A little taste of Central Florida

I just got back Saturday from a week of classes in Orlando, Florida.  I had a nice time down there, but with all the theme parks and all the family “stuff” there is to do, it was hard to be there without the rest of the family.

To start off with… It’s really funny looking at all the excited families queuing up at the Pittsburgh airport.  The kids are hyped up! The parents are smiling! They can’t wait for the enormously “yuge” (thanks, Donald!) amount of entertainment that awaits them over the next several days! Yay! 🙂

Then… contrast that with what you see getting off the plane right now: Those returning from their trip to Walt Disney World… Tired.  Sunburned.  Carrying large, over-stuffed bags of obligatory souvenirs… Ugh.  “I can’t believe there were that many people there.  I mean 60 minutes just to ride ‘it’s a small world?’ I mean come on! And the prices! Geesh!” I think these people are glad to be home.  It’s either that, or Jim Gaffigan just entered my brain.

But that doesn’t stop people from going.  Not Jim Gaffigan.  I mean the experience.  The experience doesn’t stop anyone from going.  And of course after a few weeks of reflection they’ll realize what a wonderful time they all had.  And they’ll just have to do it again next year.  But that first moment when they step off the airplane coming home—that’s priceless!

But let’s rewind back to day one.  You know, when you have all that energy? I was actually able to arrive in Central Florida early enough on Sunday to try to squeeze something in.  I went to Universal Studios shortly after we (my coworker and I) got checked in to the hotel.

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios I was able to ride the long-awaited “Simpson’s Ride” (Krustyland) at USF.  And, with my apologies to Universal for my opinion in a previous posting, the ride was actually very good.  I still miss BTTF: The Ride, and was happy to see that the DeLorean and the Jules Verne Train featured in the movie still have a home at USF.

But I have to admit that The Simpsons Ride was entertaining, so much so that I rode it twice.

It wasn’t terribly packed that day.  I don’t know if it was the threat of weather, or maybe Sunday is just the chosen travel day, but it was relatively calm that day.  Maybe 10-15 minutes wait time for most rides, and 40 minutes for the Simpsons.  That’s pretty light.

And that brings me to a couple of things about Central Florida in general.  One: The weather is usually quite predictable, with one major downpour rain shower occurring almost every day.  And, two, I don’t mind driving down there, even though I don’t know exactly where I’m going, because everybody else seems to not know exactly where they’re going either.  And that makes my driving normal by comparison.  See? It’s all relative…Hard Rock Cafe, Orlando

Just a couple of other things to note about this trip… My colleague and I ate at the  Hard Rock Cafe on Wednesday night.  I didn’t realize this at the time, but that particular HRC is the biggest one in the world.  Good food, loud music.  Busy place.

And on Friday night I went for a stroll at Downtown Disney.  And I ate a hot-fudge sundae from the second-most Magical Place on Earth, the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop, while watching a couple of elderly ladies from Fort Myers, Florida get down to Beyoncè’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)—definitely one of the funniest things I’d seen in a while.  You have to just get the visual on that.

And then, Saturday, it was time to come home.  But to be honest, even as much as I enjoy Orlando, I was ready.  Sitting at the airport, getting ready to board the plane for the trip home, I got to hear one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a while.  I happened to sit next to the pilot and the rest of the crew in the waiting area.  As they were discussing why the pilot of the plane currently at the gate had not pushed back yet, our pilot decided he needed some answers of his own.  In ending his conversation with the rest of his crew he said, “Well, I’m going to go find out where our plane is.”  Now, how can the pilot not know where his plane is? Did he forget where he parked it? Maybe the valet service delivered it to the wrong gate.  I don’t know.

Now I don’t feel so bad about forgetting where I parked my car after leaving it for a week at Pittsburgh airport…

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