Find fun in Orlando during our next Elite Meetings Alliance
While scores of U.S. cities enjoy the bucks and buzz of hosting conventions and special events each year, one notably eclectic hub has truly earned the title of America’s meeting mecca: Orlando.
This once-sleepy central Florida crossroads, which pole-vaulted to must-see status 45 years ago with the opening of Walt Disney World Resort, has long outgrown its mouse ears to become the nation’s No. 1 meetings and events destination, according to the 2017 list of Cvent’s Top Meeting Destinations.
Little wonder that it’s the area of choice for Cvent to host its final Elite Meetings Alliance of the year, starting one month from now. The three-day event, which brings together luxury planners and hoteliers for networking and fun, is set for Dec. 9-12 at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate (pictured above) in nearby Kissimmee.
For many frequent event participants, flying into Orlando feels a lot like returning to a second home, given that the city boasts more than 450 hotels and resorts with a staggering 5 million square feet of meeting space, the largest such collection in the Southeast. Meeting planners know well the Orange County Convention Center, the second-largest facility in the country with more than 2 million square feet of exhibition space and nearly 480,000 square feet of flexible meeting rooms.
Tons of sun? Check. Pool, spa, impeccable room? Check. Ten theme parks to tour, including Epcot, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and the Mouse House? But of course! And superb golf? Just a pitching wedge away.
But should all of this sound too tame — and you have some time between sessions — consider these great Orlando-area attractions. With all this excitement nearby, you won’t be able to resist signing up for the EMA!
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Whether you choose to take the wheel or slide into the passenger seat at Daytona International Speedway, your first 165 mph spin in an actual NASCAR race car will be one drive you’ll never forget. The world-famous Daytona 500 track is one of 19 U.S. speedways offering the experience. And yes, passing is allowed.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
Once you view hundreds of authentic Titanic artifacts, tour re-creations of the ship’s interiors (including an icy-cold midnight balcony), and learn the fate of its passengers, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on the British luxury liner that hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Prepare to be enchanted by the world’s largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s paintings, jewelry, glass, and pottery, as well as the museum’s other displays of American decorative art.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Located just one hour east of Orlando near Cape Canaveral, this gateway to the U.S. space program offers full-day tours, historic exhibits such as the Saturn V moon rocket and Atlantis space shuttle (pictured above), and, with a little planning, the opportunity to observe an actual launch.
Airboat Rides at Midway
The St. Johns River turns all Miami Vice as you step aboard an airboat for the ride of your life through the Everglades. Back on shore, experience more thrills by holding a baby alligator and meeting a Burmese python, a parrot, and Porkchop the pig.
Florida Southern College
If you’re an architecture buff, this charming college an hour southwest of Orlando holds the singular distinction of the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designs, including the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel (pictured above). Take your choice of walking tours, from a self-guided stroll to a behind-the-scenes option.
(Top photo courtesy of Omni Hotels & Resorts)