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Orlando is a major city in the central region of the U.S.
state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County and
the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan region. According
to the United States Census Bureau the estimated population
of the city is approximately 230,514; and of the metropolitan
area, 2,054,574. It is the fifth largest city in Florida by
city proper population. It was incorporated on July 31, 1875,
and became a city in 1885.
Originally the center of a major citrus-growing region, Orlando
is now best known as the home of amusement attractions, including
the Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort,
and SeaWorld. These destinations helped make Orlando the third
most visited American city among travelers  in the year
2007. Since the establishment of destination tourism in the
1970s, the local economy has diversified, and today the region
is the center of operations for companies servicing Central
Florida. Orlando is also home to the University of Central
Florida, the largest university campus by student enrollment
in the state of Florida and among the largest in the United
Historians date Orlando's name to around 1837, when a soldier
named Orlando Reeves allegedly died in the area during the
Second Seminole War. It seems, however, that Orlando Reeves
(sometimes Rees) operated a sugar mill and plantation about
30 miles (50 km) to the north at Spring Garden in Volusia
County, and pioneer settlers simply found his name carved
into a tree and assumed it was a marker for his grave site.
They then referred to the area as "Orlando's grave"
and later simply Orlando. A memorial beside Lake Eola designates
the spot where the city's namesake fell.
During the Second Seminole War, the U.S. Army established
an outpost at Fort Gatlin, a few miles south of the modern
downtown, in 1838. But it was quickly abandoned when the war
came to an end.
Prior to being known as its current name, Orlando was known
as Jernigan, after the first permanent settler, cattleman
Aaron Jernigan, who acquired land along Lake Holden by the
terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842. But most pioneers
did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s.
Most of the early residents made their living by cattle ranching.
After Mosquito County was divided in 1845, Orlando became
the county seat of the new Orange County in 1856. It remained
a rural backwater during the Civil War, and suffered greatly
during the Union blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought
a population explosion, which led to Orlando's incorporation
as a town on July 31, 1875, and as a city in 1885.
The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's Golden
Era, when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry.
But the Great Freeze of 1894–95 forced many owners to
give up their independent groves, thus consolidating holdings
in the hands of a few "citrus barons" who shifted
operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.
There were a couple of notable homesteaders in the area,
including the Curry family. Through their property in east
Orlando flowed the Econlockhatchee River, which travelers
crossed by fording. This would be commemorated by the street's
name, Curry Ford Road. Also, just south of the airport in
the Boggy Creek area was 150 acres (0.61 km2) of property
homesteaded in the late 1800s by the Ward family. This property
is still owned by the Ward family, and can be seen from flights
out of MCO southbound immediately on the south side of SR-417.
Orlando, as Florida's largest inland city, became a popular
resort during the years between the Spanish-American War and
World War I. In the 1920s, Orlando experienced extensive housing
development during the Florida Land Boom. Land prices soared.
During this period several neighborhoods in downtown were
constructed, endowing it with many bungalows. The boom ended
when several hurricanes hit Florida in the late 20s, along
with the Great Depression.
During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed
at the Orlando Army Air Base and nearby Pinecastle Army Air
Field. Some of these servicemen stayed in Orlando to settle
and raise families. In 1956 the aerospace/defense company
Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) established a plant
in the city. Orlando AAB and Pinecastle AAF were transferred
to the United States Air Force in 1947 when it became a separate
service and were redesignated as Air Force Bases (AFB). In
1958, Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base after
Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy, a former commander of the 320th
Bombardment Wing at the installation, killed in the crash
of a B-47 Stratojet bomber north of Orlando. In the 1960s,
the base subsequently became home to the 306th Bombardment
Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), operating B-52 Stratofortress
and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, in addition to detachment
operations by EC-121 and U-2 aircraft.
Orlando is close enough to Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, and Kennedy Space Center for residents
to commute to work from the city's suburbs. It also allows
easy access to Port Canaveral, an important cruise ship terminal.
