So This Happened on Spaceship Earth Today…

rsz_1img_8441I am blessed to be able to frequent the Parks when I want to during the week. I enjoy going alone as it gives me time to really enjoy the small stuff and share, like I did today. (I share LIVE from the Parks on Facebook if you want to follow along.) But there have been times, that albeit Disney comes off as a safe environment, I didn’t feel that today.

On most rides, they want to fill them as full as possible because the more on, the merrier the line is. I get it. Being alone many times, I am a “single rider” and for the most part, I wind up sitting either alone or I am paired up by MY choosing (like Test Track). But there are some rides, as I discovered today, that should NEVER be ridden alone with a stranger because of the close proximity you are and also your surroundings.

Que Spaceship Earth. We all love this ride, the new and the old, we have a relationship with it. It’s that familiar one that just makes us feel “home.” I was in line today, end of my adventure, and there was a guy behind me that was just too close. Several times bumping me, and like a good person, I ignored him.  We get to the top to load the ride and the CM is shouting “2 to a row” which I freaked out on (in my head).  I didn’t know who is behind me, I just knew I saw some random guy when I turned the first time in line to see who kept bumping me.  Normally I make Craig stand behind me in those situations, but I was on my own with this one.  So I panic, and just decide that the only thing I can do is sit in the left seat, or first seat, the minute I climbed in, thus making it near impossible for the guy to sit next to me unless he wanted to crawl over the top of me. Trust me, I had thought maybe they would make me move over, but I timed it enough that I knew we would hit the climb soon so he had to take what he could.  So he sat…alone…behind me on the other side.

People, I don’t normally get “creeped out” on the attractions, but I was definitely uncomfortable.  I am literally answering the questions on the map in front of me giving this guy what State I live in, then when I am answering all of the questions on the way down, he can see them clear as day and all I can think is he could use them to talk to me after the ride.  I know some of you may think this is a stretch, and I WISH we didn’t live in a world that this could happen, but all I could think about was WHAT IF he was sitting right next to me the entire ride? It’s dark, there isn’t anywhere for me to “jump out” (safely) and run from him. It’s actually a scary thought that I never even thought of until today.

I got off the ride and quickly walked out of the building and took a couple detours before exiting the Park in case I was being followed. I watched my back to my car and obviously I am safe and sound. My point is that in today’s world, we just HAVE to think about these things now to keep each other safe.  He could have been just some random passholder like me riding alone, but my spidey senses told me otherwise. Stay sharp my friends.

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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Vacation or Residence?

I have been actually thinking about writing on this for awhile. One, it’s important to compare the two for those thinking about moving here, and two, it’s just a fun topic to talk about.

So when we were planning a vacation here, we would do everything I am sure you all have. First we would watch every Disney movie on the planet, get out the family calendar, pick the dates, ask off for work, and then the real fun and planning began. Back then, sites were just starting up so we would enjoy watching ride videos on YouTube and basically if a site had “Disney” in it, we were hooked. When to go, what to book, where to eat….the planning was the BEST PART!!

Then came the anticipation. The build-up as we plunked down change into the water cooler, took a piece of the countdown chain down every day, and our lingo was always about the trip to come. Outfits to wear, what luggage to bring, how to pack efficiently, and of course, leaving a bag empty for those Disney souvenirs. The day would come, you could hardly contain the excitement!! Whether you were driving or flying, bags were packed, kids had gone to the bathroom, and you were ready for that amazing adventure in Florida.  I bet even now I have someone excited to plan their next trip.

But when you live here, that changes. First, for us, the build-up was gone.  The anticipation was slightly there like “Hey I’m going to Magic Kingdom tomorrow” kind of stuff but not that crazy, fun, excited feeling we used to get.  On vacation, the Parks are fresh. There is always something new, something you didn’t see before, some type of food or drink to try and of course the merch always changes. So with every trip, it was different.  Having gone in multiple times to the Parks in the same week, yes, it can get old. I used to come around the corner on Main Street with tears welled up in my eyes, the magic growing inside me with each step I took, my kids hands in mine, my husband glowing with happiness…  it’s just not the same now. It’s still special, it just changed.

