ORLANDO_ FL by yaofenjin



Welcome to Orlando, a sun-drenched city best known for its roller coasters, costumed characters and waterslides, though

it’s also rich in cultural, recreational and even historical attractions. This capsule guide is designed to give you the facts you
need to make the most of a brief visit, including advice on where to eat, drink, play and stay from thousands of savvy locals
and visitors, whose input forms the basis of the reviews on the following pages. To make The City Beautiful manageable,
we’ve focused mainly on Orlando, the tony neighborhood of Winter Park and the tourist corridor, which includes the Disney,
Universal and SeaWorld theme-park complexes as well as International Drive, home of the Orange County Convention
Center. We’ve also included links to helpful websites.

Arriving                                            Getting Around                                       Encounter, for instance, is $40 for adults,
Most visitors arrive at sprawling Orlando           You can comfortably explore most Orlando             $30 children). For more information on area
International Airport (www.orlandoairports.net)     tourist attractions by foot, but you’ll need         sightseeing, check with the Orlando/Orange
on the town’s eastern end. From there, it’s         a vehicle to reach them. The only public             County Convention and Visitors Bureau
a 30-minute drive to the city center and the        transportation is the Lynx bus system                (800-972-3304, www.orlandoinfo.com).
theme parks and 40 minutes to Winter Park;          (www.golynx.com, $2 per ride), whose                 Shopping

cabs, hotel shuttles, limos and rental cars         creatively painted vehicles crisscross the           There’s no shortage of ways for shoppers
are all readily available. Guests of Disney-        community. For $1.25 per ride, the cheerful          to spend money in Orlando. By far the best
owned properties receive free transportation        green I-Ride Trolley (www.iridetrolley.com)          locale for Mickey tees and Pooh collectibles
if they sign up in advance for Disney’s Magical     will take you up and down International              is Downtown Disney, an entertainment/
Express (www.disneyworld.com). Some                 Drive. Disney World has a free hub-and-              dining/shopping mecca filled with countless
travelers arrive at the smaller Sanford             spoke bus system that connects its hotels            clever takes on all things Disney. If you’re
Orlando International Airport                       and attractions (including the theme parks           looking for a bargain, head to an outlet
(www.orlandosanfordairport.com), north of the       and Downtown Disney). Universal Orlando              mall; Prime Outlets (www.primeoutlets.com)
tourist areas and a 45-minute drive from the        runs shuttle buses and water taxis between           on the northern tip of International Drive
theme parks. Amtrak trains from New York and        its theme park/entertainment complex and             includes Neiman Marcus and Saks,
Miami stop in Orlando and nearby Kissimmee          its three hotels, though you can also walk it.       while Orlando Premium Outlets
twice daily (www.amtrak.com); Amtrak’s Auto         Sightseeing                                          (www.premiumoutlets.com) has Barneys
Train – which runs nonstop between Lorton,          Visiting Orlando’s attractions is generally a        New York and La Perla. The best old-
VA, and Sanford (just north of Orlando) – lets      do-it-yourself affair, though regional sightseeing   fashioned pedestrian shopping is on
you bring your own car. Interstate 4, the major     companies provide day trips to more far-flung        Winter Park’s boutique-filled Park Avenue
artery cutting across Central Florida, winds        locales like the Kennedy Space Center                (www.parkave-winterpark.com). Detour-
north-south through Orlando.                        (www.kennedyspacecenter.com) in Titusville or        worthy shopping centers include the

Getting Oriented                                    Everglades National Park (www.nps.gov/ever).         mammoth Florida Mall (www.simon.com)
Each of Orlando’s tourist areas is well defined.    The theme parks themselves offer various             and the high-end Mall at Millenia
Disney World, the 800-pound Mouse in these          backstage tours, which often must be booked          (www.mallatmillenia.com).
parts, is technically in Lake Buena Vista, just     in advance and cost extra (a behind-the-             When to Visit
southwest of Orlando. It contains myriad            scenes peek at SeaWorld’s Penguin                    Winters are glorious, with sunny skies,
components set within 47 square miles and                                                                mild breezes and temperatures generally
connected by a surprisingly complex road                                                                 in the 70s. On the other hand, summers
system. Fortunately, there are plenty of signs                                                           are steamy, as the thermometer rarely
(e.g. “Epcot Resorts” or “Downtown Disney”)                                                              dips below 90 and powerful thunderstorms
to help you navigate – plus well-marked U-                                                               often cease all outdoor activity. Spring and
turns if you overshoot your destination.                                                                 fall are in between: warm, a little humid,
SeaWorld’s three parks and the Orange County                                                             some rain. If you’re heading for the theme
Convention Center are located toward the                                                                 parks, keep in mind that July and
southern end of International Drive (the area’s                                                          Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter weeks

main tourist strip), while the Universal Orlando                                                         are the most crowded. Parks are emptiest
complex is near its northern reaches. Orange                                                             right after Labor Day, and again between
Avenue between South Street and Livingston                                                               Thanksgiving and Christmas.
is the core of the city itself, with the charming                                                        Call Ahead
South Eola and Thornton Park communities                                                                 Change is constant in Orlando. While we’ve
a stroll away. In Winter Park, just northwest                                                            done our best to provide accurate phone
of Orlando, the action revolves around Park                                                              numbers, addresses and other factual
Avenue, with a second set of restaurants and                                                             details, it’s always wise to call ahead before
shops in up-and-coming Hannibal Square.                                                                  making plans.
                                                      Courtesy of Loews Portofino Bay

                                                    ZAGATSURVEY            •    www.zagat.com
                                                       ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

While it’s true you can find just about any chain restaurant in Orlando, Central Florida’s
fare is far more varied – and impressive – than that. Business travelers can enjoy
top-notch steakhouses galore, along with a respectable collection of other fine-dining
establishments. Name-droppers will be happy to discover that celebrity chefs have
set up shop here, while talented toques from Disney World to Winter Park turn out
creative plates at a range of prices. If you visit during September, take advantage
of Orlando Magical Dining Month, when many of the city’s eateries offer bargain
prix fixe meals. Regarding tipping, 15%–20% is customary.
                                                                                                                           Courtesy of Todd English’s bluezoo

MOST POPULAR                    F   D   S    C        “unexpected flavors” – think comfort foods           cuisine; “attentive” “but not overbearing” service
                                                      prepared with “exotic” sub-Saharan spices –          seals the deal, making this a “special-occasion”
                                                      “don’t fail to exceed expectations”; the             destination that’s “not to be missed.”
California Grill Californian \\\)
                             27 25 24 $55
                                                      “wonderful experience” includes a “sleek,
Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 15th fl.,               tranquil” setting, “impeccable” service and          Primo Italian/Mediterranean \\\)
                                                                                                                                       27 25 26 $67
4600 N. World Dr. (Contemporary Resort                an “awesome” South African wine list that will       JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, 4040
Access Rd.), Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463;          make oenophiles “weep with excitement.”              Central Florida Pkwy. (John Young Pkwy.),
                                                                                                           407-393-4444; www.grandelakes.com
The “holy grail of restaurants” in the Disney
                                                      Seasons 52 American           \\\)
                                                                                    25 26 24 $41           “Worth the extra drive” to South Orlando’s JW
domain (it’s the Most Popular spot in the
                                                      Plaza Venezia, 7700 W. Sand Lake Rd. (bet.           Marriott Grande Lakes, this “elegant” option
Orlando area), this Californian “favorite” offers
                                                      Della Dr. & Dr. Phillips Blvd.), 407-354-5212        is “in a class of its own” thanks to “master”
an “enchanting” combination of “creative, sea-
                                                      The Altamonte Mall, 463 E. Altamonte Dr.             chef Melissa Kelly and her “unbelievable”,
sonal” fare, “solicitous” service and “one of the
most extensive wine lists east of Napa”; it also      (Palm Springs Dr.), Altamonte Springs,               “imaginative” Italian-Med cuisine that “trans-
boasts a “fabulous location” on the 15th floor        407-767-1252; www.seasons52.com                      ports you to food heaven” with its “freshness
                                                      “Sheer genius” say smitten surveyors of these        and taste” (much of the “all-organic” produce
of the Contemporary Resort, so be sure to “time
                                                      Altamonte Springs and Dr. Phillips links in a        is grown on-site); plus, it’s set in a “beautiful”
your reservation” to take advantage of the “killer

                                                      regional chain, whose “wonderful” New                space that “makes you forget you’re in a hotel.”
view of the fireworks” over Cinderella Castle.
                                                      American menu offers “decadent food without
                                                      the guilt”: each “seasonally adjusted” savory is
                                                      “under 475 calories” and “tempting, rational”
                                                      “mini-desserts are served in shot glasses”;
                                                      they’re “on the pricey side”, but the “stunning”
                                                      “modern” settings (“Frank Lloyd right–inspired”)
                                                      abet the feeling they’re “well worth every
                                                      penny”; P.S. “without reservations, there can
                                                      be significant waits.”

                                                      Victoria & Albert’s American \\\)
                                                                                   28 27 28 $163
                                                      Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 4401
                                                      Grand Floridian Way (bet. Maple Rd.
                                                      & W. Seven Seas Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,
                                                      407-939-3463; www.disneyworld.com
                                                      “Want to know what dinner would be like in
 Courtesy of Emeril’s Orlando                         heaven?” – then “dress up” and tow “a boatful
                                                      of money” to this “fantasy” in Disney’s Grand       Courtesy of Norman’s
Emeril’s Orlando Creole         \\\)
                                24 21 23 $57          Floridian Resort, where “meticulous” servers
Universal CityWalk, 6000 Universal Blvd.              present “genius” chef Scott Hunnel’s “inventive”,   Ratings & Symbols
(Major Blvd.), 407-224-2424;                          “decadent” six-course, prix fixe–only New
www.emerils.com                                       American menu, earning this “treat” the No. 1       Hours: L serves after 11 PM
“A welcome respite”, this Creole “classic” from       rating for Food and Service in the Orlando area;           = closed on Sunday
celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse “whisks you             “thankfully, no children [under 10] are allowed”           ~ closed on Monday
away” from the “Universal Studios hustle and          in the “sophisticated” room, making it “wonderful
bustle” with “imaginative” fare that’s “beautifully   for romance”; P.S. “book well in advance” and       Credit Cards: X no credit cards accepted
prepared” and complemented by “premier                try for the “coveted chef’s table.”
presentation” and “friendly service”; it’s “worth                                                         Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 30. Cost (C) reflects
the price for a true foodie”, although the “loud”,    CELEB CHEFS                    F   D   S   C        our surveyors’ estimate of the price of dinner with
“busy” ambiance has mellow types murmuring                                                                one drink and tip. Surveyor comments are in quotes.
“the food is terrific, the tourists are annoying”;
                                                      Norman’s New World            \\\)
                                                                                    26 28 25 $83          F
                                                                                                          | Food        D        S         C
                                                                                                                        | Decor | Service \ Cost
P.S. “if you can’t get a seat, eat at the bar.”
                                                      Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, 4012            23            9       13        $15
                                                                                                          |             |       |         \
                                                      Central Florida Pkwy. (John Young Pkwy.),
Jiko – The Cooking Place        \\\)
                                26 27 26 $47
                                                      407-393-4333; www.normans.com                        0-9 poor to fair       20-25 very good to excellent
African                                               At this “decadent” Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes        10-15 fair to good      26-30 extraordinary to perfection
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 2901 Osceola           dining room, the “high-end” ambiance is             16-19 good to very good N low response/less reliable
Pkwy. (Sherberth Rd. off Hwy. 192), Lake Buena        “exquisite” “from top to bottom” – it’s rated
Vista, 407-938-4733; www.disneyworld.com                                                                  For newcomers or survey write-ins listed without
                                                      No. 1 for Decor in the Orlando area – and
Experience a “taste of Africa without the exor-                                                           ratings, the price range is indicated as follows:
                                                      “sophisticated palates” can expect a similar
bitant airfare” at this “welcome departure” in        degree of “excellence” from chef-owner Norman       I    $25 and below          E     $41 to $65
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where the              Van Aken’s “pricey” but “delicious” New World       M    $26 to $40             VE    $66 or more

