Three blocks from the heart of Downtown Orlando is Lake Eola Park and fountain. It is a favorite of locals for strolling, jogging, step aerobics or simply relaxing. There also is a small kid’s play area which attracts a steady stream of families throughout the day.
Stately oaks and cypress shade much of the park, with several colorful flowerbeds scattered around the lake perimeter. Ducks and swans circle the shoreline looking for handouts as white ibis and herons stalk the shallows for fish. You are welcome to feed the swans and ducks.
Lake Eola Park’s landmark flying-saucer style fountain was built in 1957. It is not in the lake center, where there is an 80-foot deep sinkhole. As Downtown Orlando’s most recognized symbol, the fountain is considered the “official” icon of the City of Orlando. It was initially called the Centennial Foundation on the 100th anniversary of the naming of Orlando. Today, it is simply the Lake Eola Fountain.
The fountain was hit by lightning in August, 2009 and reopened in 2011, looking exactly like the one it replaced. See it at night on this YouTube video ?. The fountain puts on quite a light show accompanied by music. The 6-minute performances are infrequent, held around 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. only.
Large swan-shaped paddle boats are another long-time feature at Lake Eola. The boats are for rental at the boat dock by the Relax Grill. They are available from 10 a.m. with closing hours varying according to the day of the week. The swan boats can hold up to 5 and are rented by the half-hour. They take a bit of effort to move around and a half hour is enough for many people.
A Farmer’s Market is held at the park’s south corner every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring not only fresh produce, pottery and other crafts but live music and a wine and beer garden. For leashed animals, it also is dog friendly
Although largely obscured by trees, Lake Eola Park has a distinctive Asian motif. A red pagoda on one shore sits opposite a giant stone monument on the other. The sculpted rock was a gift of friendship from a city on Taiwan.
The colorful band shell Walt Disney Amphitheater hosts plays and concerts in warm weather. Although it is not evident, the amphitheater also houses dressing rooms and a storage room. The amphitheater well deserves the Disney name since Walt Disney World designed and helped finance the band shell. See all the upcoming events in the amphitheater and at Lake Eola Park.
Every July 4th, a fireworks show takes place at Lake Eola Park. That event is not a Disney project.