In Which I Give You Tips for Spring Break in Orlando

Ah, it's that time of year; the annual migration of snowbirds is upon us. Should you, dear readers, be one of them, I want you to be prepared. Here then, is my top ten list of Tips for Your Spring Break in Orlando.

10. You will be fiercely hot and sweating like a pig. Water is $2.75. Accept it.

9. Best Ride at Disney--My personal favorites are Splash mountain and that thing they used to call the WedWay people mover, but now it's called TTL or something. Also be forewarned if you haven't been there in a while: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride has left the building.

8. Best Water Park: Blizzard Beach, hands down.

7. The best Beach Pier is in Daytona. Ride the rickety, old sky lift that dangles you over the ocean.

6. For the true Ron Jon's experience, you must visit the Ron Jon's in Cocoa Beach, not one of those branches in a mall where they try to recreate the whole ocean experience.

5. It's in the high eighties; bring shorts. And we've had some cold fronts, too, so bring pants and maybe a long sleeved shirt, especially if you want to walk on the beach at night. Ladies, bring a sweater and leave it in the car everywhere you go, because no matter how hot it is outside, every restaurant has the thermostat set to Chill. Oh, and it might rain. Be prepared.

4. That's not a tan you're getting; it's a sunburn. When you go back up north, you will look like a lobster and all your friends will tease you. Use SPF 50.

3. Do not use your turn signal--it only alerts the other drivers to speed up and not let you in. I share with you now the method I have perfected: Keep your face forward while relentlessly scanning all your mirrors for an opening. When you see one, crank the wheel and BAM! slide in. You have now executed the Orlando lane change.

2. The SunPass lanes on the toll roads are not the same as a Fast Pass at Disney. We O-towners paid for these little boxes that sit on our dashboards and drain money from our bank accounts every time we speed through the gate. Go through the cash or change lanes. Tip: You can run through a couple of tolls without being fined. After that, the gate cameras take pictures of your license plate and a nice little ticket will be sitting in your mailbox, awaiting your return.

1.All the main streets here are referred to by numbers and names. Even the finest tourist with the latest GPS will find herself at a gas station for directions. Let me give you a rundown. (Cut this part out and keep it in your pocket.)

  • Highway 50 is Colonial Drive.
  • 441 is Orange Blossom Trail, also referred to as OBT.
  • 17/92 is Mills Avenue.
  • 441/17/92 is also Orange Blossom Trail or OBT, but it is not Mills Ave., nor does it merge or in any way connect with said Mills Avenue in Orlando proper.
  • Sometimes, Mills Avenue is called Orlando Avenue.
  • 436 is Semoran Boulevard, but in some parts, it is called East Altamonte Drive.
  • 417 is the Greenway.
  • 408 is the East/West Expressway.
  • 528 is the Beachline. It used to be the Beeline and had a cute bee on all the signs, but some marketers must have gotten a hold of it and thought, Hey, it runs east and west, let's pump it up and call it the Beachline, dude.
  • I-4 has a lot names. Not printable.
Very Important: Most major streets have signs giving you directions to the airport. Look twice, my friend. Is that an arrow telling you to go straight, or is it the internationally recognized symbol for airplane? The arrow, which is the thing you need to follow, is on the right hand of the sign and sometimes points in a different direction; the plane always points forward, causing even seasoned O-timers to go the wrong way. (Not, ahem, that this has ever happened to me.)

Enjoy, and say hello to the mouse for me!


Mary Witzl said...

Funny, Danette! There's not a hope in hell that I'll get over to Florida, but I once spent a year in Miami and I well remember the influx of the snowbirds. And we're in snowbird country here too, with driving very similar to what you describe. No one uses their signals here; it's like they think it's too wimpy.

Kim Kasch said...

Oh...I want to be fiercely hot and sweating like a pig. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, you should write the Snowbird Survival guide.

Sheri said...

These are awesome tips! I love that you did this posting! I JUST posted on my blog, where to go on family vacations... needing tips and suggestions.

AND BTW... I emailed you two photos and posted something exciting about you on my blog.... Let me just say, we had our Scholastic Book Fair in school this week...

Stella said...

After living in New York, I think I could handle Orlando traffic just fine. We went to Disney World during Easter vacation with the boys when they small. Never again. It was hot, hot, hot and despite a hat and sunblock I still got a burn in the damnedest places (the small of my back where my top crept up, the backs of my arms). I'm just not a heat and humidity person.

Kelly said...

Great tips! I was lucky enough to go to Disney with the family last month! (my son agrees with you, Splash Mountain was his favorite!)
Enjoy your warm weather from a cold Midwesterner :)

Paul Michael Murphy said...

This has nothing to do with your post, but I just wanted to stop by and say that the school where I work is hosting a Scholastic Book Fair this week and in preparation I showed my students the promotional video starring none other than you (and some other people too). Nice job on the video. I'll be buying two copies of your book, one for me and one for my class.

And how cool that you're on the same video as Eric Carle? Heady stuff, huh?

Danette Haworth said...

Hi Mary! Guerilla driving at its best. It's really the only way.

Kim, You are fiercely hot!

Charles, What a great idea! I would cull my years of O-town experience and pass the secrets on.

I got your email and thank you! It is so thrilling to see Violet on the Scholastic poster. Thanks for thanking the time to email that to me!

Stella, You've described the sunburn patches so well. I find that I get burned in those areas missed by the swipe of my hand loaded with SPF 50--little slivers of sunburn. And as for driving, I've never driven in NY, but I white-knuckled through Chicago once, and that was enough!

Hi Kelly! Splash Mountain just has that really neat stuff at the top, and then they fool you with that almost hill right before you go down. Your summer is around the corner; my mom lives in Michigan and the summers are wonderful!

Hi Paul,
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you and your class love Violet Raines. Yes, it was very heady stuff, from the phone call to the filming to seeing the DVD--just wonderful, the whole thing a dream come true.