Because of its proximity to the Space Coast near the Kennedy
Space Center, many high-tech companies have shifted to the
Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred
in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney
World. Although Disney had considered the regions of Miami
and Tampa for his park, one of the major reasons behind his
decision not to locate there was due to hurricanes—
Orlando's inland location, although not free from hurricane
damage, exposed it to less threat than coastal regions. The
famous vacation resort opened in October 1971, ushering in
an explosive population and economic growth for the Orlando
metropolitan area, which now encompasses Orange, Seminole,
Osceola, and Lake counties. As a result, tourism became the
centerpiece of the area's economy. Orlando is consistently
ranked as one of the top vacation destinations in the world,
and now boasts more theme parks and entertainment attractions
than anywhere else in the world.
Another major factor in Orlando's growth occurred in 1962,
when the new Orlando Jetport, the precursor of the present
day Orlando International Airport, was built from a portion
of the McCoy Air Force Base. By 1970, four major airlines
(Delta Air Lines, National Airlines, Eastern Airlines and
Southern Airways) were providing scheduled flights. McCoy
Air Force Base officially closed in 1975, and most of it is
now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former
Air Force Base airport code (MCO).
In addition to McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando also had a naval
presence with the establishment of Naval Training Center Orlando
on the former Orlando AFB in 1968. The newest of three Naval
Training Centers in the United States providing training to
recruits, as well as being a base for selected post basic
training programs for enlisted personnel, NTC Orlando also
conducted nuclear power training for commissioned officers
and the base had a prominent presence in the area. In 1993,
the Base Realignment and Closure Commission ordered that NTC
Orlando be closed, along with a companion installation, NTC
San Diego. NTC Orlando continued in a diminished capacity
until the base closed for good in 1999 with the last graduates
of the base's Naval Nuclear Power School leaving in December
1998. The former base has been developed into tracts for upscale
housing called Baldwin Park. Other than Reserve and National
Guard activities, the Orlando area's remaining military presence
is the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division/Naval
Support Activity Orlando, located just east of the city limits
in the Central Florida Research Park. The U.S. Army's Program
Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation
(PEO-STRI), the United States Army Research, Development and
Engineering Command's, Simulation and Training Technology
Center (STTC), the U.S. Marine Corps' Program Manager for
Training Systems (PMTRASYS) and the U.S. Air Force's Agency
for Modeling and Simulation are also collocated at this location.
The SunTrust Center, the tallest building in Orlando at 441
ft (134 m), was built in 1988. The second tallest building
is the VUE at Lake Eola (2008, 426 ft (130 m) tall, but with
35 stories it will have more stories than the SunTrust Center.
The third tallest is the Orange County Courthouse (1997, 416
ft (127 m). The next tallest buildings are the Bank of America
Center (Formerly Barnett Plaza), built in 1988, 409 ft (125
m), Solaire at the Plaza, 2006, 359 ft (109 m) and the Orlando
International Airport ATC Tower (2002, 346 ft (105 m). The
SeaWorld SkyTower, at 400 ft (122 m) tall, is the tallest
tower in Orange County outside Orlando proper. There are also
several tall transmission towers in Orange County, the tallest
of which is the WFTV transmission tower in Christmas at 1,617
ft (491.6 m) tall.
In the hurricane season of 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Frances,
and Jeanne battered the Orlando area, causing widespread damage
and flooding and impeding tourism to the area.
Geography / Topography
Orlando is located at 28°32'1?N 81°22'33?W? / ?28.53361°N
81.37583°W? / 28.53361; -81.37583 (28.533513, -81.375789).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has
a total area of 261.5 km² (101 mi²). 242.2 km²
(93.5 mi²) of it is land and 19.3 km² (7.5 mi²)
of it (7.39%) is water. Orlando is, on average, 106 feet (32
m) above sea level.
Orlando has a warm and humid subtropical climate, and there
are two major seasons each year. One of those seasons is hot
in rainy, lasting from the break of June until late September
(roughly coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season). The
other is the dry season (October through May) that brings
more moderate temperatures and less frequent rainfall. The
area's warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low
elevation and its position relatively close to the Tropic
of Cancer, and many characteristics of its climate are a result
of its proximity to the Gulf Stream.
