Image by Florida-based illustrator DionMBD

The Insider Guide

Ok, most of Orlando's 5,269,000 visitors a year flock here to hobnob with Minnie and Mickey – but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other entertaining options for big and small guests alike. Tick off the major attractions in America's fifth most-visited city, then get off the beaten track with our handy insider guide.

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The Main Attractions

It's likely you've high-tailed it to Orlando – possibly with brood in tow – to pay a visit to Walt Disney World (and with a reputation as “the happiest place on earth”, why wouldn't you?), so let's start there. At roughly 27,000 acres, Florida's salute to Disney is by far the biggest of the brand's parks, so pace yourself: the Magic Kingdom, with its iconic Cinderella Castle and six themed lands, and Epcot, a kind of permanent world's fair, are worth at least two days each, and that's before you tackle Hollywood Studios and World Animal Kingdom. Movie buffs wanting more should carve out plenty of time at Universal Studios, too, while those with a particular fondness for butterbeer and brooms can make a beeline for Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Parents keen to keep things educational need look no further than the magnificent Kennedy Space Center (though it won't just be the kids whooping with delight here), and the excitingly hands-on Orlando Science Center with its ever-popular KidsTown exhibit. To learn more about the area, pay a visit to the Orange County Regional History Center, where a mixture of permanent and travelling exhibitions bring the last 12,000 years to life. Craving a bit of nature? Gatorland might not sound all that relaxing, but this alligator-centric theme park makes a great excuse to roam outdoors while getting acquainted with some of the state's famous reptiles – though if you're after a spot of peace and quiet, a few hours strolling under the Florida sun at Leu Gardens is a better bet. When the sun starts to set, head for ICON Park, where romantic rides on the 400ft observation wheel beckon before you surrender to one of the 40 restaurants and bars for a slap-up southern meal and a few Rum Runners.

Neighborhoods in Orlando