15 surprising facts about Orlando, Florida

How much do you know about Orlando? Here are 15 facts about Orlando that are really interesting—and maybe even downright surprising.

Take a moment and think about what you know about Orlando. What comes to mind? It’s sunny? It has Disney World? And a lot of golf courses? It’s deep in Florida orange country?

Now take another moment and try and think about the less obvious things, like Orlando’s history, the geography that surrounds it, maybe how many people visit the city every year. How much do you know? There is a lot to Orlando that’s really interesting—and sometimes downright surprising. Here are 15 that might fall into either of those categories.

Oh, and by the way: contrary to popular belief, the Orlando area is not the significant orange producer you probably think it is. Take a look at #9 to find out why.

1. No one really knows why Orlando is called Orlando. While several theories abound, the only thing known for sure is that Orlando was originally named Jernigan, after the first permanent settler in the area.

2. At 40 square miles (104 square km), Walt Disney World is so big that the entire island of Manhattan could easily fit within its area.

3. The Orlando area is dotted with over 100 lakes, but one of them—Lake Eola—is actually a giant sinkhole.

4. Lake Eola is home to over 50 swans from five different breeds: whooper, royal mute, trumpeter, Australian black, and black neck.

5. The city abounds with scenic greenery; over 100 parks can be found in the greater Orlando area.

6. In 1957, the famous beat writer Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road” in Orlando.

7. Orlando is the most visited destination in the U.S. and welcomed over 62 million visitors in 2014.

8. In order to fund the demolition of its old city hall, Orlando reached out to Hollywood and producer Joel Silver ended up blowing up the building for the opening scene of Lethal Weapon 3.

9. Once the heart of Florida’s citrus industry, Orlando farmers suffered a major crop-destroying freeze right before the 1900s and later decided to move their citrus crops further south.

10. The oldest remaining building in downtown Orlando—The Rogers Building—dates back to around 1886.

11. Over 30 species of endangered wildlife live in the Orlando Wetlands, located in east Orange County.

12. Five games were played at Orlando’s The Citrus Bowl during the 1994 World Cup soccer matches. The venue also held the 1996 Olympic soccer first and second rounds.

13. Boy-band fans will have a great reason to visit Orlando; both the Back Street Boys and NSYNC got their start in the city.

14. The oldest tree in Orlando—estimated by some to be nearly 400 years old—can be found at Big Tree Park on North Thornton Avenue.

15. The City of Orlando has gone by many pet names over the years, from City Phenomenal to the City of Light… but nowadays, it’s simply known as The City Beautiful.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (By (Ebyabe) – Own work, CC BY 2.5,
Content adapted from:
City of Orlando website (
Marriott Traveler website (
Orlando Weekly (
Wikipedia (
Visit Orlando (