                                                         ZAGATSURVEY            •    www.zagat.com                                                                        2
                                                       ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL
Roy’s Hawaiian                 \\\)
                               25 22 22 $53           THEME PARK GEMS                   F D    S    C        “snooty” staff “knows how to pair wines” from
Plaza Venezia, 7760 W. Sand Lake Rd.                                                                         the “awesome list”; in short, for a “special
(bet. Della Dr. & Dr. Phillips Blvd.),                                                                       evening”, it’s “worth the cost.”
                                                      Artist Point Pacific NW         \\\)
                                                                                      26 26 25 $50
407-352-4844; www.roysrestaurant.com                  Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, 901 Timberline Dr.
“Those who miss the real thing” can experience
                                                      (Wilderness Way), Lake Buena Vista,
                                                                                                             LOCALS’ FAVORITES                  F   D   S    C
“Hawaii in Orlando” at this Restaurant Row link
                                                      407-824-1081; www.disneyworld.com
in celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s “consistent”
                                                      “The northwest meets the southeast” at this            Enzo’s Restaurant                \\\)
                                                                                                                                              27 23 24 $51
national chain, where “gorgeous” presentations
                                                      Disney darling delivering “Oregon-chic food” in        on the Lake =~ Italian
of the “freshest fish and seafood” are served                                                                1130 S. Hwy. 17-92 (bet. Laura St. & Wildmere
                                                      an “amazing” Wilderness Lodge setting that
in a “classy”, “minimalist” space; the staff is                                                              Ave.), Longwood, 407-834-9872; www.enzos.com
                                                      “feels like a genuine Frank Lloyd Wright retreat”
“friendly and its enthusiasm is contagious”,                                                                 As “reliable as a good Tuscan wine”, this
                                                      with its “inviting views”, “gorgeous ceiling murals”
so while it can be “a bit noisy”, it remains a                                                               Longwood “gem” remains an “institution for
                                                      and “quiet” ambiance; whether you opt for the
“favorite” for “a special-occasion meal.”                                                                    special occasions” thanks to its “outstanding”,
                                                      “best salmon ever” cooked on a cedar plank or
                                                      try one of the “unusual game specials”, be sure        “high-end” Italian cuisine and a “romantic
Todd English’s                 \\\)
                               25 25 23 $63           to pair it with an “interesting Pacific NW wine”       atmosphere” that includes “beautiful” “lakeside
bluezoo Seafood                                       and then “walk around the resort after dinner.”        dining”; it’s equally “a pleasure” for “socializing
Walt Disney World Dolphin, 1500 Epcot Resort                                                                 with business colleagues”, and the family of late
Blvd. (E. Buena Vista Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,         Boma – Flavors                                         founder Enzo Perlini continues in the tradition of
407-934-1111; www.thebluezoo.com
                                                                                      24 25 23 $35
                                                                                                             “cordial, welcoming” service; P.S. be sure to
                                                      of Africa African
“Tantalize your taste buds” at celeb chef Todd                                                               “try the wonderful antipasto” bar.
                                                      Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 2901 Osceola
English’s “innovative”, “trendy” seafooder “for
                                                      Pkwy. (Sherberth Rd. off Hwy. 192), Lake Buena
adults” at Disney World’s Dolphin, where “simple
                                                      Vista, 407-938-4722; www.disneyworld.com
fish meets a complexity of flavors” thanks to
                                                      Set “in Disney’s stunning Animal Kingdom
“creative” (if “pricey”) preparations and sauces;
                                                      Lodge”, this buffet will “make you feel as if you’re
the “visually stunning” design makes you feel
                                                      visiting Africa” as you pick from the “dazzling”
as if you’re “dining underwater” but, despite the
                                                      “array of choices”, including “unusual, authentic
name, “the only animals at this zoo are the party
                                                      foods” for “epicurean thrill-seekers” (“don’t miss
animals who crowd the bar at happy hour.”
                                                      the Durban-spiced chicken”) plus “well-prepared
                                                      staples” for “the picky eater”; “sure, there are
                                                      screaming kids running around”, but overall it’s
                                                      a “fun”, “safari-casual” “must-do” – “all that’s       Courtesy of Enzo’s Restaurant on the Lake

                                                      missing is the meat on a spear!”
                                                                                                             K Restaurant                     \\\)
                                                                                                                                              26 21 23 $42
                                                      Le Cellier                                             Wine Bar = Eclectic
                                                                                25 22 24 $43
                                                      Steakhouse Canadian/Steak                              2401 Edgewater Dr. (Vassar St.),
                                                      Canada Pavilion, Epcot (W. Seven Seas Dr.),            407-872-2332; www.krestaurantwinebar.com
                                                      Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463;                        “You can’t go wrong” at this College Park “stal-
                                                      www.disneyworld.com                                    wart” that’s “built a solid reputation for innovative”
                                                      Visitors “will want to sing ‘Oh Canada’ after          Eclectic fare that’s “always fresh and always deli-
                                                      trying the steak” at this “lively” option in           cious”; the “upscale bistro” setting is “small but
                                                      Epcot’s Canada Pavilion, where the filet is            doesn’t feel cramped” and benefits from “changing
                                                      “so tender you could cut it with a plastic             artwork on the wall”, “great outdoor seating” and
                                                      spoon” and the “hearty” cheddar cheese soup            servers who “remember guests from past visits.”
                                                      and “soft, warm” pretzel breadsticks will make
                                                      you “swear you’re in our 51st state”; plus, as         Le Coq au Vin ~ French           \\\)
                                                                                                                                              28 19 25 $48
                                                      you “eat underground in an old wine cellar”            4800 S. Orange Ave. (Gatlin Ave.),
                                                      attended to by “friendly” “Canadian college            407-851-6980; www.lecoqauvinrestaurant.com
                                                      students”, you’ll be apt to “forget you’re in          “Where locals go to get away from the tourists”,
                                                      Disney World”; P.S. “reservations are a must!”         this “hidden delight” in South Orlando demon-
                                                                                                             strates its “commitment to quality and consis-
                                                      Raglan Road Irish                                      tency” via a “spectacular” lineup of French cui-
                                                                                      21 24 21 $33
                                                      Pub & Restaurant L Irish                               sine “not to die for, but to live for!”; a few sug-
                                                      1640 E. Buena Vista Dr. (bet. Epcot Center Dr.         gest it “can be noisy”, but its “perfectly paired
 Courtesy of Todd English’s bluezoo                                                                          wines”, “country ambiance”, “warm service”
                                                      & Sycamore Loop), Lake Buena Vista,
                                                      407-938-0300; www.raglanroadirishpub.com               and “moderate prices” are all reasons it’s been a
Wolfgang Puck                                                                                                “perennial favorite” for over 25 years; N.B. Sandy
                               22 18 18 $37           “There’s a pot of unexpected gold” at Irish
                                                                                                             Pitz & chef Reimund Pitz took over from long-
Café Californian                                      über-chef Kevin Dundon’s pub import, “a little
1482 E. Buena Vista Dr. (Hotel Plaza Blvd.),          piece of Ireland” in Downtown Disney that              time chef-owner Louis Perrotte post-Survey.
Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-9653;                       serves “fantastic” Gaelic eats that are “a full
www.wolfgangpuckorlando.com                           step above typical pub grub”; “properly prepared       Luma on Park American            \\\)
                                                                                                                                              24 27 23 $49
For “a taste of Puck at a lower cost”, foodies        pints” and “authentic Irish music” ensure it’s an      290 S. Park Ave. (bet. W. Lyman & W. New
have four options at this Downtown Disney             “insanely crowded” gathering spot that’s also a        England Aves.), Winter Park, 407-599-4111;
Californian: on the ground floor there’s a “casual”   “rowdy good time.”                                     www.lumaonpark.com
“family-friendly” cafe, a “gourmet” sushi bar                                                                Discover “New York in Winter Park” at this
and an “express” counter where “designer pizzas”      Yachtsman                                              “see-and-be-seen” “hot spot” on Park Avenue,
                                                                                      26 22 25 $59
                                                                                                             where “chic, modern” decor (even “the wash-
take center stage, while the “more formal”            Steakhouse Steak
upstairs dining room is the setting for “top-                                                                rooms look like something out of Star Trek”)
                                                      Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, 1700 Epcot Resort
shelf” eats; still, those who cite “overly noisy”,                                                           sets the stage for Brandon McGlamery’s
                                                      Blvd. (E. Buena Vista Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,
“crowded” digs, “less than stellar decor” and                                                                “superb work”: an array of “cutting-edge”,
                                                      407-939-3463; www.disneyworld.com
an “overwhelmed staff” say they “expected                                                                    “inventive” seasonal New American dishes;
                                                      “Everything a top-notch steakhouse should be”
more based on the name.”                                                                                     a “helpful, knowledgeable” staff and an
                                                      rave Epcot epicureans of this “classy” “treat” in
                                                                                                             “extensive wine list” are two more reasons
                                                      Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, where the “amazing”
                                                                                                             surveyors call it “fabulous in all respects.”
                                                      cuts “melt in your mouth” and the occasionally

                                                         ZAGATSURVEY              •    www.zagat.com                                                                      3
                                                           ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL
                                                       Boheme, The American            \\\)
                                                                                       24 25 24 $52
                                                       Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 S. Orange Ave.
                                                       (bet. Jackson & South Sts.), 407-581-4700;           MOST POPULAR                                      F D S C
                                                       www.grandbohemianhotel.com                           Chatham’s Place Continental                   \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           27 20 28 $64
                                                       An “incredible setting” featuring “luscious          7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd. (Sand Lake Rd.), 407-345-2992;
                                                       colors” is the main attraction at this “beautiful”
                                                       hotel restaurant in Downtown Orlando, where          Morton’s The Steakhouse Steak                 \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          26 22 25 $71
                                                       the “imaginative” New American fare is               The Marketplace, 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd. (Sand Lake Rd.),
                                                                                                            407-248-3485; www.mortons.com
                                                       accompanied by “attentive but not pushy”
                                                       service; it’s “great for a romantic dinner or a      Palm, The Steak                              \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                         26 21 24 $60
                                                                                                            Hard Rock Hotel, 5800 Universal Blvd. (Major Blvd.),
                                                       power lunch” (especially “if someone else is         407-503-7256; www.thepalm.com
                                                       treating”), and the “excellent Sunday jazz
                                                       brunch” includes a “variety of exquisite foods”      Ruth’s Chris Steak House Steak                 \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           26 23 24 $63
                                                                                                            7501 W. Sand Lake Rd. (bet. Dr. Phillips Blvd.
 Courtesy of The Ravenous Pig                          plus music played live on the lounge’s               & Turkey Lake Rd.), 407-226-3900
                                                       Bösendorfer piano.                                   Winter Park Village, 610 N. Orlando Ave. (Webster Ave.),
                                                                                                            Winter Park, 407-622-2444www.ruthschris.com
Ravenous Pig, The               \\\)
                                25 20 23 $45
=~ American                                            Christini’s Ristorante          \\\)
                                                                                       26 22 25 $64         Sommerfest German                           \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                         21 24 21 $31

1234 N. Orange Ave. (Oak Pl.), Winter Park,            Italiano Italian                                     Germany Pavilion, Walt Disney World Resort (W. Seven Seas Dr.),
                                                                                                            Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463; www.disneyworld.com
407-628-2333; www.theravenouspig.com                   The Marketplace, 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
                                                       (Sand Lake Rd.), 407-345-8770;                       THEME PARK GEMS                                   F D S C
“A favorite of the Winter Park crowd”, this
“fantastic” gastropub with a somewhat “strange         www.christinis.com                                   Bice Ristorante Italian                      \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          22 24 22 $55
                                                       Be “blown away” by a meal at this “elegant”          Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, 5601 Universal Blvd.
name” just “keeps getting better” thanks to                                                                 (Major Blvd.), 407-503-1415; www.bice.ws
husband-and-wife chef-owners James and                 Dr. Phillips Italian where the “exceptional
                                                       experience” includes “fabulous” old-world            Bistro de Paris French                       \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          23 23 22 $48
Julie Petrakis, who turn out a “daring and
                                                                                                            France Pavilion, Epcot (W. Seven Seas Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,
delicious” menu of “gourmet American” cuisine;         cuisine made with “the finest and freshest           407-939-3463; www.disneyworld.com
factor in a “well-thought-out” beer and wine list      ingredients”, a “gracious”, “attentive” staff
                                                       and a selection of “hard-to-find wines” (let the     Flying Fish Cafe Seafood                      \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          25 24 23 $51
and a “professional, knowledgeable” staff,                                                                  Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, 2101 N. Epcot Resort Blvd. (E. Buena
and this swine proves “absolutely divine.”             “knowledgeable sommelier” help you choose);          Vista Dr.), Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463; www.disneyworld.com
                                                       female patrons “get a rose” as they’re seated,
                                                                                                            LOCALS’ FAVORITES                                 F D S C
                                                       but given the “high prices”, some suggest “it
BEST FOR BUSINESS                F D     S    C                                                             Amura Japanese
                                                       turns out to be a very expensive rose.”                                                               \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                             25 21 20 $37
                                                                                                            Plaza Venezia, 7786 W. Sand Lake Rd.

Antonio’s La Fiamma                                                                                         (bet. Della Dr. & Dr. Phillips Blvd.), 407-370-0007
                                24 21 24 $36
                                                       Del Frisco’s Prime              \\\)
                                                                                       27 17 23 $65         55 W. Church St. (bet. S. Garland & S. Orange Aves.),
Ristorante = Italian
                                                       Steak & Lobster = Steak                              407-316-8500www.amura.com
611 S. Orlando Ave., 2nd fl. (Maitland Ave.),
                                                       729 Lee Rd. (Alloway St.), Winter Park,              Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine Turkish           \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          23 19 20 $33
Maitland, 407-645-1035
                                                       407-645-4443; www.delfriscosorlando.com              108 S. Park Ave. (W. Morse Blvd.), Winter Park,
Antonio’s Cafe & Deli Italian                                                                               407-644-8609; www.bosphorousrestaurant.com
                                                       For some of “the best steaks in O-Town”, head
611 S. Orlando Ave. (Maitland Ave.),                                                                        Chez Vincent French
                                                       to this “clubby” Winter Park staple serving                                                     \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                        21 17 21 $44
Maitland, 407-645-1039                                 “sinfully delicious” beef that’s “still sizzling     533 W. New England Ave. (Hannibal Sq.), Winter Park,
Antonio’s Sand Lake = Italian                          when it hits the table”, plus “perfectly cooked”
                                                                                                            407-599-2929; www.chezvincent.com

The Fountains, 7559 W. Sand Lake Rd. (bet. Dr.         rock lobster, a “killer wine list” and all “the      Funky Monkey Wine Company Eclectic              \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                            – – – M
Phillips Blvd. & Turkey Lake Rd.), 407-363-9191        requisite sides”; a few crabby carnivores
                                                                                                            912 N. Mills Ave. (Marks St.), 407-427-1447;
Cafe D’Antonio Italian                                 suggest the “dark, bordello-style” decor is a bit
                                                                                                            HUE – A Restaurant American                   \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           23 23 21 $44
691 Front St. (Market St.), Celebration,               “dated”, but a staff that “goes the extra mile” is   629 E. Central Blvd. (bet. Eola Dr. & Summerlin Ave.),
407-566-2233, www.antoniosonline.com                   yet another reason your “business dinner” will       407-849-1800; www.huerestaurant.com
Whether you’re celebrating “a special occasion”        be “worth every penny.”
                                                                                                            Shari Sushi Lounge Japanese                   \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           22 22 17 $40
in the “sophisticated” upstairs dining room or                                                              621 E. Central Blvd. (bet. Eola Dr. & Summerlin Ave.),
simply enjoying “a relaxing evening” in the            MoonFish Seafood/Steak         \\\)
                                                                                      24 23 21 $51          407-420-9420; www.sharisushilounge.com
“casual” first-floor cafe, deli and wine shop, this    The Fountains, 7525 W. Sand Lake Rd.                 Taquitos Jalisco Mexican                        \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                             21 15 18 $21
Maitland duo is almost like “being in Italy”; the      (bet. Dr. Phillips Blvd. & Turkey Lake Rd.),         MetroWest Village Shopping Ctr., 2419 S. Hiawassee Rd.
Celebration and Sand Lake Road offshoots are           407-363-7262; www.talkofthetownrestaurants.com       (Westpointe Blvd.), 407-296-0626
equally “divine”, dishing up the same                                                                       Tri-City Shopping Ctr., 1041 S. Dillard St. (W. Colonial Dr.),
                                                       A “change of pace” from the typical                  Winter Garden, 407-654-0363
“traditional” fare “with flair” (“fresh ingredients,   “steakhouse business dinner”, this Dr. Phillips
creativity and attention”) served by                   surf ’n’ turfer is especially notable for its        BEST FOR BUSINESS                                 F D S C
“professional” staffs that are “friendly”,             “impressive selection” of “delicious” “flame-
“efficient” and “way above average.”                                                                        Capital Grille, The Steak                      \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                            25 23 23 $62
                                                       grilled” fin fare and “wonderful” sushi; the
                                                                                                            9101 International Dr. (Pointe Plaza Ave.), 407-370-4392;
                                                       convention crowd also moons over the “elegant”,      www.thecapitalgrille.com
                                                       “unique ambiance”, which includes fish tanks
                                                                                                            Columbia Cuban/Spanish                        \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                          22 22 20 $36
                                                       everywhere (“check out the bathrooms”), but          649 Front St. (Sycamore St.), Celebration, 407-566-1505;
                                                       is less enthused with the “pricey” tabs and          www.columbiarestaurant.com
                                                       “touristy Restaurant Row location.”                  Oceanaire Seafood Room Seafood                 \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           25 23 24 $60
                                                                                                            Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr. (Pointe Plaza Ave.), 407-
                                                                                                            363-4801; www.theoceanaire.com

                                                                                                            Park Plaza Gardens European                 \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                         24 19 23 $45
                                                                                                            (fka Chef Justin’s Park Plaza Gardens)
                                                                                                            319 Park Ave. S. (New England Ave.), Winter Park,
                                                                                                            407-645-2475; www.parkplazagardens.com

                                                                                                            Venetian Room, The Continental                 \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                            24 22 24 $66
                                                                                                            Caribe Royale Orlando, 8101 World Center Dr. (bet. International Dr. &
                                                                                                            S. Apopka Vineland Rd.), 407-238-8060; www.thevenetianroom.com

                                                                                                            Vito’s Chop House Steak                        \\ \)
                                                                                                                                                           25 21 22 $55
                                                                                                            8633 International Dr. (bet. Austrian Row & Via Mercado),
                                                                                                            407-354-2467; www.vitoschophouse.com

 Courtesy of Luma on Park

                                                          ZAGATSURVEY             •     www.zagat.com                                                                                    4
                                                     ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

Have energy to spare after a day in the theme parks? Good news: O-town’s night scene
is more than a Mickey Mouse affair. Shake your booty to high-octane beats at ultra lounges
and clubs Downtown or chill out with VIP treatment on the International Drive tourist
corridor. Head to Thornton Park and the ViMi districts to sip wine and martinis or quaff beer
at neighborhood watering holes. And finish your evening on just the right note at the jumpin’
joints across the region that feature a wide range of local and national music acts.
                                                                                                                                           Courtesy of Rising Star

                                                    Jax Fifth Ave. Deli & Ale                            grass to reggae) or play trivia games, the com-
                                                                                    20 16 20 M
                                                    3400 Edgewater Dr. (W. Par Ave.),                    petitive set assembles at the pool tables or
                                                    407-999-8934                                         dartboards.
                                                    A sea of TVs, dark wood and suds (250 bottled
                                                    beers and 36 on tap) await sports fans at this       Orlando Brewing                      \\\)
                                                                                                                                              22 18 21 M
                                                    “fun” College Park tavern-cum-deli that’s “not       1301 Atlanta Ave. (W. Kaley Ave.),
                                                    been ruined by tourists”; smokers take refuge        407-872-1117; www.orlandobrewing.com
                                                    on the patio and tuck into the sandwich-, pita-      Beer lovers go green (in a good way) at
                                                    and salad-laden menu.                                Florida’s only certified organic brewery, a “great
                                                                                                         place to hang out with friends, watch the big
                                                    DANCING                         A D    S    C        screens” and “meet laid-back people”;
                                                                                                         although picky patrons sniff that the cafeteria-
                                                                                                         style setting is “not a lot to look at”, fans toast
                                                    Destiny Nightclub               \\\)
                                                                                    – – – VE
                                                                                                         the live bands and “great microbrews.”
                                                    7430 Universal Blvd. (Carrier Dr.),
                                                    407-351-9800; www.destinynightclub.net
                                                    The bass-pumping beats that fill this
                                                    International Drive area hip-hop haven lure the

                                                    crowd onto a gargantuan dance floor as VIPs
                                                    look on from their plush digs (some stocked
                                                    with velvet sofas, others with cushy beds);
                                                    themed parties, a state-of-the-art sound
                                                    system, custom-made disco ball and eye
                                                    candy keep the masses (there’s room for
                                                    2,200) coming back.

                                                    Groove, The                     \\\)
                                                                                    20 20 18 E
                                                    Universal CityWalk, 6000 Universal Blvd.
                                                    (Major Blvd.), 407-224-2227; www.citywalk.com
 Courtesy of The Groove                             A “good sound system” has the “young crowd”
                                                    hopping at this Universal CityWalk club, a
MOST POPULAR                    A D     S   C
                                                    “pretty happening place” that fans deem “about
                                                    as fun as you can get in the tourist area”; a spi-
Antigua                        \\\)
                               18 16 18 M           ral staircase winding down to the “nice-size
41 W. Church St. (Orange Ave.),                     dance floor”, three themed VIP areas and a
407-649-4270; www.antiguaorlando.com                multitude of special effects help make it “a
Groove-shakers find this “trendy” Downtown          good place to dance the night away.”                 Courtesy of Tabu
club “more laid-back and upscale than the
touristy places nearby”, making it all the better   Tabu                            \\\)
                                                                                    15 16 14 E           Ratings & Symbols
for dancing to “’80s music on Saturday night”       46 N. Orange Ave. (W. Washington St.),
or enjoying “interesting happy-hour drinks”         407-648-8363; www.tabunightclub.com                  Credit Cards: X no credit cards accepted
(including Friday three-for-one specials); the      Club-goers under the spell of the all-you-can-
big, multilevel space aims for an island look,      drink deals boogie down on the “large dance          Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 30. Surveyor
and if some cite “too many young and desper-        floor” at this restored 1920s Downtown theater;      comments are in quotes.
ate guys” in the crowd, others say “watching        but detractors say it somehow manages to be
the hook-up scene” is part of the “fun.”            both “played out” and “a bit snobby”, and warn       A        D        S         C
                                                                                                         | Appeal | Decor | Service \ Cost
                                                    about “sleaze on the sidelines.”                     23
                                                                                                         |        9
                                                                                                                  |       13
                                                                                                                          |         $15
Independent Bar                \\\)
                               19 14 19 M
70 N. Orange Ave. (W. Washington St.),              LIVE MUSIC                      A D    S    C
407-839-0457; www.independentbar.net                                                                       0-9 poor to fair      20-25 very good to excellent
At this “casual”, multilevel Downtown landmark,                                                          10-15 fair to good      26-30 extraordinary to perfection
two dance floors and “different music on differ-    Copper Rocket Pub               \\\)
                                                                                    – – – M
                                                                                                         16-19 good to very good N low response/less reliable
ent nights” (from college indie to ’80s pop)        The Village Plaza, 106 Lake Ave. (Orlando Ave.),
make it a “fun place to hang out with friends”;     Maitland, 407-645-0069;
                                                    www.copperrocketpub.com                              Cost (C) reflects our surveyors’ estimated price of a
clubbers snuggle on long couches, chill on the
                                                    Hipsters set a nightly course for the light bites    typical single drink.
patio or, if they dare, “kick off their shoes and
                                                    and domestic and imported brews at this cozy
dance barefoot on that nasty floor.”                                                                     I     below $7               E      $11 to $14
                                                    Maitland pub; while slackers sit back in the
                                                                                                         M     $7 to $10              VE     $15 or more
                                                    snug booths and catch live bands (from blue

                                                       ZAGATSURVEY              •   www.zagat.com                                                                       5
                                                     ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

                                                    UPSCALE                        A D     S    C       NotableMentions
                                                                                                        NIGHTLIFE                                      A D S C
                                                    Bliss Premiere                 \\\)
                                                                                   24 23 22 M
                                                    Ultra Lounge                                        B.B. King’s Blues Club                         \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                       23 21 19 E
                                                                                                        Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr. (Pointe Plaza Ave.),
                                                    123 W. Church St. (Garland Ave.),                   407-370-4550; www.bbkingclubs.com
                                                    407-849-5060; www.blissorlando.com
                                                    “Partying crowds” convene at this “hot”
                                                                                                        Cowboys Orlando                             \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                     – – – M
                                                                                                        1108 S. Orange Blossom Trail (Monte Carlo Trail),
                                                    Downtown club to bump and grind under sparkly       407-422-7115; www.cowboysorlando.com
                                                    chandeliers on a “good-size dance floor” (with      Grape, The                                   \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                     21 17 17 E
                                                    a sound system to match); off the floor, a “great   Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr. (Samoan Ct.),
                                                    staff” doles out martinis to patrons propped        407-351-5815; www.yourgrape.com
                                                    against three bars or hunkered down on plush        Harp and Celt                                 \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                       21 19 21 E
                                                    couches; N.B. shell out extra dough for VIP         25 S. Magnolia Ave. (bet. Central Blvd. & Pine St.),
                                                    status and gain access to special tables            407-481-2928; www.harpandcelt.com

                                                    and the club’s second level.                        Howl at the Moon                               \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                        17 15 15 M
                                                                                                        8815 International Dr. (Pointe Plaza Ave.), 407-354-5999;
                                                    Hue                            \\\)
                                                                                   25 24 21 E
                                                    629 E. Central Blvd. (bet. Eola Dr. & Summerlin
                                                                                                        ICEBAR Orlando                                 \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                         – – – E
                                                                                                        8967 International Dr. (bet. Pointe Plaza Ave. & Sand Lake Rd.),
 Courtesy of Rising Star                            Ave.), 407-849-1800; www.huerestaurant.com          407-426-7555; www.icebarorlando.com
                                                    While diners savor the New American eats at
                                                    this “hip” Thornton Park enclave, merrymakers
                                                                                                        Le Club                                     \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                      – – – VE
Rising Star                                                                                             The Parliament House, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail
                              – – – M
                                                    lounge on its “trendy” outdoor veranda, where       (Livingston St.), 407-425-7571; www.parliamenthouse.com
Universal CityWalk, 6000 Universal Blvd.            bartenders “make all feel welcome” (a good
(Major Blvd.), 407-224-2189                                                                             Samba Room                                    \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                       20 23 17 M
                                                    thing, since “drink prices are on the high end”);   7468 W. Sand Lake Rd. (Dr. Phillips Blvd.), 407-226-0550;
American Idol dreamers grab the spotlight at        P.S. ladies say this is a “great viewing spot for   www.sambaroom.net
this elegant new karaoke palace at Universal        hot single men.”
CityWalk where a live band and backup singers
                                                                                                        SKY60                                       \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                     21 23 17 E
                                                                                                        64 N. Orange Ave. (W. Washington St.), 407-246-1599;
add some authenticity; guests choose between                                                            www.sky60.com
booth or table seating on two levels, all within
easy view and earshot of the monstrous
                                                                                                        Vintage                                       \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                       – – – M
                                                                                                        114 S. Orange Ave. (bet. Church & Pine Sts.), 877-386-7346;
columned stage.                                                                                         www.vintagelounge.biz

                                                                                                        Voyage Night Club                             \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                      – – – E
LOUNGES                        A D     S   C                                                            17 W. Pine St. (Orange Ave.), 407-244-9600

                                                                                                        Waitiki Retro Tiki Lounge                     \\ \(
                                                                                                                                                       18 19 17 M
                                                                                                        Wall Street Plaza, 26 Wall St. (N. Magnolia Ave.),
PULSE                         \\\)
                              – – – E
                                                                                                        407-481-1199; www.wallstplaza.net
1912 S. Orange Ave. (Kaley Ave.),
407-649-3888; www.pulseorlando.com
South Orlando goes South Beach at this “beau-
tifully designed” three-pronged gay club with a
“good sound system and good music”; party-
ers can choose from the white, futuristic Ultra
Lounge, the Jewel Box (featuring variety acts
and a dance floor fringed by ornate crosses) or
Adonis, a dark bar frequented by “cute dancing

Red Coconut Club              \\\)
                              – – – M
Universal CityWalk, 6000 Universal Blvd.
(Major Blvd.), 407-224-2425
                                                    Courtesy of Red Coconut Club
It’s always a mod, mod, mod, mod whirl at this
’60s-inspired CityWalk ultra lounge packed with     23
bongo-drum stools, turquoise couches, palm                                         \\\)
                                                                                   – – – M
                                                    23 Church St. (Orange Ave.), 407-420-1111
trees and fortysomethings who remember the          Downtown’s bustling Church Street scene fades
era firsthand; then again, the younger set digs     away once tipplers saunter into this old-worldish
the groovy illuminated dance floor and the ’80s-    haunt replete with brick walls, hardwood floors
through-today tunes provided by live bands          and midpriced hooch served from a curvy bar;
and DJs, while budgeteers save a wad with           for those seeking a little privacy, or at least a
happy-hour martinis and select appetizers.          respite from the DJ’s high-energy tunes, an
                                                    exclusive loft accommodates 12 in comfy seating.
Stardust Lounge               \\\)
                              – – – M
431 E. Central Blvd. (N. Osceola Ave.),
407-839-0080; www.stardustorlando.com
Retro revelers step back in time (and one flight
down) at this low-ceilinged Downtown throw-
back modeled on a ’60s Vegas lounge; as flirta-
tious Rat Pack wannabes chat ’n’ chill over
martinis at the 50-ft. bar or in sexy red-leather
booths dimly lit by glittery chrome lamps, pool
players take their cues from the ultracool zebra-
printed billiard tables and waitresses strut
about in full pin-up regalia.

