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Welcome to Orlando

View of downtown Orlando at night

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Orlando conjures up dreamy castles, character-shaped ice-cream bars and mind-blowing fireworks. It’s a place where reliving your childhood is perfectly acceptable. And dressing in character, acting a bit goofy (or having breakfast with Goofy), even better. Want to take a spin in a car that morphs into a boat? Or buy gourmet cupcakes from a vending machine? No problem. Here, dreams really do come true.

This whimsical land of make-believe, as you can guess, is the most visited place in America. Millions (many sporting Mickey Mouse ears) flock here yearly.

Beyond the pixie dust and thrill rides, downtown Orlando comes with plenty of elbow room and has nothing to do with Minnie or Mickey. We’re talking independent restaurants, galleries and museums, live entertainment, and parks shaded by majestic oak trees. When you need an adults-oriented breather from the theme parks, it’s a welcome respite — or a destination on its own.

Both sides of Orlando, however, lead to fun and frivolity. Oh, and magical moments, too. Here’s how to plan a grownup trip to the theme park capital of the world.

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