The Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2,082,628 and it is the 27th largest metropolitan area in the United States, the 5th largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States, and the 3rd largest metro area in Florida. The city-proper population is 238,300 making Orlando the 80th largest city in the United States. It is Florida's fifth largest city by population.
Orlando and Orange County originally became the center of a major citrus-growing region, and by the late 1930s was Florida's largest inland city.
The area is a major tourist destination and is the home of Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and Walt Disney World. These attractions form the backbone of Orlando's tourism industry, making the city the first most visited American city in 2009. Orlando grew rapidly during the 1980s and well into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is also home to the University of Central Florida, the second-largest university campus by student enrollment in the United States.
Tourism in history
Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World. The vacation resort opened in October 1971, ushering in an explosive population and economic growth for the Orlando metropolitan area, which now encompasses Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake counties. As a result, tourism became the centerpiece of the area's economy. Orlando now has more theme parks and entertainment attractions than anywhere else in the world.
A vital part of the Orlando area economy is tourism. The Orlando area is home to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and Sea World Orlando. Over 48 million visitors came to the Orlando region in 2004. The convention industry is also critical to the region's economy.
The Walt Disney World resort is the area's largest attraction with its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. SeaWorld Orlando is a large park that features numerous zoological displays and marine animals alongside an amusement park with roller coasters and water park. Universal Orlando, like Walt Disney World, is a multi-faceted resort comprising Universal Studios Florida, CityWalk, and Islands of Adventure. SeaWorld Orlando also comprises more than one park, alongside Aquatica and Discovery Cove.
Orlando has the most hotels, and the second largest number of hotel rooms in the country (after Las Vegas, Nevada), and is one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions. Accommodations in Orlando historically catered to the budget-conscious family and few luxury hotel options existed outside of Walt Disney World property. With the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center in 2004, luxury hotels began opening in the city. This started with the opening of the JW Marriott Orlando and the Ritz-Carlton Orlando at Grande Lakes. As of 2010, Orlando offers several 4 Star hotels throughout the market. The newest luxury hotel to open in Orlando is the Waldorf Astoria-Orlando, completed in 2010. It is the first Waldorf Astoria built from the ground up since the flagship hotel opened in New York City in 1931.
Orlando's climate is transitional, with many characteristics of a tropical climate, even though Orlando is technically situated on the southern fringe of the humid subtropical climate zone. There are two major seasons each year. One is hot and rainy, lasting from June until late September. The other is the dry, warm season (October through May) bringing less frequent rainfall, yet still with warm temperatures. The area's warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low elevation, its position relatively close to the Tropic of Cancer, and its location in the center of a peninsula. Many characteristics of its climate are a result of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which flows around the peninsula of Florida.
During the height of Orlando's humid summer season, temperatures rarely fall below 70 °F (21 °C), and daytime highs average in the 90s (32-37 °C). The area's humidity acts as a buffer, usually preventing actual temperatures from exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), but also pushing the heat index to over 110 °F (43 °C). During these months, strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over Central Florida. They are highlighted by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rain (sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as well as occasional damaging hail.
During the cooler seasons, humidity is lower and temperatures are more moderate, and can fluctuate more readily. Average nighttime lows in January are around 50 °F (10 °C), and average daytime highs are about 72 °F (22 °C). Temperatures rarely dip below 32 °F (0 °C). Because the winter season is dry and rare freezing temperatures occur after cold fronts (and their accompanying precipitation) have passed, snow is exceptionally rare.
The average annual rainfall in Orlando is 48.35 inches (122.8 cm), most of it occurring in the period from June to September. The months of October through May are Orlando's driest season.
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|Source: The Weather Channel