During the height of Orlando's very humid summer season,
temperatures rarely fall below 70 °F (21 °C), and
daytime highs average in the 90s (32-37 °C). Although
the city rarely records temperatures over 100 °F (38 °C),
extreme humidity can push the heat index to over 110 °F
(45 °C). The city's highest recorded temperature is 101
°F (39 °C), set July 2, 1998. During these months,
strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms
are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic
Ocean colliding over Central Florida. They are highlighted
by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rainfall
(sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as
well as occasional damaging hail.
During the cooler seasons, humidity is lower and temperatures
are more moderate, and can fluctuate more readily. Average
nighttime lows in January are around 50 °F (10 °C),
and average daytime highs are about 72 °F (22 °C).
Temperatures rarely dip below 32 °F (0 °C). Because
the winter season is dry and rare freezing temperatures occur
after cold fronts (and their accompanying precipitation) have
passed, Orlando experiences no significant snowfall (only
once has measurable snow accumulated since recording began
at the airport in 1948). Very rarely do the ingredients come
together for flurries to occur, commonly ocean effect snow.
The area around Orlando recorded up to 6" (15 cm) in
1977 during a snowstorm (which partly contributed to the idea
of Disney's blizzard Beach Water Park 20 years later). Reports
of flurries in the Central Florida area include December 23,
1989, January 24, 2003, November 24, 2006, and January
The average annual rainfall in Orlando is 50.1 in. (128 cm),
most of it occurring in the period from June to September.
The months of October through May are Orlando's driest season.
During this period (especially in its later months), there
is often a wildfire hazard. During some years, fires have
been severe. In 1998, a strong El Niño caused an unusually
wet January and February, followed by drought throughout the
spring and early summer, causing a record wildfire season
that created numerous air quality alerts in Orlando.
Orlando has a considerable hurricane risk, although it is
not as high as it is in South Florida's urban corridor or
other coastal regions. Since the city is located 42 miles
(68 km) inland from the Atlantic and 77 miles (124 km) inland
from the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes usually weaken before
arriving. Storm surges are not a concern since the region
is 100 ft (30 m) above sea level. Despite its location, the
city does see strong hurricanes. During the notorious 2004
hurricane season, Orlando was hit by three hurricanes that
caused significant damage, with Hurricane Charley the worst
of these. The city also experienced widespread damage during
Hurricane Donna in 1960.
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey
estimates, the city's population was 45.8% White, 40.2% non-Hispanic
White, 34.3% Black, 23.7% Hispanic, 13.6% Hispanic White,
2.7% Asian, 0.7% American Indian and Alaska Native, 9.6% from
some other race, and 2.1% from two or more races. 30.1% of
the city's population had a Bachelor's degree or higher.
As of the census of 2000, there were 185,951 people (2007
estimate counted 227,907 people), 80,883 households, and 42,382
families residing in the city. The population density was
767.9/km² (1,988.9/mi²). There were 188,486 housing
units at an average density of 365.4/km² (946.4/mi²).
The racial makeup of the city was 61.10% White, 26.70% African
American, 1.43% Asian, 0.34% Native American, 0.08% Pacific
Islander, 5.41% from other races, and 2.54% from two or more
races. 17.79% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of
any race. Non-Hispanic Whites made up 50.8% of the population.
There were 80,883 households out of which 24.5% had children
under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% were married couples
living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband
present, and 47.6% were non-families. 35.0% of all households
were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone
who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size
was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under
the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 18.6%
from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older.
The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were
94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were
The median income for a household in the city was $35,732,
and the median income for a family was $40,648. Males had
a median income of $30,866 versus $25,267 for females. The
per capita income for the city was $21,216. About 13.3% of
families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty
line, including 27.0% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those
age 65 or over.
Orlando is also home to one of the nation's highest population
percentage of LGBT people. According to a study by UCLA, 7.7%
of Orlando's population is gay, lesbian, or bisexual and with
5.7% of the entire metropolitan population, it ranks 9th in
In 2006, based on the Department of Justice's FBI Criminal
Justice Information Services Division, Orlando reported 4,300
violent crimes including 49 murders, a record number since
36 in 1982. Crime in Orlando has been up 329% since 2006.
Based on the Morgan Quitno Press "Safest and Most Dangerous
Cities of 2008", Orlando ranked as the 18th most dangerous
city in the country.
