By Yasmene Warren
Orlando is renowned for being the hot spot for all things tourism, and now, the city beautiful proudly holds the title of being the No. 1 travel destination in the country. There is a lot that has led up to this moment, so let’s dive deeper into how O-Town earned this ranking!
The Growth of Orlando
Just in time for National Travel & Tourism Week came Visit Orlando with the news of the city’s new ranking.
According to Visit Orlando, the city had 74 million annual visitors in 2022, which is a 25% increase in visitors over 2021.
These 74 million annual visitors helped Orlando achieve 98% of its pre-pandemic (2019) visitor levels.
The city is constantly adding new attractions to give visitors a reason to keep coming back and keep those levels high. This year, Orlando will be opening its new high-speed rail (Brightline) that will connect the city all the way to Miami, allowing even more people to come see what it has to offer!
In addition to our theme parks, there are hundreds of new, unique and local restaurants and shops that you won’t find anywhere else, which really make visitors come back for more!
The History Behind Tourism in Orlando
Many mark the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando as the city’s rise in tourism, but it can actually be credited to the opening of Cypress Gardens in 1936, according to World Travel Guide.
Cypress Gardens was originally a botanical garden and eventually added a water skiing attraction, which really boosted its popularity. The park closed in 2009, however, and later reopened as LEGOLAND Florida Resort.
While Cypress Gardens did open up the door for Orlando as a tourist destination, the opening of Walt Disney World solidified this notion in 1971.
With Disney came a rise in hotels and housing, which led to more visitors and more attractions coming to Orlando.
Shortly after the opening of Disney World came SeaWorld, which chose to build its third park in the city in 1973. Being just moments from Orlando’s latest attraction helped establish the city as a place with multiple attractions.
With Universal Studios coming to town in 1990, Orlando became a one-stop-shop for theme park junkies alike.
Now, in 2023, Orlando sits as the Theme Park Capital of the World and is the most visited destination in the U.S.
Traveling to Orlando vs. Other U.S. Tourist Destinations
Each tourist destination in the U.S. has something that sets it apart from others. They may compete amongst each other, but how do they compare? Let’s find out!
Because Orlando is known as the world’s theme park capital, that’s mostly what people come here for. As much as it fights to highlight its other unique attributes, its theme parks will always be what people know it for. If you’re a thrill seeker or want to see themes from your favorite media live and in action, then it’s clear you’re coming here.
New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is the most populous city in the U.S. and is well known for its high skyscrapers and big city vibes. As far as big attractions are concerned, there aren’t many. This city is better for those looking to sight-see, shop, and gain new experiences. There are hundreds of restaurants and shops unique to the Big Apple, as well as the bright neon lights emitting at all hours from the buildings in Times Square. For people living in the South, NYC is the perfect place to visit when you’re looking for that “city living” feeling.
California, like Florida, is another tourism hot spot. It has multiple cities that each have a different kind of unique experience to offer. For people who are closer to the west coast than they are the east and are seeking the thrills associated with theme parks, California is the place to go. You can go to Anaheim and visit the original Disneyland, as well as Hollywood to experience Universal Studios. Although California has almost as many theme parks as Florida, it’s more known for its Hollywood scene and diverse culture.
Coming to Orlando doesn’t mean you’re relegated to the same few theme parks located within its city limits. The city is constantly growing, and although it’s not as big as some of the other hot travel destinations in the country, there’s a reason it’s the most visited destination in the U.S.
As Visit Orlando states, this city is the kind of place that “never stops imagining tomorrow.” With dozens of new sights to see coming to the city, records will continue to be broken, and rankings will be maintained as tourism continues to thrive in the No. 1 U.S. Travel Destination! At The Orlando Real, we’ll be sure to keep you informed with Orlando’s latest and greatest updates!
The Orlando Real is sponsored by The Pozek Group. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Orlando, reach out and we would love to help!
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