It’s something EVERY Orlando local has to deal with at some point. The inevitable call, email, or text from someone you haven’t seen or talked to in 20 years. “Hey, we need to catch up, maybe I’ll come to Orlando and visit you”. Of course, the proper translation of this phone call, text, or email is “I want to come to Disney and don’t want to pay for a hotel”. It’s the uncomfortable downside of living near one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world.
I should start by saying that I realize not everyone is like me. I love my family, I love my friends, but I generally despise house guests. File that under the “I love you, but I don’t want to live with you even a little” category. My siblings are the same – so it works out well. But when I first moved here, it wasn’t my family that was the problem. It was my friends, including people I hadn’t spoken to for years. So, what to do?
If you’re going to say yes to these requests, you’ll have to manage expectations. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.
Boundaries are our friend
The unspoken expectation is that you’re going to play tour guide. Now, I’ll admit this expectation was a bit more pronounced for me because of my other businesses (The DIS and Dreams Unlimited Travel). When you’re a ‘professional Disney fan‘, the bar is raised quite a bit higher. Nonetheless, if you’re known in your circle of influence as ‘the Disney guy’ or ‘the Disney girl’, this will apply to you. You have to find tactful, but clear ways to let them know that while they may be on vacation, you’re not so they need to be self-sufficient. If you’ve invited the black hole of emotional need into your home for a week, this could be a bit challenging. If you don’t set clear guidelines with certain people, you’ll quickly come to regret it.
They have these things called Uber and Lyft
There will be guests that show up, expect you to pick them up and drop them off at the airport, and also expect that they can use your car to shuttle back and forth to the parks. These are the ‘frugal’ people who are determined to do a week-long vacation at Disney World for under $100 I work from home and my car sits idle most days, and there was a time when I would let guests use my car. Then, the day came where I had an emergency and no car because my friend was on Space Mountain. You can NEVER be without a car in Orlando if you hope to go anywhere. Please remember that.
The Disney Discount Hunters
Ok, so maybe not everyone has to deal with this at the same level I do, but I know more than a few friends who have been asked “can you get us discounts into the parks?”. The correct New Jersey response to this is “bitch, you’ve got a free place to stay that’s all that discount you’re getting”. Of course, you say this with love, but the message is the same.
Beware the friends of your friends
Invariably, your friend, aunt, fourth cousin twice removed will not be traveling to Orlando solo. They’ll bring “a friend you’re just going to love”. Translated, this phrase means “The plague will be joining me on vacation”. This is especially true if your friend has a history of hanging out with ‘colorful characters’. I had one experience many years ago where a friend came to visit with one of their friends. I went to bed early, while the two of them sat on my lanai having a few cocktails (okay, more than a few). I woke up in the morning, went into the kitchen to make my coffee, and couldn’t help but notice an awful smell in the house – like something had died.
I followed the smell to my guest bathroom, where the door was ajar and I opened it to find my friend’s friend passed out on the bathroom floor. I then put two and two together and realized that this man had, at some point in this process, soiled himself either before or after passing out. Hence the smell of death that greeted me when making my morning coffee. The rest of the day was filled with endless apologies from both my friend and the future ‘Depends’ spokesmodel he brought with him. My only response, after the smell I awoke to, was to say “you should really see a doctor”.
Now, of course, none of these scenarios are the norm. I’m trying to share some of my more memorable experiences in order to make a point. Moving to Orlando comes with some challenges you won’t find if you’re moving to most other cities. Understanding this beforehand, and having a plan, is a very good idea.