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Odds and endings

There’s been a lot going on around here lately, not just with the the move but with my family in general, and my mind is starting to feel like mush trying to work through and keep up with it all! So while I have some time, I just want to take a break from everything and let my brain offload some of my excess thoughts by writing about a few of them.

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCES

On the family front, this is my son’s last week of high school, with graduation the week after! After being a stay-at-home parent since my children were born, the last of them finishing grade school feels like a major ending. It’s almost like I’m about to retire from a long term job! No, our parental duties are not done yet — now we’ll need to help him navigate towards being an independent adult. But this is a big milestone, and it along with all the other upheaval of having my wife living nine hours away while having to prepare the house for our move by myself, has got me a bit emotionally frazzled! To top off my pending mental meltdown, I know that my son doesn’t want to move, so it’s hard to enjoy the parts of preparing for it that I can. But for now, we can enjoy graduation. Serious congratulations to him for this achievement.

I previously mentioned that my older child was supposed to graduate from college this month as well. Unfortunately, it turns out she still has one more semester to go. While I was hoping to have her all set up and settled as much as she could be before we left, I guess one more semester isn’t that big a deal. Especially since things are falling into place for her everywhere else. Last month she officially moved into her first apartment with some friends! And, out of the blue, a former boss of hers from when she was a part-time employee at the mall called her up and offered her a job at the company he is now working for, with a substantial pay bump. She started there last week. Knowing that she is ready to start her independent adult life has taken a huge mental burden off me.

GUILT TRIP

I have to admit to some guilt about this move. In a way it’s a bit selfish, leaving my daughter here just as she’s starting out on her own and dragging my son with us unwillingly. I justify it by reminding myself what a wonderful life we’ve been able to give the kids so far. And that’s been due to the sacrifice of their mother who works so hard to provide for them, and the sacrifice I made in postponing what I wanted to do with my life so they would always have someone at home ready to do whatever they needed every day of their childhood. After all that don’t we deserve to ease up on some of those sacrifices and do something to make our lives more wonderful? While they’ve been spoiled a bit in that moving hasn’t really been part of their lives, it is a fact of life for many, many other kids. I personally attended nine different schools between first and twelfth grade! So this isn’t really a big deal…

…I tell myself all that, but the lump of guilt remains!

Thankfully, they’re both very good kids. And I’m very proud of both of them. This move may be inconvenient for each of them in different ways. But part of learning to grow up is handling adversity, and hopefully we’ve prepared them as best as we could for it.

THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED

In my last post, I talked about some of the people I’ve been following for awhile online who had written about their move to Disney. Since their moves, two of them have made full-time careers out of Disney blogging, another continues to create daily video blogs about their lives, and the last now has a Disney side business while continuing to write regularly about all things Disney.

While I followed in their footsteps in creating this site, and continue to love everything they are currently doing, I do not plan on becoming a Disney blogger myself once our move is complete later this year. You’re not going to see me doing reports from the parks about the latest parades or merchandise! I will happily leave that to others.

I will definitely keep this site up and running for future potential movers. I’ll occasionally write about any thoughts or experiences concerning our having moved that might be of interest to others that follow down the road. And I’ll always be available to answer questions anyone may have. But starting our life in the Orlando area will be the culmination of this blog not just the next chapter. I’m very grateful that the people I follow have continued to work on their sites after their move because I’m sentimental and have grown attached to watching them over the years! But I don’t think blogging about Disney in general is for me. (Though I do hope living around Walt Disney World will lead to some interesting pieces for the animation site I also write for!)

On a related note, I also plan to continue “marketing” this site the same way I always have, which is hardly at all! I’m not doing this to make money or for personal publicity or to promote something else. This site has always been just two things: an online diary for me to use as an outlet for all my pent up excitement and frustration about the move; and as a resource to hopefully help others looking to make the move one day. The only advertising this site has is me occasionally mentioning it on forums I frequent when someone mentions maybe moving to Disney, Google serving it up to people who search about moving to Disney, and word of mouth.

So while those now full-time bloggers definitely inspired me, I don’t aspire to become them!

HAVING RESERVATIONS ABOUT DISNEY

There are several disappointing aspects to our having waited so long to make this move. The price of housing skyrocketing since we first started looking is probably the biggest! But another is the (hopefully temporary) removal of most annual pass sales and the continuation of the COVID-era institution of park reservations. The reason to move to the Orlando area as a Disney fan is so you can walk into the park whenever the mood strikes. But with all but the most restrictive annual passes not being available for sale, along with the requirement to reserve a place in a park in advance, some of the shine is off living nearby. Don’t get me wrong! Even just getting to go once a week will be amazing. But having to check not one, but two calendars before hand instead of just walking out your door when the mood strikes you is not exactly how I pictured things when we first decided we wanted to become locals.

Unfortunately two recent articles don’t give me hope. One warns they believe the park reservation is here to stay. The other predicts park reservations will soon end but that annual pass prices will go way up to compensate.

GOING UNIVERSAL

We’ve been one of the types of vacationeers Disney covets: the kind who don’t leave the property. OK, we don’t always stay in one of their hotels, but outside that all of our vacations are exclusively Disney vacations. For a long time that was due to there being so much to do and so little time to do it all in, so why go anywhere else.

(Quick sidetrack: We’ve only ever once attempted to visit one of Disney’s theme park competitors. My daughter wanted to do the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom on the first day she was allowed to, her 16th birthday. So while she and mom did that, I took my then 13 year old son to Legoland for his own belated birthday trip. Within a few hours of arriving, a bomb threat was called in and the park was evacuated for the rest of the day, before we’d had a chance to buy a single souvenir. We headed to the Lego Store at Disney Springs to rectify that. Mickey was apparently very serious about keeping us in his bubble!)

We are big fans of the Harry Potter books. So over the years we’ve considered taking a day or two to visit Universal’s parks because we’ve heard some really good things about the Wizarding World they’ve created. But invariably we always say “maybe next time”. Four years ago, knowing we were going to be moving down to the Orlando area eventually, we made the decision not to visit Universal at all on any of our future trips. We came up with the idea of “saving” the Harry Potter lands and the rest of Universal’s parks as a special gift to ourselves that we can experience for the first time once we move.

Once we decided on that, Universal has not really crossed my mind much. But now that we’re just a few months away, I’m actually kind of excited about getting to see, not just Harry Potter, but a non-Disney company’s take on a a major theme park. What’s different? What’s not done as good as Disney? What could Disney be doing better that Universal is doing right? And, taking into account what I mentioned above about Disney annual passes and park reservations restrictions, could Universal end up being something we do more often than we would have thought?

HOME SWEET OTHER HOME

My wife got to visit us here in Tennessee two weeks ago after spending her first month alone in Celebration. Before finding her new job, she had signed up to raise money and participate in a local MS Walk. She worked until noon on Thursday before hopping on a 90 minute flight from Orlando to Tennessee. That night we went to dinner with the kids and my parents. Friday we spent the day out and about. Saturday was the charity walk. My wife just missed out on being in the top ten fundraisers (if I’d known I would’ve chipped in the extra $60!), but #11 is very impressive. As for the walk itself, she’s been taking advantage of the exercise room and pool at her apartment, as well as the wonderful Florida weather and beautiful Celebration walkways to prepare. She did great for most of the way, but was definitely feeling it by the end! It was a successful day and we’re very proud of both her achievements! Sunday morning she was back on the plane and in her apartment by noon. She’ll only have three weeks back in Florida until her next visit (for our son’s graduation next week). After that it will be two months until we get a chance to see her again, when we all head down in July to visit her.

HOUSE HUNTING ON HOLD

It seems a bit counterintuitive, but now that we’re closing in on our moving date, I’ve spent less time house hunting. When we were far off from the move, house hunting was for information and enjoyment. We weren’t actually looking to buy; we just used it as a way to find out what we wanted or just to get us excited for what was coming. Now, though, it’s not much fun to look at house listings. We’re close enough to where we’re going to need a house soon, but far enough away that seeing houses we like would be frustrating since we can’t jump on them yet. I’d hate to find the perfect place a month before I can make an offer! So better to be blissfully ignorant for now!

MORE BLOGGERS

I’ve been following two new-to-me YouTube bloggers over the past several months who have quickly become favorites, and wanted to share them with you guys.

The first is 4K WDW. This YouTube channel films walkthroughs throughout the resort in very high quality resolution, with updates every day! The best thing about the videos is they are all done with absolutely no commentary. You get to walk through the parks and hotels as if you were doing it yourself, without listening to the person with the camera narrating for you, asking for donations, or talking to people in the chatroom. While I love listening to my favorite bloggers in the parks, sometimes you just want something more peaceful. This is it.

The second is Addicted to the Mouse. While they have a lot of the typical blogger-filming-their-family-at-the-parks content, what makes Dan and Leslie different (and so helpful!) is the fact that they just moved to Orlando in the last year and about 25% of their videos are detailed dives into what they went through to get there. These two hold nothing back, giving us all the nitty-gritty information we need to follow in their footsteps. Recent show titles include: “What It Cost Us to Move Next to Disney”, “Everything You Need to Get Rid of Before Moving to Florida”, “How We Got From Contract to Closing”, “Mistakes to Avoid When Moving to Disney World”, and “What We Would Have Done Differently Before Buying Our House”. My other favorite bloggers all moved five years or more ago, which might as well have been fifty years ago when it comes to the current real estate market. There two moved in the same environment we’ll be moving in, making what they have to say all the more invaluable.


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