You might think you know a thing or two about fun-filled Orlando, Florida, but let us assure you: for every thing you know about the city, there’s a lot more that you don’t.
If you’re plotting a visit to Orlando, and you want to wow your fellow travelers with your knowledge of the city, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about this sun-soaked section of Central Florida.
1. It’s One of the Most Popular Destinations in the World
Everybody knows Orlando is a popular destination, but you probably didn’t know just how popular it actually is. In 2015, it clocked in as the most visited destination in the world, welcoming a whopping 66 million travelers. In 2018, it exceeded that figure, welcoming approximately 75 million people.
2. Nobody Knows How it Got Its Name
There are numerous theories as to how Orlando got its name—some say it was named after a character in Shakespeare’s As You Like It—but there is no official documentation to confirm any of them. As such, the true origins of the city’s name remain a mystery.
3. It Has Over 100 Lakes
There are a lot of lakes in Central Florida—and 100 of them are in Orlando. Many of those lakes can be enjoyed on watercraft, but be wary of alligators!
4. Lake Eola is Actually a Sink Hole
Lake Eola, which sits in the middle of Orlando, is the city’s biggest lake. That being said, it’s not really a lake in the traditional sense. It’s actually a sink hole that plunges to 80 feet deep at some points.
5. It Has Over 100 Parks
Orlando isn’t just full of lakes. It’s also full of parks. All told, the city is home to more than 100 public parks, which is great news for anybody planning a picnic or an afternoon of fun in the sun.
6. It Used to be the Heart of the Citrus Industry
Long before Orlando became known as the theme park capital of the world, it was actually the heart of Florida’s thriving citrus industry. Unfortunately, an unexpected freeze in the late 1800s prompted farmers to move their crops south where the weather is warmer.
7. It’s a Popular Filming Location
Orlando is a long, long way from Hollywood, but a number of notable films were shot in the city. Some of those films include Passenger 57, D.A.R.Y.L., Jaws 3, My Girl, Parenthood, Problem Child 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Dead Presidents, The Waterboy, Olive Juice and Monster.
8. It’s the Home of Many Endangered Species
The Orlando Wetlands, which you’ll find in east Orange County is the home of more than 30 species of wildlife that are featured on the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Threatened and Endangered Wildlife list. As such, it’s a great choice for nature lovers. Just don’t forget your camera!
9. It’s the Home of the World’s Largest McDonald’s
Orlando is home to the world’s largest McDonald’s. Visit this two-story, 18,716 square-foot fast food behemoth and you’ll not only find your favorite McDonald’s menu items, but a number of special items that you can’t get at other locations, such as omelets, waffles, pastas and brick oven-baked pizzas. Who needs a Big Mac?
10. It’s the Birthplace of the Backstreet Boys
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that the Backstreet Boys are one of the biggest and most successful pop groups of all time—and they officially got their start in Orlando! In fact, the band actually named themselves after an old flea market called Backstreet Market.