Photos: A building emerges

It was a quiet weekend (it rained all day on Saturday, and they aren’t working today).

It’s supposed to rain again for most of the day tomorrow (Monday), but they’ll likely still get a few hours of heavy dirt moving in the morning.

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Photos: The Wheel at ICON Park

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Wasted Wednesday

I was bored and cabin feverish (from the previous two days’ rain) so I checked the weather app on my phone and decided to head out to do a bunch of errands at Wal-Mart: Restaurant (a McDonald’s), salon, cell phone store and, of course, groceries all in one place. What could go wrong?

The good news is: The “Signature Chicken Sandwich” I had as a late lunch (almost 2pm by the time I got there), while taking longer than I anticipated to get, it came exactly as I ordered it. My iced coffee was a bit smaller than I was expecting, but it tasted remarkably good.

And then I made the mistake of going to get my haircut from the salon next door. The Aspie in me wants to call my stylist (whom I was hoping not to get) “rude and condescending,” but the reality was he didn’t speak English (apparently, Americans aren’t the only ones who do the whole “slower/louder” thing). This means I don’t have to worry about small talk and all but guarantees I don’t get the cut I wanted.

Believe me, when he stopped treating my already sore head/neck/shoulder like he was trying to fit it into an oversized bag into an already full overhead bin to joke with his coworker (in Spanish) I was very tempted to flee… but, sadly, he returned before I could do so. On the plus side, I don’t HAVE to tip him – and I didn’t. Why reward poor service?

Next, I went to the cell phone store next to the other entrance to get rid of my old phone/tablet, and like the Verizon Store before them, they refused to accept them, so I went to Game Stop on the other side of the plaza as a last resort, and… Guess whose dumpster just acquired a useless phone, an obsolete tablet and two chargers.

Yep, aside from the haircut (which I wasn’t happy with), it was a completely wasted trip (hence the headline) so I went back in the Big Blue Behemoth and found one of the items I missed on previous visits as well as a few staples (just so I didn’t leave empty-handed) and another iced coffee because why not.

I left Wal-Mart for the second time with my full reusable bag and as I walked out to the parking to wait for my Lyft, I felt drops falling on my head. It was as if the weather and I were in the same mood. Thankfully, the rain gear I didn’t need was back in the apartment…

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Review: Epcot’s inaugural International Festival of the Arts


First off, today is Saturday. I never go anywhere NEAR the parks on a Saturday unless I absolutely have to…or unless I’m super bored and the event only happens on weekends like the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

Theme Park Tourist couldn’t recommend it highly enough – even going so far as to suggest making it a multi-day event for art\food lovers. I wouldn’t that far, but I do see it’s appeal… as a way to draw attendance to the park between the phenomenally popular Flower & Garden Show and the overpriced pub crawl know as Food & Wine Festival. Nothing wrong with that – Busch Gardens hosts its own Food & Wine Festival during their slow season.

The problem (and you knew I’d have one) is Disney is trying too hard to make what little they’re offering sound like a lot more than what it is (kind of Hollywood Studios). I’ve been to arts festivals in Miami (Beaux Arts), Harrisburg (Kipona), Baltimore (Artscape), Tampa (Gasperilla Festival of the Arts) and, yes, even Shamokin has one (Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts) and none of them were like this.

It’s like the people planning this had never been to an arts festival.

I get this is mainly about drawing people into the park so they can spend their money in DISNEY’S stores and restaurants (so no blocking paths leading to attractions or restaurants) so even though they also advertise this as a “culinary festival,” those tasty “seminars” were tucked safely behind Disney’s trademark paywall.

To be fair, this was one of the weak complaints TPT made of the event: Little food, big prices and long lines. At Artscape, I couldn’t walk 50 feet without running into a food vendor, here the closest thing to fest food was the existing Funnel Cake House at the American pavilion (and, yes, it had a line too). In fact, there were times where I completely forgot I was walking through an “Arts Festival” rather than an overcast day at Epcot.

