Encompassing a broad and fertile expanse between the east and west coasts, most of Central Florida was farming and ranching country when vacation-mania first hit the state’s coastal strips. From the 1970s on, this tranquil picture was shattered: no section of the state has been affected more dramatically by modern tourism. A clutter of highway interchanges, motels and billboards now arch around the sprawling city of ORLANDO, which welcomes more visitors than any other place in the state. The reason, of course, is Walt Disney World, the biggest and cleverest theme-park complex ever created, along with Universal Orlando and a host of other attractions, though the downtown area still holds the city’s best nightlife.

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