Orlando is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, and one of the biggest attractions of course is Disney World. This is only one reason why thousands of people flock to Orlando yearly. The streets are lined aesthetically with palm, pine, and oak trees. There are also many lakes and parks that add to the beauty of the city.
The area was originally settled by army volunteers after the Seminole wars in the late 1840s. However, the area received the name Orlando in 1835. It was named after a soldier named Reeve Orlando. He earned this honor by notifying his unit of approaching Indians. By the time the Civil War started, Orlando was a tiny settlement that mostly survived by the production of Cotton. Unfortunately, the war brought harsh poverty to the area. Between the lack of money to hire farmhands and no transportation to the market, the cotton industry was slowly crushed. Then in 1865, the first of the famous orange groves were planted for harvest. The citrus industry didn’t really take hold until 1890 when English settlers bought state land and railroad interest for $1 an acre.
In the early ’50s space exploded only 50 miles away at Cape Canaveral. That did help to boost the economy, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. In 1971 Walt Disney opened his Walt Disney World Theme Park. This park also led to other businesses and theme parks to built in the area. The area exploded and put Orlando on the map as one of the most popular travel destinations. Earlier that week in May of 1999 we had been in Tampa. We had a great time checking out the Dali Museum and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but decided to head over to Orlando for a couple of days before heading home. The drive to Orlando was pleasant and very exciting. It was almost exactly the way I pictured it to be. Lots of greenery and palm trees.
We were incredibly surprised at the park. It was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly large. We were told that Disneyland in Anaheim could sit in Disney World’s parking lot. It was that much larger. Unfortunately, we were barely able to see a small part of the Magic Kingdom, and MGM Studios. The park is so huge that we could have spent a whole week just doing 2 or 3 of them. Oh well, some other time maybe. A little historical data – Disney World opened October 1, 1971, with a single theme park, the Magic Kingdom, and three resorts, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
We both agree the worst ride was the tram ride at the MGM. The line was unbearably long, and that really wasn’t that much to see to make it worth the wait. I think I would have enjoyed what we did see if we didn’t have to wait so long. The line was three times longer than any line we had been in all day. I do have to say it was kind of cool to see the costume and props area. One thing that we saw that was cool, was the house from the Golden Girls. I know it’s changed since then, but that was there when we did the tour.
We both also agreed that the best ride was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This was an absolutely awesome ride. It is a runaway elevator that bounces and drops you up and down thirteen stories. It all starts once you step into the elevator. A television set springs to life and Rod Serling welcomes you on a journey into the Twilight Zone. He reveals that on a gloomy Halloween night in 1939, some hotel patrons were riding the elevator when a violent storm struck the building… and they were never seen again. It was so fun, we did it twice. You have to try this one for yourself if you are ever in the area.
We had a great time running around all the different parks, but needless to say, we were completely exhausted by the time we headed back to the hotel. I would love to go there and spend a week just at Disney World. It would be so much fun, but there are so many other places I want to see. Maybe someday we will get back there. Happy travels.
Disney World Visitor Information
I would love to share more information about days, hours, prices, etc but Disney World pricing, park hours, etc are changing constantly. I could never keep up, plus they have 1 day 1-10 day park passes. You can also add the Park Hopper option, Water Park and Sports option, or Park Hopper Plus. TOO many choices for me to try and list and come back to update. Better to just give you the website link and pick which option is best for you and your group. Just a heads up, it’s NOT cheap :(. But hey, can you put a price on your kid’s face? lol Hope you have a great trip whenever you make it to one of the amazing parks. Just don’t do it during the summer, lol.
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2 thoughts on “Orlando, Florida and The Magic of Walt Disney World”
WOW Orlando sure grew up and prospered over the years! We have never had any thoughts of going to Disney World but I have loved growing up with his movies.