As I was walking through the various “Art areas,” I noticed they were dominated by house booths with house merchandise. Don’t get me wrong, ALL of the festivals above had their own merch tents – Artscape had several of them spread throughout their festival – but they had other vendors there. Some of them varied in price\quality (see early years of Heritage Fest), but they weren’t all house booths.

Normally, I’d give them some slack for being an inaugural event, but this is DISNEY and I know they can do better than this. Well, there’s always next year…

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Not even a lollipop

Woke up in a relatively good mood this morning (which is extremely rare for me), and the first post I saw on FB was an uplifting meme listing “positive traits” of people with Dyslexia\ADHD\Aspergers (I’m all three) … and got “Sad-Mad” (to quote the movie Home) as most of them didn’t apply to me.

I look up and it’s 9am, and I can’t leave yet because I need to finish the laundry I started yesterday so I have clean clothes to match my hopefully clean teeth. When the drier finally buzzed, I pulled everything out, hurriedly showered, got dressed and raced downstairs to the approaching trolley.

I’m not a runner, but I didn’t have time to wait “45 minutes” for the next trolley. I get to the corner exactly as the driver gets to the stop and then I really have to move getting within feet of the stop…just to have him shut the door and lurch the bus forward before opening the door again. Hilarious.

“Of course I saw you, dumbass,” he said as if he actually expected me to laugh “with” him. I drop the quarter in the box and could feel everyone staring at me as if their obviously amused smiles would make this less awkward. It doesn’t.

The driver lets me off at Sandlake and International at 10:43am. According to Google Maps, it’s a “21-minute” walk from there to my dentist’s office, but I somehow made it to his door at exactly 11am – hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but exactly on time.

I’m not a fan of going to the dentist – especially after a root canal, an extraction and a prophallactic something (which sounds a lot more fun than it actually is). Fortunately, my teeth and gums are “recovering nicely” (or so the doctor I’ve never seen before told me), but I still needed a half-hour of poking, prodding and scraping that unlike haircuts never actually gets easier (hair is dead, my mouth isn’t). Now I have to schedule a 90-minute bridge installation for either Thanksgiving or my birthday – yah!

The first thing I did after escaping the awkward conversation with the receptionist was get lunch (not even a lollipop). I wanted something fast and there was a McDonalds on the way to Wal-Mart (my next stop) so why not? It was fast and it was food so that was all that really mattered to me.

It’s a long walk (with zero shade) from Sandlake to Wal-Mart, but I survived, entered the store and made a beeline for the watch area where the sole woman working there semi-busily goes between unloading boxes to chatting with passing coworkers to telling customers (all of whom arriving at the counter AFTER I did) at the jewelry end of the counter she can’t help them to disappearing into the back room until after 10 minutes of waiting she finally decides to get rid of help me.

“Do you need help with anything,” she said more as a formality than an actual question.

“The battery on my watch died about two days ago.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t fix watches here. Where did you buy it from?”

“Wal-Mart,” I replied knowing full well if I said anywhere else she’d tell me to “just take it there.”

“We don’t fix watches,” she said flatly. “Try some other store. Florida Mall or something.”

“In other words, I came out here for nothing.”

She shrugs and goes back to half-heartedly unpacking boxes and chatting with passing coworkers.

I leave the store empty-handed and I would have walked back to I-Drive, but there was, conveniently enough, a cab parked directly in front of the store.

I get in and give him the address. He looks at me like I’m nuts, but starts the cab anyway.

“I am not familiar with that address,” he said with a soft yet indeterminate accent. “You will TELL me where to go. Where do I go? Left here?”

“Right,” I corrected.

“Okay, I will turn left at exit to store.”

I swear, I’m the only one who listens to me… either that or I’m trapped in the least funny episode of Seinfeld EVER.

“No, I said turn RIGHT at exit to store.”

“So, right here?”

“Yes, then left at the next exit.”


“You can’t miss it, it’s the building on the left with the bright green metal roof. Of course, I said that to the last driver too and he still…”

“Who it is you [are] babbling at? I need directions, and you are babbling incoherently while I am trying to drive.”

It’s never pleasant being reminded of how others see\hear me. Important? Yes; Pleasant? No as it puts a damper on otherwise polite conversation.

“So you say ‘go right at exit,’” he asked interrupting my brooding inner monologue.

“No, I said ‘turn LEFT at the exit.’ If you go right, you’ll ne…”

He screeches to a halt in the middle of the busy road, turns around and points at me angrily.

“Do you want me to ‘go left’ or ‘go right,’” he snaps. “Which one is it, or do you not know where [the] fuck you [are] going?”

If we weren’t in the middle lane, I would have gotten out, but I’m not partial to getting killed by a speeding car. Moreover, if the big sticker on the window reads “passenger is responsible for all tolls and fees,” who would be “responsible” (I already know who he’d blame) if a car rear-ended us because of HIS stunt?

He starts the cab again and begrudgingly crosses lanes to the rightmost “left-turn” lane just a few hundred yards before the turn and then immediately gets back into the right-turn lane for whatever reason. I ask why he is in the right lane with his right blinker on when the building I requested was obviously to his LEFT so he growls, goes back into the center lane and eventually into the right “left-turn” lane.

Once he got on Westwood, even he could figure out where he was supposed to go (as it’s literally the only “bright green metal roofed building” on the street). I wasn’t planning on giving him a tip, but the fare came to $13.50 (which explains his desire to do a circle tour of I-Drive) and I had three 5s so he was getting a 90-cent “tip” (he forgot to turn his meter off when we were stopped) anyway. I exit the cab, and while he was leaving I traipsed over to the mailboxes and pull two bills and the usual cadre of junk mail that fills the entirety of my tiny mailbox on a daily basis (except Sunday) and head back to the unit.

I came back inside, toss both bills on the counter and open Facebook just to have my “okay” mood spoiled by another uplifting meme about “sharing my thoughts” as it’s a concept which has gotten me in trouble a few times this year (as my thoughts are nothing more than “manipulative lies” designed solely to make people “feel sorry” for me… until they finally realize “the sad fucking joke” that I apparently am).

I look up from my laptop and see it’s pouring rain outside. It’s okay, I had enough sunshine today anyway…

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Photos: Artegon Marketplace








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Making MagicBands magic

The original plan was to check into Port Orleans: Riverside (formerly Dixie Landings) last Sunday and stay through that Thursday afternoon – that was before I got appointments for a dentist AND an optometrist for that day. I wasn’t staying over a three-day weekend.

Unfortunately, Disney’s website (and/or Internet Explorer) wouldn’t let me make reservations until last night. The catch was the hotel was now Caribbean Beach Resort (as it was $20 cheaper per night) and I’ll check-out on Friday instead of Thursday.

I arrived at CBR around 1pm and the room “wasn’t ready yet.” He didn’t ask about the MagicBand as I wouldn’t be able to activate it until I got a room number so he told me to get lunch (which I already did on the way over as I had to transfer buses at Disney Springs), take a swim in their “newly refurbished” main pool (tempting… except it was 58 degrees outside) or simple walk around the resort for a while until we contact you when your room is ready.

Of course, I took my camera out of my messenger bag before handing it to the bellhop standing next to the main entrance. The guy at check-In said I could call and have the bellhop deliver my bags to the room when it was ready. Believe me, it was a huge relief to get those bags off my shoulder.

It took approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes to get from the Customs House (Check-In) to Centertown at Old Port Royale (Food court, main pool and gift shop). It should only take ten, but my goals were to take photos and kill time. I’m still not sure if I should post those pictures below or in a separate post…

I explored the pool, the beach and the marina, dutifully catching all of them on my handy little camera. I even went inside, bought some small snacks (two cookies and a soda) and then browsed through their gift shop (which spills over into the hallway separating the store proper from the edge of the food court).

