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» Visit Central Florida

Visit Central Florida

Central Florida has come a long way since the time it was known mostly for its citrus groves, cattle ranches and woodlands. Today, the region is more accurately described as -one of the world's top tourist destinations- and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas of the country. But while world-class attractions, sleek glass skyscrapers and a state-of-the-art transportation network have helped transform the region into a total resort getaway, Central Florida has managed to retain many of the attributes for which it was famous long before the first theme park ever opened - chiefly, fishing and camping.

It seems that hotels spring up in Central Florida faster than blossoms in a meadow after a spring shower. The fact is, the entire region is one of the leading hotel markets in the U.S., with close to 78,000 rooms. Orlando, for example, has more hotel rooms than any city in the country - including New York City. Meanwhile, nearby Kissimmee-St. Cloud features more than 29,000 accommodations. Area-wide, properties run the gamut from luxury resorts to moderately priced hotels, and from villas to all-suites. Also available are spacious two and four bedroom vacation homes, condos, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts and time shares. What is more, the region's average daily room rates make nearly any length of stay affordable.

There is a different world beyond the theme parks. Thousands of freshwater lakes, for example, provide world-class fishing for bass, bream and catfish. Readily available are numerous fish camps, boat rentals and expert fishing guides. Central Florida's engaging topography has produced some of the nation's greatest golf courses, sporting designer labels such as Nicklaus, Jones and Palmer. Not surprisingly, golf is a dominant feature of the region's sports scene. The Orlando area plays host to two PGA Tour events, and world-class golf resorts offer everything from packaging to instruction. More and more visitors are opting for another aerial view beyond their flight into the area. Hot air balloon, helicopter and blimp rides are becoming increasingly popular in the region.

Orlando International Airport is the nation's 18th busiest and the 28th busiest airport in the world. Nearly 23 million passengers use the airport annually. A $500 million dollar expansion has resulted in a fourth airside terminal, new atrium, a 450-room Hyatt Regency, and an increased flight schedule. On the ground, visitors will find one of the nation's largest fleets of rental cars as well as an array of shuttle and tour bus services. New and expanded road systems make it easier to get to and around the region.

Charlotte City Guide

Disney World's Magic Kingdom has made quite a splash with its new log-flume ride, Splash Mountain. Based on animated sequences from Walt Disney's 1946 film “Song of the South”, the ride features a five story, 40 mph plunge - faster than any other attraction at Disney. Meanwhile, there is a new attraction in town where, believe it or not, you can see a Rolls Royce constructed entirely of match sticks, a Van Gogh self-portrait created from 3000 portraits of the artist's works and other wonders. These are just some of the oddities showcased at the new Ripley's Believe it or Not in Orlando. And it is a whole new world at Sea World following its largest expansion in a 19 year history. Mission: Bermuda triangle combines the attraction's undersea expertise with high-powered flight simulator technology. Shamu's Happy Harbor is a new kid-tested play area, and there is also the new Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center.

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