When looking at the booming metropolis of Orlando, it is hard to believe that once upon a time it was just a modest town surrounded by cow pastures and citrus fields. Today, Orlando is home to some of the most identifiable attractions in the world including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, as well as prestigious athletes, glamorous movie stars, and millionaires. With a population of over 1 million, this tropical city is the sixth largest city in Florida. In fact, the majority of Central Florida defines itself by its distance to Orlando, forcing smaller surrounding cities and towns to fight to hold on to their identities.
Orlando has consistently ranked as one of the top vacation destinations in the world. An abundance of nightclubs, restaurants, and bars bring this urban metropolis to life. The 18,000-seat Amway Arena offers a wide range of entertainment for sports fans including Orlando Magic basketball games, Orlando Predators Football League games, and much more. Abundant in entertainment, this city has nearly 100 attractions including five of the top 10 in the world. In 2006 alone, 16.6 million people visited the Magic Kingdom, 10.5 million traveled to Epcot, and 9.1 million explored Disney's MGM studios.
Orlando is the 27th largest metro area in the United States with an estimated population of nearly 2 million. A cultural center, its diverse population is made up of Puerto Rican, Colombian, Venezuelan, French, Canadian, Arab, Indian, British, American and many other communities. The city's music, theater, art and restaurant scenes have all been influenced by this eclectic melting pot of unique backgrounds and tastes. Reggaeton and Hispanic music dominate the radio stations and the local newspaper even publishes a weekly Spanish newspaper called El Sentinel. Orlando also has a large Vietnamese population. "Little Vietnam" has become a neighborhood landmark in the city with numerous restaurants and stores selling merchandise from across Asia. Orlando is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation with uniquely defined neighborhoods springing up around every corner.
Often referred to as the Hollywood of the East, there are many cinematic businesses in the area. For years, Walt Disney Feature Animation ran a studio out of Disney/MGM Studios at the Walt Disney Resort. Much of the animation for recognizable films like Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear was produced at Animation-Florida. Orlando also represents the capital of pop music with well-known artists like Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys all originating from the hip metropolis. Additionally, the theatre industry is booming here. Professional and semi-professional community theatres are dispersed throughout the community: Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Starlight Dinner Theatre, and Seaside Music Theatre to name a few.
A popular resort destination, Orlando is within driving distance to several beaches, offering an escape from the fast-paced life of the city. Take a day trip to Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Cocoa Beach, Clearwater Beach or New Smyrna Beach to enjoy activities like sunning, fishing, boating, sea kayaking, kite flying and much more.