Crime is being attacked by Orlando authorities with the installation
of security cameras in Orlando. Traffic lights are merged
with cameras capable of detecting out of ordinary activity.
Once a smart camera detects this activity, it will zoom in
on people of interest in an effort to identify them, and can
also zoom in on a license plate.
In 2008, 123 people were slain in Orlando and unincorporated
Orange County, a new record. In 2009 Forbes magazine named
Orlando the nation's sixth most dangerous city in the United
States. Forbes reports its data showed the Orlando-Kissimmee
metropolitan area has a population of 2,020,346 with 845 violent
crimes per 100,000 people.
As of 2000, 75.43% of all residents speak English as their
first language, while 16.60% speak Spanish, 1.93% speak Haitian
Creole, 1.33% speak French, and 0.99% of the population speak
Portuguese as their mother language.
Metropolitan Statistical Area
Orlando is the hub city of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida,
Metropolitan Statistical Area, colloquially known as "Greater
Orlando" or "Metro Orlando". The area encompasses
four counties (Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake), and is
currently the 27th-largest metro area in the United States
with a 2007 Census-estimated population of 2,032,496.
When Combined Statistical Areas were instituted in 2000,
Orlando was initially joined together with The Villages, Florida,
Micropolitan Statistical Area, to form the Orlando-The Villages,
Florida, Combined Statistical Area. In 2006, the metropolitan
areas of Deltona (Volusia County) and Palm Coast (Flagler
County) were added to create the Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach,
Florida, Combined Statistical Area. This new larger CSA
has a total population (as of 2007) of 2,693,552, and
includes three of the 25 fastest-growing counties in the nation—Flagler
ranks 1st; Osceola, 17th; and Lake, 23rd.
Destinations from Orlando Apopka, Astatula, Mount Dora,
Eustis, Tavares, Leesburg, The Villages Eatonville, Maitland,
Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Deltona,
DeBary, DeLand Winter Park, Casselberry, Oviedo, Winter Springs,
Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach Windermere,
Ocoee, Winter Garden, Clermont, Bushnell North Union Park,
Avalon Park, Chuluota, Bithlo, Christmas, Titusville, Cocoa
Beach, Cape Canaveral West Orlando East South Lake Buena Vista,
Celebration, Davenport, Winter Haven, Lakeland,Haines City
Edgewood, Belle Isle, Kissimmee, Poinciana Saint Cloud, Harmony,
Holopaw, Kenansville, Yeehaw Junction, Melbourne, Palm Bay
The North Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center.
The convention center is vital to Orlando's tourist-based
economy, hosting lots of visitors every year.
Metro Orlando has a rapidly growing $13.4 billion technology
industry employing 53,000 people, and is a nationally recognized
cluster of innovation in digital media, agritechnology, aviation,
aerospace, and software. More than 150 international companies,
representing approximately 20 countries, have facilities in
A vital part of the Orlando area economy is involved in the
tourist industry, with the city being known for its wide range
of its attractions including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal
Orlando Resort, and Sea World Orlando. Over 48 million visitors
came to the Orlando region in 2004. The convention industry
is also critical to the region's economy. The Orange County
Convention Center, expanded in 2004 to over two million square
feet (200,000 m²) of exhibition space, is now the second-largest
convention complex in terms of space in the United States,
trailing only McCormick Place in Chicago. The city vies with
Chicago and Las Vegas for hosting the most convention attendees
in the United States.
Metro Orlando has the 7th largest research park in the country
Central Florida Research Park with over 1,025 acres. It is
home to over 120 companies, employs more than 8,500 people,
and is the hub of the nation’s military simulation and
training programs. Metro Orlando is home to the simulation
procurement commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines
and Coast Guard.
Orlando is a major industrial and hi-tech center. Lockheed-Martin
has a large manufacturing facility for missile systems, aeronautical
craft and related high tech research. Other notable engineering
firms have offices or labs in Metro Orlando: KDF, General
Dynamics, Harris, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Siemens, Veritas/Seagate,
multiple USAF facilities, Naval Air Warfare Center Training
Systems Division (NAWCTSD), Delta Connection Academy, Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University, GE, Air Force Agency for Modeling
and Simulation (AFAMS), U.S. Army Program Executive Office
for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI),
United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command
United States Army Simulation and Training Technology Center
(STTC), AT&T, Boeing, CAE Systems Flight & Simulation
Training, HP, Institute for Simulation and Training, National
Center for Simulation, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Systems.
