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Encyclopedia > Orlando, FL
Skyline of Orlando at night, from across Lake Eola

The city of Orlando is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 185,951 (metropolitan area 1,644,561). A 2003 local population count gave the city had a total population of 199,336 (metropolitan area nearly 1.8 million).

The city is best known for the tourist attractions in the area, particularly the nearby Walt Disney World, which is in the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Other area attractions include SeaWorld and the Universal Orlando Resort, the latter of which is in Orlando proper.



Some historians date Orlando's name to around 1836 when a soldier named Orlando Reeves allegedly died in the area, during the war against the Seminole Indian tribe.

The city was incorporated in 1872. During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed at the Pine Castle AAF, now the site of Orlando International Airport. 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 Orlando.

In addition, 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.

The most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced the plans for Walt Disney World. 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. Another important event was the hurricane season of 2004, when Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne battered the Orlando area, causing widespread damage and flooding.


Location of Orlando, Florida

Orlando is located at 28°32'1" North, 81°22'33" West (28.533513, -81.375789)1.

Orlando is only rivaled only to the Twin Cities in the number of natural lakes in its metropolitan area. The region Orlando inhabits is a very low-lying and subtropical in climate. The Orlando area is home to 100+ lakes, the largest of which are Lake Apopka, Eustis, Griffin, Harney, Harris, Jessup, Monroe, Saint Cloud, and Tohopakaliga. The area is also very prone to sink-holes due to the large amount of underground limestone caverns that are also located in the area.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 261.5 km˛ (100.9 mi˛). 242.2 km˛ (93.5 mi˛) of it is land and 19.3 km˛ (7.5 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 7.39% water.


The city of Orlando has 115 neighborhoods in the city limits. Some of which includes:

  • Airport North
  • Azalea Park
  • Bel Air
  • Callahan
  • Central Business District
  • Conway
  • Crescent Park
  • Delaney Park
  • Metro North
  • Millenia
  • North Orange
  • Park Central
  • Roosevelt Park
  • West Colonial

Metropolitan Area

The Orlando area like most metropolitan areas in Florida, the majority of the population lives outside the city proper.


To no surprise, a large part of the Orlando area economy is involved in the tourist industry. A matter of a fact if it wasn't for the Walt Disney World resort complex and the development of other major tourist attractions, Orlando would probably half its current size in population. Tourism surrounding Orlando is worth billions of dollars in the area's economy. The current estimate is that some 30 million visitors visit the area per year. The convention industry is also huge in the area due to the proximity to the area attractions. The Orange County Convention Center is the one of the large convention complexes in the United States. The Orlando International Airport, a world-class facility, and is one of the most heavily travelled airports in the world.

The area's economy is also has other industries other than tourism, like the huge presence of manufacturing in the region. Lockheed-Martin has a large manufacturing facility for aeronatuical crafts and related high tech research due to Orlando's proximity to the NASA Kennedy Space Center. The area is also home to many computer software and hardware firms located that here in the 1970's and 1980's such as IBM. Other areas of that are developing rapidly is in the film industry with the presence of Universal Studios and Disney-MGM Studios there for supplement. Numerous office complexes for large corporations popped up along the Interstate 4 corridor north of Orlando, especially in Maitland.

Companies that have a their corporate headquarters or a major presence in the area:



Orlando is served primarily by Orlando International Airport, though nearby Orlando Sanford International Airport also serves the area. Orlando Executive Airport is used for charter flights.


Its major freeway is Interstate 4, which crosses Florida's Turnpike southwest of Downtown Orlando. It is also served by the toll roads of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, particularly the East-West Expressway (SR 408), which crosses I-4 downtown.


The Orlando area is served by one through railroad, CSX'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 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 (Church Street Station)
  • Seaboard Air Line Railroad Orlando station (Central Avenue Station)
  • Eight Oaks (ACL station)
  • Formosa (ACL station)
  • Livingston (SAL station)
  • Rowena (SAL station)


Orlando is served by Lynx, which runs bus service in the tri-county area (Osceola-Orange-Seminole).


Area Institutions of Higher Education


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 185,951 people, 80,883 households, and 42,382 families residing in the city. The population density is 767.9/km˛ (1,988.9/mi˛). There are 88,486 housing units at an average density of 365.4/km˛ (946.4/mi˛). The racial makeup of the city is 61.10% White, 26.85% African American, 2.68% Asian, 0.34% Native American, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 5.41% from other races, and 3.54% from two or more races. 17.48% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 80,883 households out of which 24.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% are married couples living together, 15.4% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% are non-families. 35.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.25 and the average family size is 2.97.

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $35,732, and the median income for a family is $40,648. Males have a median income of $30,866 versus $25,267 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,216. 15.9% of the population and 13.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 27.0% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Area Attractions

The Orlando area is home to a wide variety of tourist attractions from the Walt Disney World resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Orlando Resort. The Walt Disney World resort is the largest area's attractions with it many facets such as Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney-MGM Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando is a large adventure park that feature numerous zoological displays and marine animals alongside an amusement park with numerous roller coasters and water park. Universal Orlando is like Walt Disney World a multi-faceted resort with Universal Studios Florida, CityWalk, and Islands of Adventure theme park.

