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Offering a myriad of dining, shopping, and recreational attractions, Orlando is much more than Disney and draws visitors from around the world.
Courtesy of Thinkstock


Published 3/1/2016
Lawrence S. Halperin, MD

Welcome to Orlando—The City Beautiful

Welcome to the 2016 AAOS annual meeting, and welcome to my home, Orlando. Our meeting promises to educate, inform, and entertain. An estimated 30,000 attendees and exhibitors will soak up the Florida sun and take advantage of an array of educational programs. These include 32 symposia, 923 papers, 576 posters, and 244 Instructional Course Lectures—along with a number of intriguing new learning formats that will provide a number of appealing choices for every general orthopaedic surgeon and subspecialist. Case Presentation Courses provide an excellent format for discussion and learning. The free Career Development Sessions will benefit all who would like to further refine or develop their presentation, research, education, teaching, Maintenance of Certification, and marketing skills.

New in 2016 are three high-impact educational offerings fashioned to recharge your perspective:

  • Flash Five: What's Coming Down the Pike will deliver five-minute bursts of knowledge. In fast and focused sessions, Flash Five thought leaders take on hot topics and drill down to the most critical points and takeaways.
  • In Show-Down Debates, four recognized expert surgeons demonstrate their personal points of view in an unrehearsed session. You will vote to declare the winner via an Audience Response System.
  • The Way I See It sessions will have no podiums, but plenty of passion. Learn the "whys" behind what the experts do. Benefit from the inside story. Learn what each presenter wants you to know about a top-of-mind issue such as Healthcare, Marketing Yourself, Team Physicians and the Challenges of Sports Medicine, and Orthopaedists Changing the Game.

The redesigned Annual Meeting app will make it easy to navigate the facilities, plan a schedule, and message your colleagues. Informative meeting content information and maps of the facilities will be available at a touch of your screen. Once enrolled in an Instructional Course Lecture, you will automatically find it in the app's scheduling feature. Those with a competitive spirit can play an in-app game called "My Academy Challenge." Points earned in the competition are used to enter tiered drawings whose awards can be used toward AAOS books, journals, or videos. Those with higher point totals will draw for more valuable prizes.

We welcome more than 700 technical exhibitors. Spend time in the exhibit hall to see what is new in orthopaedics, and what has stood the test of time (see "Don't Miss the Technical Exhibits.").

Disney, and so much moreOrlando has grown and changed since the last AAOS visit in 2000. Our newest attraction may catch your eye while you approach the convention center. The Orlando Eye is a 400-foot tall observation wheel offering breathtaking views of Central Florida. On a clear day, the Kennedy Space Center is visible from its apex.

Our city is perhaps best known for family fun and theme parks. The four Disney parks, along with Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and SeaWorld, entertain countless visitors. After the rides, children will enjoy time at the Orlando Science Center in Loch Haven Park, or a visit to Gator Land.

Central Florida is so much more than just theme parks. There are many choices for those who consider shopping a leisure activity. The Pointe Orlando and I-Drive 360 are retail, dining, and entertainment complexes within walking distance of the convention district. The upscale Mall at Millenia is just a short ride from the Convention Center and is anchored by Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's. Bargain shoppers should head a bit north on International Drive to the Orlando Premium Outlet Mall to find locals and tourists from around the world looking for the best deal. Foreign languages are spoken in every corner of the Outlet Mall. It is an international experience with an Orlando address.

Winter Park is about a 20-minute drive away. The quaint downtown is filled with upscale shops and tempting restaurants that include Cask and Larder, Ravenous Pig, Luma, Boca, and Scratch, a local hidden gem. Consider taking the Scenic Boat Tour on 18-passenger pontoon boats to explore the Winter Park Chain of Lakes and its magnificent homes and wildlife. Be sure to stop at the Morse Museum of American Art, home to the world's largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany's work, including Tiffany jewelry, pottery, glass, and lamps. Art enthusiasts should also spend time at the Orlando Museum of Art, with current exhibits that include the symbolism, artistic techniques, and styles of ancient peoples of the Americas.

