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Orlando in the American state of Florida is known above all because of the nearby theme park Disney World. There are also other theme parks, like Sea World, the Universal film studio film complex and the crocodile park Gatorland, one of the oldest attractions in Orlando. The city itself is popular above all as a shopping paradise. In the surrounding area there are many lakes.
The city itself has only 215,000 inhabitants, but around Orlando there are extensive suburbs, with a total of 2 million inhabitants. Like other cities in Florida, Orlando has a considerable Latin-American population ('Hispanics'), especially from Puerto Rico.
Orlando is located in the centre of the state of Florida in the south-east of the United States. Its location was crucial in the decision to open Disney World here: Orlando is plagued less by hurricanes than coastal cities like Tampa or Miami.
Tourism is the most important source of income for Orlando. Annually, the city attracts 50 million domestic and foreign visitors, who are attracted most of all to the theme parks. The city also organises many conferences and exhibitions in the Orlando County Convention Centre (200,000 square metres). Also, there is some aviation and space industry, as well as manufacturers of computer software and hardware.
Orlando International Airport is located 10 kilometres to the south-east of the city. It has direct connections to cities in America and Europe. From the airport there are shuttle bus connections to the centre of the city and to the main attractions. Disney World has its own shuttle service, the Magical Express. There is also a train connection. If you want to visit the main attractions by rental car, take the North Exit of the airport, and follow the SR 528 West to International Drive. Disney World can be reached by taking the South Exit to the SR 417 South. From Exit 5, you follow the SR 536 straight to Disney. In both cases, there are toll booths.
To the north of the city lies Orlando Sanford International Airport. In addition to domestic flights, there are chartered flights to cities in Great Britain and Ireland. Other European cities are serviced by Icelandair, via Reykjavik.
Orlando Executive Airport is located only three kilometres to the east of the city centre. As the name suggests, the airport is used by business travellers on domestic flights.
There is an extensive bus network with over 60 lines operated by Lynx Bus Service. The central bus station is on Livingstone Street. From there, there is also a free bus service to the centre of the city (Lymmo Bus). The attractions along International Drive and Universal Drive are serviced by the I-Ride Trolley. This bus moves fairly slowly because traffic on these roads is usually very busy.
The Greyhound bus station is situated in an industrial area (555 N John Young parkway). From this terminal there are bus connections to the main attractions. From the Amtrak station (1400 Sligh boulevard) there are trains to Miami and other American cities. Sanford, to the north of Orlando, is the starting point of a car trip to Lorton in Virginia, not far from the American capital Washington.
The most important road that runs straight through Miami is the Interstate 4, which connects Daytona Beach (90 kilometres to the north-east), with Tampa to the south-west. In the centre of Orlando, this road crosses the East-West Expressway (SR 408). The main attractions are all located on International Drive, which runs parallel to the Interstate 4. In recent years, traffic in the city has become more congested. In 2009, a commuter railway will be ready for use, which will hopefully ease that congestion.
All the main attractions have big parking lots, for which you don't have to pay if you stay in a hotel on the theme park. In that case, transportation between the various attractions are also free, but the rooms in these hotels are fairly pricey.
There are many hotels in and around Orlando: apart from Las Vegas, Orlando has the largest number of hotels of all the cities in the US. Many people come to the city to see Disney World. Except the hotels in the theme park itself, you can also stay at one of the hotels along International Drive or in Kissimmee. Make sure you book your hotel room well in advance (several months up to a year!) if you want to stay close to Orlando's main attractions.
For more information about Orlando, we recommend Google, and the following sources: