo program. Other large exhibits include the Apollo 14 command module, an unused Apollo command/service module (CSM-119) and an unused Lunar Module (LM-9).
For visitors to experience the sights and sounds of a rocket launch up close as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers public viewings from the NASA Causeway, the LC-39 Observation Gantry and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. There is also a viewing area at the main visitor complex. Adult admissions cost $50-75; tickets may be purchased from the website below:
Lake Eola, on East Washington Street in the heart of Downtown Orlando, has a mile of sidewalks around the lake, popular for walkers and runners. Gay cruising takes place among those in the know, around the lake with its distinctive fountain, the symbol of Orlando. For getting out on the water there are swan-shaped paddle boat rentals, and live swans among other birds to feed. Concerts and plays are presented in the Walt Disney Amphitheater, and the Relax Grill alongside the lake provides Am-Mediterranean meals, wines and beverages. Flower beds frame the spectacular view of Orlando’s skyline. Every Sunday the Orlando Farmers Market, one of the best in Central Florida, takes place 10am-4pm, offering fruits and vegetables, home-made breads, local cuisines, beer, wine, artworks and live music entertainment. The November Fall Fiesta in the Park features works of local artists and crafters, live entertainment, and food vendors -- just one of several events here throughout the year.
Lake Druid Park, a 19-acre site on Coy Drive in the Coytown neighborhood, opened October 31, 2015 with a large open field, new trees, a paved walking path, Mountain Bike Trails, a pump track and a community garden.
Bill Frederick Park, covering 183 acres alongside Turkey Lake, is one of the top-rated fishing lakes in Florida. The lake setting features a fishing pier and boat rentals, nature, bike and walking trails, a swimming pool, rental cabins, outdoor grills, a tent camping area and an RV campground.
The Orlando Wetlands Park, a half hour drive from Orlando on route 50 towards the Atlantic coast, on Wheeler Road, Fort Christmas Historical Park, is open from February to mid-November, with 1,650 acres of hardwood hammocks, marshes and lakes. Popular activities include bird-watching, nature photography, jogging and bicycling on over 20 miles of roads and trails. The annual Orlando Wetlands Festival takes place in mid-Frebruary with birdwatching guided tours and photo hikes, hay rides, bus tours, and wildlife shows.
The Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park is another nearby nature preserve of 9,515-acres, located in east Orange County. This expanse of flatwoods and open prairie straddles the Econlockhatchee River in east Orange County, where bald eagles, sandhill cranes, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, bobcats, river otters and indigo snakes may be seen. A network of trails here are designated for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling.