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The state you're in: From fast-food places to 50 million visitors, the Orlando area by the numbers

Welcome to the Orlando area, home of fairy tale princesses and killer whales, where knights joust at buffet banquets and tourists talk to animated turtles and even the power poles are shaped like giant mouse ears.

Here, believers stroll the Bible-based paths of Holy Land theme park while partiers revel at Pleasure Island; shoppers flock to one of the world's largest outlet malls and time-share owners come from all around the world.

There is a wand shop, a tavern, even a castle here, for the fictitious wizard boy who lived. And camera crews and newscasters and protesters for the real girl who didn't.

As the nation began watching Casey Anthony's murder trial, viewers might have seen the Orlando area as the land of happy endings.

But scan a few superlative lists, and you'll see the city in the center of the Sunshine State is so much more.

• Last year, the city drew a record-breaking 51.45 million visitors, up 10.5 percent from 46.6 million in 2009. Orlando is the first destination in the country to welcome more than 50 million visitors.

• Orlando is the country's fourth most popular city, based on where people want to live, according to Pew Research Center.

• Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, now the second largest university in the country.

• Orlando has the most fast-food restaurants per resident, the Daily Beast reported in August 2010: a total of 463. That's 196.3 restaurants for every 100,000 people.

• About 1,200 minors run away to Orlando every year, according to the Orlando Police Department.

• In March, Orlando was ranked by, a legal and medical website, as the nation's most dangerous spring break destination.

• "Orlando, Florida is the No. 2 destination for human trafficking and nearly 20,000 per year are entered into trafficking," said the Coalition Against Human Trafficking in 2007.

• In January, ranked Orlando as one of the top 10 "coolest cities," three places above Miami.

Lane DeGregory, Times staff writer, and Caryn Baird, Times news researcher

The state you're in: From fast-food places to 50 million visitors, the Orlando area by the numbers 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 1:34pm]
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