                                                                                                         Courtesy of Tabu

                                                         ZAGATSURVEY           •    www.zagat.com                                                                             6
                                                         ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

With seven superstars, Orlando has the best theme park collection
in the world – and that’s not counting the myriad water parks. But
visitors will find far more to see than roller coasters, wave pools and
people dressed in mouse costumes. Modern museums, splendid
gardens and offbeat animal exhibits offer thrills of a different kind.
                                                                                                                                        Courtesy of Universal Studios

REVIEWS                          A    F   S   C         a “day-long treat” and “everything is included”,        park” that bills itself as the ‘Alligator Capital
                                                        from “awesome eats” to a keepsake photo-                of the World’; spend an afternoon enjoying
                                                        graph; N.B. rates vary by season.                       “beautiful walks” along planked trails, frolic in
Aquatica                        \\\(
                                – – – VE
                                                                                                                its new-ish water park (2007) and then watch
5800 Water Play Way (International Dr.),
                                                        Disney’s Animal Kingdom                                 shows that get the creatures “jumping”; still,
407-351-3600; www.aquaticabyseaworld.com                                                \\\(
                                                                                        25 26 26 VE
                                                                                                                while most find it “well worth the money”, a
One of Orlando’s newest big-budget attractions          Walt Disney World, 660 W. Savannah Circle
                                                        (Osceola Pkwy.), Lake Buena Vista,                      few “can’t help thinking what a great pocket-
(April 2008), this mega–water park at SeaWorld
                                                        407-824-4321; www.disneyworld.com                       book one of these would make.”
combines downhill thrills and other splashy
sensations with interactive animal encounters           “Who would’ve thought anyone could combine
(dolphins, tropical fish and birds, etc.), dining       a theme park with a natural reserve?” – well,
options and gift shops; beach lovers take heart:        “Diz has”, and you’ll find “wonderful shows,
lounge chairs, acres of white sand and a                exciting rides”, “beautiful landscaping” and
sparkling wave pool await if the high-speed             “breathtaking” “animal encounters”; an
soakers don’t float your boat.                          overnight stay at the adjacent Lodge, with
                                                        “night visions” of the fauna, makes the experi-
                                                        ence that much more “authentic” – and will

                                                        position you to take the “outstanding” safari
                                                        ride in the “cooler” “early morning” hours.

                                                        Disney’s Hollywood Studios \\\(
                                                                                   27 27 26 VE
                                                        Walt Disney World, 50 Animation Dr.
                                                        (World Dr.), Lake Buena Vista, 407-824-4321;
                                                        “Dreams become reality” as you “live out your          Courtesy of Gatorland
                                                        favorite movies” and TV shows at this theme
                                                        park for “film buffs” who “get a kick” out of           Harry P. Leu Gardens                \\\(
                                                                                                                                                    24 23 20 I
                                                        “thrills” like the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s      1920 N. Forest Ave. (Corrine Dr.),
                                                        “unpredictable” elevator “drop-p-p-p-p” as well         407-246-2620; www.leugardens.org
                                                        as “educational” features like “the animation           For a “taste of Orlando before urban sprawl”,
                                                        studios and backlot tours”, all of which you            stroll through nearly 50 acres of “tranquil,
                                                        can “see in one day”; though some wish “they            stress-reducing” gardens at this “largely undis-
                                                        could make the lines go away”, “bantering with          covered treasure” in College Park, where you’ll
                                                        Lucy and Desi and the Marx Brothers” is enter-          “ooh and aah” over one of the biggest
                                                        taining, and the Brown Derby restaurant offers          American camellia collections in the country,
                                                        “a break from the hustle.”                              the state’s largest rose garden, a butterfly gar-
                                                                                                                den and more than “a few brides on the lawn”
                                                        Epcot                           \\\(
                                                                                        28 27 27 VE             of the historical Leu House (“do not miss the
                                                        Walt Disney World, 1320 Ave. of the Stars               tour”); N.B. free on Mondays from 9 AM–noon.
                                                        (Epcot Center Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,
                                                        407-824-4321; www.disneyworld.com
                                                        “Take two days” to explore Disney’s most “edu-         Ratings & Symbols
                                                        cation-minded” theme park offering “hands-on”
                                                        exhibits, “high-octane” rides, “mini-shows in          Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 30. Newcomers or
                                                        every corner” and the chance to “see other             write-ins are listed without ratings. Cost (C) reflects
 Courtesy of Aquatica                                   countries without leaving ours” via 11 World           the attraction’s high-season price for one adult.
                                                        Showcase pavilions that feature “genuine” eth-         Surveyor comments are in quotes.
Discovery Cove                  \\\(
                                28 27 27 VE             nic foods and drink; though some find it
Central Florida Pkwy. (bet. International &             “dated”, others call it “entertaining” “for the sci-
                                                                                                               A        F             S        C
                                                                                                               | Appeal | Facilities | Service \ Cost
Sea World Drs.), 877-434-7268;                          ence-camp geek in all of us”; P.S. stick around        23
                                                                                                               |        9
                                                                                                                        |            13
                                                                                                                                     |         I
www.discoverycove.com                                   after dark for an “exciting fireworks display.”
Just a few miles northeast of Walt Disney
                                                                                                                 0-9 poor to fair      20-25 very good to excellent
World, a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” awaits                                                                10-15 fair to good      26-30 extraordinary to perfection
                                                        Gatorland                       \\\(
                                                                                        21 17 20 M             16-19 good to very good N low response/less reliable
at this water park where swimmers can realize
                                                        14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail (bet. Hunters
the “fantasy” of frolicking with “playful” “kiss-                                                              The price range is indicated by the following symbols:
                                                        Creek Blvd. & Osceola Pkwy.), 407-855-5496;
ing” dolphins (the “main attraction”), while land-
                                                        800-393-5297; www.gatorland.com                        $0    Free                   E     $26 to $40
lubbers can “interact with stingrays” and “other
                                                        “Gators, gators and more gators” await at this
creatures of the sea”, not to mention “beautiful                                                               I     $10 and below          VE    $41 or more
                                                        “kitschy but fun” “low-tech” attraction in South
birds in the aviary”; yes, it’s “expensive”, but it’s                                                          M     $11 to $25
                                                        Orlando, a “grimy but authentic” “Old Florida

                                                           ZAGATSURVEY              •    www.zagat.com                                                                         7
                                                        ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL
                                                     theme parks, two water wonderlands and over           Universal Studios
                                                     20 hotels); with its shows, rides, fireworks,
                                                                                                                                                  26 25 23 VE
                                                                                                           1000 Universal Studios Plaza (Vineland Rd.),
                                                     parades, dining options and characters that           407-363-8000; 800-711-0080;
                                                     “bring out the kid in everyone”, you’ll “need two     www.universalorlando.com
                                                     days to really see” everything, although the free     “Film buffs are in paradise” at Universal’s
                                                     FastPass system helps make the “happiest              Hollywood-themed park where the “rides are
                                                     place on earth” an even more joyful experience.       so lifelike they magically transport you into the
                                                                                                           movies”, from the Revenge of the Mummy
                                                     Orlando Museum of Art N \\\(
                                                                             25 26 22 I                    roller coaster to the E.T. Adventure, which takes
                                                     2416 N. Mills Ave. (E. Princeton St.),                you for a jaunt “with that lovable alien
                                                     407-896-4231; www.omart.org                           on a bike”; while detractors dismiss it as a
                                                     Culture vultures head Downtown to this “small”,       “poor man’s Disney”, others insist it gives the
                                                     “quiet” art museum that’s “getting better all the     mouse and company “a run for the money”,
 Courtesy of Harry P. Leu Gardens                    time” courtesy of permanent exhibits of Pan-          “offering something for all ages.”
                                                     American and African art and artifacts, plus a
Historic Bok Sanctuary           \\\(
                                 25 21 19 I
1151 Tower Blvd. (Burns Ave.), Lake Wales,
                                                     “wonderful variety of shows” that change regu-        World of Orchids                   N \\\(
                                                                                                                                                23 15 18 $0
                                                     larly; nevertheless some cognoscenti counsel          2501 Old Lake Wilson Rd. (Palms Pkwy.),
863-676-1408; www.boksanctuary.org
                                                     “check the event calendar” in advance “to             Kissimmee, 407-396-1881;
“Beautiful sounds” “touch your soul” at this
                                                     make it worth your time and money.”                   www.aworldoforchids.com
“calming” sanctuary 55 miles from Orlando,
where music from a 60-bell carillon housed                                                                 They’re growing orchids again at this 22,500-sq.-
within a 205-ft.-tall tower plays regularly; but     Orlando Science Center         \\\(
                                                                                    23 25 24 M             ft. indoor rainforest in Kissimmee, plus you
that’s just part of the appeal of this “step back    777 E. Princeton St. (Camden Rd.),                    can buy the blooms at the attached gift store;
in time” – there’s also a “quiet”, meandering        407-514-2000; www.osc.org                             nature/animal lovers” fawn over the “incredible
garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.,       For a “rainy-day getaway”, consider this              variety and beauty” of the “tropical” plants and
a circa-1930s estate, a hiking trail and preserve,   Downtown Orlando exploratorium that’s packed          the presence of koi and exotic birds, and even
a museum and a visitor center; P.S. try it for a     with “hands-on exhibits” demonstrating the            those who find it “tired” concede that wander-
picnic, although the heat-shy warn that it’s         workings of the human body, energy, Florida’s         ing amid palm trees, “meandering streams”
“best in cooler months.”                             ecosystem, film special effects and laser             and waterfalls is a “nice break.”
                                                     beams, among other topics; amateur
                                                     astronomers find the observatory the star
Islands of Adventure             \\\(
                                 27 26 24 VE
                                                     attraction (especially the monthly SunWatch),
Universal Studios, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza
                                                     while everyone digs the planetarium laser
(Vineland Rd.), 407-363-8000; 800-711-0080;

                                                     shows and the ever-changing IMAX movies.
“Not for the faint of heart”, this Universal theme
park is a piece of “vibrantly colored” “eye          SeaWorld                       \\\(
                                                                                    26 24 23 VE
candy” for those “daredevils” who love the           7007 Sea World Dr. (Central Florida Pkwy.),
“stupendous”, “technologically advanced”             407-351-3600; 800-423-8368;
thrills that make this a “roller-coaster heaven”;    www.seaworld.com/orlando
a handful of critics claims it “doesn’t compare”     Decidedly “laid-back” compared to its theme
to Disney’s parks – there “aren’t enough attrac-     park neighbors – even with its “upscale” retail,
tions to fill a whole day” – but guests at the       restaurant and entertainment area – this
three affiliated resorts appreciate the express      International Drive “aquatic dream” appeals to
passes that let them “cut every line.”               anyone “from age one to 100”; “you can never
                                                     get enough of killer whale Shamu”, and you can
                                                     also “pet stingrays”, “feed the dolphins and
Magic Kingdom                    \\\(
                                 26 27 27 VE
                                                     fish” or have a meal at the fine-dining restaurant
Walt Disney World, 3111 World Dr.
                                                     “next to the shark tank”; in short, after a visit
(Magic Kingdom Dr.), Lake Buena Vista,
                                                     here, you “may want to take up marine biology.”
407-824-4321; www.disneyworld.com
It’s pure “magic” at the crown jewel of Disney’s
30,500-acre empire (which encompasses four
                                                                                                          Courtesy of Discovery Cove

                                                                                                          ATTRACTIONS                                   A F     S C
                                                                                                                                                   N \\ \\
                                 \\\(                                                                     Audubon Center for Birds of Prey            24 22 21 I
                                                                                                          1101 Audubon Way (East Ave.), Maitland, 407-644-0190;

                                                                                                          Disney’s Blizzard Beach                      \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                       26 26 24 VE
                                                                                                          Walt Disney World, 1500 W. Buena Vista Dr. (Osceola Pkwy.),
                                                                                                          Lake Buena Vista, 407-824-4321; www.disneyworld.com