I traded the excitement and newness for date nights, hang outs with friends, and the occasional exclusive popcorn bucket.  Doesn’t sound to bad does it? It really isn’t. I have loved and cherished each moment and experience in the Parks. It as been nice to go to different concerts, get my AP magnet, and enjoy people watching as a sport. But that being said, once you have seen a lot of the concerts, eaten all types of  food, bought tons of the merch, the “what’s next” factor gets kind of fuzzy. I for one am personally in the camp of “Did it once, bonus points if I get to do it again, but I will live if I don’t.”  You learn fast that vacation money and daily life money are two VERY different things.  I have the normal life budget that I can on occasion splurge on a shirt or cup, but who can afford to eat and drink in the Parks on a weekly basis without going broke? I bring in my own waters and soda, granola bars and snacks.  I grab a cup of ice from a counter service and enjoy my drink while i stroll the Park.  Trust me, it actually gets hard sometimes to know you can’t just eat or buy whatever you’d like. It’s a magical world of mouse temptations.

Let’s just say that I look forward to planning my vacations again in the future.

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Reality of Living Near the Fantasy… Part Nine

The Weather

One of the biggest selling points on living in Florida, is of course, the weather. Sunny skies and warm temperatures seem like an amazing deal. I was one of the many who left the cold weather climates because I was sick of the nail biting cold and dismal, grey days.  I didn’t mind the snow, until a blizzard hit and it would take hours to dig out and get anywhere.  It was just part of life in the Midwest.

But what I wasn’t ready for here was the lightning, the downpours, the hurricanes, and the headache inducing humidity.  Let me start with the lightning- it actually scares me. I watched a story on “Dateline” where a woman was just watching tv in her home and was struck by lightning through her roof.  Couple that with living in the lightening capital of the World, it makes for some anxiety filled moments when a storms passes over.

The downpours are honestly more scary while driving on I4 or 27 because they come on fast and when you have a mixture of tourists and yourself driving-  some have the knee jerk reaction to hit the brakes instead of just slowing down.  Out and about in the Parks, basically April through September, I carry an umbrella on me. Showers come quick and go through just as fast, so at least they don’t linger a majority of the time.

The hurricanes.  I survived my first official one which was Hurricane “Irma” back in 2017.  I knew eventually we would deal with one, and I saw first hand the chaos in the stores, the panic as it got closer, getting our survival kits together, and then we just sat and waited.  By far the worst part was just sitting in our home and waiting for it to finally get there.  It had turned at one point and the eye came right over the top of us, the wind slammed our home hard, the shingles sounded like they were being pulled off one by one, and we just prayed.  Clearly my family and I made it through…still scary. Now compared to tornadoes that I have been through in WI? Tornadoes come up on you pretty quickly there, and it’s about basements and radios at that point.  Here there are no basements, which honestly I hate. The whole “Jump in the bath tub” never makes me feel safe or secure.  The irony is that even as I write this, WE ARE UNDER A TORNADO WATCH. The news has been telling us all week that bad storms are to hit today, and they tell you in weeks, almost months, for the hurricanes to watch for. So I will give it to the News here, they are on it. Now, if they could install a tornado siren in my neighborhood, that would be great. They don’t have many in FL, if at all in my area.

The humidity seems to affect me only when it has slowed down or ramped up. During the winter months it’s still there, but usually on the low side. Once it kicks in again with full steam, my head feels like it’s going to explode.  It’s a weird headache that no Excederin will get rid of for me, completely frustrating and life interrupting. And of course doing anything outside the home for long periods of time during the summers has to be done early morning or evening so you don’t get heatstroke. I’m sure people get used to living in the tropics here, but I definitely miss the change and excitement of the Seasons.  It’s just felt like one really, really long summer here. If you have any health issues that heat and humidity will agitate more, I would avoid living here at all costs.  Again, just my two cents.

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Reality of Living Near the Fantasy…Part Eight

The Cost of Living.

I think the scariest thing when you first graduate High School and College is getting your first place. My first place I got a roommate in which I think I kicked in $200 for my share of the rent in an upper apartment, affordable right? Craig and I marry and we rent our first place which was around $350 for a 2 bedroom lower floor apartment.  As time grew, as well as our family, we would bounce to duplexes and then land on buying our first home. One income, one baby, and we were able to afford out first 3 bedroom home for around $80,000 which came to be like a $750 house payment including our taxes.  THAT is Wisconsin prices for you… allowing many to have the dream of having a home at all.

