She is there on a paid internship. The benefit for Jennifer is not the minimum wage she earns but that she learns first hand how a huge organization manages thousands of employees, keeps its parks squeaky clean, and makes a substantial profit on everything from food, to entrance fees, to souvenirs, etc. Once the internship is over, Jennifer will return to finish her degree and once graduated, may be offered a full-time job at Disney.
When I arrived in Orlando, Jennifer met me up at the airport. We had supper and then I checked in to my hotel. I knew the amount of walking would be a challenge but I expected to spend some time between parks relaxing around the pool. Unfortunately, the snowstorm that hit the East coast got far enough south to plummet Florida's temperatures. I never put on shorts and my bathing suit stayed buried in my suitcase. So much for my fun in the sun plans.
The first day in Magic Kingdom it rained in the afternoon. Jennifer was prepared with an umbrella. The bad weather was a good excuse to browse in many of the stores. I was stunned by the cost of everything and was grateful Jennifer had a 40% discount, one of her perks. I am not much of a shopper but I did get a cute pair of tongs that looked like Mickey’s gloves and I purchased a magnet for my refrigerator. The most interesting indoor activity was watching little girls transformed into princesses by the Magic Kingdom beauty salon. Hairdos, makeup, and gowns produced mini Cinderellas, Snow Whites, Belles, etc. at prices ranging from $60 and up.
I traipsed around the Magic Kingdom for twelve hours marveling at the changes since the last time I was there twenty years ago. Jennifer was a fountain of knowledge bubbling over with information that she had learned since her arrival in January. Exhausted I went back to my hotel that night and nursed the blisters on my toes. So much for good walking shoes!
The next day Jennifer and I headed for Epcot where we spent a more leisurely day. Epcot is not as crowded and offers many educational exhibits. It has a huge international flavor and is geared more for adults. I liked the food Epcot offered especially the Gelato and I really enjoyed the fabulous fireworks show over the lake at the end of the day. By then my toes, knees and back ached. I crawled into bed glad that the following day I had plans to visit some friends while Jennifer was working.
Then day four arrived and we were off to Hollywood….not the city but another Disney park. I was very glad that so much of what we saw there was in the form of rides or shows. It was decidedly easier on my body and I really enjoyed the ride California Soarin’ but it seemed out of place and I wondered why Disney didn’t make a film called “Florida Flying”? I could imagine wildlife and sandy beaches seen from the sky as well as Vizcaya and Flagler Museums on the screen serving to show off some of Florida’s assets.
One good thing was that with each day the weather was slowly improving. I put away my thermals and gloves but didn’t pull out my sunscreen. I decided not to go to the fourth park - Animal Kingdom – my body was telling me to slow down. There is also a water park but I doubt only the heartiest souls were there. The next day while Jennifer worked, I took a trip to the nearby Millenium Mall to see how the super rich shopped. Stores such as Neimann Marcus, Gucci and Ferragamo filled the glitzy mall. I noticed many foreign shoppers loaded down with branded bags. Our prices were considered a bargain compared to theirs.
The next morning I had a farewell breakfast with Jennifer. She was running off to work happy as a clam. I spend my last day in downtown Orlando exploring Lake Eola where I rented a swan boat and enjoyed the lake. Bird of all kinds were everywhere. I basked in the sun. Destined to leave that evening, I was more than ready to go home. I would not miss the Orlando traffic – it reminded me of LA. I would not miss the hordes of people at the Disney Parks though I must say Disney handles them well and I would not miss the high cost of everything. But I will miss Jennifer until May when she returns to Danville.