The Naval Training Center until a few years ago was one of
the two places where nuclear engineers were trained for the
US Navy. Now the land has been converted into the Baldwin
Another developing sector is the film, television, and electronic
gaming industries, aided by the presence of Universal Studios,
Disney's Hollywood Studios, Full Sail School, the Florida
Interactive Entertainment Academy, and other entertainment
companies and schools. Numerous office complexes for large
corporations have popped up along the Interstate 4 corridor
north of Orlando, especially in Maitland, Lake Mary and Heathrow.
The U.S. modeling, simulation, and training (MS&T) industry
is centered around the Orlando region as well, with a particularly
strong presence in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent
to UCF. Nearby Maitland is the home of Tiburon, a division
of the video game company Electronic Arts. Originally Tiburon
Entertainment, it was acquired by EA in 1998 after years of
partnership, particularly in the famous Madden NFL series
and NCAA Football series of video games.
Orlando is the home base of Darden Restaurants, the parent
company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden and the largest operator
of restaurants in the world by revenue. They are building
a new world headquarters and central distribution facility
on John Young Parkway.
Orlando has two non-profit hospital systems: Orlando Health
and Florida Hospital. Orlando Health's Orlando Regional Medical
Center is home to Central Florida's only Level I trauma center,
and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and Florida
Hospital Orlando have the area's only Level III neonatal intensive
care units. Florida Hospital's main campus is ranked as one
of the best hospitals in the nation, and has a renowned brain
attack facility. Orlando's medical leadership
will be further advanced with the completion of UCF's College
of Medicine and a new VA Hospital, both of which will be located
in a new medical district in the Lake Nona area of the city.
Historically, the unemployment rate in Greater Orlando was
low, which resulted in growth that led to urban sprawl in
the surrounding area and, in combination with the 2007 Subprime
mortgage financial crisis, to the rising cost of home prices.
Today, according to Workforce Central Florida, the March 2009
unemployment rate in Central Florida has increased to 9.9
percentSentinel. Housing prices in Greater Orlando went up
34% in one year, from an average of $182,000 in August 2004
to $245,000 in August 2005, and eventually to a record $255,000
in February 2007. They are tapering off, however, down to
$211,000 in April 2008.
Culture / Tourism
The Orlando area is home to a wide variety of tourist attractions,
including the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando
Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Holy Land Experience. The Walt
Disney World resort is the area's largest attraction with
its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's
Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon,
Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando is a
large park that features numerous zoological displays and
marine animals alongside an amusement park with roller coasters
and water park. Universal Orlando, like Walt Disney World,
is a multi-faceted resort comprising Universal Studios Florida,
CityWalk, and the Islands of Adventure theme park. Orlando
attractions also significantly appeal to many locals who want
to enjoy themselves close to home.
Orlando has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the
country (after Las Vegas, Nevada), and is one of the busiest
American cities for conferences and conventions with the Orange
County Convention Center, the country's second largest in
square footage. It is also known for its wide array of golf
courses, with numerous courses available for any level of
golfer. Located several miles away from the main tourist attractions,
Downtown Orlando is undergoing major redevelopment with a
number of residential projects, commercial towers, and major
public works projects including the Amway Center and the Dr.
P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center. Orlando ranks
as the fourth most popular city, based on where people want
to live, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.
Entertainment and performing arts
The hip hop music scene, metal scene, rock music scene, reggaeton
and Latino scene, are all active within the city, which is
largely home to the Florida Breakbeat movement. Orlando has
also been called Hollywood East because of numerous cinematic
enterprises in the area.
The Universal Studios globe
Until recently, Walt Disney Feature Animation operated a
studio out of Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney
World Resort. Feature Animation-Florida was primarily responsible
for the films Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and the early stages
of Brother Bear and contributed on various other projects.
