Posted Monday, September 30, 2013 9:14 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Orlando is a city with dual, and dueling, identities. It's the place of 2.1 million residents and 51 million tourists. It is both a city of permanence and transience, of resident and visitor. The permanent tourist chooses to live close to the attractions. The permanent tourist goes to the theme parks at least once a week for food, entertainment and relaxation. The permanent tourist's social and family lives revolve around the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Islands of Adventure, Shark Encounter.
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Yeah, those aren't mutually exclusive categories...
I had a good friend that moved from Columbus to Orlando to work for Disney. While he liked his job, which was in entertainment, he purposely got his apartment far away from the resort area, over on Semoran, to avoid a lot of tourists.
I would go visit him at least once a winter to get away from Ohio weather. While I might have one park day, I would spend the rest of the time just hanging out while he was at work, living essentially like a local would. My impression to this day is that people in Orlando just aren't very friendly in general, and perhaps that's due to the fact that most everybody there is from someplace else. I got the impression and heard from people there that they get really cranky with how crowded the city has become, how they hate the tourists, and if they were in the service industry how tired they got of having to be cheerful and nice all the time. The lady at the gas station, for instance, wasn't cheerful or nice at all.
He's gone on to cruise ship work, but I still go hotelling there for a week or so and have a fair amount of non park time. I often wonder what it would be like to have to deal with all that traffic and busyness all the time. (traffic is one thing, tourist traffic is another...)
I get the weather thing, the affordability, and I know for me (as an enthusiast) it would be great to be the permanent tourist that can take advantage of constant entertainment opportunities. Jeff, I'd be interested if you'd check back with us occasionally as the years roll by to see if you've changed your view at all. There may finally be certain periods of the year when you're absolutely loath to go anywhere near, and you ache for the long steamy busy summer season to be over.
Maybe Mr Gator can shed additional light.
51 million tourists, even if it was spread out over two years time, is mind blowing to me.
The "hate tourists" thing is nonsense. Like you said, most people aren't from here, and this has been a tourist destination for decades. It's not like they moved here and were suddenly like, "Holy crap, so many tourists!"
There are good people here, just like there are anywhere. What I don't get is the locals who complain about tourist drivers, because the people who do stupid **** that I see have Florida plates and local dealer stickers on their cars. They aren't tourists.
I live a few miles north of the Disney property, and I'm building a house that's a mile and a half (as the crow flies) from the edge of the Disney property. The weird thing is that on the north side, you'd never know Disney existed if it weren't for the fireworks. The tourist zones are I-4 between Universal and Disney, I-Drive, much of Kissimmee, and 528 out to the airport. Even in July, it's not that big of a deal.
I would add that we went to WDW in July and August quite a bit. MK gets pretty stupid busy, but really if you're just going for a few hours, it doesn't really matter.
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