Orlando is known world-wide for it’s amazingly fun attractions, but there is so much more to see and do in Orlando than just theme parks.  Lake Eola Park, located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, is not only a beautiful park and tranquil spot in the midst of a bustling city, it has some interesting history too.

7 Facts You May Not Know About Lake Eola

The lake, and land surrounding it, was originally donated to the city by a wealthy local family.  The deal was struck on the proviso that Orlando would continue to improve the land and keep it beautiful, or the family would take the land back!  The City has, of course, kept it’s end of the bargain by not only keeping the park in good shape, but updating the amenities and beautifying it in the years since 1888 when it was first declared a public park.

Who Was Eola?

No one knows!

The story, that one of Jacob Summerlin’s sons had a fiancée named Eola, who died of typhoid two weeks before their wedding, is hotly contested.  A later theory is that Eola was merely a girl that he and his brother knew.  However, nothing has been verified entirely.

The Swans Have Their Own Medical Records

Swans were originally introduced to Lake Eola in 1922.  An Englishman raising swans on Lake Lucerne needed to separate his two breeds of swans because they were fighting, so one ballet¹ of swans was removed to Lake Eola.  These days there are many species of swans including:- Trumpeter, Black Neck, Whooper, Royal Mute and Australian Black.

Each year the swans are checked to ensure they are healthy.  All the swans are rounded up, examined by a vet and given a vaccination for Botulism.  Every swan is microchipped which allows the City to keep track of them, in case of removal from the lake, plus the chip contains their medical details.

image of mute swan and cygnets

Watch Out!  It’s A Sinkhole

In 1873, when Jacob Summerlin, a successful cattle baron, purchased the land on which Lake Eola Park now sits, he discovered a sinkhole on the edge of his property.  This was caused by a natural aquifer which was hidden 200 feet underground.  A combination of rainfall from above and the aquifer’s water filling from below caused the sinkhole to transform into a beautiful lake.  It became a very popular spot for the local settlers to relax on during hot, summer days.  It was originally called Sandy Beach and was renamed Lake Eola after it’s donation to the City.

The First Fountain Was Installed in 1912

Image of the fountain and swan boat at lake eola
The first fountain to be installed on Lake Eola was in 1912 and cost $10,000.  It’s natural beauty led to it becoming famous as a picture postcard spot, with visitors sending cards home to friends and family.  As the years went by and the fountain aged, it was replaced in the late 1950’s with the “Centennial Fountain”.  This cost $350,000.  This fountain is now named the Linton E Allen Memorial Fountain.

The Centennial Fountain was a focal point for over fifty years before being struck by lightning in 2009.  By this time it had become such a beloved feature and iconic Orlando landmark, that the City invested $2 million to repair and update the fountain.  Now, it’s tumbling water, spraying jets and nightly LED light shows set to music, bring people from far and wide.

The Centerpiece of the Japanese Rock Garden Was Originally for Walt Disney World

In 1983, a large piece of black marble originating from the mountains of Hua-Lien, was sent to Orlando from Tainan, Taiwan as a token of friendship.  Their request was that the rock be placed permanently “in your great Walt Disney World”.  However, Disney is not in the city of Orlando, so officials at Disney respectfully declined.  This left Orlando wondering what to do with the stone.  It was dubbed as “the Mayor’s pet rock” whilst it waited in storage for a permanent home.

The Japanese Rock Garden was created in 1988 as part of the park’s renovation and the 10,000 year old rock finally found it’s permanent home.

A Gift From Shanghai

A Chinese-American scientist, Dr Nelson Ying, dedicated the Ting pavilion to the City of Orlando in 1987.  It was a symbol of friendship with Orlando’s twin city of Guilin.  When developing the twin-city relationship, Dr Ying worked closely with Mayor Bill Frederick and they went on a three week trip to China to discuss the conditions of the twinning.  The gift of ‘The Ting’ was intended for future mayors to entertain dignitaries and furthermore beautify the park.
Image of The Ting Lake Eola

If you’re planning to visit the park, there is more to do than meets the eye.  As well as enjoying the playground, fountains, art or a paddle on the lake in a famous swan boat, there are many organised events to enjoy.  The Sunday Farmers Market (10am-3pm), summer movies, concerts at the Walt Disney Amphitheater, Fiesta in the Park, Fourth of July fireworks and many other scheduled events.
When you visit Orlando, be sure to take a few moments to visit Lake Eola park.  Orlando’s most beautiful, natural gem.   Take a look at our widely differing rental villas.  Whether you want a condo or a 9 bedroom family home, we have something to suit everyone. If you have any questions, contact one of our reservations specialists for help.