Safety in Numbers

We all need to feel safe, and when relocating to a new place,  and it seems that that is one of the first things we tend to feel we are missing right out of the gate.  You may have moved into the safest city, or the safest neighborhood, but the reality is that being anywhere new brings a wall of insecurity around the strongest of men. So today I thought that I would tell you how “safe” I have felt living here in the Orlando area so far, and to give you an idea of how you may have to deal with it- enjoy.

#1- Kissimmee, Reunion, Champions Gate oh my

I have to preface this by saying that we do not live IN the city of Kissimmee, but it is indeed our home address city. We live almost in the “country,” since we live between Reunion and Champions Gate, we aren’t really near anything we can walk too or even bike too. With that being said, the city area we encounter the most would have to be the 192 area and Reunion/Champion’s Gate.  Let’s start with Reunion and Champion’s Gate- I feel safe going to either of these areas.  I bank, get my gas, redbox, run for small groceries, and the occasional McD’s run to between both cities.  The drive to either is well lit, although the construction on the main road right now is a bit of a pain- it’s almost done!

I have spent significant time at a lot of the above establishments and I have never felt nervous or concerned with the company that comes in and out while I am there.  Sometimes you can be in a place and you can just “feel” the vibe of the place and know it doesn’t feel right or safe. The only place I get uneasy with is ANY Redbox when I am by myself. I have to make sure to have my CC ready and out while I am picking my movies so that I am not distracted trying to dig into my purse, which is a perfect opportunity for someone to rob me or grab me, so heads up on anyone who uses a Redbox-especially in dark places and later at night.

We have been told what cities to stay clear from, such as “Pine Hills,” “Metro West” and “Intercession City.” You couldn’t catch me near downtown Orlando at night, and in fact, I am pretty careful where I am at any time after the sun goes down.  Until you REALLY know where you are going and how the area is, you should NEVER be there after dark. 

#2- Our Neighborhood

I have felt safe in my own home, as we have never had anything to suggest otherwise. We had a sketchy character walking around our area months ago and has never been back because we watched what he was doing- anyone up to no good doesn’t want you talking to them. We made sure he knew, WE knew, he was there. 

We have had a break-in next door with some kids having a party in a foreclosed home- nothing shocking in FL since many of the homes here sit for YEARS empty. Its not ok, but it didn’t make me nervous, just AWARE.

We have recently in the Orlando area had several cars vandalized in their own drive-ways. My advice is that if you have a garage, use it for your vehicles. I do realize that because there are no basements here, many use their garages for storage. Driveways are an obvious choice for cars in Fl because of the warm weather, but it makes me feel much better to park my car in my garage every day. (Plus it holds us accountable to keep our garage clean and organized.)

Craig and I walk a lot, and you will see many walkers and runners in our neighborhood pretty much any day of the week.  We were walking after dinner for awhile, but when it was getting darker earlier, it wasn’t becoming safe because of drivers plus others walking past us in the dark.

We made sure to know our neighbors and have some of their contacts so that we always have someone to go to if something occurs in our suburb. It’s key to KNOW who your neighbors are because you have no clue who they really are, and whether they are a help or threat, you need to know.  Libby mentioned to me she used spotcrime.com where you can find out what crimes are in your potential neighborhood or in your existing one.

#3 Florida

Driving to Sarasota and Tampa this past year, I felt safe driving around them.  I believe, like everything, that once you visit it or experience it enough times, you get to know how safe a place truly is. While living in WI, I always felt safe in my city and neighborhood. But driving through Milwaukee, I was always “on edge.”  Time will tell how we feel overall about Florida.

#4 Disney World

Maybe I am just an overprotective parent, but I have seen enough in the Parks to know what I would never allow my children to do on their own for fear of their own safety.

One, when my kids were little, they were never allowed to go to the bathroom alone at the Parks. The restrooms are usually VERY busy and little ones can easily get lost and confused in there. Most are busy with their own kids to notice if something isn’t right with another- I always just took them both so that I always knew where and how they were.

Two, I never let the kids use the elevator by themselves at the Resorts. Yes, there have been reports about kids and situations that happened in the elevators- taking the extra step will give you peace of mind while on vacation.  I know, I can hear you all saying “Chill out, people are too uptight.” Well, this isn’t our grandparents generation, and we all need to wake up and take the extra steps to make sure our children are KEPT safe.

Three, when the girls were little, I always had a hand in mine. Crowds can get scary, especially for their view of them- its just a non-stop sea of legs.  So why do parents think that’s an ok time to let their 3 year old roam without anyone near them? I’m not going to debate the kid leash, only because I am happy that they are trying to at least keep an eye on them, but please keep your kids CLOSE to you when walking through the Parks.