I will say they have some interesting things for sale there (like a “Jake” headband\wig from Jake and The Neverland Pirates – which I would TOTALLY buy if I thought I had space for it in my bag), but what I DIDN’T find was any merchandise specific to CBR. I saw online that they were rolling out resort-specific merchandise, and I know they started said rollout because I almost bought a blue shirt with the Saratoga Springs logo on it back when I stayed there last August (when I bought the MagicBand referenced in my headline).

For the record, the young woman working in the store that afternoon said she didn’t know when\if CBR was getting its own branded items…

“But, if it was any consolation,” she said smiling earnestly. “You aren’t the first guest to ask me that question.”

It was now 3pm, and I hadn’t received a call or text about my room so I asked at the Concierge desk outside the gift shop proper (and literally in the middle of the spillover section even though it didn’t have any registers), and Antonio at the counter said my room was indeed ready and that he was more than happy to set everything up for me.

I told him about my experiences back in August and again in October (when I bought the Annual Pass I was trying to put on this Magicband). I even told him that his colleagues in both Customer Service and Guest Relations said it was “impossible” to reuse this band because it was already linked to “someone else’s account” (as the reservations at Saratoga Springs were bought using my mom’s DVC points) meaning the “original owner” had to “personally” sign it over to me in their presence or I had to provide some “official legal proxy” relinquishing control of the band to me (no, really).

God help him, he worked tirelessly for approx. 35 minutes on his computer and on the phone with CIS until he was able to get the AP and room key on the same band. He was extremely serious (I wasn’t sure if I should talk to him or not) but unlike his colleague at Saratoga he never complained about the indignity of his task nor did he throw up his hands after 5 minutes like the agents at T&TC.

He got the job done – the one his aforementioned colleagues said “couldn’t be done” – and he got it done without a signature, a proxy or notarized affidavit. For that I commend him. Thank you, Antonio, for starting my week off well.


Update: I brought this story up to Guest Relations in Disney Springs, and the woman working there literally just looked at me dumbfoundedly and said “sooo if there’s ‘no problem,’ why are you in here?” so while I have no idea if the report I made to the agents at GR in Disney Springs made it past their fancy mahogany counter, the story is on record here.

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Disney Disappointments: Part 2

I left the movie shortly after 6pm and decided that even though I had a bag of Cinnamon bites, an oversized Coke and a half bag of popcorn I should still probably get dinner before I left property. Unfortunately, Disney Springs doesn’t offer a whole lot of quick service (now called “fast casual”) restaurants so my non-table service options were basically limited (unless I wanted more popcorn or overpriced margaritas).

So, I headed off to the only non-food truck, non-dessert “fast casual” restaurant service place I could think of – Earl of Sandwich on the Marketplace side of the densely crowded shopping mall. Okay, okay, so I forgot Cooke’s of Dublin, but I’d already made up my mind by the time I passed the stairs to their entrance.

I also had largely made up my mind on what I wanted when I arrived at the store, but I took a menu anyway from the CM stationed at the door so I could see what was on each of their sandwiches. I made my way to the end of the line and then replaced my menu at in the plastic slot attached to one of the columns as I passed it in queue following an older couple whose wife was using a scooter

A short (probably about 4’5”), thin man with dark skin and greasy salt-and-pepper hair darted ahead of me and had a brief conversation with the couple ahead of me (wife was in a scooter). I got the distinct feeling he was talking about me. Suddenly, he points to me, the husband shrugs and the old man stares at me angrily (his scowl made him look like one of those audio-animatronic goblins from the “Gringrotts” ride at Universal) before heading back to his place in line.

About a minute or so later I felt a sharp SLAP on my left shoulder, spun around, and this same little person was standing there, his right arm stretched as far as he could reach so he could wave his finger in my face threateningly. If I were a bystander, I might find this hilarious.

“YOU,” he growled. “You have INSULTED my wife!”

What the fuck is he talking about?

Do not act stupid on me! When you replaced menu you cut out of line and in front of MY WIFE! I said nothing because I am kind and generous man who assumed you are traveling with crippled woman in front of you. But you are liar, they do NOT know you and you are NOT crippled like them!”

I was going to explain the Autistic Spectrum to him or how it takes a few seconds longer to process information, or… but he cut me off angrily before I could say anything.

“You are a horrible, HORRIBLE PER-son,” he said using his last word as an excuse to spit on my shirt (as he was too short to spit in my face).

“And I am taking MY spot in line back and YOU are going to back of the line where you belong! NOW! Maybe it will teach you that your country has ‘RULES’ and YOU are not above them, you selfish PIG!”

He grabs his wife’s hand and drags her in front of me starring daggers at me the entire time. As he and his wife approached the ordering area, he turns around and growls “disrespective ASSHOLE!”

I got up to the cashier (which is at the other end of the counter near the pick-up area) slightly ahead of the bitter old man (his wife had stopped to look at the parfaits) and I saw him again when our buzzers went off at the same time. However, I – or anyone else for that matter – couldn’t get to the counter because he was blocking it while he argued with the poor girl on delivery duty pointing angrily at something on his receipt.

Suddenly, the “horrible person” came to a more horrifying conclusion: this poor girl held hostage at the end of the counter was literally a proxy for ME.

Go ahead; try enjoying a hot, fresh and carefully crafted sandwich after a realization like that.

I clean my table, and head over to clear my head at the Starbucks on the Westside. I check my wallet: I have exactly $7 in it…and then my order came to $6.85. I stopped at the ATM next to the restrooms (if I did that first this post would probably stop here). Since all I had was twenties, I made my way over to the nearly deserted cab stand behind Cirque du Solei.

When a cab finally arrived, I jumped into it as soon as his passengers got out. Finally after several minutes of him pretending to laugh at my serious story, I commented that it seemed to be taking forever to get back to the complex.

“Look at all thiiis traffic I have to deal wiiiith,” he said defensively, gesturing towards the steady stream of headlights on the OPPOSITE side of the highway. Meanwhile, the lanes AHEAD of us were empty… that’s when I noticed we had JUST turned onto I-4 at Downtown Disney.

It wasn’t “traffic” delaying us, the greedy bastard just spent the past ten minutes driving me around Kissimmee!

Then he finally pulls into my complex, but instead of dropping me off at the leasing office like I told him, he shoots through the gate and then pulls up to each building going three miles an hour – with the meter running.

“Is thiiiis you building? How about thiiis one? Which one IIIIISS your building?”

“It’s the first one on the right directly behind the leasing office.”

“Then why didn’t you just tail me to stop at the leasing office,” he said exasperatedly as he pulled into a random spot near the end of the row. His meter clicking loudly as he pulled out to turn around.

“That is $24.75,” he says pulling into a spot in front of the clubhouse, and I hand him the lowest amount I had. “I said $24 – you gave me $40! You are telling me you do not have a five? Are you focking kidding me?”

“Do you REALLY think I WANT to break a 20 over $4? For god’s sake, if I had two dollars I could have taken a BUS back.”

He begrudgingly reached into his seat and gave me my change and I left the cab and followed the barely lit path towards my building…

Categories: adventures, Autism, disney world, entertainment, florida, Orlando, retail | Leave a comment

Disney Disappointments: Part 1

I know my headline reads “Disney Disappointments,” but can I start with some GOOD news?

I decided to renew my lease at Sea Isle Apartment Homes for another year!

I made it official this afternoon by turning in my renewal form to the leasing office (or I would have if I hadn’t misplaced it, but I was given a shiny new lease to sign… with an even shinier new rent).

Anyway, I left the club house and made my way to the bus stop at Sea Harbor and Academic Drives using my white DVC hat with the frayed rim to shield my eyes from the approximately 100 feet of unshaded sidewalk on my way towards the LYNX stop where the bus towards Disney arrived ten minutes behind sched- wait, this is a city bus that’s probably as close to being “on time” as they get.

The first thing I did when I sat down was to put on the sweatshirt (movie theaters – and every other building in Florida for that matter – are always freezing cold) putting my hat on the seat next to me while I pulled the blue Disney hoodie over my head.