                                                                                                          Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon                      \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                        26 26 25 VE
                                                                                                          Walt Disney World, 1195 E. Buena Vista Dr. (Epcot Center Dr.),
                                                                                                          Lake Buena Vista, 407-824-4321; www.disneyworld.com

                                                                                                          Morse Museum of American Art                N \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                        27 25 23 I
                                                                                                          445 N. Park Ave. (Canton St.), Winter Park, 407-645-5311;

                                                                                                          Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium        \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                        20 19 18 M
                                                                                                          8201 International Dr. (W. Sand Lake Rd.), 407-363-4418;
                                                                                                          Scenic Boat Tour                              \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                         26 18 23 I
                                                                                                          312 E. Morse Blvd. (N. Interlachen Ave.), Winter Park,
                                                                                                          407-644-4056; www.scenicboattours.com

                                                                                                          Wet ‘n Wild                                     \\ \\
                                                                                                                                                          23 21 20 VE
                                                                                                          6200 International Dr. (Universal Blvd.), 407-351-1800;
                                                                                                          800-992-9453; www.wetnwildorlando.com
 Courtesy of Universal Studios

                                                        ZAGATSURVEY             •    www.zagat.com                                                                             8
                                                    ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

A terrific airport and no personal state income tax explains why roughly half
the players on the PGA Tour call Orlando home, but it’s the abundance of
marvelous, accessible championship courses for tourists and purists alike
that cements the city’s reputation as a golf mecca. In a town where residents
Mickey Mouse and Tiger Woods are co-headliners, it’s easy to see how golf
vacations and family vacations mix seamlessly. For a complete course list,
with locations and contact information, go to www.orlandoinfo.com.
                                                                                                                     Courtesy of International Champions Gate

DISNEY                                             in the area for less money”, but the “fantastic        and amusement rides”, this Joe Lee “classic”
                                                   service” and “the volcano cake in the restaurant       with “lots of water” and “lots of history” as a
DAZZLERS                    C   F   S   V      $
                                                   above the pro shop” are two extras that entice         PGA Tour site is “like being in the wild” yet
                                                   players “to go back”; P.S. “watch out for the          becomes “easy to navigate” once you realize
Celebration Golf Club Y \\\\ )
                        22 21 23 19 $145
                                                   peacocks on the 16th.”                                 that “course management is important”; the
701 Golfpark Dr., Celebration; 407-566-4653;                                                              “wonderful crew” “goes out of its way to make
www.celebrationgolf.com; 6772/4949;                                                                       everything perfect” (it’s “well maintained”, with
                                                   Walt Disney World,          \\\\ )
                                                                               24 24 24 22 $169
73.0/68.5; 135/121                                                                                        “beautiful scenery”), so “if you’re at the Disney
Expect “tons of Robert Trent Jones goodness”       Magnolia Y
                                                   1950 W. Magnolia Palm Dr., Lake Buena Vista;           complex”, “by all means give it a go.”
at this “beautifully landscaped” layout that was
designed by both Senior and Junior “within         407-939-4653; www.disneyworldgolf.com;
Disney’s planned community of Celebration”,        7516/5232; 76.4/70.5; 140/123                          TROPHY
“a Rockwell painting of a town” where “every-      “Wonderfully landscaped”, this “top-notch”             COURSES                          C   F    S      V    $
thing is seemingly handled with extra TLC”; it     “getaway from the crowds and the kids” is an
                                                   annual PGA Tour stop that’s “difficult from the
“winds relentlessly through houses” and strikes
                                                   championship tees” (“gators will surely gobble
                                                                                                          Arnold Palmer’s                 \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                          27 25 26 22 $334
some as “nothing memorable”, but it does                                                                  Bay Hill Vo
                                                   your ball up if it’s close to the hazards”) but
boast “numerous water holes” and a “friendly                                                              9000 Bay Hill Blvd.; 407-876-2429;
                                                   manages to be “enjoyable” for all; it’s “perfectly
staff”, so “if you’re in Orlando, play it!”                                                               www.bayhill.com; 7287/5235; 75.3/70.8; 140/128
                                                   run” by the Disney crew, so you can expect
                                                                                                          “A must for any serious golfer”, “Arnie’s ‘home’
                                                   “unsurpassed service” and an “enforced speed
                                                                                                          club” is replete with “great history” on a “classic”,

                                                   of play”; N.B. don’t miss the Mickey Mouse–
                                                                                                          “relatively flat” layout featuring “plush fairways”
                                                   shaped bunker on the par-3 6th.
                                                                                                          and “demanding” hazards, especially on the
                                                                                                          “outstanding last three holes”; you’ll need to
                                                   Walt Disney World,          \\\\ )
                                                                               25 25 25 21 $169
                                                                                                          stay to play, but the “intimate”, “country-club”
                                                   Osprey Ridge Y                                         experience includes “invaluable caddies”,
                                                   3451 Golf View Dr., Lake Buena Vista;                  “excellent facilities”, a “helpful staff” and – if
                                                   407-939-4653; www.disneyworldgolf.com;                 you’re lucky – “a cheery wave from the man
                                                   7101/5402; 74.4/71.3; 131/127                          himself to make the trip worthwhile”; N.B. it
                                                   There’s “nothing Mickey Mouse” about                   hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational.
                                                   “Disney’s most interesting layout”, this Tom
                                                   Fazio “favorite” featuring “surprising elevation       Champions Gate,
                                                   changes” along with “large bunkers”, “huge                                             \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                          22 25 23 20 $170
                                                                                                          International Y
                                                   greens” and “great finishing holes”; if it’s “a bit
                                                                                                          1400 Masters Blvd., Champions Gate;
                                                   pricey for the market”, at least you know “it’s
                                                                                                          407-787-4653; 888-558-9301;
                                                   first-class”, so enjoy the “private country-club
                                                                                                          www.championsgategolf.com; 7363/5618;
                                                   feel”, “excellent service” and “lush wilderness”
                                                                                                          76.8/71.6; 143/118
                                                   vibe (“deer walking on the tee boxes”) – it’s
                                                                                                          “A links-style course in the middle of Florida
                                                   “a nice break from Minnie and friends.”
                                                                                                          may not sound possible, but Greg Norman
                                                   Walt Disney World,          \\\\ )
                                                                               24 24 25 22 $149
                                                                                                         Ratings & Symbols
                                                   Palm Y
                                                   1950 W. Magnolia Palm Dr., Lake Buena Vista;          V= caddies/forecaddies         Y= carts   only
                                                   407-939-4653; www.disneyworldgolf.com;                o= guests only                 T= restricted     tee times
                                                   7010/5311; 73.9/70.4; 138/124
                                                   A “convenient escape” “from the characters            Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 30. Surveyor comments
                                                                                                         are in quotes. Yardage, USGA Ratings and Slope are
 Courtesy of Walt Disney World, Osprey Ridge                                                             listed after each address.

Walt Disney World,         \\\\ )
                           22 23 24 21 $149
                                                                                                         C         F            S         V
                                                                                                         | Course | Facilities | Service \ Value
                                                                                                         |        21
                                                                                                                  |            23
                                                                                                                               |         20
Lake Buena Vista Y
2200 Club Lake Dr., Lake Buena Vista;                                                                     0-9 poor to fair       20-25 very good to excellent
407-939-4653; www.disneyworldgolf.com;                                                                   10-15 fair to good      26-30 extraordinary to perfection
6802/5204; 73.0/69.9; 133/122                                                                            16-19 good to very good N low response/less reliable
This “hidden Disney course” is “a surprisingly
enjoyable”, “immaculately maintained” layout                                                             Cost ($) is the price per non-member or non-guest to
that “runs through two adjacent resorts”, fea-                                                           play 18 holes on a weekend in high-season (exclud-
turing “lots of water and sand” as well as views                                                         ing the extra cost of a cart), i.e. the highest possible
of boats and canals; perhaps “there are better                                                           price of play.
                                                   Courtesy of Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill

                                                      ZAGATSURVEY              •    www.zagat.com                                                                      9
                                                         ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL
                                                        and is part of an “amazing hotel” – after all,        and value”, “it’s no wonder this place hosts the
                                                        “you cannot go wrong with the Ritz.”                  PGA Tour’s Qualifying School”, enticing players
                                                                                                              to travel “a little out of the way” to Winter Garden
                                                        HIDDEN GEMS                  C   F   S   V       $    for what is a “substantial challenge from the back
                                                                                                              tees”; factor in a “staff that couldn’t be nicer” and
                                                        Falcon’s Fire Y                                       “a top-notch practice facility”, and most conclude
                                                                                    \\\\ )
                                                                                    22 21 21 20 $139
                                                                                                              “the twin sisters of Orange County are by far the
                                                        3200 Seralago Blvd., Kissimmee; 407-239-5445;
                                                                                                              best bang for the buck” around – “playing both is
                                                        877-878-3473; www.falconsfire.com;
                                                                                                              hard to beat.”
                                                        6901/5417; 73.8/71.6; 138/126
                                                        “Bring the big stick” to “one of the longer
                                                        courses in Mickey Mouse land”, this “top-notch”       Southern Dunes Y                  \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                                23 18 21 23 $120
                                                        Rees Jones design that will “test” you with           2888 Southern Dunes Blvd., Haines City;
                                                        “sand, sand, sand and a gator or two” plus            863-421-4653; 800-632-6400;
                                                        “always breezy” conditions, so be sure to keep        www.southerndunes.com; 7227/4987;
                                                        it straight to “avoid the mounds”; a few feel it’s    75.7/68.5; 138/118
                                                        “overpriced considering the lack of scenery”,         “Don’t forget your sand wedge” because “there
                                                        but the “good practice facilities” and “helpful       are 188 bunkers ready to gobble up your errant
                                                        staff” make it “worth the price at least once.”       shots” at this “unforgettable monster” that
                                                                                                              “looks very tough but plays fair” thanks to a
                                                                                                              “wonderful layout” from designer Steve Smyers;
 Courtesy of International Champions Gate
                                                                                                              the presence of “too many houses too tight to
comes very close” with this “always windy” Omni                                                               the course” have “taken away much of the
Resort “must-play” that “gives you the feel of a                                                              pleasure”, but the “friendly, helpful” staff adds
British Open” track thanks to “no trees” and “so                                                              to a “don’t-miss experience” that’s “worth the
much sand, you’ll swear you’re playing on the                                                                 short drive” south of Orlando.
beach”; although a few find it “difficult but unin-
spiring”, the “first-class facilities” and “friendly
staff” make it “worth the high price tag.”

