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Orlando's Classic Attractions Still Thriving  
by Ryan Wiseman

Many great (and not-so-great!) Central Florida attractions have come and gone over the years such as Circus World, Boardwalk and Baseball, Jungleland Zoo, King Henry's Feast, Mystery Fun House, Splendid China, Stars Hall of Fame, Terror on Church Street, The Guinness World Records Experience, Wings & Wheels Museum, Xanadu: Home of the Future, Skull Kingdom and Hard Rock Vault, among others.

However, a couple of classic attractions that were around well before Walt Disney World celebrated its grand opening in 1971 have stood the test of time and continue to attract new generations of visitors. For example, Gatorland is a 110-acre wildlife preserve and theme park that first opened its doors in 1949. Despite suffering a massive fire in November 2006, Gatorland has already reopened and today features fascinating live shows such as the world-famous Gator Jumparoo and Jungle Crocs of the World, as well as reptile habitats, nature walk, boardwalk, aviary, petting zoo, train ride and much more. Known as "The Alligator Capital of the World," Gatorland is located at 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando and open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Another classic roadside attraction, Jungle Adventures, first opened in the 1960s as Gator Jungle. A 20-acre wildlife sanctuary, Jungle Adventures offers live wildlife shows, animal habitats, a Native American Village and jungle cruise. Open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Jungle Adventures lies approximately 17 miles East of Orlando in the town of Christmas at 26205 East State Road 50.

Near downtown Orlando lies another gem, the beautiful Harry P. Leu Gardens, which were donated to the City of Orlando in 1961. The Harry P. Leu Gardens boast Florida's largest formal rose garden and the country's largest collection of Camellias, as well as 50 acres of tropical plants and ancient oaks. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the restored 19th-century Leu home is now a museum. The Harry P. Leu Gardens at 1920 North Forest Avenue are open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily.

Citrus Tower, which first opened in July 1956, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Visitors to the Citrus Tower are still welcome to ride an elevator 226 feet to an observation deck for spectacular views of the Clermont countryside (however, today you are more likely to see sprawling suburbs than citrus trees!). Open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, the Citrus Tower at 141 North Highway 27 also features a gift shop and Mexican eatery.

Glass-bottom boats have been cruising along Silver Springs near Ocala since the 1870s. In addition to its world-famous glass bottom boats, Silver Springs today features live shows, animal habitats, botanical gardens, attractions and rides. Billed as "Florida's Original Theme Park," Silver Springs is located at 5656 Silver Spring Boulevard in Silver Springs and open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Another great day trip from Orlando is Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, which opened in 1936 as Florida's first theme park. Cypress Gardens is located in Winter Haven, which lies about an hour Southwest of Orlando. In addition to amazing water-ski shows, Cypress Gardens features thrill rides, kiddie rides and attractions, live shows, botanical gardens and live concerts at the Star Haven Amphitheater, as well as the adjacent Splash Island Water Park. Cypress Gardens is located at 6000 Cypress Gardens Boulevard and open daily at 10 AM.

"Each of these classic Central Florida attractions make the perfect day trip after you've already visited Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando," said Kyle Collins, Director of Interactive Marketing for HotelsCorp.com. "And by purchasing discount attraction tickets before you arrive in Orlando, you and your family can enjoy substantial savings on your vacation getaway."

About the Author

Orlando, Florida Guide, the most comprehensive online guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World, also features discount Disney World tickets, incredible deals on Orlando hotels and individually tailored Orlando vacation packages.