Little pleasures to look forward to in Orlando

Walt Disney World: I'd like TPI members favourite small experiences from orlando.

From David Richmon
Posted January 31, 2012 at 3:26 PM
Orlando to me is the most magical place in the world. Not just the themeparks but the smells and sounds. A personal favourite is the bermuda grass and the sound of crickets in the evening. Does anyone else look forward to an experience other than the norm.

From James Trexen
Posted January 31, 2012 at 10:28 PM
The nice weather and calm feeling (coming from a Chicago resident).

From Carrie Hood
Posted January 31, 2012 at 10:54 PM
One of things I miss most is the heavy rain and thunder. Up north a good thunderstorm is fairly rare and it's one of the things I've noticed I really miss.

That and the sound of airplanes overhead all day, you never notice it till you move into the country and don't have it anymore. Suddenly your looking to the sky going "Something is missing here..."

However the list of things I DON'T MISS is much, much longer. Starting with Palmetto bugs, well bugs in general that are the size of small per-historic creatures best left dead! ;)

-Ex Orlando Resident.

From N B
Posted January 31, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Waffle House....

From Duncan Henny
Posted February 1, 2012 at 3:59 AM
one of the many of the small things i like is walking up to islands of adventure for the first time of the trip and hearing the islands soundtrack.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted February 1, 2012 at 5:12 AM
Driving out of the airports and....billboards! Pointing out which ones havent changed for years, looking for new ones, new attractions... Its not the same back at Gatwick with ads for shampoo and cars :-)
The weather for me too! Standing and watching an almighty thunderstorm to have the sun come back out like nothing happened.
And although I love my actual home (London), I get to Orlando and I have that 'homecoming' feeling.

Oh and Village Inn key lime pie :-))

From Rob P
Posted February 1, 2012 at 5:54 AM
I'm really pleased that someone has asked this question David.
I recently heard someone , here in the UK, say that they'd been to Florida but had always wanted to visit REAL America.
I suspect that they have only ever flown in, visited the major theme parks in Orlando and flown home without opening their eyes to all the other things that Florida has to offer.
One of my favourite things is getting down to the Lakes ( like Boggy Creek ) and taking an airboat ride to see the wildlife there.

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted February 1, 2012 at 6:04 AM
Kelly you just summed up my response lol oh don't forget the morning sunrise of Orlando.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 1, 2012 at 7:12 AM
To N B and Kelly:

I thought you were my friends :( I really dig Waffle House, but there's none in Jersey. And I loooove Key Lime Pie, but have never had a "real" slice..Red Lobster's and Edwards are very good, but I'd like to try a "home-made" slice sometime.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted February 1, 2012 at 7:57 AM
Mike...I have never been in a Waffle House!!
Added to my 'must do on next trip' list for sure.

The key lime pie at the Village Inn is great. I have been known to buy 2 pieces, one to eat and one to go, to have when back from the day out.
I laughed in the face of a server who asked if i wanted a full or half slice once! Excellent joke that was...half a slice...are they mad? :-)

From Justin M
Posted February 1, 2012 at 2:28 PM
Manny saids " Dont forgot the morning sunrise in Orlando." Hahahah, its pretty much the same any place in central Florida, except being at Disney/Universal makes everything better.

From Andy Milito
Posted February 1, 2012 at 3:33 PM
Getting to the theme park without getting lost for the first time

From Alan Hiscutt
Posted February 2, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Right from the minute you step off the 'Gatwick airlocked weather' to that wall of humidity coming down the corridor to Immigration, i feel like a kid at christmas.

The horrible carpet right through to that little tram that takes you to main part of the airport, I can pretty much walk it in my sleep now.

Truth is, I miss everything about Orlando, ive been 14 times in 18 years and I will be going back, when? ASAP.

Ive probbably been and done everything within a car journey of Orlando, including THAT bridge down on the keyes and to watch a live WWE show in Georgia. I miss the Giant Orange, somehow it just makes me smile. The over the top decor for what essentially have become Tshirt stores (I remember a giant wizard and some kind of Jungle scene off the top of my head). Listning to the Sat Nav get confused trying to say West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, (sounds more like Westearbrosmemmyhighway). But I guess what I really miss are the simple things. Sat around the pool with my kids splashing around, Seagrams in one hand, book in the other, the litte noises coming from beyond the screen. Quality time that we never seem to put the effort in to have at home.

Dammit, now I need to start planning vacation number 15. Thanks a bunch guys. My credit card cant take it!!

