USA Florida 

A Guide to Orlando

Situated midway on the Florida peninsula, Orlando was a small provincial town until the 1950s. But the spin-off from the neighbouring theme parks and the Kennedy Space Center propelled it into a business centre.

Downtown consists of the obligatory highrise glass buildings. Restaurants and bars are situated on the main thoroughfare, Orange Street, which comes alive at night.

The old wooden homes of early settlers can be seen from nearby Lake Eola, east of Orange Street.

Many lovely parks, including the beautiful Harry P Leu Gardens and Loch Haven Park, dot the northern residential areas. In Loch Haven Park there are three museums: the Orlando Museum of Art which contains an amazing collection of antiquities from Peru, African art, and 19th - 20th century American paintings. The Shakespeare Center in this park houses two theatres. A series of studios designed for artists in the 1930s forms the Maitland Art Center in the leafy suburb of the same name. The Center is set around courtyards and gardens, Mayan and Aztec motifs decorating the buildings. Exhibitions of contemporary American crafts are held here.

The large Orlando Science Center is a place for experimental science. There is a Cine-Dome which doubles as a planetarium, a ShowBiz Science exhibit which explains some of the special effects used in movie-making, and a dinosaur fossil collection.

To the west of the town, more or less in the middle of the peninsula, is Universal Studios Orlando. To the south is the enormous Walt Disney World Resorts, the largest entertainment complex in the world, comprising the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom. Sea World Orlando and Discovery Cove is another theme park to the south of Orlando.

On Merritt Island near Cape Canaveral to the east of the town is the Kennedy Space Center from where shuttles are launched into space and from where Apollo II was launched on 20 July 1969 carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins on the world’s first moon mission. Who can forget Neil Armstrong’s immortal words ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ as he stepped onto the moon for the first time.
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