Likes (and dislikes) about Orlando

My childhood memories are strongly punctuated by Disney princesses and my mad love for The Lion King. The fact that fictional characters were such a key part of my upbringing (and the upbringing of many, many others) is a good testament to the insane success of Walt Disney and his empire.

Yet, I can’t recall ever asking my parents for a vacation to Florida to see it all for myself.

Flyin’ solo

Orlando was basically built for Disney, and as I was planning this week-long trip to Florida, I don’t think I heard a single bad thing about the city or the parks. Might as well face the facts: there really is a magical place on earth, and yes, it is commercialized and damned expensive.

But Orlando itself is an…interesting city. I couldn’t quite figure it out; it’s like that age old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Oh the insanity.


Cleanliness: Orlando is pretty strict when it comes to pollution and keeping up a pretty appearance. The city is as well-groomed and manicured as a Hollywood housewife, and damn, it is NOTICEABLE. And appreciated.

Food, food, food: I ate my face off all week, and denied myself no luxury. Aeroplan gave me a $250 AMEX dining card (can be redeemed with 33500 miles, same goes for 60+ other gift cards), so Camile and I checked out an amazing Japanese restaurant named Amura (award-winning sushi joint for three years now), and I gorged on lobster ravioli at Fiorella’s on more than one occasion.


Oh yeah, and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt bar. I was totally amazed by DIY yogurt. Changed my freaking life.

Oh, and this.

Citywalk nightlife: Kinda like George Street, but where drinking in the street is permissible ALL YEAR ROUND.

Citywalk is awesome at night

Theme park culture: It IS a culture, especially for Florida residents who take advantage of sweet deals for living in the sunshine state year round. I’m not much of a rollercoaster gal, at ALL, but I had a freaking blast on the rides I DID take. Even just walking around was delightful.

SUNSHINE! My god, the sunshine. I put aside a day or two for pure relaxation. I cannot remember the last time I just sat down and read a book, just because I COULD, rather than catching snatches of reading in between transit, etc. I am happiest when drinking a beer on a patio somewhere. This, to me, is the embodiment of summer.

The life


The family mentality: Virtually nothing in Orlando is built for the solo female traveler, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for being so single and childless. Until I heard parents screaming at their kids and saw them pulling their ears, and then I felt better that I was on a free luxury vacation without any responsibilities left behind.

Sooooo many people

Transit: Getting around was freaking HARD without a rental car (I was offered one by Aeroplan, but I don’t drive). Granted, I was in a fairly isolated part of the city where I couldn’t even walk anywhere, but taxis weren’t cheap either.

MONEY MONEY MONEY: I will never get used to cities or towns that place such an emphasis on materialism and owning shit. Orlando ain’t CHEAP, and unless you’re prepared to starve yourself at a theme park all day, maybe pack some snacks wherever you go.

The shopping opportunities are insanely good, but malls are busy, busy, busy. Despite Aeroplan generously giving me lots of spending money, I ended up doling out $500 of my own cash so I could cram in all the things I wanted to do (like I said, however, I didn’t deny myself any luxuries).

Would I go back? Hell-to-the-yeah. Preferably with a few good friends and a kid or two in tow. Yes, my own kids. I will refrain from baby snatching.

  • March 22 2012

    The girl in your pool pic is like “Is that lesbian trying to take a pic of me in my bathing suit? That’s hawt.”

    • March 29 2012

      I know, everyone looked at me like I was a predator or something

  • March 22 2012

    “The family mentality: Virtually nothing in Orlando is built for the solo female traveler, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for being so single and childless. Until I heard parents screaming at their kids and saw them pulling their ears…” That’s pretty close to how I feel every time I go to Orlando. Instead of sad, though, I’m annoyed that everything is so geared toward families and kids (what? NOBODY wants to market to the childfree adult population? NOBODY wants a piece of that market???). I have seen a lot of ugly family fights there over the years, and it always make me so glad I’m there alone.

    • March 29 2012

      Totally! I’d love to go back with a bunch of girlfriends too. We’d do some serious damage to Citywalk.

  • March 22 2012

    I’ve only been in Orlando for a convention – and with the need for a car to go anywhere we didn’t get out to see the city. Plus we worked till all hours. We didn’t give Orlando a fair chance.
    Sunshine is nice but now that my kids are grown I can’t imagine visiting – maybe with grandchildren in the way distant future. Otherwise I’d just as soon avoid the crowds.

    I think you brought up some great points Candice. Couldn’t believe my eyes when yous said you don’t drive.

    • March 29 2012

      I can’t wait to go back someday with kids, seriously. Maybe by then the Harry Potter section of Universal will have quieted down. :)

      I DO drive, actually, but I haven’t in years and I’m not used to city driving! I miss it.

  • March 23 2012

    Peas and carrots. I’ll have to try that snack! Interesting! I’ve been to Disneyland in California but not Disney in Florida. Oh man, I am craving sunshine with higher temperatures like mad!! Although I’m in Spain, it’s still early spring which’s still cold!

    It looks like you had a great time despite some of the dislikes. Ew too many kids! haha!!

    Cathy Trails

    • March 29 2012

      It was a great time! So nice to just chill out by the pool. NEEDED that.

  • March 23 2012

    Dude, I’m glad you got to experience Menchie’s. They’re popping up all around here and people are flocking there like manics.

    Orlando is cool. Glad you had a good time. And like you said, I can’t even begin to imagine the crazy families down there and the parents yelling at their kids when they’re supposed to be enjoying a vacation. LOL.

    Have a great weekend and don’t be a stranger.

    • March 29 2012

      Apparently there’s one opening up in St. John’s?! Omggg

  • March 23 2012

    Orlando wasn’t exactly high on my list of ‘places I must visit before the world explodes in a screaming fireball’, but I think it’s dropped right to the bottom now. Materialism, shopping malls, high costs and screaming kids? Bleurgh. I’ll find somewhere else sunny to spend my days, I think… :-(

    • March 29 2012

      Hahaha, no! Don’t be discouraged by my post! Every place has its downside. I loved my time there, but it DEFINITELY caters to a certain personality/travel-style. But Orlando is incredibly friendly, and a welcomed relief from the Canadian winter.

  • March 24 2012

    A few years ago, I would have loaned you a few kidlets, although truthfully, I think that you would all have a better time together now :)

    • March 29 2012

      Hahaha! I should document Orlando through the ages. “Orlando at 25” “Orlando with the kids” “Orlando to get drunk with girlfriends”

  • March 24 2012

    It’s always so refreshing to see people going out to travel on their own! While it is always fun to have companions, there is really nothing better than doing what you what, when you want, at your leisure. I might have to try Orlando sometime when I’m not a poor college student =]

    • March 29 2012

      Totally! :) And definitely wait until you have some money saved up.

  • March 26 2012

    Those are some of the tiniest carrots I’ve ever seen!
    I’m almost willing to say I doubt they came out of the ground like that.

  • March 29 2012

    Orlando is definitely an odd mix. I totally relate to the feeling of seeing the parents yell at the kids…since we don’t have any, we feel extra privileged while walking Epcot with a beer (or 6) and no responsibilities….

    • March 29 2012

      Reeeally wanna do the “around-the-world” at Epcot tour with a beer at each stop. Maybe just not alone this time

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