Central Florida

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Central Florida Home to a plethora of world-renowned theme parks, Central Florida offers an unforgettable family holiday adventure.

While most visitors spend their time at theme parks and other attractions, some are discovering off-the-beaten-path adventures in small towns and nature preserves.

To see some of the beaches on offer in Central Florida following Links:

The Beaches of Central East Florida   The Beaches of Central West Florida

Kids will be kids, and in Central Florida, grownups will be too. Reclaiming childhood is easy here, especially with the opening of three new Orlando attractions: Discovery Cove by SeaWorld (summer 2000), Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Discovery Cove is billed as an exclusive, reservations-only tropical park where guests can swim and interact with dolphins, tropical fish, sharks and sting rays. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure combines technologically advanced thrill rides with some of the world's most beloved cartoon characters. And Disney's Animal Kingdom offers visitors a safari experience, rides, exotic landscapes and animals from around the globe.

Theme park favorites include the Magic Kingdom, Disney's original Florida park in Lake Buena Vista. Here, Cinderella's castle is a fantastic backdrop for playful rides along with Mickey Mouse and his friends. At nearby Epcot, many visitors appreciate the chance to take a mini world tour or learn about humankind's innovations in the quest for knowledge. Disney Hollywood Studios allows visitors to see Disney animators creating wonderful characters and explains movie-making on an entertaining backlot tour. Other Walt Disney World Resort attractions include Downtown Disney, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex; and DisneyQuest, a virtual reality adventure.

At Universal Studios Florida, guests can "ride the movies" at the largest working motion picture studio outside of Hollywood, CA. Don't miss "Twister" which allows guests to experience an actual tornado from a mere 20 feet away or the thrilling "Back to the Future" and "Terminator 2 3-D" rides. Nearby is the new Universal CityWalk, a 30-acre shopping, dining and entertainment complex which includes the world's largest Hard Rock Café. The Universal Studios complex (collectively called Universal Studios Escape) includes the new Portofino Bay Hotel as well as the Islands of Adventure theme park, which combines thrill rides and attractions with the world's most beloved cartoons.

SeaWorld Adventure Park is a wonderful place to be entertained while learning more about killer whales, dolphins, sea lions and thousands of other marine creatures. The park has undergone a major expansion, and guests who have not visited for some time will be delighted to find polar bears, walruses, sea lions, manatees, dolphins and other marine animals in exciting new natural-habitat attractions. Also new is Kraken, billed as Orlando's highest, fastest and longest rollercoaster.

Winter Haven, Cypress Gardens' claim to fame is its stunning outdoor floral displays and seasonal flower festivals. In addition, star-studded ice shows, a butterfly aviary, a reptile discovery attraction and world-famous waterski shows entertain guests daily. On a much smaller scale, Bok Tower Gardens offers a serene sanctuary abounding with azaleas, camellias and magnolias. Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando is the home of the largest camellia and formal rose gardens in the South.

Other fun places to visit include Kissimmee's Gatorland, known as "The Alligator Capital of the World" and WonderWorks, a new entertainment center at Pointe Orlando where visitors can experience the trembling of earthquakes and the feeling of defying gravity. Just a short drive to the north of Orlando near Ocala is Silver Springs, the state's first tourist attraction and now a national landmark and nature theme park on 350 acres. Here, guests can ride on a glass-bottomed boat, take a jeep safari ride and cruise through a tropical jungle.

Water fun is everywhere in Central Florida, though it's not a beach destination. Water Mania, Wet 'n Wild, Wild Waters, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are four water parks where visitors can beat the Florida heat — and have a slipping, sliding, good time of it!

Altamonte Springs offers a variety of lakeside recreation. Travel to tiny, charming towns like Mount Dora and Bartow for antiques and other treasures. The town has often been called the "antiques capital of Florida," but it is also noted for its festivals. Home to fragrant citrus groves and 100 sparkling lakes, the city of Lakeland also offers visitors the chance to explore interesting architecture and hunt for antiques.