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An A to Z of Travel: Orlando

Maddy Faulkner by Maddy Faulkner

Monday, 14th May 2018

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An A to Z of Travel: Orlando

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The city of Orlando is magical - and that’s not just because it’s home to Cinderella’s castle! It’s one of the most visited cities in the world, attracting tens of millions of tourists per year.

The city is best known for its theme parks, with Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and Harry Potter World to name just a few.

However, it’s not a one-trick pony - there are plenty of other activities for all the family to enjoy.

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What to Do:

A visit to Walt Disney World is every child’s dream come true. At a whopping 40 square miles, It comprises four theme parks (Magical Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Magical Kingdom) as well as two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), five golf courses, a sports complex and a shopping centre.

Popular attractions include Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and classic Disney attractions like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.

If it’s your first time visiting, prepare to be overwhelmed! We’d recommend planning your trip to a tee in advance so that you can make the most out of your time.

Universal Studios combines a quintessential Hollywood movie experience with attractions and shows. The signature Studio Tour takes you on a journey around some of the most famous movie backdrops - you might even see some filming! Expect some surprise segments where you’ll really feel part of the movies...

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If you are desperate to spot a celeb, check the park’s official website a couple of weeks before visiting to find out who will be filming.

Aside from the famous theme parks, Orlando has plenty to offer. For a relaxing, entertaining and educational experience with fewer crowds, head to Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. There are over 400 animals and, if you plan ahead, there are opportunities to feed giraffes and you could even get up close and personal with a rhino!

Hiking is also popular with those visiting the city. The 440 acre Tibet-Butler nature reserve allows visitors to take a glimpse into the natural scenery of Florida.

For a slower change of pace, visit Mount Dora, a charming town north of Orlando. Think picturesque lakes, quiet country inns and unique shops. It’s also home to some great annual craft festivals.

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Where to Eat:

Where there are extravagant theme parks, there are extravagant restaurants! We’ve picked a few themed restaurants that provide both delicious food and plenty of fun.

Step back in time in T-Rex restaurant in Disney Springs, which serves up classic American cuisine in a prehistoric world.

For decadent desserts in all shapes and sizes, head to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium in Universal Orlando. Regardless of your age, you’ll feel like a kid in a sweet shop in this Victorian-inspired restaurant.

Where to Drink:

Major theme parks offer spacious live music venues and open-air bar seating where you can enjoy drinks all day long - expect those to be incredibly busy, though.

If you’re looking for something more atmospheric and cosier, the city’s lively downtown area has dozens of bars, from local watering holes to fancy rooftop bars.

Hanson’s Shoe Repair is an intimate speakeasy rooftop bar with an impressive cocktail menu. It’s rated one of the best bars in the city, so make sure you call in for a drink (or two!).

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Where to Stay:

If Walt Disney World is the focus of your trip, we’d recommend staying in one of the 34 hotels on Disney property because of their prime locations and added perks, such as free transport and extra magic hours (where guests are allowed into parks one hour before other visitors).

Step into the heart of Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is situated within a nature reserve. The luxurious safari-inspired hotel boasts a pool, award-winning dining and spa facilities. Rooms from £258 per night.

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