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 SeaWorld, as well as prestigious athletes, glamorous movie stars, and millionaires. With a population of over 2 million, this tropical city is the fourth-largest in Florida.
Orlando has consistently ranked as the No. 1 meeting destination, as well as one of the most visited destinations in the country. An abundance of nightclubs, restaurants, and bars bring this urban metropolis to life. The 20,000-seat Amway Center offers a wide range of entertainment for sports fans, including Orlando Magic basketball and Orlando Solar Bears hockey. And Orlando has added a professional soccer team and tennis to the list as well with a new 19,500-seat stadium, home of MLS Orlando City soccer, and the largest tennis center in the country, which houses the USTA's National Campus. Abundant in entertainment, the city has nearly 200 attractions and unique venues, including seven of the world's top theme parks.
Orlando is the 23rd- largest metro area in the United States, with an estimated population of over 2 million. A cultural center, the city has a diverse population that is made up of Puerto Rican, Colombian, Venezuelan, French, Canadian, Arab, Indian, British, American, and many other communities. Its music, theater, art, and restaurant scenes have all been influenced by this eclectic melting pot of unique backgrounds and tastes. 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, Orlando also has many multimedia production companies and cinematic businesses. For years, Walt Disney Feature Animation ran a studio out of Disney/Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney Resort. Much of the animation for popular films including Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear was produced at Animation-Florida. Orlando also represents the capital of pop music, with well-known artists such as Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys originating from the hip metropolis. And now, Orlando has become a hub of innovation as well.
With the opening of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of downtown, live music and theater are booming as never before. The two-block community arts space features the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater, 300-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, Seneff Arts Plaza, School of Arts, and DeVos Family Room — all of which can be rented for private events. Current expansion plans include a 1,700-seat acoustic theater, a rehearsal room, and some commercial development spaces. Elsewhere, professional and semiprofessional community theaters are dispersed throughout the community, including Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Repertory Theatre, and Starlight Dinner 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 such as sunning, fishing, boating, sea kayaking, kite flying, and much more. Or enjoy some of the country's best golf courses, shopping, and spas.