Kissimmee – strongly associated with Disney’s entry in Orlando.
Previously a very popular gathering place for fun at night, as well as famous for its many hotels and other lodging options.
Nowadays however still affected by the US financial crisis (a decade ago). But fortunately we see small signs of recovery.

Kissimmee
©FLICKR

The city of Kissimmee is a rather big suburb of Orlando. The place started as a hub for steamers before they were rendered obsolete by rail lines. The region has always been associated with agriculture, a combination of orange groves and livestock.

The big change came with Disney 1971. Kissimmee was strategically perfect, just west of the Magic Kingdom. Lots of hotels were built along US 192 (W Irlo Branson Memorial Highway), which runs from east to west through the municipality to the Disney area.

Guests arriving, especially from the south, just had to exit the Florida Turnpike (the toll road connecting Homestead to Wildwood) and they were at their hotel.

We stayed here on our very first visit to Magic Kingdom (1975) and in the mid 90’s had a lot of fun at attractions in Kissimmee Old Town. Nostalgic memories.

When things go downhill in United States of America it happens fast. The result, in this case, was no beautiful sight:

  • Attractions we used to love disappeared.
  • Hotel managers were so desperate they announced prices around $ 25/night.
  • Criminals, prostitutes and drug dealers took over the area.

All of the above while Disney Springs and International Drive managed to go in the other direction.

READ MORE: Best budget hotels in Orlando

Attractions coming back to Old Town Kissimmee

Today we notice attractions coming back to Old Town, we believe one can find nice hotels in the area (but how to know if the guests at the neighboring hotel are not crooks?) and the authorities have started to deal with the criminality.

Fun Spot America, a company also operating on International Drive, seems to make an effort to bring back to the old atmosphere, a mix of attractions for kids and more advanced thrill rides.

Still, Kissimmee has a long way to go to its former glory. Question is if they will ever make it.

What, on the other hand, survived the crisis is The Classic Car shows on Saturdays. This nice tradition is strongly associated with Old Town.

PETER SUNESON

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All content on this page and other parts of FloridaUSAguide is based on information from the Scandinavian online publication Florida.nu, established in Clearwater Beach, Florida, 2006.

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