Now as the years have piled up, we sold, we rented again and have just kept renting because we enjoy changing it up. When we headed to Florida in 2011, our first home rental was for $1175 which was 3 bedrooms with a pool and fairly decent yard- no utilities or lawn/pool care included.  It was affordable for our start here.  We would move to a nicer suburb where our rent jumped another $700 for an additional bedroom and more square footage.  The extra space was great, but with more space, comes more too cool.  Our electric bill was ungodly during the summer months- we found ourselves with more rent, electric bills that were out of control, and a water bill that we had to make peace with since we now ran a hot tub that came with our pool. Yes, we barely run the heat here, but it does happen on occasion.  Even with budget billing, we were on the high end. It’s stuff you don’t really think about until you get the bill.

Just some numbers….the cost of living in Central Florida is 112% of the National average, cost of housing is 122%, cost of transportation is 128% and utilities is 102%.  (According to bestplaces.net)

I honestly don’t know how the younger ones can afford a life here. I know for a fact that my kids can’t afford to live on their own, and even if they did together, they would probably need at least 2 more roommates.  There aren’t a huge amount of apartments here that are in the affordable range- the oldest ones are usually taken or in a really rough area, which means you are left with the brand news ones being built. Brand new 2 bedroom apartments out by me will cost you $1500 and higher.  People are flocking to live here, so they don’t need to keep the prices cheap.

Several of my kid’s friends have two or more jobs to just afford their bills. Can you imagine? To live in this area filled with non-stop fun and action just to work yourself to the bone and be teased by things you can never do?   Jobs don’t pay high here, the median income in most areas is around $40,000 for each household.  So keep that in mind if you want to come here, then find work, then a home, and so on and still be able to afford the extras of park passes and merchandise, festivals and fairs, concerts, gas to get too all the fun stuff, and so on. It CAN be done, it’s just not cheap.

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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The Reality of Living Near the Fantasy… Part Six

The Crime.

Let me preface this by saying I am fully aware that crime can happen, and does happen, everywhere you live. But let’s not kid ourselves, this State is literally known for the infamous “Florida Man.” If you don’t know who or what that means, it’s basically a reference point to every stupid, idiotic thing you can think of in the crime circuit committed by a man, or I suppose woman, in the lovely sunny state of FL. I don’t know if it’s the heat that get’s to people, the tourists, or just where our World is headed, but it feels like we got the best of the best down here.  I mean right before writing this I read a story this morning about a man who was going around shooting a water gun filled with his own urine at passing strangers. WHAT??? Honestly as this point, if it isn’t committed by Florida Man, I am shocked.

I was raised by a strong father who didn’t want me to ever get caught off guard. He taught me to always be aware of my surroundings, to have my keys ready in my hand, and if something didn’t feel right to get out or away from the situations as quickly as possible.   So several months ago, I was driving down 27 and heading to Wal-Mart.  It was a typical Fl day, lots of traffic, and I saw that this car kept trying to cut me off as I made my way to the Store.   Once I parked, he parked very close to me, which I was good and ready to tell him or her off on their driving. I get out of the car and it was a man, who approaches me and feeds me some bs line like “I saw you in traffic, you are so pretty.” Not only did he catch me off guard, but my blood that was boiling at this driver turned cold as ice as I felt like something bad was going to happen.  I smiled and started to slowly jog past several rows of cars while calling my husband, in fear this guy would be waiting for me when I came back out.  What I think was about to happen was that I was being vetted for human trafikking, and it’s a very serious issue right now in Florida. This didn’t feel like a friendly encounter, and I made sure to watch my back as I left with my items that day. He wasn’t there, but now I feel like I am being watched constantly any time I go to that parking lot.

I know that people are thinking “Why would anyone want to live in FL?” For the most part, you don’t know what you don’t know. Our first time around didn’t have near the amount of traffic, over development, and clearly over population. And most can’t just pick up and move, so you make the best of it. I think everyone here thinks “Please let it not be me” and goes about their day as best they can. Of course I get nervous when the bank down the road gets robbed, or I hear ambulances non-stop during the day.  I do my best, I drive as careful as I can, and I try to make good choices on when I do things outside the home. I can tell you that I rarely head out on my own at night, and I am in constant contact with my family when I am out during the day.

Recently I had been running my favorite area… alone in my thoughts and trying not to die as usual. A White, unmarked van passed me, turned around about a half mile from me, and came past me again, this time slowing down.  I reached in and grabbed my mace so he knew I wasn’t playing around. He sped off, just to turn around AGAIN in which I watched him as he drove by again- this time I was on the phone with my hubby. Craig came over and sat in his car and watched me while I ran until I was done.  The pic I took to get the plate was blurry, so I didn’t have much to tell the cops even if I had called. I didn’t see him again, but I knew it was trouble since where I was running has nothing but farms around. I know of runners who have been killed in the Orlando area…its honestly a sick and sad day when you can’t just relax and go for a run.