From Donna McKay
Posted February 2, 2012 at 10:36 AM
The amazing temperature at around know, when its still lovely and warm but doesn't feel like the heat will finish you off any second. And the sight of all the swimming pools glinting in the sunlight when flying in from cold, dreary Scotland. That notches up the excitement every time

Oh, and going to the supermarket to see the huge variety of stuff you have over there that we just dont have in the UK. I coudl spend half a day there and the other half at Walgreens browsing the make up aisles, no problem!

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Donna, I just wanted to say that one of the things I ALWAYS try to do when I visit a park that's not local is hit the local supermarket. Even state to state here in the States, there's stuff that's not available everywhere. For example, when I go to Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, which is only 90 minutes from me, I always stop at Weis. They carry my favorite brand of cheese curls, Gibbles, which are nowhere to be found in New Jersey, where I live. It's something I look forward to if I have the time.

From David Richmon
Posted February 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Cheers ladies and gents. Some great responses that make me even more excited to be heading back from dreary old Sheffield , england. I too still get the thrill at the wall of humidity when exiting the plane and experiencing those Florida thunderstorms. Bring on the summer!

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 2, 2012 at 12:53 PM
One of my real pleasures in life is widely available to me in Florida, unlike New Jersey..fresh squeezed orange juice. I can get it here, just not as easily as in Orlando and its environs.

From N B
Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:43 PM
Mike, there are Waffle Houses in Chicago either... :( but it's one of those traditions my wife and I started way back in 91 when we started going to Florida together.

I thought about the "Call to Adventure" song you mentioned as well, my daughters love hearing that as you walk up to IOA.

The short trip between Orlando Airport and USF is always cool because once you turn past that Universal sign on Kirkman, your hotel is only a minute away. We get checked in, print our tickets, toss our luggage in the room, and hit the parks the same night.

Last time, is was early evening and they were just starting to turn all the lights on along the water taxi canals and CityWalk. Of course, the priority is to hit MIB to start off the family competition early.

Priority 2 is a late dinner at Margaritaville with some boat drinks. Most people just want to hit the hotel room and relax on arrival day, but we like to get our ride on....

I am also looking forward the early IOA entry, USF is very strange at 5:30 in the morning, just a handful of on-site hotel guests as nuts as we are, all holding thier Starbucks to keep themselves awake....

I know this is not an Orlando place, but we always drive to Clearwater to hit Frenchy's Rockaway on the beach. I proposed to my wife on the pier right next to it at sunset back in 93.

From Carrie Hood
Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:31 AM
You can't find Gibbles in ShopRite? That's so odd because I've picked them up in the one near my mother-in-laws house in Egg Harbor Township. That reminds me, we haven't been to Dorney in ages! Time to make plans to stop up that way this spring.

Although I completely agree, I miss Publix so very badly. I miss that they have fresh made subs, their cakes are incredibly delicious and anything with Guava makes me weep in joy. I miss guava, all the tropical fruits to be honest. You rarely see anything but pineapple and mango up north, you go looking for something more exotic and your getting weird looks in the store!

Which brings me to the food. Oh heaven, the FOOD!
Things I can't find up north without at least a 3-5 hour drive. Places like Checkers, WhataBurger, Perkins, Krispy Kreme, Kobe Steak House, Pat O'Brians, Dixie Fried Chicken .. the list is really endless.
Although I have to say I miss I miss Wawa's in equal ways since we don't have those out in 'No-mans Land' where I live.

From Skipper Adam
Posted February 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM
I work half the year at Disney. The other half I am finishing up school in Texas. Things that I miss from Orlando would be the international people. I have friends from all over the world and it is awesome to hear about their home places. Another thing I miss is Steak N' Shake. We have a few but that's not many for Texas' size.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM
Adam, no Steak n Shakes in my area, although they just opened their first New York outlet. I like 'em, and there's one near where I'll be staying when I go to Kings Dominion in April. There's also a very good one on 250 approaching Cedar Point.

From N B
Posted February 3, 2012 at 5:43 PM
I used to look forward to Sonic in Orlando, but they have built a dozen of them in the last couple year around here.

We have almost everything you guys mentioned except Jack in the Box and Waflle Houses in Chicago. We just got Chic Fil-A too.

Of course, we have had White Castle for decades... the best late night drunk food there is.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:41 PM
N B, you're preaching to the choir. White Castle got me through high school, college, and a lot of late nights after concerts. I still have it at least once a month. The Motel 6 I stay at on the occasions when I get to Kings Island has a Castle about 100 yards away :)

From Anthony Murphy
Posted February 4, 2012 at 7:47 AM
If we are talking food........the Ale House in Orlando. Great place to grab some suprisinly good food late after the parks have closed.


