Orlando is known for many things, from its theme parks to unique food spots. However, there are some little known facts about this beautiful city. Here are 20 facts you didn’t know (or may have already known) about Orlando!
1. Orlando has over 100 different lakes
The largest in Central Florida is Lake Eola, but did you know that this lake was actually formed by a sinkhole? At the deepest point, it goes down 80 feet. Although sinkholes are not a huge issue, this is definitely one of the largest in the area.
2. Orlando is the most visited city in the entire country
In 2019, there were 78 million visitors to Orlando, with 7 million of these traveling from overseas. With so many people coming for the theme parks, vacation getaways, and conferences, it’s easy to see how this city can bring in this many visitors.
Image by Warner Bros. – Lethal Weapon 3
3. Lethal Weapon 3 was filmed in Downtown Orlando
In 1991, the old city hall was featured and demolished on camera for the blockbuster Lethal Weapon 3. Read more about this in one of our past articles here.
4. The Lake Nona region is over 17 square miles, all owned by the Tavistock Group
One company owning 17+ square miles of one city is something that hasn’t been done anywhere else in Florida. The Lake Nona region includes The Walt Disney Company’s new campus, Medical City, The Wave, and the master planned community of Laureate Park.
5. Walt Disney World wasn’t the first theme park in Orlando
In 1949, Gatorland opened in Central Florida and is still open today. At the time, it was home to one of the largest gators in the world at 15 feet! It wasn’t until 1971 that Walt Disney World officially opened its gates.
6. The NBA awarded the City of Orlando a new franchise, but it didn’t have a name
In 1986, the Orlando Sentinel held a contest to decide what to name this new basketball franchise. Although there were almost 3000 submissions, the final four names were “Juice”, “Heat”, “Magic”, and “Tropics”. Ultimately, the head of the new franchise, Pat Williams, decided on the “Orlando Magic” after taking his daughter on a trip to Walt Disney World.
7. The tallest building in Downtown Orlando is the former SunTrust building
Standing at 441 feet, this building can actually never get built higher. This is due to the proximity of this building and the Orlando Executive Airport just East of downtown Orlando. Instead of building up, downtown Orlando has to spread out, making this building the tallest that downtown will ever see.
8. The City of Orlando used to have a naval base
Located in what is now Baldwin Park, this base was used for training and military purposes. In 1993, the naval base was decommissioned, leaving 1000 open acres in the middle of the city. This led to the mayor working with the city to create a Base Reuse Plan, leading to a planned development with thousands of residential units. Read more about the base and this land’s history here.
9. Out of 33+ zip codes in Orlando, there are multiple cities and neighborhoods with “Park” in their name
Since there are so many different areas around Orlando, each had to be named to distinguish one from the next. However, if you haven’t noticed there are a lot with “Park” in its name including Winter Park, College Park, Thornton Park, Audubon Park, and many more!
10. On top of all the “Park” names, there are also a lot of “Winter” names
There’s Winter Springs, Winter Park, Winter Garden, and Winter Haven. If you’re looking to move to Orlando and its surrounding areas, just be sure you know which “Winter” you want to go to!
Image by Wikipedia
11. The City of Orlando was originally named “Jernigan”
The city was originally named after a farmer who came down to this area from Georgia in 1842, named Jernigan. It then took 6 years to finally get the United States Post Office to travel to this area and rename it what we know and love today – Orlando. This City of Orlando was officially incorporated in 1875, but no one actually knows where this name came from and why it was changed.
*Fun fact – In 1875, there were only 85 residents, with only 22 that could actually vote.
12. There was a contest to give Orlando a nickname
In 1908 there was a contest to give the City of Orlando an official nickname to draw residents and tourists in. At the time, it was known as “The Phenomenal City”. However, Jessie Branch won the contest with the name “The City Beautiful”, basing it off the beautiful drive from South Dakota to Orlando.
You can also read more about this name change here.
Image by Mark Weiss – Getty Images
13. The boy band craze of the 2000’s began in Orlando
Lou Pearlman, founder of the Backstreet Boys, named this boy band after the Backstreet Flea Market in Orlando. He also funded NSYNC and O-Town, a lot of whom lived in Orlando for years until parting with their producer.
14. The state of Florida is known as the golf capital of the country
The City of Orlando alone has over 20 golf courses within the 33+ zip codes. If you draw a circle around Orlando, there are another 45 more courses. This leaves no wonder as to why people travel from all over just to golf here.
15. There are many large companies and job opportunities besides Disney
Although The Walt Disney Company is the largest single-site employer in Orlando, and the country in general, there are so many other large companies in the area. This includes Lockheed Martin, KPMG and Deloitte, as well as many other aviation and technology companies that call Orlando home.
Image by Steven Madow
16. You can see a rocket launch from Orlando
Orlando is just 45 minutes from the East Coast, home to NASA, SpaceX, and the Kennedy Space Center. Rocket launches occur at all times of the day, every week, and you can view them day or night right from Orlando. View the launch schedule here!
17. The University of Central Florida is one of the largest in the country
With over 71,000 students currently enrolled, UCF takes the lead as the largest university population in the nation. It also ranks high on the charts for its research and community engagement programs. The main campus is located just East of Downtown Orlando, with the UCF Rosen Campus near Doctor Phillips and UCF College of Medicine and more in Lake Nona.
18. The Orlando International Airport flies all over the world, and is really close to the coast
Whether you want to fly to another country, out of state, or fly into Orlando to go on a cruise, you can do all that right here. MCO gives a lot of options for travel and more, and it is also very close to the theme parks and hotels for family vacations.
Image by Orlando Weekly
19. Major hurricanes are very infrequent, and it’s sunny on average 233 days of the year
If you already live in Orlando, you know it’s sunny almost year round and that most hurricanes usually aren’t much to worry about. The last major hurricane was in 2016, Hurricane Irma, and then only a few before that over the past 10-20 years. Since Orlando is located in the middle of the state, by the time it gets here it can go down 2-3 categories and just appear as a light storm.
We still encourage you to always be prepared with supplies and batteries, but hurricanes aren’t a major concern in Orlando.
20. In 2021, Kissimmee was the most moved to city in the country
Just last year, U-Haul did a study on where people were mostly moving into, and not out of as much. Kissimmee, Florida was #1 on the list, making Central Florida the most moved to area in the last year.
Orlando, or otherwise known as The City Beautiful, is such a wonderful place with so much to offer. Did you know about any of these Orlando facts? Do any of these make you want to visit or move to Orlando?
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