The Serious Art of Make-Belief exhibit at Orange County Regional History Center

One of the most fascinating gems in the Orlando area is the Orange County Regional History Center. It’s home to many exhibits about the history of Central Florida before and after the Disney. Many people would never think of  visiting a museum on their vacations to Orlando, but this is for sure a must visit attraction.

Located in Downtown Orlando, the Orange County Regional History Center is easy to overlook considering you have Disney, Universal, Seaworld and countless other million dollar attractions down the highway. In this former County Courthouse, there are various exhibits showcasing the history of Central Florida. Key highlights include:

Destination Florida: Tourism Before Disney

Cypress Gardens waterskiers

Believe it or not, Central Florida was a tourist draw long before Walt Disney World existed. From Cypress Gardens to Gatorland, this exhibit showcases the tourist industry before the Mouse dropped in.

Disney: The Day We Changed

The effect of Disney on Central Florida...good and bad

The great part of this exhibit is it showcases the harsh reality of Disney building a vacation destination here in Orlando. The good: tons of tourist money, new attractions and revitalization projects. The bad: many attractions closing, increased traffic and people moving to the state. It’s nice to see a balanced view from both sides of how they Walt Disney Company changed this beautiful state.

First Peoples

Nick meets the natives

Showcasing the original settlers in Central Florida, and the history behind them that most people don’t really know about.

Citrus, Cattle and Pioneer

Just picking some big deal!

Everyone knows that Florida is famous for oranges, but do you know the history behind them? Also, learn about the massive cattle industry started by the Pioneers and Crackers. Who know Florida was such a big cattle state?

Road to Modern Orlando

Orlando is a big place!

Learning about the growing pains of a sleepy bedroom community into the major metropolis it has become today. The evolution and construction that has taken place over time, as well as the impact of modern society on the environment.

The Serious Art of Make-Belief

What we came here for 🙂

The main highlight of this trip was “The Serious Art of Make-Belief: From the archives of Universal Orlando.” It details the different phases from concept to creation of Universal Orlando special events, theme parks and attractions. You get to view a lot of unseen concept art and sketches that showcase the talents of the many people involved in making these fantastical concepts a reality. The exhibit runs until April 29, 2012 and I definitely recommend visiting this museum for this showcase alone. While the exhibit is small, it’s a must for anyone interested in themed entertainment design and packs a lot of great information and inspiration in the small space it occupies.

Make sure to visit their website for details on current and future exhibitions.


Check out the rest of our pictures in the gallery below:

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