Universal Studios's Soundstage 21 is home to The TNA Impact
Zone. Nickelodeon Studios, which through the 90s produced
hundreds of hours of GAK-filled game shows targeted at children,
no longer operates out of Universal Studios Florida. The Florida
Film Festival in nearby Maitland is one of the most respected
regional film festivals in the country and attracts budding
filmmakers from around the world. In addition, the implosion
of Orlando's previous City Hall was filmed for the movie Lethal
Weapon 3. Orlando's indie film scene has been picking back
up since Haxan Film's The Blair Witch Project (1999) and a
few years later with Charlize Theron winning her Academy Award
for Monster (2003). A Florida state film incentive has also
helped increase the amount of films being produced in Orlando
and the rest of the state.
The Orlando Metropolitan Area is also home to a substantial
theatre population. Several professional and semi-professional
houses and many community theaters dot the area including
Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Repertory Theatre (Central
Florida's only Professional Theatre for Young Audiences),
Orlando Theatre Project, Mad Cow Theatre, Theatre Downtown,
The Osceola Center for the Arts, Winter Park Playhouse, Theatre
Winter Haven, and IceHouse Theatre. Disney also a cast theater
company known as S.T.A.G.E. as well as Encore, a cast choir
and orchestra whose annual charity concerts have raised thousands
of dollars. Additionally, both University of Central Florida
and Rollins College (Winter Park) are home to well respected
Theatre Departments that provide an influx of young artists
to the local area.
In addition, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre brings national
tours through town on a regular basis. This venue, built in
1926, will be replaced by the Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing
Arts Center in 2012.
Each spring, local theaters and downtown venues play host
to the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, which
draws touring companies from all around the world as well
as readings and fully staged productions of new and unknown
plays by local artists. Also in the spring, there is The Harriett
Lake Festival of New Plays, hosted by Orlando Shakespeare
Orlando has become one of the fastest growing retail markets
in the USA with at least five major upscale department stores
opening in 2008 alone and more than 50,000,000 square feet
(4,650,000 m2) of shopping space in Central Florida.
* The Florida Mall is the largest mall in Orlando, one of
the largest single-story malls in the USA at over 1,849,000
sq ft (171,800 m2) with over 250 stores, seven anchor department
stores, and the Florida Mall Hotel & Conference Center
* The Mall at Millenia is a contemporary two-level upscale
shopping mall, including the world-famous department stores
of Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Neiman Marcus. The mall covers
an area of 1,118,000 ft² (103,866 m²). IKEA Orlando
opened adjacent to the mall on November 14, 2007.
* Orlando Fashion Square is the nearest indoor shopping mall
to Downtown Orlando. The mall features 4 anchor department
stores and a 14-screen Premiere Cinema theater.
* Festival Bay Mall on International Drive is home to stores,
a skate park, and a theater.
* Waterford lakes town center on S. Alafaya Trail just North
of SR 408. An Open-Air mall featuring many large chain stores,
small shops, restaurants, doctor's offices, and Regal Waterford
Lakes Stadium 20 with 3D and IMAXDigital.
Orlando is the home city of the Orlando Magic NBA team and
the UCF Knights college athletics teams. It has also been
home to several successful minor league sports teams which
have won two Arena Bowls, two titles in ice hockey, three
titles in minor league baseball, one title in soccer, one
title in American football, and one title in roller hockey.
Orlando has produced several major athletes, such as baseball
players A.J. Pierzynski and Johnny Damon, football players
Warren Sapp, Daunte Culpepper, Brandon Meriweather, Deacon
Jones, Brandon Siler, Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon Marshall,
and Kevin Smith, basketball players Amar'e Stoudemire and
Darius Washington, and soccer player Michelle Akers. Orlando
is also home to many current and notable former athletes as
well, including baseball players Carlos Peña, Frank
Viola, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Jonathan Aldridge, basketball
player Shaquille O'Neal, and many golfers, including Tiger
Woods, Mark O'Meara and Arnold Palmer.
* Orlando Sentinel
* Orlando Business Journal
Bright House Sports Network • Central Florida News
13 • SGTV (Seminole Co.)
See also: Tampa Bay TV • Jacksonville TV • Palm
Orlando is governed via the mayor-council system. The mayor
is elected in a citywide vote. The six members of the city
council are each elected from districts.
State and federal representation
The United States Postal Service operates post offices in
Orlando. The Orlando Main Post Office is located at 10401
Post Office Boulevard, adjacent to Orlando International Airport.
Public primary and secondary education is handled by Orange
County Public Schools. Some of the private schools include
Orlando Lutheran Academy, The Geneva School, Forest Lake Academy,
The First Academy, Trinity Preparatory School, Lake Highland
Preparatory School, Bishop Moore High School Pine Castle Christian
Academy and Orlando Christian Prep.
Area institutions of higher education
* The University of Central Florida
* Full Sail University
* State universities
* University of Central Florida
* Florida A&M University College of Law
* Valencia Community College
* Seminole State College of Florida (Sanford, Oviedo, and
Private universities, colleges, and others
* Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando Campus
* Columbia College, Orlando Campus
* DeVry University, Orlando campus
* Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
* Florida Institute of Technology, Orlando campus
* Florida Metropolitan University, Orlando campus
* Full Sail University (in Winter Park)
* Herzing College (in Winter Park)
* Hindu University of America
* International Academy of Design & Technology-Orlando
* Nova Southeastern University, Orlando campus
* Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando campus
* Rollins College (in Winter Park)
* Strayer University, Orlando campus
* University of Florida College of Pharmacy (in Apopka)
* University of Phoenix, Orlando campus
* Webster University, Orlando Campus
Infrastructure / Airports
* The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is Orlando's primary
airport, currently the busiest airport in the State of Florida.
The airport was ranked by passengers as the #1 airport in
the nation according to J.D. Power & Associates. The airport
features 2 terminals with radiating air-side terminals, flyers
are transported via elevated trams. The airport also houses
an on-site Hyatt Regency hotel. Prior to being converted into
a civil airport, the land was used as McCoy Airforce Base,
however the call sign was never changed and remains "MCO".
* The Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) located
in Sanford, FL (northern suburb) serves as a secondary airport,
mainly for European discount carriers and charters.
* The Orlando Executive Airport (ORL) located near Downtown
Orlando serves primarily executive jets, flight training schools,
and general small-aircraft aviation.
Roads / Major highways
* Interstate 4 is Orlando's primary interstate highway.
Orlando is 2nd largest city serviced by one interstate, preceding
Austin, TX and is the largest metropolitan area in the US
serviced by a single interstate expressway as well. The interstate
begins in Tampa, Florida and travels across the mid-section
of the state directly through Orlando ending in Daytona Beach.
As a key connector to Orlando's suburbs, downtown, area attractions,
and both coasts; I-4 commonly experiences heavy traffic and
congestion. I-4 is also known as State Road 400.
* East-West Expressway (Toll 408) is a major highway managed
by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. The highway
intersects with I-4 in Downtown Orlando providing a key artery
for residents commuting from eastern and western suburbs including
the University of Central Florida area. The highway also intersects
with the Central Florida Greeneway (Toll 417) and Florida's
Turnpike. In late 2006 the I-4/408 interchange finished undergoing
a major overhaul that created multiple fly-over bridges and
connectors to ease heavy traffic flows. In addition, lane
expansions, new toll plazas, and sound barriers are being
added throughout the highway.
* Beachline Expressway (Toll 528) provides key access to the
Orlando International Airport and serves as a gateway to the
Atlantic coast, specifically Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.
* Central Florida Greeneway (Toll 417) is a key highway for
East Orlando, the highway is also managed by the Orlando-Orange
County Expressway Authority and serves as Orlando's eastern
beltway. The highway intersects with the East-West Expressway
(Toll 408), the Beachline Expressway (Toll 528), and begins
and ends on Interstate 4. The highway is often praised for
its green scenery and generally light traffic, however, recently
the highway has seen a rapid rise in drivers during rush hours.
* Daniel Webster Western Beltway (Toll 429) serves as Orlando's
western beltway. The highway serves as a new "back entrance"
to Walt Disney World from Orlando's northwestern suburbs including
* John Land Apopka Expressway (Toll 414) The newest East-West
expressway to be built and the first since SR 408. Phase I
opened on February 14, 2009 and extends from US 441 to Florida
State Road 429. Phase II will link SR 429 to US 441 several
miles west of the current SR 429 intersection.