Central Florida has a flourishing food and celebrity chef dining scene. Recently Orlando was placed in the "Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World, 2015" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The New York Times listed Orlando as one of the "52 Places to Go in 2015." Orlando has a total of 52 four- to five-star Yelp ratings, 46 Zagat "very good" to "extraordinary" ratings, and 11 four- to five-diamond restaurants. Celebrity chefs including Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, Norman Van Aken, and Roy Yamaguchi have a local presence. You will discover more than 75 restaurants, bars, and attractions within walking distance of the convention hotels. Disney's Victoria & Albert's is in the "Top 10 Travelers' Choice Restaurants in the U.S." according to TripAdvisor.

In the Rosen Plaza Hotel across from the convention center you will find an interesting spot: Jack's Place. Jack Rosen drew caricatures of many famous people from his day, and they line the restaurant's walls. All are signed by his subjects, including Picasso, JFK, FDR, Stalin, Einstein, and dozens more. A short cab or car ride will take you to Restaurant Row on Sand Lake Road. Cedars (Middle Eastern), Ocean Prime, Roy's, and Christini's are among my favorites.

Downtown Orlando's brand new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will feature Josh Groban on March 2. You can be entertained any night of the meeting by Cirque Du Soleil—La Nouba at Downtown Disney, or Blue Man Group at Universal City Walk.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy their time in Central Florida. Golf courses abound; tee times are easily available through your hotel concierge. The NBA's Orlando Magic take on the Chicago Bulls on March 2, and the Phoenix Suns on March 4, at downtown Orlando's Amway Center. Hockey fans can take a 90-minute drive to Tampa and see the Carolina Hurricanes play the hometown Lightning on March 5.

Baseball fans will enjoy seeing aspiring rookies and rejuvenating veterans in Florida's Spring Training Grapefruit League. The Braves will play at Disney's Wide World of Sports on March 1, 3, and 5. The Astros will be playing in Kissimmee on March 4, 5, and 6. It is less than a 1-hour drive to see the Tigers in Lakeland on March 1, 4, or 6; less than 2 hours to see the Yankees in Tampa on March 2, 3, or 5; and about 2.5 hours to see the Mets in Port St. Lucie on March 4 or 6.

Beyond Orlando there are many options for those with time to extend their trip. Quaint resorts are found on the Gulf of Mexico at Long Boat Key. The rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean are about a 90-minute drive away in Daytona or Cocoa beaches. NASCAR fans will enjoy visiting the Daytona International Speedway, home of the Daytona 500. The renowned Ron-Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach is open 24 hours a day. Charter fishing is available on both Florida coasts.

Tampa houses the beautiful Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens. The Kennedy Space Center is about an hour away in Cape Canaveral. A 3.5-hour drive will put you in the middle of the excitement of South Beach in Miami. A little known pearl on the Gulf Coast near Tampa is Tarpon Springs. It is home to the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the country. There you will find a Greek fishing community along with some of the best Greek food I have ever tasted.

Enjoy the 2016 AAOS Annual Meeting. I hope you will enhance your knowledge and skills while rekindling friendships. Be sure to take advantage of the recreational and culinary delights available in my town. I am lucky to have them at my fingertips year round.

Lawrence S. Halperin, MD, practices hand surgery at the Orlando Orthopaedic Center and is the incoming chair of the AAOS Board of Councilors.

For the Curious: I-Drive
Some of the most intriguing Orlando experiences are to be found on International Drive (I-Drive), including these attractions:

  • Titanic—The Artifact Exhibition
  • CSI: The Experience
  • Skeletons: Animals Unveiled
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not
  • IFly Orlando (indoor skydiving)
  • World of Chocolate Museum & Café
  • America's Escape Game