Other attractions in the Orlando area includes:

  • Central Florida Zoological Park (http://www.centralfloridazoo.org/), located in Sanford on Lake Monroe. This 100-acre zoo is home to butterfly garden, herpetarium, and numerous tropical animals. This zoo originally started as a collection in the Sanford Fire Department, but grew into a regional zoo in 1975. It is currently in the planning process of expanding it and renaming the facility with the title "Zoo Orlando at Sanford".
  • Church Street Station, a multi-level shopping mall and entertainment center, that features 50 specialty shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars.
  • Cirque du Soleil, in Downtown Disney West Side, features its renowned blend of acrobatics and special effects with more than 70 artists from around the globe performing in a custom-designed, 1,671-seat theater.
  • Cypress Gardens Adventure Park
  • Discovery Cove, part of the SeaWorld Adventure Park complex, this tropical paradise provides for discovering tropical fish in a coral reef, snorkeling with stingrays, and interacting with birds in an aviary, as well as swimming and playing with dolphins during a half-hour dolphin encounter.
  • Gatorland (http://www.gatorland.com), is home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, a few wangling appearances in movies, television shows and commercial spots. The 54-year-old park combines a petting zoo, bird sanctuary, mini-water park, eco-tour and action-packed outdoor entertainment, including daily alligator wrestling.
  • Hard Rock Live & Hotel, is the Hard Rock Cafe' chains featured location in Orlando that has a concert venue and large restaurant with typical rock style memorabilia. The Hard Rock Hotel is a featured resort hotel with a California-style restaurant called The Kitchen.
  • International Trolley and Train Museum, features 14 model railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling through an indoor garden with 12-foot high mountains, waterfalls, and more than 30 trestles and tunnels. Also on display are toy trains from the 1920s to the present. Catch a ride in a California Victorian Style half open/half closed trolley or the 5/8 replica of an 1880 locomotive (a Mason Bogey) with its passenger cars.
  • Jungleland, featuring 300 animals, including a pair of Himalayan bears born in 2002, plus leopards, tigers, lions, and more, Jungleland has gator wrestling and a petting zoo. The seven-acre zoo also has a nearly mile-long path winding around a natural lagoon with black swans and white ibis.
  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, 45 minutes from Orlando and south of Daytona Beach, it’s possible to tour launch areas, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators, and much more. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open every day except Christmas and certain launch days. Apart from the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Space Center bus tours run every 15 minutes with stops at an observation gantry and the Apollo / Saturn V Center. Other guided tours include NASA Up Close, Cape Canaveral: Then and Now, and Lunch With An Astronaut. Combo tickets offer maximum access admission, plus one guided tour.
  • Old Town with 8 affordable restaurants, 15 amusement park rides and 75 shops make Old Town’s brick-lined streets a retail and entertainment destination with family fun. Classic car shows every Friday and Saturday feature hundreds of vintage automobiles. Admission and parking are free.
  • Orange County Regional History Center
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium, is located in a building that appears decidedly whopper-jawed and on the slide. Explore artifacts, collections, weird art/hobbies and interactive exhibits in 16 odd galleries. For more than 40 years, Robert Ripley traveled the globe collecting the unbelievable, inexplicable, and one-of-a-kind. His collections are housed in 27 museums in 10 countries.
  • World of Orchids, featuring thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical rainforest, World of Orchids is actually a working greenhouse shipping orchids and other plants nationwide. A greenhouse covers nearly an acre, and in this controlled warm, humid air some 1,000 orchids are displayed in a natural jungle setting, with streams, waterfalls, and squawking parrots. World of Orchids also has a 1,000-foot-long boardwalk meandering off into nearby wetlands. Admission is free.

Sports teams

Orlando is home to the Orlando Magic, (NBA) franchise that plays at the (TD Waterhouse Centre) in downtown Orlando. The Orlando Predators (AFL) franchise plays there also.


Trivial Facts

  • ZIP codes for Orlando are in the range from 32801 to 32899.
  • Orlando is considered to be in a subtropical climate zone, with below-freezing temperatures uncommon and snow very rare.

Famous People

Among the famous people and groups connected to Orlando are:

External links

  • City of Orlando (http://www.cityoforlando.net/)
  • Maps and aerial photos
    • Street map from Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?latlongtype=decimal&latitude=28.533513&longitude=-81.375789&zoom=6)
    • Topographic map from Topozone (http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=28.533513&lon=-81.375789&s=200&size=m&layer=DRG100)
    • Aerial photograph from Microsoft Terraserver (http://terraserver.microsoft.com/map.aspx?t=1&s=14&lon=-81.375789&lat=28.533513&w=750&h=500)

Regions of Florida
Central Florida | Emerald Riviera | First Coast | Florida Panhandle | Florida Keys | Lee Island Coast | Nature Coast | Orlando Area | Redneck Riviera | Space Coast | Treasure Coast | South Florida | Sun Coast | Tampa Bay Area
Largest Cities
Cape Coral | Clearwater | Coral Springs | Fort Lauderdale | Hialeah | Hollywood | Jacksonville | Miami | Miramar | North Miami | Orlando | Pembroke Pines | Plantation | Pompano Beach | Port St. Lucie | St. Petersburg | Sunrise | Tallahassee | Tampa | West Palm Beach
Alachua | Baker | Bay | Bradford | Brevard | Broward | Calhoun | Charlotte | Citrus | Clay | Collier | Columbia | DeSoto | Dixie | Duval | Escambia | Flagler | Franklin | Gadsden | Gilchrist | Glades | Gulf | Hamilton | Hardee | Hendry | Hernando | Highlands | Hillsborough | Holmes | Indian River | Jackson | Jefferson | Lafayette | Lake | Lee | Leon | Levy | Liberty | Madison | Manatee | Marion | Martin | Miami-Dade | Monroe | Nassau | Okaloosa | Okeechobee | Orange | Osceola | Palm Beach | Pasco | Pinellas | Polk | Putnam | Santa Rosa | Sarasota | Seminole | St. Johns | St. Lucie | Sumter | Suwannee | Taylor | Union | Volusia | Wakulla | Walton | Washington

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