Orlando is a theme park Mecca with big thrills and super splashes. It's earned its reputation as O-town, or should we say "Ohhh!-town"? Orlando caters to tourists -- each attraction is bigger, more magical and awe-inspiring than the last. Approximately 47 million tourists visit the city each year. While the Walt Disney World Theme Parks are by far the biggest draw, the city of Orlando and central Florida offer many family-friendly must-sees that will keep a busy clan wowed, from whale shows at SeaWorld to encounters with Dora and Sponge Bob at Universal Studio to alligator-wrestling at Gatorland.
Orlando is the top family Spring Break destination, with travel at its peak from February to April. Also popular are the Thanksgiving and December holidays. The lull in Orlando's travel season is September to November (before Thanksgiving), which is a great time to score low rates and two-for-one deals, and avoid long lines at attractions. Log onto the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau website for more details. Travel picks up again for the Thanksgiving and December holidays.
Temperatures in Florida are mild. Even if the winter is "cold" by Florida standards, it's still many gradients warmer than any point north. February, March, and April are the most popular times to travel to Orlando, with northerners coming to soak up the 78-degree weather. But bear in mind that cold snaps happen even in Florida. Pack a light fleece in addition to your bathing suit and summer clothes. Even the busy November or December holiday season has seen cold fronts (the oranges have frozen in years past). Afternoon rains are typical most summer days. Bring a light raincoat or poncho, and plan indoor activities in the afternoon if possible. The hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1 to November 30, with peak months in August and September. Get more weather info.
Flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) is a breeze for passengers, as more than 30 airlines serve the airport. There's also the Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) 18 miles northeast of the city and Amtrak passenger and auto trails, which transports you and your car.
If you're staying at one of Orlando's theme parks or a participating hotel, free shuttle service to and from the airport and to the theme parks and area attractions are included with most of Orlando's theme park hotels or other participating lodges. Check to see what shuttle services are offered before booking. Also available are the I-Ride Trolleys, air-conditioned trolley cars that bus visitors along the 14-mile International Drive stretch to restaurants, shops, outlets, and theme parks such as SeaWorld and Wet 'N Wild ($1 for adults one way, 25 cents for seniors, free for kids under 12). But highways and roadways are well marked, making it easy to travel from attraction to attraction. Visit OrlandoInfo.com for complete Orlando travel information.
As if the theme parks, water parks, and marine exhibits weren't enough to see, Orlando also has a calendar full of crowd-pleasing festivals. Dates vary each year, so check official event websites or call the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau website for exact dates. Also check the Walt Disney World travel guide for specific Disney festival and events.
The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau website is a great resource for planning vacations, booking trips, and finding deals.
Help plan your Orlando vacation by ordering a free Orlando Vacation Planning Kit. Along with information on local accommodations and attractions, you'll also receive the Orlando Magicard with discounts on accommodations, dining, attractions, and spas. You can also buy discounted tickets at OrlandoInfo.com.