My advice is to take it very seriously while living here, heck while you are on vacation as well. I can only imagine that Orlando as a whole is a thief’s paradise…just the stuff left alone in strollers in the Parks make me cringe. Also watch when you are in vacation mode and shopping here…so many in that carefree space that it can make you a prime target to be approached. Please be safe everyone.

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

$5.00

The Reality of Living Near the Fantasy…Part Three

The Theme Parks

One of the first reasons we wanted to move to sunny Florida was to enjoy the Parks anytime we wanted too. The thought of having that freedom of going on a whim after dinner or on a Sunday afternoon seemed to good to be true. What people don’t tell you is that EVERYONE else has the same idea.  What I thought would be an easy drive over, maybe have a snack or meal, ride a ride and head home was a lot more complicated than I thought.

First lets talk about how much the Parks have changed. It is no mystery that the local doesn’t get a whole lot of love from Disney.  Yes you get your discount from the Annual Pass, flex payments are a plus, but our hours seem to be shrinking more and more for us to enjoy. With the addition of “Not So Scary” parties starting as early as AUGUST 16th (because you know, everyone is carving pumpkins and wearing costumes in August…. I mean, COME ON I am still in my swim suit!!) it has made it nearly impossible to enjoy an evening at Magic Kingdom from August until January. Why? The parties take up a good number of nights during the week, so clearly unless the local wants to buy a ticket, you aren’t getting in. And of course they aren’t every night, but the nights that there ISN’T a party, everyone on vacation goes those nights, leaving not a whole lot of “wiggle room” for the local to enjoy a decent evening at Magic Kingdom.  Yes, I know someone is thinking “We go anyways”- great, enjoy, but I don’t find anything relaxing or magical about fighting the crowds, in the heat, and standing in the long lines to just get out of that Park at the end of night.

Epcot’s endless Festivals. So at first we started with “Food and Wine”, and “Flower and Garden.”  It was nice, it was spaced out enough to give a fresh feel to everyone enjoying it, Spring and Fall had an excitement to it. Now personally, I think someone got sick of moving those food booths back and forth out of World Showcase, so they were like “Hey. let’s think of more Festivals to keep them out all year long.”  Now we have Festival of the Arts and Festival of the Holidays sandwiched in between the longer running two. I do love the Arts one, it’s different and I love to see Artists shine in the spotlight, but unfortunately they have saturated that Park now with them. What was special in the past is becoming just the norm there now.  Every Festival has their signature, overpriced drinks and some can be delicious, but with that abundance of varieties bring the drunks out. I have read some never see these large groups of people with their nasty shirts, falling all over guests as they drink way to much, but having lived here many years now, I can tell you I have seen a lot of them. I don’t care if you want to drink, I drink, just balance it out and REALIZE you are at Disney World and not Universal. Have some class while there are families making special memories around you- no one wants to remember your ugly behavior as their trip to Disney.

Fastpasses? Well, we have to wait until 30 days out to book them. Resort guests get a 60 day window, and the rumor is that they will soon be selling the opportunity to buy Fastpasses. What does that mean? It means that as a local, I may never ride the new Star Wars ride unless I wait in line for I am sure hours. And let me debunk this idea of “Locals can go anytime” because it’s horse bunk.  We can’t. Like I said before, Parties and special events, some have blocked out dates, large crowds mean they will close at capacity, Holiday weeks are insane, and so on.  What used to be down time after Labor day, end of January, late February has been replaced with race events and free dining. Even with New Years and Fourth of July, our family did both ONCE. Why? You have to be IN the designated Park of your choice pretty much ALL day to be guaranteed a decent viewing spot and in case they close at capacity. I will tell you- I loved seeing them once, great experience, but imagine your own town’s craziness with the fireworks and your own traffic and then multiply it by ten. It just isn’t what it used to be to just head to the Parks.

Yes, I still enjoy them and I will always love my Disney. But as I said, things have changed and with Star Wars opening in a few months, I fear we will see crowds here like never before. When they can’t see SW these crowds will spill over into the other Parks, onto 192 businesses and restaurants, and it just won’t be fun to try to get anywhere for awhile or ever. I hope I am wrong.

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

$5.00