I walked off the bus at the Disney Springs station with a half dozen other passengers and was nearly blinded by the strong afternoon sun.

“Where did I put that stupid hat,” I said out loud feeling the empty pocket of my sweatshirt as the dull green bus pulls away from the curb.

It was already 2pm so I didn’t really have time to get anything serious to eat before my 2:30 show time. I stopped at the first place I could see to get a quick snack on my way towards the theater which ended up being a bag of “Cinnamon Bites” that was considerably larger than I was expecting.

“Actually the 2:30 screening of The Martian is in 3D. The next normal screening is at 3:30, is that what you want to do?”

Anyway, now that I have a full hour and a quarter to play with, I made my through the dense crowd towards the World of Disney Store. I wasn’t looking for hats (I have a half dozen back at the apartment), but I was looking for a pair of men’s sandals that I bought at DAK back in December.

“Wait, black with grey rubber bottoms,” the woman at the tiny Information desk asked cutting me off at “sandals.” “Yeah, I know exactly what you want.”

She disappears into a backroom and comes back with “there is nothing available matching that description ANYWHERE on property. Sorry, we are out of stock and it doesn’t appear as if we will be restocking them anytime soon. Who knows, it’s October, maybe if you check back in the Spring we may have them, but not today. Sorry, next in line…”

That was a bust, now I only have…an hour before my screening. Let’s see, ATM, restroom and, oh, Guest Services – which is conveniently around the corner from where I came out – AND it had a line. This was definitely promising…

I went inside and was greeted by a young Latin American woman with an accent (didn’t catch her name as I have no reason to look at that region) holding a large electronic device (I thought it was a clipboard when I first saw her) who immediately asks how she can assist me.

Unfortunately between her accent and the noise level of the tiny waiting room, we were pretty much speaking past each other for most of the conversation. Not that people understand me in quiet rooms either, but she was making an effort. She offered to let me wait in line “for 20 minutes or so,” but I decided against it because I didn’t think they could help me either…

Wait, it’s been almost two months since I posted a photo essay on what was then “Downtown Disney.” I felt around my sweatshirt again (I put it back on when I entered World of Disney), and it was still empty because my camera was still sitting on my desk back at the apartment.

I considered asking the guys at the DVC kiosk if they knew where I could get a replacement hat, but I got the feeling that would involve a 90 minute lecture and a $10,000 dollar deposit – neither of which I had at the moment. Thirty minutes I could spare, and I spent most of it sitting outside the theater pretending to be interested in stupid cat videos and generic “inspirational” memes that always ended with “like and share if you agree.”

That’s right, people love being ordered around by generic memes that totally and accurately describe them as a person because it makes them unique and special to share banal observations that 10k other users have shared before them. If you agree with the post – which would be anyone with a pulse – you MUST “like and share” that’s a rule and you cannot argue with it. Well, fuck you, I’m not doing either!

Yes, sadly enough, it’s the only power trip I’m “allowed” to have. Hey, ten minutes before show time, and if the crowds inside are as bad as the ones outside than I might need all of them even though I saw a man on my way into the cinema turn away disgustedly when the cashier told him the movie was “two and a half hours long” (neglecting to mention twenty-five minutes of previews).

I walked into the theater expecting an Interstellar level disaster, except, wait, I’m not reviewing movies anymore. I have my popcorn ready and I’m already wearing my sweatshirt so go ahead, entertain me…

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Roadside Clothier (update)

I logged onto Wal-Mart’s website this morning and found the item I was looking for “in stock” (just not housed in the dept it’s listed under) which meant I had to walk my (un)happy ass back to the store (because funding public transit is a “waste of money”) to pick it up. Well anyway, on my way to the store, I saw the same set of clothes strewn over the same embankment they were yesterday.

This time I had a backpack with me and since I was wearing my raincoat (wasn’t raining just windy) I had more than enough room to put the two shirts (I initially thought the one was a pair of shorts) – one Y-S and the other Y-XS. Neither of which do me (or my nieces\nephews) any good.

Just as well, they were ugly anyway…

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