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“A really nice museum devoted to local history”

The Orange County Regional History Center
Ranked #83 of 459 things to do in Orlando
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Orange County Regional History Center, housed in a restored historic 1927 courthouse in downtown Orlando, showcases the vast collections of the Historical Society of Central Florida. Three floors of permanent exhibits showcase 12,000 years of Florida history. The museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and AAM accredited museum, also presents nationally important limited-run exhibitions.
Reviewed 25 January 2018

We were really pleased with this museum, housed in the old Orange County courthouse. Central Florida feels as though it has no history or culture, so the first task of a museum such as this one is to convince us that there is history worth studying. With the building and decor, I was disposed to learn about the roots of an area that seems not to have roots if you cruise I-Drive or OBT.

Displays about native peoples and the Seminole Wars, and the Florida "crackers" were helpful to this transplant. There was a "here" here before the mouse came along and transformed the area. And there was tourism before 1971 as well. Orlando's first phase as a real city came alongside the development of Apopka, Sanford, and Kissimmee as steamboats and railroads took cattle and citrus from and brought tourists to the area.

Aviation brought the next phase in Orlando's urban development, even before Kennedy Space Center. The role of several bases in the area during WWII brought the Martin Company, later Martin Marietta and today Lockheed Martin, to the area. Eventually the importance of aerospace to the area led to the founding of what is today called the University of Central Florida.

The opening of Disney World in 1971 began the transformation of the area to the theme park capital of the world. But even then, the area continues to change and search for a permanent identity. The dramatic expansion of UCF in the 1990s has happened alongside a diversification in the economy of the area that is still in motion.

I did not know most of this when we first visited the museum. I learned a lot. The displays are well-designed, everything was working when we were there, and the displays caught the right balance between too much information and not enough.

My only complaint, worth half a star if that were possible, is the small gift shop. I wanted to find more resources to learn more.

1  Thank mdiv2001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"central florida"
in 18 reviews
"special exhibit"
in 5 reviews
"pre disney"
in 4 reviews
"traveling exhibits"
in 4 reviews
"nice museum"
in 4 reviews
"space program"
in 4 reviews
"court room"
in 3 reviews
"permanent exhibits"
in 2 reviews
"museum offers"
in 2 reviews
"native americans"
in 2 reviews
"bring a jacket"
in 2 reviews
"school groups"
in 2 reviews
"three hours"
in 4 reviews
"orlando area"
in 5 reviews
"gift shop"
in 5 reviews
"parking garage"
in 3 reviews
"disney world"
in 7 reviews
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11 - 15 of 141 reviews

Reviewed 20 October 2017

If you want a nice, quiet change from the usual Orlando attractions, this is for you.
The museum is a quite informative look at the area history. From the prehistoric to the current all is represented.
I liked the courtroom exhibit and was especially impressed with the displays from the 40s to 80s. Coming from Wisconsin, I remember some of the early attractions (pre-Disney) of the area being advertised on TV. The displays brought back some fine memories.
the only drawback was that some of the displays were not fully explained. For example there was mention of a cattle stampeded that forced a large herd into the swamp and to their demise. I wanted to more about why, because this was a strange experience in the area.
overall a most enjoyable 2-3 hours can be spent here. Be prepared for school groups during the school season

3  Thank Matt S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 October 2017

This is a great place to visit if you have children and want to have a more educational outing rather than hitting the theme parks. The museum can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending how much reading you want to do. It gives a great history of how Florida and Orange county came to be from the beginning the time. We learned a lot about how the different neighborhoods are formed and how some of the streets get their name from. Great stories behind many of the areas before they became Disney and residential area. It's a surprised that we no longer have commercial orange farms here. There is also a special section about Disney of course.
Tip 1: every day there is a museum in September where you get to go to a museum for free so we picked this one this year. Regular entry fee is about $8, not expensive at all.
Tip 2: there is no parking in the building, we parked on the street which is $1 per hour, also very affordable.
Tip 3: to make it a whole day outing, you can consider visiting the downtown library as well, which is very close. The library has a garage where you can park as well. The downtown library has excellent resources.
Tip 4: take a walk around the lake after your visit, beautiful scenery.

3  Thank Mei W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2017 via mobile

Our family loves this little museum, which is often nearly empty. They also offer history-themed, inexpensive birthday parties that aren't advertised on their website. Definitely worth checking out if you have children in the 5 to 10 year old range.
My kids have learned about the history of Disney, the citrus industry, transportation and native peoples here. The staff is very friendly and accommodating. I would have given it five stars but the permanent exhibits aren't dynamic, so it's not as well-suited to repeat visits as some attractions are. Don't believe the grumpy review. We have had annual passes for several years and this place is great.

Thank Lauren R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 17 August 2017

I have visited the Orange County Regional History Center a couple of times. The museum offers both permanent and traveling exhibits, which means that there is always something to see. The permanent exhibits focuses on the region's history, as well as Florida to an extent, from when the Native Americans inhabited the area through today. The exhibits are located throughout floors 1-4.

The museum is located in an old courthouse. You are able to visit a room of one of the preserved courtrooms. One of the famous cases tried in this courthouse was the murder trial of Ted Bundy. You can see his name etched on the side of the table he sat at during his trial. When you first walk up to the museum outside a set of sculptures of an alligator wrangler and several alligators greet you.

Some of the permanent exhibits discuss topics you expect to find, although there are plenty of facts that you learn that you never expected to find about those topics. With Walt Disney World being the economic driver for tourism in the area, it would be disappointing not to find an exhibit here. What I didn't know was how Walt Disney secretly bought the land and kept his plans from the public. In addition to tourism, exhibits about citrus and cattle explain how these two markets drove the economic and agricultural success of Central Florida.

The museum also does not skirt from the inglorious past that also defined Florida. There are sections that discuss the Seminole War, slavery, the American Civil War, segregation and the Klu Klux Klan and associated actions by the group against minorities. I found that these sections provided a good teaching point, especially in today's environment.

The museum is affordable with the highest priced ticket only being $8. Parking can be found in the nearby library parking garage for a fee. The museum is open everyday, with the hours Monday through Saturday being 1000-1700, and Sundays from 1200-1700. The museum also has a gift shop and research center. I would recommend visiting the museum when in Orlando. It is beneficial for both adults and children.

1  Thank wbullseye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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