1st: Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, orlandofringe.org
The Orlando Fringe faced numerous challenges in 2022, from being forced to cancel January's in-person Winter Mini-Fest in the face of COVID's resurgence to the departure of several longtime staff members (most recently, producing artistic director Lindsay Taylor). Through it all, they not only brought their signature spring event — including the all-important international artists — back at nearly pre-pandemic strength, but also took possession of Mad Cow's former theater spaces downtown on Church Street, where they'll begin hosting local and touring performers next year. It looks like the Orlando Fringe has finally grown too big to be constrained to a couple of weeks in May.
2nd: Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, wpsaf.org
3rd: Epcot international Food and Wine Festival, disneyworld.disney.go.com
Local Legend: Buddy Dyer
The seemingly ageless Dyer has been Orlando's mayor for what must now be 100 years ... we've just been informed it's more like 20 years; still an impressive feat! The easygoing Dyer has been carrying the weight of Orlando on his shoulders for all that time, with smile intact and his superpower of the golden thumbs-up at the ready.
1st: The Yard at Ivanhoe, theyardivanhoe.com
2nd: Horizon West, horizonwestmagazine.com
3rd: Park Place Apartments, parkplacemaguire.com
1st: Grand Bohemian Hotel, kesslercollection.com/bohemian-orlando
2nd: The Alfond Inn at Rollins College, thealfondinn.com
3rd: The Wellborn, thewellbornorlando.com
1st: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, disneyworld.disney.go.com
Disney's deluxe on-site resort hotels have developed a reputation of late for providing Holiday Inn service at Four Seasons prices, but Animal Kingdom Lodge still offers something no mere motel can hope to match: a savanna full of exotic animals grazing right outside your balcony. Combine the live critters and authentic African-inspired architecture with the bountiful Boma buffet and award-winning Jiko restaurant, and the Lodge leaves staycation guests little reason to leave the hotel for its nearby namesake theme park.
2nd: Rosen Shingle Creek, rosenshinglecreek.com
3rd: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, grandelakes.com
1st: Cornerstone Charter Academy, cornerstonecharter.com
2nd: Choices In Learning Elementary Charter School, choicesinlearning.org
3rd (tie): Legends Academy, legendsacademy.org
3rd (tie): Osceola Science Charter School, osceolascience.org
1st: Primrose School of Lake Nona, primroseschools.com
2nd: Primrose School of Avalon Park, primroseschools.com
3rd: The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando, orlandojcc.org
1st: Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, drphillipscenter.org
As the city's most state-of-the-art beacon of performance, this one was a natural choice. The Dr. Phil was already the diamond of downtown before this year. But now that the long-awaited acoustical wonder of Steinmetz Hall is finally open, the center is now a trifecta of first-rate performance spaces.
2nd: Will's Pub, willspub.org
3rd (tie): Amway Center, amwaycenter.com
3rd (tie): House of Blues, houseofblues.com/orlando
1st: Sanford, sanfordfl.gov
Looks like the secret's out! The people have spoken — logic be damned — and the word on the street is that Sanford's the place to be. A mere stone's throw from Metro Orlando up I-4, Sanford offers myriad eateries, drinkeries, live entertainment of all types and block parties to spare, along with a friendly neighborhood feel when you're out and about. And it's even (a hair) more affordable to live there than Orlando. Well, not for long with this much buzz.
2nd: Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, scenicboattours.com
3rd: Harry P. Leu Gardens, leugardens.org