I first came out here in the Summer of 1988. I have returned many times over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me how much the place has changed since my last visit. They say 1,000 people move to live in the State every day and you can see this reflected in the increasing volumes of traffic on the I4, the interstate highway that crosses the State from South West to North West and the new housing estates that spring up like mushrooms along its path.
Driving on this highway is not pleasurable at the best of times. I have a theory that Americans believe that lane discipline is un-American and giving way at intersections or generally is a sign of weakness. Weaving in and out of lanes is a fact of life and undertaking is expected. The scariest part though is being passed by great beasts of juggernauts, or motorhomes the size of a small villages with cars in tow, which always seem to roar along on cruise control at 10 miles above the posted speed limit.
You definitely do not want to get road rage in Central Florida or cause it by, say, driving cautiously or not flooring it at a traffic light the split second it turns green, or if you delay in turning right at a red signal (allowed by the sometimes bizarre traffic regulations) or paying your toll at a toll booth. They love guns in this State, as my wife reminds me, whenever I am tempted to use the horn after being cut up by some maniac weaving at speed in and out of any gap he or she can see, whilst texting on a cell phone. Guns are so prevalent, you can pick up a semi-automatic and ammunition alongside your milk, bread and butter at your weekly shop in Walmart. No; remonstrating with a possessed American driver is not advisable. – best to keep calm and blend in.
In spite of the guns and driving, I like it here. Perhaps it is because it is so different. It is not like Europe at all, either in terms of scale or attitude.
If you like Disney, Harry Potter and all things Universal or Lego and have children, this is definitely the place to come for a holiday. It is the World’s Theme Park Capital and so well run. I once went to Disneyland Paris or Euro Disney, or whatever they call it now, and it is very poor by comparison.
The better known theme parks in or around Orlando are all good, Busch Gardens, which is actually in Tampa, an hour and a half South is worth a visit. It means dicing with the I4, but,as I say, it is worth it.
This trip has been all about grandson. He has been to the Magic Kingdom, Typhoon lagoon waterpark, Legoland, Busch Gardens, Animal Kingdom and loved them all. I would say it has been enjoyable for us too, but not at all relaxing. Toddler management is a 24 hour thing and one of the advantages of grandparenthood is the ability to spoil a child and then give them back to their harassed parents. After two weeks full throttle, I was ready to come back home to relax.