Orlando is home to over 100 different lakes; the most famous being Lake Eola in downtown Orlando which is actually a giant sinkhole! It’s deepest point is 80ft and it’s a hotspot for paddle-boating and various other water-based activities. Lake Eola is famous for its bevy of swans that call it home and there are actually more than 50 from five different breeds: whooper, royal mute, trumpeter, Australian black, and black neck.
Although it’s known that the city was originally named Jernigan (after the first permanent settler in the area), there’s no official documentation on how Orlando received its name. Four theories exist—such as being named after the character Orlando in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Seminole War solider Orlando Reeves who died whilst attempting to fire a warning shot to his fellow soldiers—but no conclusion has ever been reached.
The first theme park to open in Orlando was Gatorland back in 1949, a 110-acre Orlando Wildlife Center. Its main attraction was a 15ft gator that was said to be the biggest in the world. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was partly filmed at the park in 1984. Today, while there are still a lot of gators, the park is also home to two of the only 12 leucistic gators known to exist in the world today.
To fund the demolition of the old city hall, Orlando enlisted the help of Hollywood. Producer Joel Silver blew up the building for the opening scene of Lethal Weapon 3. The scene features Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. Orlando’s former mayor, Bill Frederick, even had a cameo in the scene as a policeman! Today, City Hall has two free art galleries that are open to the public.
The City of Orlando has had various nicknames throughout its history, including The Phenomenal City and City of Light. However, it’s currently known as The City Beautiful, a name dating back to 1908 when local officials borrowed it from the “City Beautiful” urban planning movement transforming places like Cleveland, Detroit and Denver. The city’s motto is “Orlando, Built for Families."
In 1986, eight months before Orlando was awarded an NBA franchise, a contest was held in the Orlando Sentinel for readers to submit their picks for the name of the city’s future basketball team. Out of 4,296 entries, the finalists were the Heat, the Tropics, the Juice, and the Magic. The most famous player for the Orlando Magic is Shaquille O’Neal who wears a size 17 shoe!
Orlando was once the main hub of Florida’s citrus industry. However, a disastrous deep freeze in the late 1800s caused farmers to move their citrus crop further south to avoid any more detrimental effects on their business. Orlando businessman Dr. Phillip Phillips once owned 5,000 acres of citrus. He perfected the process of canning orange juice and sold his company to Minute Maid in 1954 for $50 million.
Likely to be between 350 and 400 years old, the oldest tree in Orlando is located at Big Tree Park on North Thornton Avenue. The Rogers Building and the 1890 Railroad Depot are the oldest remaining structures in downtown Orlando. Dubsdread Golf Course is the oldest public course in the area. With 1,250 golf courses in the state of Florida, Orlando alone is home to 24 of them.
With over 5,300 restaurants and new ones opening every week, it’s predicted to take over five years to eat in every single restaurant in Orlando—even when going to a different place for each meal of each day. Orlando is actually home to the world’s largest McDonald’s (19,000 sq. ft.). Their unique menu includes waffles, brick-oven pizza and made-to-order omelets and the restaurant boasts a children’s play area the height of a male giraffe (22ft).
Boasting a total land area of over 113 square miles, 95 individual attractions and hundreds of things to do at each one, it’s estimated it would take 67 eight-hour days to experience all of Orlando. The city has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the country but we’re excited you chose us to be your home away from home while you experience everything The City Beautiful has to offer.