If you are like Craig and I, you have a dream- to live in Florida where they don’t shovel heat and the magic of Walt Disney World is at your feet. I have listened to many people, podcasts, programs, and read books on how being a FL Resident is much different than being a tourist- well today I am going to take you into our first week here and how things have been for us- enjoy!
When you vacation, you are packed with the essentials for the week or more you will be staying there- we packed our entire lives in a van and car. The anticipation of getting to FL is about the same, except this time we didn’t have to worry about the long and longer drive home- woohoo for that! In that same sense, we arrived to our first HOME in 10 years, as we had rented a duplex in WI- and not the regular All-Star Movies/CBR room we reserve for each trip. It is a surreal feeling to know that this home is now yours, for the year anyways, and that everything you did in your prior one you must relearn again. When coming as a Tourist, you get to throw the bags down and run to the parks immediately, but as a Resident, you have to be quite organized and responsible before you can set foot in the parks.
Life in FL is where your magic meets reality, and how you react to it will make all the difference in the world. Our first night here, we were exhausted from the driving and emotions of the day. We wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep- oh, wait, no beds! The floor it was, but we couldn’t sleep just yet because we didn’t have any food in the house for the morning, along with toilet paper and necessities that you just don’t want to wait on. So we dragged our tired butts to Target that night, and grabbed pillows, food, etc,,, like zombies we headed to the check-out hoping to get home as soon as possible. As we stood in that line, we could hear excited tourists on their vacations, and their awesome plans, and in that moment, I wish we had booked at AS Movies for that night.
The next day was all about getting our licenses- and we had researched it to know to make an appointment before heading over. Now we went to the one on “OBT” which people here refer to a lot, which means, “Orange Blossom Trail” so if you ever hear that, that’s what it is. I laughed the first time I heard it because I have a good friend from the Bristol Renn Faire that is called “OTB” and made me think of him- love ya Steve! (Yes, blog to come about the DMV still) So again, reality is getting your license, no park that morning.
After we got them, we headed to look at mattresses, found a place we liked, and then headed home to get ready for Epcot, our first official park as Residents. Since WDW was a big reason for moving down, we clearly wanted to enjoy it as soon as possible, but again, we had other things to get done as well. As a tourist, you fly by the seat of your pants, go and spend basically what you saved for all year for that trip, but when moving here, the extra money goes towards things like beds, couches, start-up costs for utilities, pool up keep, and of course, your bills you brought with you for your cell phone, credit card, etc.. It doesn’t mean we didn’t budget, we just didn’t have a ton of “Disney” cash to spend the first week we were here. Our Premium Annual Passes we had in our budget, and were bought on our first full day here, but we will have to wait on our Annuals for Universal Studios and Sea World- but we are DYING to go to them both soon!
Since we have gotten our AP’s, we have been to the Parks almost every day- but not “all day.” We go in an afternoon here, a morning there, and only for Star Wars Weekends this past Friday, did we pull an 11 hour day straight. It was hard and brutal, since the feeling in the Parks is that we are truly on vacation, but coming home, its back to real life, 5 minutes from the WDW Gate.
It is all about finding the balance of what to spend on eating and merchandise as a Resident vs a Tourist that was one of the biggest changes for me. Usually we had a food budget in WDW or the dining plan, so going up to order at any CS place was quite easy and uneventful. Now when we head into the Parks, we have to make sure if we have enough cash to eat and buy anything, or if we are going to bring our own in. I know Disney doesn’t smile upon people bringing things into the Parks, but as a Resident, I will go broke if I don’t. We were starting to spend $40 a pop at CS places for the 4 of us, and when you go several times a week, its more than my normal grocery bill would have been in WI- we just can’t do that. So we got out a backpack and started buying a case of water at WalMart for $3.95 and taking in 4 bottles each time we go into the parks, along with lanyards (for free pin trading) and small snacks to munch on as we go. A clever tip I learned from a good friend is to order the kids meal anytime you can, its actually a nice size serving, and although you may get sick of the nugget thing, its only $4.99 and would feed a family of 4 for $20- saving half the cost as before. Keep in mind the childs soda cup is small, but you can refill at most places, which I learned of at the Backlot Express yesterday with my friends.
