A Guide to Orlando, FL, the ASP.NET Connections Spring 2005 Site

Published 31 January 05 11:50 AM | Scott Mitchell

As I blogged about earlier, I'll be speaking at this year's ASP.NET Connections conference in March 2005. This year's conference is located in Orlando, Florida at the Grand Cypress Hyatt Hotel. Last year, when TechEd was in San Diego (where I live), I blogged about things to do in San Diego: sights to see, restaurants, tourist attractions, and so on. About a week ago regular ScottOnWriting.NET reader Mark pinged me, mentioning he was from Orlando. I asked him to provide a similar writeup for those of us trekking to Orlando for the conference in March, and he was kind enough to oblige... Here's the 411 from Orlando, in Mark's words...

The ASP.NET Connections conference is being hosted in southwest Orlando, where I've been living for the last seven years. Orlando is a rapidly growing and beautiful city famous for its theme parks, but there is more to it than just the theme parks. The weather is usually sunny and pleasant for about 7 to 8 months out of the year, but from the end of May to the beginning of October is the hot and humid thunderstorm (and more recently hurricane) season. The weather is moderate during the end of March, it's usually in the upper 70s for daytime highs and mid 50s for nighttime lows; however, Florida is prone to one last cold front in March that can sometimes drop lows into the 30s, so check your forecast before you pack.

If you'll be attending the conference, you'll no doubt enjoy being in Lake Buena Vista which is right next to Disney World and is bustling with daytime and night time activity. There are a few sites to check out in Lake Buena Vista within walking distance:

  • The Grand Cypress Hotel - This is the location of the conference; make sure to at least check out the maze of pools and the waterslide.
  • Orlando Ale House - If you have a chance on the Sunday before or Thursday after, walk right out of the entrance of the hotel to this big sports bar with great beer prices. It's a lively place when college basketball's March Madness is underway.
  • Dowtown Disney - Check out the website for all the info. Personally, I like Universal City Walk much better as I describe in the next section; however if you are bringing kids I think they will enjoy it here better. If you have the money, check out the La Nouba show. I would skip paying for Pleasure Island and just enjoy the free places (longer walk).
  • Bahama Breeze - A casual caribbean themed restaurant with excellent food and a huge outdoor balcony to enjoy the drinks, weather, friends and the calypso music (longer walk).

And these attractions are all within walking distance of the hotel where ASP.NET Connections is being hosted! If you are a little more adventurous, you can catch a cab or take your rental car and visit:

  • Theme Parks - OK, I might as well get these out of the way. Disney, Seaworld and Universal are all very close to the Grand Cypress Hotel. If you are going with just adults that like rides, check out Islands of Adventure at Universal and then enjoy an evening at City Walk which you will walk through to get to the park.
  • Restaurant Row - If you are serious about food, this is the place to come. My favorite is Seasons 52 followed by Bonefish Grill, but this whole area has a number of medium to high end restaurants and it is hard to go wrong with any of them. Get there by 6 PM to avoid long waits. Note: Seasons 52 has open seating at the bar tables (About 5 miles from the hotel).
  • Bay Hill Invitational - The last day of the tournament is on the 20th, so for those of you who get in town early and love golf, it's a fun place to spend the day and watch the best players in the world compete (About 5 miles from the hotel).
  • Tibet-Butler Preserve - For you nature lovers out there, this park has trails where you can observe a number of Florida critters including bald eagles in their natural state on a beautiful chain of lakes (About 5 miles from the hotel).
  • Disney's Fantasia Mini Golf (unofficial link that describes it best) - Most of the holes have sand traps and many require 2 shots just to have a chance at the hole. Just keeping the ball on the course is a huge challenge for a non golfer like me (About 3 miles from the hotel).

Please see my map for the locations of the above mentioned sites and a few more.

Orlando should keep you plenty entertained - I hope you enjoy your stay here!

Thanks for the info on Orlando, Mark. Hope to see you all at the ASP.NET Connections conference this year.


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