8 Things You Never Knew About Orlando
Orlando is world-renowned for its fun-filled theme parks, fantastic stores, jaw-dropping restaurants, and impressive resorts.
Tourists travel far and wide to scream at the top of their lungs on a thrilling rollercoaster, unleash their magic side at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or sample the various dishes on offer at the likes of Disney Springs and International Drive.
Yet, there are many weird and wonderful sides to O-Town that might surprise you. Here are eight things you never knew about Orlando.
1. You Need to Spend an Average of 67 Days in Orlando
Every vacation is different in Orlando due to the many attractions, restaurants, and activities available in the city. You will need to visit multiple times to experience everything it has to offer.
If you have your heart set on exploring every inch of Orlando to ensure you never miss out on an exciting experience, you will need to spend approximately 67 eight-hour days in O-Town.
As the city has a land area of more than 113 square miles, you would have to set a considerable amount of time aside to visit its 95 world-famous attractions and the thousands of fun things to do in Orlando.
Also, unless you live in Orlando, it might be near impossible to book a stay in every hotel room, as it would take you an average of 68 years. Plus, it would take up to five years to eat at every restaurant in the city.
If you want to give it your best shot, check out some of the top things to do in and around Orlando, from grabbing a delicious bite to eat at Icon Park to screaming on the 400-foot water coaster at Typhoon Lagoon.
2. Walt Disney World Isn’t Orlando’s First Theme Park
Believe it or not, Walt Disney World wasn’t the first theme park to arrive in Orlando, as it played second-fiddle to a more natural attraction in the city.
It isn’t surprising that you may have thought Walt Disney World was the first big attraction in O-Town. However, Gatorland was the first theme park in the city, as the 110-acre attraction was founded by Owen Goodwin in 1949.
Known to many as the Alligator Capital of the World, Gatorland is now the proud home to thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and many more animals.
Walt Disney World opened its parks to the public 22 years later, in 1971. It was soon followed by Seaworld in 1973, Epcot in 1982, Hollywood Studios in 1989, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998.
Many more theme parks have sprung up over the decades, and the latest one is Epic Universe at Universal Orlando, which is expected to open in 2025.
Don’t forget to add the above attractions to your itinerary if you plan to visit in the near future.
3. Orlando has More Than 100 Lakes
Thanks to the Sunshine State’s geology and geologic history, Florida is home to nearly 8,000 lakes, and it has more naturally formed lakes than any other south-eastern state.
It might also surprise you to learn that Orlando is home to more than 100 of them.
The most famous lake in the city is Lake Eola, which you can see for yourself in downtown Orlando. It is regarded by many as a huge sinkhole, as its deepest point reaches 80ft.
It is a perfect spot for many water-based pursuits, such as paddle boarding, and you can view more than five different breeds of swans.
4. No One Knows How Orlando Gained Its Name
There is much speculation about how Orlando earned its name in the mid-1800s, with many believing it has a literary association or honors a brave fallen soldier.
In 1842, a Georgian farmer named Aaron Jerrigan built and ran a successful farm in Orlando, which was only a small community at the time. Eventually, the town became known as Jerrigan, only to change its name to Orlando in 1856. However, there is much debate as to how Orlando earned its name.
Four theories exist about the name. One is that the city is named after Orlando Reeves, a soldier in the Seminole War who fired a warning shot for his fellow soldiers and met an unfortunate end at the hands of the Seminole Indians in 1835. Yet, some believe O-Town is named after the character Orlando from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and others suspect the city honors Orlando J. Rees, a rich plantation owner who lived in the community.
5. You Can Dine at the World’s Biggest McDonald’s in Orlando
Orlando is home to some of the most unique attractions, including the biggest McDonald’s on the planet, Epic McD.
Tourists travel from all corners of the globe to Orlando to experience some of the most magical places on Earth, such as Walt Disney World or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Yet, there is another venue in The City Beautiful that needs to be seen to be believed, and that is Epic McD, the world’s biggest McDonald’s, which opened its doors for the first time in 1976.
At 19,000 square feet, you will not need to worry about securing a table when you have a craving for McDonald’s famous French fries.
It is a fun destination to visit at International Drive after exploring nearby Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
You will find all your menu favorites at the restaurant, as well as some tasty extras, such as pizza, Belgian waffles, and customizable pasta. Plus, it features a cool PlayPlace that offers fun arcade games and climbing structures for kids.
The state-of-the-art Epic McD is a must-visit if you are a big fan of the fast-food restaurant, as there is no other McDonald’s like it in the world.
6. Walt Disney World Resort Isn’t Actually in Orlando
Orlando is the first destination that will spring to mind for most people when thinking about Walt Disney World Resort; however, it is spread across various cities and counties in Florida.
Walt Disney World is in Orlando, but the city only makes up for a small part of the resort.
Spread across an incredible 25,000 acres, which equates to 43 square miles, a significant amount of Walt Disney World is within southwestern Orange County, Osceola County, Lake Buena Vista, and Bay Lake.
If you are unsure how big 25,000 acres is, it is roughly the size of San Francisco, so it isn’t surprising that Walt Disney World Resort is in different cities across Florida. After all, it is large enough to have its own zip code.
7. Cinderella’s Castle is Pretty Empty
Cinderella’s Castle was originally built for Walt Disney himself, but his passing changed the future of the world-famous building.
Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom is a highlight of most people’s trips to Orlando. Yet, the iconic building is rather empty, as it currently features a gift shop, a restaurant, and one hotel room.
The theme park designers originally incorporated an apartment for Mr. Disney into plans for the castle, but he sadly died before it was finished.
Some of the space was adapted into a luxurious hotel room; however, it is a challenge to secure a night’s stay during a vacation in Orlando. You can only stay inside Cinderella’s Castle if you win a competition or are invited by the theme park. Only a select few people will ever get to stay inside the castle for the night. You never know; one day, you might be one of the resort’s lucky VIP guests.
8. The Beatles Broke Up in Orlando
The Fab Four brought magic to the stage for more than eight years, which is why it makes sense they said goodbye at the most magical place on Earth.
The break-up of The Beatles began in August 1970, as Paul McCartney planned to step away from the band due to restrictions on his artistic and financial freedom.
As a result, many people believe McCartney was responsible for the dissolution of the biggest band of all time. Yet, it was John Lennon who called it quits in Orlando in 1974.
Paul, George, and Ringo were ready to sign a new recording contract by phone, but John was nowhere to be found.
Eventually, an Apple lawyer visited Lennon’s hotel room at Disney’s Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World, where he signed to part ways with the band.
As a result, John Lennon officially ended The Beatles in Orlando on December 29th, 1974.