You learn patience- with everyone and everything. The person that cuts you off on 192, the kid who keeps screaming bloody murder at a show, or the Mom who stops in the middle of the crowd flow to help little Johnny and his runny nose- it’s all a game of patience and breathing. The heat down here makes people do crazy things, and I think when you get to that 3:00 hour, and the parks are full, and the kids are just so cranky, you have to tell yourself “I am in no rush, and maybe I can help someone out.” I have held doors open, gave pins away off my lanyard to complete strangers, let someone ahead of me who needed to use the restroom, and helped those who needed directions somewhere. I wanted to be a good will ambassador for WDW… that person that can help those find the magic when they are stressed in the Parks. As I hope God will say to me some day “Job Well Done Amy” when I meet him in Heaven, is also what I hope Walt will say when I meet him there as well. I want to be an example of how you can help others through your own dreams and make a difference in this world. As a former tourist, now changed Resident, I can tell you THAT will never change in my book!
Life is becoming more real here- coming home from a hot day in the parks to jump into our swimming pool is a welcome site and happy one. Watching my girls laugh and giggle the other day while playing in the pool warmed my heart with joy- I thought to myself, at least they have each other. I did meet a girl at a rummage sale here that goes to Celebration High School, and I am having her hang out with Kyra for her first day, so hopefully Kyra can meet lots of people and get that tour she really wants.
Shopping here as been a bit of a challenge, for when I was in WI, I knew where to go, and where not to go. I do want to send a thank you to everyone who responded to my food shopping status the other day on FB- it helps that the locals here can give me some insight, as I am just learning myself. I found that Publix is an amazing grocery store, but that frozen pizza would cost me twice the amount as it did in WI- that was a shock! Their prices were extremely high, so its Walmart for us for awhile anyways. Great selection, but I’m all about the bottom line right now. We live around the 192 area, so its very touristy as far as “in town” goes. We have lots of food choices, which is great for dining out, and hotels near by for people who don’t want to stay with us who come into town, but the bigger things like IKEA and the Mall of Millenia are about a 20 minute drive. Not a big deal, but its getting used to getting there that’s the tricky part. If I need something bad enough, I’ll shoot up to the local Super Target and grab it- but even their prices are higher than WalMarts. WalMart is about 12 minutes from us, and Target is about 5, so it’s nice to have something close for those “just want to grab it and run” things.
We haven’t found a local church yet, so please keep praying that God will lead us to a wonderful Church family. We also have to find the local Hospital, doctors office, dentists, and eye doctor for Emily- but that will come with time.
Craig just started work back today, so now we will start a real schedule. I think I’m going to take the kids to Disneyquest today to spend some energy in a cool environment, and really use these Premium passes. A stroll through DTD, some pin trading, and then head pack to swim for the afternoon. As I write this, it is 8:30 FL time and beautiful out. The mornings here are my favorite part, as I would always head out when we vacationed here and soak it all in outside our resort door. I will tell you, being an officiResident now, I feel that WDW is “home.” I feel that at one point, the Parks will be all ours to play in, and I won’t have to worry about doing it all.
If it is your dream to move down here, I encourage you to do so, within your means and time. Everyone has what makes them most comfortable, and I have had my moments of questioning- but then I talked to Lou Mongello or Shelley Caran, two very dear friends, who make me feel loved and appreciated and I can breathe again with confidence in the decisions we have made. I have learned that every dream has a risk, some fear, and a ton of excitement. But to get to the exciting part, you have to walk through the fear and risk first. You may see our pictures and think “Wow, it was so easy for them” but it has had it’s moments. Nothing is perfect, but I can tell you nothing will happen for you if you don’t take that leap of faith to at least say “ I tried.” We are doing well, we miss our family and friends back home, but we are loving our home, the weather, and the new friends we have here. It’s a great life when we have the Carans over to just hang out and chill- THAT is what this was all about.
I was happy as a WDW Tourist, but I am happy to be a Resident in my happy place of FL where Mickey is literally in my back yard. Live your dreams today friends!