Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will be celebrating 50 years in Central Florida in 2021. SeaWorld Orlando opened just two short years after that first Disney park, and some said that made Central Florida a multi-park destination. But there were others on the scene before them.
Cypress Gardens was widely known as Florida’s first theme park and opened in 1936. Merlin Entertainments Group purchased the site and opened LEGOLAND Florida there in 2011, keeping the famous botanical gardens as part of the new park.
In 1949, Owen Godwin Sr. founded the Florida Wildlife Institute, which has since grown into the theme park and wildlife preserve known as Gatorland. Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990, and many other attractions have opened here since.
But there’s so much more bringing travelers to Central Florida than our amazing attractions, which you’ll read about in this month’s issue:
In our cover story, you’ll learn more about the collaborative strategy behind the efforts that helped us surpass 75 million visitors in 2018 and some of the things that differentiate Orlando from other destinations in the country.
You’ll learn more about Adrian Jones in our Up Close. He was an integral part in the opening of Legoland and currently is the divisional director of Midway North America for Merlin Entertainments Group.
Other articles highlight the history of Gatorland and the future of Orlando International Airport.
I hope you enjoy the stories in this issue about people who are positively impacting the region. Also, look for some fun and interesting facts about travel and tourism in the footer of many of the pages in this issue.
To your success!