* Florida's Turnpike (Toll 91) is a major highway that connects
northern Florida with Orlando and Miami. It is the gateway
Rush hours and traffic
According to a recent national study by the Texas Transportation
Institute, the average Orlando resident spends about 54 hours
per year waiting in traffic. Heavy traffic
is unpredictable; however, rush hours (peak traffic hours)
are usually weekday mornings (after 7am) and afternoons (after
4pm). There are various traffic advisory resources available
for commuters including dialing 5-1-1 (a free automated traffic
advisory system provided by the Florida Department of Transportation,
available by cellphone or landline by dialing 511), visiting
the Florida 511 Web site, listening to traffic reports on
major radio stations, and reading electronic traffic advisory
displays (also called Dynamic Message Signs, information is
also provided by FDOT) on the major highways and roadways.
The Orlando Regional Traffic Management Center (or Orlando
RTMC for short) serves as the central hub for traffic operations
in the region. It monitors traffic conditions on Interstate
4, Interstate 95, The OOCEA Toll Roads, and other major surface
streets throughout the DOT's District 5 and relays the information
to motorists through the use of Dynamic Message Signs and
the Florida 5-1-1 system.
There is also a free roadside assistance service on Interstate
4 provided by LYNX called I-4 Road Rangers. These road rangers
patrol during the weekdays looking to help stranded motorists
who are in need of tire changing, a tow, or gas. Road Rangers
also assist in debris removal on highways and traffic diversion
during vehicle crashes. These trucks are highly identifiable
by the red and white paint scheme and their FDOT Seals. Recently,
State Farm Insurance company has taken over funding and sponsorship
of the program. Each truck is also equipped with large
light up message board on its roof, usually displaying an
arrow or urgent message. The toll roads have a similar service
provided through OOCEA which is funded on toll fares.
Florida's Turnpike Enterprise operates its own separate Road
Ranger program. Road rangers from I-4 or the OOCEA Toll Road
network will not respond to motorists on State Road 91 otherwise
known as Florida's Turnpike.
The Orlando area is served by one through railroad, CSX Transportation's
A line (formerly the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad's main line),
and some spurs, mostly operated by the Florida Central Railroad.
Amtrak passenger service runs along the CSX A line. See also
a map of these railroads.
The following major railroad stations have existed in Orlando:
* Amtrak Orlando station (originally built by ACL to replace
Church Street Station, the only one still in use)
* Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Orlando station (now Church
Street Station, a tourist attraction)
* Seaboard Air Line Railroad Orlando station (Central Avenue
In 2005, Federal and state funding was granted for the establishment
of SunRail, a local commuter rail service, to operate on the
CSX A line tracks between DeLand and Poinciana, passing through
the downtown area and surrounding urban neighborhoods along
the way. The service was expected to substantially reduce
traffic congestion along the I-4 corridor, especially between
Downtown Orlando and the suburban communities in Seminole
and Volusia Counties. The Federal and state funds would have
covered approximately 80% of the estimated $400 million cost
for track modifications and construction of stations along
the route. The counties involved had approved local matching
funds in 2007 and the line was projected to begin operations
in 2011. However, the project was ultimately voted down
by Florida State Senate in 2008 and again in 2009 due to an
amendment that would have approved a $200 million insurance
policy for the system. Although there has been growing concern
the system may be scrapped, a deadline extension combined
with a new insurance arrangement with CSX has brought new
hope that SunRail will be completed after all.
Attempts to establish a smaller light rail service for the
Orlando area were also considered at one time, but were also
met with much resistance and opposition.
High speed rail
Orlando is being considered as a major hub for the proposed
Florida High Speed Rail system, which was mandated by state
referendum in 2000 – but repealed in 2004. Nonetheless,
the Florida High Speed Rail Authority continues to meet and
communicate with the Governor of Florida.
Orlando is served by LYNX; it provides local transit service
covering a five-county area: Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake,
and Volusia. Bus route schedules and maps can be found at
LYNX Official Website.