Grand Cypress,              \\\\ )
                            25 27 25 20 $250
New VT
1 N. Jacaranda St.; 407-239-4700;
800-835-7377; www.grandcypress.com;
6773/5314; 71.5/69.7; 122/113                           Courtesy of Falcon’s Fire
“Can’t get to Scotland?” – then head to this
“unique Jack Nicklaus tribute to St. Andrews”,

                                                        Mission Inn,                \\\\ )
                                                                                    23 22 22 20 $150
a “perfectly maintained” “‘cover band’ of a
                                                        El Campeón Y
course” that’s “wide-open but very tricky, with
                                                        10400 County Rd. 48, Howey-in-the-Hills;
a burn meandering through” plus “deep pot                                                                     Courtesy of Southern Dunes
                                                        352-324-3101; 800-874-9053;
bunkers, double greens and blind tee shots”;
                                                        www.missioninnresort.com; 7003/5624;
some suggest “the mounds are out of place”
and the “price is high”, but the “superior facilities
                                                        74.2/67.7; 136/120                                   NotableMentions
                                                        “A taste of Old Florida” awaits flatlanders who      GOLF                                  C   F    S    V     $
and attentive personnel” are two more reasons
                                                        frequent this “fabulous” “getaway” for “relaxing
it’s “an absolute must for anyone who loves golf.”
                                                        and enjoying the beauty of this hilly area”
                                                                                                             Black Bear                          \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                  21 18 19 20 $55
                                                                                                             24505 Calusa Blvd., Eustis; 352-357-4732; 800-423-2718;
                                                        northwest of Orlando; an “excellent layout” that     www.orlando-golf.com; 7062/5044; 74.1/69.7; 132/122
Reunion Resort,             \\\\ )
                            23 26 24 21 $165            dates to 1926, it offers “narrow, challenging”,
Independence Yo
                                                                                                             ChampionsGate, National             \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                  22 25 23 20 $160
                                                        “well-maintained” holes “with lots of elevation”,    1400 Masters Blvd., Champions Gate; 407-787-4653; 888-558-9301;
7599 Gathering Dr.; 407-396-3195;                       and many who visit also appreciate the “old          www.championsgategolf.com; 7128/5150; 75.2/69.4; 138/115
888-418-9611; www.reunionresort.com;                    hacienda-style resort” with its “wonderful facili-   DeBary                              \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                   –   –
                                                                                                                                                     $69    – –
7154/5395; 74.7/70.6; 140/119                           ties”, which include a “great restaurant” (don’t     300 Plantation Club Dr., DeBary; 386-668-1705;
A “Tom Watson gem”, this “truly fulfilling expe-                                                             www.debarycc.com; 6776/5060; 72.6/69.4; 140/118
                                                        miss the “amazing seafood buffet”).
rience” encompasses a “fantastic design” set                                                                 Diamondback                         \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                    21 17 19 20 $69
                                                                                                             6501 State Rd. 544 E., Haines City; 863-421-0437; 800-222-5629;
atop “unusual terrain for Florida”, with “varied        Orange County National, \\\\ )
                                                                                26 24 24 25 $140             www.diamondbackgc.net; 6893/4872; 73.1/69.9; 131/119
elevations” and “simply beautiful landscaping”;
                                                        Crooked Cat Y                                        Grand Cypress                       \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                    20 $250
                                                                                                                                                 24 27 25
“you won’t believe how much dirt they moved”
                                                        16301 Phil Ritson Way, Winter Garden;                1 N. Jacaranda St.; 407-239-4700; 800-835-7377;
to build this “linkslike” layout – “those hills
                                                        407-656-2626; 888-727-3672; www.ocngolf.com;         www.grandcypress.com; North/South: 6993/5328;
weren’t there before” – which comes complete                                                                 74.4/71.2; 136/120
                                                        6927/5112; 73.0/70.3; 132/123
with the “excellent facilities and service” and                                                              Marriott Grande Pines               \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                   21 21 23 21 $144
                                                        Regular host of the PGA Tour’s Q-School finals,
“wonderful lodging” you’d expect from an                                                                     6351 International Golf Club Rd.; 407-239-6108;
                                                        this “super course” has “blind shots, mild           www.grandepines.com; 7012/5418; 74.3/71.6; 140/126
“amazing resort with three big-name courses.”
                                                        mounding and some water hazards” but
                                                        remains “playable from the middle tees for
                                                                                                             Mission Inn, Las Colinas            \\\\)
                                                                                                                                            N 19 21 19 19 $125
                                                                                                             10400 County Rd. 48, Howey-in-the-Hills; 352-324-3101;
Ritz-Carlton Orlando,       \\\\ )
                            23 27 26 18 $205            weekend golfers”, with “just the right amount        800-874-9053; www.missioninnresort.com; 7217/5714;
Grande Lakes V                                          of challenge” to make for “a wonderful round”;       75.5/68.1; 139/122
4048 Central Florida Pkwy.; 407-393-4900;               what’s more, an “immense practice range”,            Orange Lake, Legends                \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                 22 19 21 21 $125
www.grandelakes.com; 7122/5223; 73.9/69.8;              “great clubhouse” and “excellent service” com-       8505 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy., Kissimmee; 407-239-1050;
139/115                                                 bine to make it an “amazing value” – and per-        800-887-6522; www.orangelake.com; 7072/5188; 74.3/69.6; 132/120
“When you play on greens that Tiger Woods               haps “one of the best golf havens in the world.”     Remington                           \\\\)
                                                                                                                                             N 21 18 21 25
says are some of the truest he’s ever putted, you                                                            2995 Remington Blvd., Kissimmee; 407-344-4004;
                                                                                                             www.remington-gc.com; 7111/5178; 73.9/69.8; 134/118
know you’re playing a great course” fawn fans of        Orange County National, \\\\ )
                                                                                26 24 24 25 $150
this “well-manicured” Greg Norman design that                                                                Reunion Resort, Legacy              \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                 23 24 23 21 $165
                                                        Panther Lake Y                                       7599 Gathering Dr.; 407-396-3195; 888-418-9611;
may be “flat as a pancake” but makes “good
                                                        16301 Phil Ritson Way, Winter Garden;                www.reunionresort.com; 6916/4802; 73.4/67.0; 137/113
use of water” amid a “beautiful” Orlando land-
                                                        407-656-2626; 888-727-3672;                          Reunion Resort, Tradition           \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                 24 23 22 20 $165
scape; although “the greens fees are very high”,
                                                        www.ocngolf.com; 6849/5173; 72.9/70.9; 127/119       7599 Gathering Dr.; 407-396-3195; 888-418-9611;
it has an “excellent caddie program and facilities”                                                          www.reunionresort.com; 7244/5055; 76.7/69.1; 147/124
                                                        Considering its “fabulous maintenance, design

                                                           ZAGATSURVEY              •    www.zagat.com                                                                         10
                                                        ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

Orlando is a growing town, and that means new hotels keep opening – and others
improve to stay competitive. At Disney and Universal, every hotel from budget to
upscale is fully yet tastefully themed, from bellboy uniforms to guestroom wallpaper.
International Drive hotels, along with a handful in Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee,
cater to business travelers and boast high-tech amenities. The larger business-oriented
properties have built-in conference facilities. Theme park and business hotels tend to
fill during opposite seasons, so look for bargains accordingly.                                                                   Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel

                                                        Disney’s Animal                                        old-fashioned wooden boardwalk with a luxurious
                                                                          \\\\ )
                                                                          24 25 24 27 $335
                                                        Kingdom Lodge cve                                      resort to match”? ask fans of this “festive”
                                                        2901 Osceola Pkwy., Lake Buena Vista;                  Disney “beauty” with the “bustling” atmosphere
                                                        407-938-3000; fax 938-4799; 800-227-1500;              of “turn-of-the-century” Atlantic City; outside is
                                                        www.disneyworld.com; 1274 rooms, 19 suites             the Flying Fish Café, serving “some of the best
                                                        “A more amazing view cannot be found”                  seafood in central Florida”, while inside are
                                                        say fans who “go wild” over the “spectacular”          “wonderfully maintained public areas” and
                                                        vistas (“the animals are right there”) from the        “plush” rooms serviced by an “excellent” staff;
                                                        Savannah rooms at this safari-themed Disney            P.S. if you “want quiet”, ask for one facing the
                                                        spot; the “unique” experience includes two             “serene pools and gardens.”
                                                        “amazing” restaurants, “perfectly conceived”
                                                        decor with “superlative attention to detail, down      Disney’s Contemporary \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                     20 20 20 22 $339
                                                        to animal footprints imbedded in the walkways”,        Resort v*e
                                                        and a lobby that pays “homage to African culture       4600 N. World Dr., Lake Buena Vista;
                                                        and folklore”; better yet, there’s “wonderful kids’    407-824-1000; fax 824-3539; 800-227-1500;
                                                        entertainment” from a staff that “couldn’t be          www.disneyworld.com; 997 rooms, 11 suites
                                                        more gracious”, so even if a few find it “a bit far    The first hotel at Disney World, this “comfort-
                                                        away from the parks”, others contend there’s           able” Jetsons-ish A-frame has an “unbeatable

                                                        “nothing like it anywhere in America.”                 location” (the “monorail goes right through the
                                                                                                               lobby”, so the Magic Kingdom is “just a skip
 Courtesy of Gaylord Palms
                                                        Disney’s Beach                                         away”); while fans say the refurbed rooms,
                                                                                    \\\\ )
                                                                                    22 24 21 27 $475
                                                                                                               “giant” by Mouse standards, have helped the
REVIEWS                       R   S   D   F     C       Club Resort cvn
                                                        1800 Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista;            “Contemporary earn its name yet again”, others
                                                        407-934-8000; fax 934-3850; 800-227-1500;              gripe that it’s all “still a bit tired”; P.S. the
Crowne Plaza Orlando \\\\ )
                        19 19 17 19 $189                                                                       rooftop California Grill “continues to wow” with
                                                        www.disneyworld.com; 527 rooms, 56 suites
International Drive                                     It’s “like the Jersey Shore in Orlando” at the         “excellent” Californian fare and fireworks views.
(fka Crowne Plaza Resort Orlando)                       sister property to Disney’s Yacht Club next door
12120 International Dr.; 407-239-1222;                  with an “incredible” seaside theme and a loca-         Disney’s Fort Wilderness \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                        24 23 21 25 $67
fax 239-1190; 877-239-1222;                             tion “steps away from Epcot and MGM”; the              Resort & Campground kvn
www.crowneplaza.com; 90 rooms, 4 suites                 “fantastic”, three-acre “mini–water park” with         4510 N. Ft. Wilderness Trail, Lake Buena Vista;
This “spotless” hotel “close to Disney and Sea          a sandy bottom is “worth the price alone”,             407-824-2900; fax 824-3508; 800-227-1500;
World” offers “a nice break from the chaos of           although regulars also find “just the right mix        www.disneyworld.com; 784 campsites, 409 cabins
the theme parks”, with a “soothing atmos-               of charm, fantasy and efficiency” to offset the        “One of the best-kept secrets” at Disney, this
phere”, “spacious rooms”, “exceptional”                 “pedestrian” rooms.                                    “campground” offers tents, RV campsites and
employees, an “inviting” pool area and a “cov-                                                                 “well-appointed” cabins with a/c, kitchens and
ered porch with wicker chairs” for a “laid-back”
                                                        Disney’s Board              \\\\ )
                                                                                    24 24 23 25 $475
moment; it’s slightly “off the beaten path” and
the “restaurant leaves a lot to be desired” (plus       Walk Inn cn                                           Ratings & Symbols
there’s “nothing within short walking distance”),       2101 N. Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista;
                                                        407-939-5100; fax 939-5150; 800-227-1500;             c   = children’s programs        v =   views
so it’s best to have a car.                                                                                   e   = exceptional dining         g =   golf courses
                                                        www.disneyworld.com; 357 rooms, 14 suites
                                                        What could be a better combination than “an           h   = historic interest          * =   notable spa facilities
Disney’s All-Star            \\\\ )
                             15 17 15 17 $119                                                                 k   = kitchens                   i =   downhill skiing
Movies Resort                                                                                                 p   = allows pets                n =   tennis
1991 W. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista;
407-939-7000; fax 939-7111; 800-227-1500;                                                                      Surveyor comments are in quotes.
www.disneyworld.com; 1920 rooms
“Delight the children” with a stay at this “cute”
                                                                                                              Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 30.
Disney Value motel in the Animal Kingdom area
that’s “geared for young families” “on a limited                                                              R       S
                                                                                                              | Rooms | Service            D         F
                                                                                                                                           | Dining \ Facilities
budget”; admirers applaud its two “themed                                                                     18      5                    4        22
pools” and the food court’s “wide variety of
                                                                                                              |       |                    |        \
choices”, and advise “don’t forget your cam-                                                                   0-9 poor to fair       20-25 very good to excellent
era” “if you’re a fan of 101 Dalmatians”, Toy                                                                 10-15 fair to good      26-30 extraordinary to perfection
Story and other Disney flicks, since they figure                                                              16-19 good to very good N low response/less reliable
into the decor; still critics give just “one star” to
“nothing fancy” rooms that are “beginning to
                                                                                                              Cost (C) reflects the hotel’s high-season rack rate, i.e. its
show wear” and perennial “long lines at check-in.”                                                            asking price, for a standard double room. It does not
                                                                                                              reflect frequent seasonal price changes and special rates.
                                                        Courtesy of Loews Portofino Bay