People (sometimes drunk!) dancing in World Showcase

From David Richmon
Posted February 10, 2012 at 2:02 PM
Anthony I completely agree. All hail the Ale House! The Epcot challenge is something myself and friends aim to do every time we go to Epcot. A drink in every country certainly makes the day go with a swing although trying to ride a Segway when 3 sheets to the wind is something never to be recommended.

From Duntavius Morrow
Posted March 30, 2012 at 9:24 PM
I did a college program at Disney and living in Orlando for 5 months was amazing. First of course we all know about the parks and such but all the areas around the Disney boarder. The restaurants like Super China Buffet was only 10 bucks, all the different souvenir shops selling Disney merchandise for only a few bucks, and the beautiful display of light in downtown Orlando. Orlando is a wonderful city and anyone who visits Disney should take a few hours during their trip and just go around the city. So many mini golf areas, stage shows, and outlets...I miss that internship now =)

From Skipper Adam
Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I love Disney and a few things in the area, but as the city goes, Orlando sucks IMO compared to other places I've lived.

From James Koehl
Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:04 AM
David, intereting thread. As usual, it has veered a bit from the original idea. I think I'll veer it a bit more. One thing that I hope all of our oversees TPI brothers and sisters fully understand is that there is a lot more to America than Orlando. There is much that is nation-wide (in Ohio we have Waffle House and Steak and Shake (Mike, I know the one near Sandusky you mentioned very well, right next to Great Wolf Lodge)but we also have some local eateries and stores that would give the Florida outlets a run for their money.

I'm a Cedar Point guy. I've been blessed with watching the sunrise behind Cedar Point's remarkable skyline (no other way to describe all those coasters)from Johnson's Island, the sunset behind Catawba Island from the top of the Space Spiral, the full moon reflecting on Lake Erie as the waves wash up on the Cedar Point beach. I suppose that there are still a few TPIers who haven't heard my bragging about Cedar Point's unique location, in the middle of Lake Erie. Check it out on Google Earth, or better yet, come on up here to the North Coast of America and see just how beautiful my park really is.

This is not a "my park is prettier than your park" thing. There is no limit to how much beauty is available. Each park is unique, and most are quite beautiful. I just want our overseas friends to realize that there is more to American parks than the CaliFlorida parks. Your passport is good in all fifty states.

From Rob Pastor
Posted March 31, 2012 at 7:07 AM
Right on James.

From Bob Liebe
Posted March 31, 2012 at 10:22 AM
That's a great way to put it James. To those of you who like water parks, then come up to Wisconsin and stop in to the Wisconsin Dells. It's the "Water Park Capital" of the world! There are a tone of great Grade A water parks in one area along with other unique attractions. Who knew that a place that's frozen 6 months out of the year would be known for water parks! :-)

From James Rao
Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM
In the Kansas City area we have crappy fast food restaurants (including Awful House and Steak & Suck) all over the place. When I travel I avoid them like the plague. I love restaurants that are specific to the area or the region, so a quick check of Triple D or Man vs. Food hotspots is a must before I leave the house. If you're ever in the KC area and you want some good food, let me know and I will tell you where to go. And trust me, Awful House will NOT be on the list! ;p

Specific to Orlando, I love being at Epcot as it is so unlike any other theme park I have visited. And you know what I absolutely love most about Epcot? When the day turns to night and the World Showcase is lit up like a Christmas Tree, it does NOT look like a carnival, it looks like a magical place filled with endless possibilities for fun and adventure. It is simply breathtaking.

From Rob Pastor
Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:20 PM
James; I thoroughly agree with your nightime take on Epcot. In fact, we're going to do the Friday late magic hours in May to take longer advantage of that sight. It reminds me of vacationing in Europe when they light up their classic landmark buildings.

From Brent Moody
Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:57 AM
There are so many things I love about going to Orlando. I live about 1000 miles from Orlando in Arkansas so it is not exactly close to me but I have been 8 times since 2003 and I am going back this year! I love everything about going to Orlando from stepping off the plane and getting into the tram and seeing all the palm trees go by as you ride the tram. But I suppose my two favorite things are walking up early in the morning to IOA and hearing call to adventure playing with the concrete wet from watering the plants and all the sights and smells of the vendors opening their stands. The second thing is standing on the bridge just before you get to USF by the globe at night and looking out over Citywalk. All the lights and colors are really cool to see!

From Justin M
Posted April 3, 2012 at 7:25 AM

From Mike Gallagher
Posted April 3, 2012 at 8:13 AM
Justin, I agree 100%!

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Top 10 Attendance

  1. Magic Kingdom
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  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Universal Studios Japan
  5. Tokyo DisneySea
  6. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  7. Epcot
  8. Shanghai Disneyland
  9. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  10. Universal Studios Florida