On a small knoll, in a valley consisting of wetlands, marshes and lakes sits the Orlando Florida Temple. The first temple built in Florida. The gorgeous Classic Modern design highlights the magnificent columns and single spire perfectly. This temple serves many members including those in Florida, Georgia, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, although now that the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple has been built, it gives members in the Caribbean Islands another option. There are many diverse congregations here due to the proximity to the Caribbean Islands and the diversity in southern Florida. The Mormon faith is the minority in this area, even though the Church has grown significantly and is now firmly established.
The Native Americans were the first to arrive here and prospered for many years. It is thought the first missionary visited the area and the Native Americans in the mid 1850's. There was heavy persecution of Mormon missionaries and those that listened to their message in Florida and the south in general during this time. Many people were killed and beaten because of their beliefs and even just for showing interest in the Church or being friendly to missionaries. Because of the significant persecution, missionaries did not return to Florida until the 1890's. Jacksonville is where the Church was first established and the first official organization was in 1895. The Church owns a great deal of land near Orlando, 300,000 acres to be exact, which is now called Deseret Ranches. The land functioned mainly as a cattle ranch for a number of years producing some of the best quality of cattle in Florida. With 237,000 citrus trees, the ranch produces several varieties of oranges. Sod and forestry are also viable operations.
Orlando is no longer full of plantations, cotton fields and orange groves. It's been called the "Theme Park Capital of the World." The mecca of theme parks started when Walt Disney opened Disney World in 1971. There are plenty of theme parks to keep your attention, but when you're ready for a change, visit John F. Kennedy Space Center to see some space history. Florida is known for outdoor activities and with the vast wetlands and marshes, no trip would be complete without an airboat ride at Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. To get up close and personal with alligators, Gatorland delivers. If you need to get out of the sun for a while, the Orlando Science Center has four levels of fun for you to explore. Wycliffe Discovery Center shows you why it's important for religious documents to be translated.
There are no lack of restaurants here. Thousands of food establishments exist from dives to high-end. If you're looking for a unique experience where you can eat with your hands, Nile Ethiopian Restaurant is a place you can get comfortable. To keep your health in check, Season's 52 Fresh Grill will help you out by focusing on healthy, fresh meals and mini-desserts. A good place for breakfast, or any time of the day is Dixie Cream Cafe. You can get breakfast all day long. For some Italian culture go to Bella Tuscany. For a quick, delicious and affordable meal, don't pass on Hot Krust Panini Kitchen.