I could go on and on forever on this, but those were my three main points. If you have a safety tip for the Parks you would like to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments section. 

#5 Day to Day Safety Tips That I Use Myself

Maybe I just watched way to much Dateline as a child and young adult, but I am always very AWARE of my surroundings. Here are a few tips that I use here in FL, and can be used in other places as well. I realize these may be obvious, but you may have moved from a small town or city where you could leave your door open all day and never flinch at it- the Orlando area is a whole ‘nother ball game.

                *My keys are out and ready before I step out of any store- to many people fumbling about in their purses which is a perfect time for a criminal to attack you.

                *Staying off my cell phone to and from my car- again- looking down all the time makes you a PRIME target to mess with.

                *Locking your car and house every time you are home or leaving home.

                *Be aware of who is coming in and out of your new neighborhood.

                *When coming up to Toll Booths, if someone is stopped in front of you and it is after dark, go in a different lane and let Sun Pass know why you couldn’t pay the toll or had to pay it differently. I have heard of a car “looking” stuck in the lane, then you come up behind them, and then one of their buddies boxes you in and you are in a horrible, and unmovable, situation.

                *People flagging you down for help or directions is always a case by case basis, but before pulling over, you may want to call a loved one to let them know of your location and what you are about to do in case something happens. If you are uncomfortable helping, call 911 or the Police and let them know that someone is in need of help.

As relocators, we can all come off as gullible because we are brand new to all of this. Use what you know of your old life, follow the same safety guidelines, and you will eventually learn as you go in your new city. I hope this can help any of you live a safer life, whether it be in FL or in your own hometown.

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Big River Grille & Brewing Works

Located at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, I have always walked past it but never thought about stopping there for a bite to eat. Clearly that’s why it is there, but as a local, I think we sometimes glaze over the most obvious to vacationers because we usually have an agenda on what we are doing.  I love when I am hanging out with someone vacationing and they say “Did you ever see that, or eat there?” I don’t want to ever be done “experiencing” what Disney World has to offer, so anything new is a treat.

I met up with new friend, Becky Barber, and her wonderful husband, and we decided to head to the Big River Grille for lunch. We hadn’t made plans to eat anywhere, so it was a nice surprise to try something different.

We walked over from the Beach Club, which only took about 10 minutes to get there, and it is a wonderful and beautiful walk if you have never taken it before. That whole area is just peaceful and I encourage any and all to partake in something that includes the Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin, or the Yacht and Beach Club.

We arrived around 11:30 a.m. and were immediately seated. We were given a choice of indoors with the a/c or the outdoors on the boardwalk. Because the humidity is back, we opted for inside.

I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the simple menu they had- almost like a Perkins, but 1/4th of their menu. They offered salads, steaks, burgers, tacos- a variety that I feel would keep any group happy.

The prices were affordable as well. I chose a chicken quesadilla, which cost $10.50. For me, I felt that they gave me a huge portion and a steal for that price. I do compare park food to the table service food any time I eat on Disney Property because it really does put it in perspective.  You know you have been there where it almost hurts to spend over $10 on a lukewarm chicken sandwich or burger at a Counter Service, when you can get something like I had and it be worth every penny and more. It actually took me some time to finish it, I could have easily split it with someone else.

Becky’s husband ordered the Chicken Cashew salad, and he seemed to enjoy it as he ate every bite. It looked nice and fresh- I am picky on my salads because I feel that any time you are eating vegetables you want them to have that freshness taste. I can’t tell you how many times I have had lettuce in my salad that is already going bad- why would anyone serve that to someone?

The atmosphere was light and fun, but I was surprised at the smallness of it. We didn’t have anything to drink at the bar, but the area looked really neat to be able to sit at and chill out. Our waiter was very friendly and refilled our waters several times during our meal.

Becky was able to use her “Tables in Wonderland” card to save even more money on the meal, so all in all it was quite an affordable meal.  I would say it was a comfortable place, nice people, and a meal that is delicious and light on the wallet is a great one in my book!

I highly encourage all of you to try this place out. If you want a more quiet time, lunch is probably your best bet. The Boardwalk is hopping in the evening, and more so on the weekends, so keep that in mind for dinner. Also they DO NOT take reservations, so this is a must for locals and those who don’t want to plan, to be able to walk up and get a table is a great feeling. Thanks to Becky and her wonderful husband for the great lunch, see you again in the Fall!