Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Harry in Orlando

Yes, the late middle-aged clan made a trip to Orlando to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. The reviews couldn't be more different. The two Universal parks each have a Potter attraction. Hogsweade is interesting, architecturally fun and has five roller coaster type rides. Not being 'ride people' we were done in about an hour. Then we took the Hogswart Express to Diagon Alley in the other park for a completely different experience.

Dragon Alley is large, has lots of shops and great visuals. The dragon on top of Gringotts Bank spews fire every few minutes. The butter beer was -- well butter beer. You can purchase wands, robes, quidditch equipment and uniforms all at outrageous prices.

If you're going, do as we did, see Hogsmeade first then train over to Diagon Alley. Reviewing at least the first two films (or books) will completely reimmerse you in all the Potter lore you need to enjoy your visit.

Insider tip: we chose the coldest day we could find, a brisk 50-55 degrees, which meant the crowds were smaller by at least half. If you go mid-summer or around the holidays; well I'm very sorry.

One final warning, if you have resisted the rides at Hogsmeade do not, repeat do not make the mistake of taking your final ride opportunity at Gringotts. We saw several slightly green faces leaving that ride. Do take the tour of Gringotts (great goblins) and the Castle just take the last exit before boarding the stomach wrenching rides.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Villages -- An Update

Three weeks into my adventures in Leisureville. I have some semi-insider observations:

If you plan to move here or to any other 'exclusive community' you should try a vacation rental first. They all have rental units available for a week or a month. Most of the current residents did exactly that and therefore understood what the community they were getting into was all about. Almost to a person they love living here.

The few, who are unhappy and will or have moved away, they didn't give The Villages a good trial run. If I haven't been clear before, this is a very different lifestyle. Several of the locals I've met had just come back from a Caribbean cruise. They all said something like: "It was like living in The Villages but on the ocean." This really is permanent resort living.

Yes, you can get around nearly the entire community on a golf cart. There are over 100 miles of paved golf cart paths. Population now hovers at around 108,000+ over a 50% increase since the 2010 census. About 20 people move into The Villages every day of the year. There are new subdivisions and more golf courses being built. For the golf nuts, there are currently 540 holes with build-out projections at 621 holes, the largest concentration of greens in the world.

As for the singles scene, it does exist but in truth the majority of the residents are couples. Sure they might spend their days at different activities, pools, clubs and golf courses but in the evening they tend to show up to happy hour together.

Is The Villages for everyone? Absolutely not. For like minded individuals this really can be paradise, but you had best be sure this is your cup of tea or glass of wine because this is definitely not for everyone. Might I repeat -- definitely not (but then again).