                                                           ZAGATSURVEY              •     www.zagat.com                                                                        11
                                                      ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL
patio decks; the “many outdoor activities” include                                                             Nickelodeon Family                \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                                 19 19 16 20 $200
canoeing, hiking, horseback riding and “watching                                                               Suites ck
an outdoor movie while roasting marshmallows                                                                   14500 Continental Gateway; 407-387-5437;
and making s’mores”, but getting to the parks is                                                               fax 351-5727; 800-905-8206;
a hassle if you don’t have a car.                                                                              www.nickhotel.com; 770 suites
                                                                                                               There’s “never a dull moment” at this “clean,
Disney’s Grand Floridian \\\\ )
                         25 25 25 26 $555                                                                      friendly and safe” hotel, where Nickelodeon
Resort & Spa cv*ne                                                                                             cartoon characters “come around” during
4401 Floridian Way, Lake Buena Vista;                                                                          breakfast and kids “have a blast” with such
407-824-3000; fax 824-3186; 800-227-1500;                                                                      amenities as a pool boasting six waterslides,
www.disneyworld.com; 837 rooms, 25 suites                                                                      a miniature golf course and nightly shows;
The “jewel in Disney’s crown”, this “amazing”                                                                  most guests describe the staff as “helpful” and
Victorian-style spot with “breathtaking” views of                                                              appreciate touches like the “themed shower
Cinderella’s Castle across the lagoon is “so                                                                   curtains and soaps” in the “big” rooms, but
close to the Magic Kingdom via monorail” that                                                                  some find dining “quite limited” and the break-
it makes up for the “long walk to it from your                                                                 fast buffet “expensive.”
room”; an “excellent all-around venue” – “from
the character meals to the food” (Victoria &          Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel                         Villas of Grand N                 \\\\ )
                                                                                                                                                 26 24 20 25 $450
Albert’s was voted No. 1 for Food in Orlando) to                                                               Cypress cvgn
the “fabulous” spa and “amazing views of the                                                                   1 N. Jacaranda St.; 407-239-4700;
fireworks” – this “flagship” is “perfect” for         Grand Bohemian        \\\\ )
                                                                             24 23 22 23 $499
                                                      Hotel pv                                                 fax 239-7219; 877-330-7377;
“adults with or without kids.”                                                                                 www.grandcypress.com; 73 suites, 73 villas
                                                      (fka Westin Grand Bohemian)
                                                                                                               Duffers and tot-toters “can’t wait to return” to
Disney’s Pop                                          325 S. Orange Ave.; 407-313-9000; fax 313-9001;
                           \\\\ )
                           18 19 16 19 $119
                                                      888-663-0024; www.grandbohemianhotel.com;
                                                                                                               this “fabulous” “secluded” Lake Buena Vista
Century Resort                                                                                                 “hideaway” with “stellar grounds” and “terrific”
                                                      214 rooms, 36 suites
1050 Century Dr., Lake Buena Vista;                                                                            “individual suites” “conveniently” situated on
                                                      “Right in the center of Downtown” is this “true
407-938-4000; fax 938-4040; 800-227-1500;                                                                      the Jack Nicklaus–designed “Scottish-style golf
                                                      gem” shining with a staff that’s “hip without
www.disneyworld.com; 2880 rooms                                                                                courses” (45 holes worth); the “above-par” staff
                                                      being obnoxious”, “original artwork throughout           “takes care of every little detail”, and with pools
Pop-culture vultures sashay “down memory
                                                      the hotel and in-house gallery” and a “vibrant           with slides and waterfalls available at sister
lane” at this “eye-catching” Animal
                                                      bar” built around a “gorgeous”, rare                     property Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, there’s
Kingdom–area Value resort that’s packed with
                                                      Bösendorfer grand piano whose “music perme-              “so much to do” for families.
“whimsical” “memorabilia” from the past 50
                                                      ates the lobby every evening”; “bordellolike”
years; most find it “spunky”, “economical” and
                                                      rooms are “draped in rich reds and dark
“fun”, with three “huge” “kid-friendly” pools,
                                                      woods”, with “plush bedding”, while dining

“comfortable” if “utilitarian” rooms and an “ade-
                                                      ranges from a “Starbucks in the lobby” to the
quate food court”, but a few curmudgeons
                                                      surf ’n’ turf at Bohème, but since it’s a 20-
complain that this “Disneyfied Motel 6” is “too
                                                      minute ride to Disney, it’s “not recommended
loud and crowded”, at least “if you don’t have
                                                      for families” with kids.

                                                      Hyatt Regency     \\\\ )
                                                                        21 22 20 26 $279
                                                      Grand Cypress cgn
                                                      1 Grand Cypress Blvd.; 407-239-1234;
                                                      fax 239-3800; 800-233-1234;
                                                      www.hyattgrandcypress.com; 750 rooms, 67 suites
                                                      Just “outside the House of the Mouse”, this
                                                      “gargantuan” 1,500-acre resort is a “wonderful
                                                      oasis” with “magnificent grounds”, four “out-
                                                      standing” Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses
                                                      and a “fabulous”, “cavernlike” pool with water-          Courtesy of Nickelodeon Family Suites
                                                      slides and “hidden hot tubs”; even if some find
                                                      the “cramped” rooms in “need of an upgrade”
                                                      (an ongoing refurb may remedy that), most vow
                                                      that it’s “still one of the best”, with a “staff that   HOTELS                               R    S    D    F    C
                                                                                                              Buena Vista Palace,                 20 19 16 21 $279
                                                      can’t do enough for you”; N.B. teetotalers
                                                                                                              Walt Disney World Resort
 Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress              might prefer the affiliated Villas of Grand             1900 N. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista; 407-827-2727;
Gaylord                                               Cypress, which are closer to the links.
                           \\\\ )
                           22 21 20 25 $379                                                                   fax 827-6034; 866-397-6516; www.buenavistapalace.com;
                                                                                                              888 rooms, 124 suites
Palms cv*
6000 W. Osceola Pkwy., Kissimmee;                     Loews Portofino              \\\\ )
                                                                                   24 22 22 25 $344           Disney’s All-Star Music Resort      \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                  15 17 14 17 $119
                                                                                                              1801 W. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista; 407-939-6000;
407-586-0000; fax 586-1999; 866-972-6779;             Bay ckpv*                                               fax 939-7222; 800-227-1500; www.disneyworld.com; 1920 rooms
www.gaylordpalms.com; 1300 rooms, 106 suites          5601 Universal Blvd.; 407-503-1000;
“If you don’t have to stay inside” Disney, it’s       fax 503-1010; 800-232-7827;                                                                 \\\\)
                                                                                                              Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort 19 22 18 22 $185
                                                                                                              1000 W. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista; 407-939-1000;
“the place to be” say devotees of this “humon-        www.loewshotels.com; 705 rooms, 45 suites               fax 939-1001; 800-227-1500; www.disneyworld.com;
gous” Kissimmee mega-property with “every-            Get “transported to Italy” at this “wonderful           1875 rooms, 46 suites
thing for business and pleasure”, including           escape” “in the middle of town”, where the              Disney’s Polynesian Resort          \\\\)
                                                                                                                                                  22 24 22 25 $499
                                                                                                              1600 Seven Seas Dr., Lake Buena Vista; 407-824-2000;
“wonderfully appointed” rooms, a recreation           “stunning re-creation” of a “seaside village”
                                                                                                              fax 824-3174; 800-227-1500; www.disneyworld.com;
park with putting greens and a “relaxing”             comes complete with “singing waiters” at Mama           815 rooms, 32 suites
Canyon Ranch spa; a “cool” 4.5-                       Della’s, a “phenomenal beach pool”, a “great
acre,“greenhouse”-like atrium with “incredible        spa” and “pretty” (but “tiny”) rooms with “super-
                                                                                                              Disney’s Port Orleans
                                                                                                              Resort - Riverside
                                                                                                                                                    22 24 18 24 $185

flowers, plants” and even “live alligators” re-cre-   comfortable” beds; a “convenient” location a            1251 Riverside Dr., Lake Buena Vista; 407-934-6000;
ates Florida habitats, but cold-blooded critics       “10-minute ferry ride from Universal Studios”           fax 934-5777; 800-227-1500; www.disneyworld.com; 2048 rooms
cringe over this “simulated reality” that’s           and “front-of-the-line privileges” for guests have      Marriott Orlando World Center
                                                                                                              Resort & Convention Center
                                                                                                                                                    20 19 18 23 $369
“chock-full of crying children and boozed-up          some fans asking “who needs Disney?”
                                                                                                              8701 World Center Dr.; 407-239-4200; fax 238-8777; 800-228-9290;
conventioneers.”                                                                                              www.marriottworldcenter.com; 1890 rooms, 110 suites

                                                         ZAGATSURVEY               •    www.zagat.com                                                                             12
                               ZAGAT TRAVEL CAPSULE | ORLANDO, FL

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