Orlando again: Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Seaworld and more friends

Our final week in Florida was back in Orlando.  We had originally planned another two weeks there visiting family and friends in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Jacksonville, and Greenville SC as we made our way back home.  But it seemed better to get back home so Marilyn could be spending time with her 102-year-old mother.  As it turned out, that was a good call since we got word as we were driving back that she had taken a turn.  We were able to get Marilyn on a flight to Buffalo from Savannah.  Mom rallied and is stable, interactive and in good spirits.  I continued the drive home.  I spent the first night with Liam and family in Charlotte and the second in Pittsburgh where I am beginning this post.  I will drive to Buffalo Friday morning.  Depending on the situation we will probably be home in Rochester that night.

But back to Orlando.  We spent the week in a resort about 30 minutes outside Orlando and about the same from the Disney World attractions.  It worked out well for us and was much less expensive than staying at a Disney resort.  The big attraction, however, was spending time with Marilyn's cousin, Joe Lawson.  Joe is a Disney cast member (Disney-speak for employee) who is a team leader at World of Disney in Disney Springs.  When Marilyn reconnected with Joe two years ago, he enthusiastically invited us to return and spend time with him at any of the Disney parks.  We decided to take him up on the offer this year.  His enthusiastic invitation was matched by the enthusiasm he has for the parks.  In short, he loves them and often spends time just visiting and interacting with other cast members.  Part of Joe's job is to mentor the College Interns assigned to World of Disney.  Many of them continue on with full-time jobs at Disney.  We visited two parks and Joe kept running into former interns.  He is such a warm and engaging person that it is no wonder that he was always greeted with big smiles and hugs.

Grandparents, parents, children.  A typical group like
this will spend around $15,000 for a trip to Disney.
Not quite sure what this guy is doing.
Taking a photo of his beer?  Taking a
photo of Epcot through his beer?
We spent our first day at Epcot.  We began with Soarin' Around the World and ended with Spaceship Earth with others in between.  We walked through all eleven country showcases.  Being with Joe was like having our own personal guide.  He loves the parks, knows a lot about them and has been on most behind the scenes tours.  I was fascinated by the people and began taking some street photos until I realized that they were all going to be pretty much the same:  otherwise rational, mature people wearing outlandish paraphernalia that seemed normal here. You can see more photos by going to the Google Photos Album.

After resting a day, we went with Joe again to visit The Magic Kingdom, the classic Disney park.  I didn't take any photos but just enjoyed the park.  When I lived in San Diego, Disneyland was a placed we visited several times.  This time we focused on the more nostalgic rides:  Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Jungle Cruise.  The weather was beautiful.  Even the long wait for the Jungle Cruise was enjoyable with plenty of time to visit with and enjoy Joe.  We also experienced Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, The Hall of Presidents, and Enchanted Tales with Belle.  We had lunch at Casey's Corner right on Main Street.  We had the most expensive hotdogs in the world, at least in Disney World.  We said goodbye to Joe and pledged that our next trip to Florida would include visits to two other Disney Parks, Movie Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Sunday was a day to relax and meet Susan and Craig Larsen, friends from Rochester, and Ishrat and Musheer Hussain, for lunch in Lakeland about 45 minutes from our townhouse.  We enjoyed a long lunch with plenty of time to visit.  Marilyn and I drove around Lakeland after we finished and were especially impressed with campus of Florida Southern University.

We spent the next day at Seaworld.  Again my time in San Diego had seen
several visits to Seaworld there but Marilyn had never been.  We saw all the main shows:  dolphin, sea lion, and orca along with visits to the penguins, sea turtles, and sharks.

Click here to watch a longer seven-minute video of the videos I took during the shows. 

Click here to go to the Google Photos album of the photos from Seaworld.

We spent the next day relaxing at the resort and began driving back on Wednesday.  I got to Buffalo on Friday and then Marilyn and I drove home after the Hospice intake meeting.  I am in Rochester now and Marilyn is just finishing up four days with her Mom.  We will be going back Friday for another meeting and then whenever we need to be there to provide the 24-hour coverage Mom needs.


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