Archive for the ‘My Muses’ Category

Love Is In The Air

September 29, 2011

I Don't Think This Post is About a Car

[Editor’s Note: Today we are delighted to introduce the newest member of the LanceAroundOrlando blogging team–TheRyanKing. He hails from the northeast and currently works alongside LanceAround and SunnyStefani at the Florida Dream Homes check-in center. We are delighted to be adding his razor sharp wit and profound insights to our blogging team–LanceAround]

What’s one of the most annoying things about Florida? Yes, having to pay that much money for admission to a theme park is one answer.  However, for those of us that live here, we’ll usually say, “It’s the bugs!”

It’s true. With its unique subtropical climate, Florida is one of the “buggiest” states in the country. But, twice a year, for two weeks at a time, Florida is overrun by an insect so terrible, so vile, that it’s very name strikes fear in the hearts of even the bravest Floridian. It’s…The lovebug!

I’m not kidding.

If you’ve been on vacation here, either in late April/early May or late August/early September, you’ve definitely seen them. There can be thousands of them at one time or just that one pair you can’t seem to get unattached from your shirt sleeve. If you look closely, that one annoying bug is actually two, joined together.

Lovebugs in Action

The Plecia nearctica, as they are scientifically known, are a member of the March fly family. They are also known as the honeymoon fly, telephone bug, double-headed bug, united bug and kissing bug and are found in the Southeastern United States; specifically in the gulf coast region. American entomologist Dilbert Elmo (D.E.) Hardy first reported on them in 1940. One male and one female will usually remain attached to each other, even after they finish mating, until death, which certainly adds a somewhat Shakespearean dimension to this otherwise mundane topic.

At only 1/4 inch, they would never appear to be much of a nuisance, but believe me when I say, “They are!” Why do we hate them so much? Well, it certainly isn’t because of their ferociousness. (They can’t hurt you since they don’t bite or sting.) Rather, it has to do with how they travel. See, love bugs travel in giant swarms, sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands, which can cause a little problem. Think about driving down the highway. That’s right! Picture this, you’re leisurely cruising along, when all of the sudden it starts snowing black…in the middle of Central Florida…at the end of August. That’s really the best way to describe driving through a lovebug invasion. Except, unlike snow, your windshield wipers are useless as the squished bug juice just spreads around and makes it more difficult to see.

Your View on a Busy Lovebug Day

Inside the body of lovebugs is a slightly acidic juice. This isn’t a problem for a person. That is, until the juice runs into your windshield and bumper as you cruise down Interstate 4. This acid splatters across your glass and paint and, in about 30 seconds, dries in place. It becomes impossible to remove. Thankfully, all you need is a quick soaking of water and a sponge. But hurry, lovebug acid will strip the paint off your car if it’s left there very long.

A popular urban myth states that the lovebug was the result of a genetic experiment at the University of Florida gone horribly wrong. Supposedly, they crossed a fly and a mosquito in an attempt to create an enemy for mosquito larva. According to lore, they accidentally created a male lovebug, a pair somehow escaped into the wild and the population soon exploded. When you live in Florida you quickly assume that any myth about the University of Florida Gators was concocted by their arch enemies in Tallahassee, the Florida State Seminoles, and you take it with a grain of salt. (Next you’ll believe claims that Gatorade was created at the University of Florida and is never drunk by Florida State University football players — oh, wait, that one is actually true!)

Luckily this flying circus of lovebugs only lasts four weeks each year–two in the autumn and two in the spring. That means if you want to see them, you’ll have to plan your trip accordingly. Because, like the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall of China, lovebug season is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.

And when you’re standing at the gas station, scrubbing the windshield of your rental car, remember to take a minute and reflect on the beautifully romantic life of the common Plecia nearctica (the “lovebug”) which you just ended at 70 miles per hour.

I Am A Terrible Person

April 16, 2011

I’m feeling guilty that I angrily tore into a scrappy independent documentary film yesterday. Actually I feel guilty every time I say something bad about any film. A year ago I wrote a short negative review of Batman Returns and I still feel guilty about it. Do you know how much effort went into every costume, every set, every line of dialogue, every facial expression, every scene? An army of people spent hundreds of hours of their lives crafting something…..and then I came along and I glanced at everything and I sneered.

There is a special circle of hell for anyone who has ever written a negative movie review. After you die you will find yourself sitting in a movie theater. It is owned and operated by Regal. (It used to be a nice locally-owned theater but it was just bought out.) On the screen? A never-ending Regal Cinemas© FirstLook™ at Upcoming Attractions. All of the upcoming attractions are live action remakes of old kid’s cartoons with CGI characters starring Sean Hayes. One of the speakers is buzzing and the film is just slightly out of focus. It’s a full house – all the seats are filled. Filled with crying babies. There’s no popcorn but somehow a bit of popcorn is stuck on the roof of your mouth anyway. You can hear rumblings from the next theater – which you happen to know is a special showing of Stanley Kubrick’s “Napoleon.” And if you try and walk out into the lobby, of course you just re-emerge into the same theater from the emergency exit.

(On the bright side though you won’t go hungry for a while. In fact you’ll be able to take care of both your hunger pangs and the crying problem – at the same time!)

(That was a dead baby joke…get it?)

–Number One Son

“So Say We All” To J. & Mo.

April 16, 2011

Edward James Olmos Shouts Out To J. & Mo.

For years our good friends J. & Mo. have tried to get the LanceAround family to watch the new (2004 – 2009) Battlestar Galactica TV series.

I wish we had listened to them.

If we had, we would have better understood why some audience members at the Enzian Theatre kept shouting “SO SAY WE ALL” when Olmos appeared. J. & Mo., we might not understand how good Battlestar Galactica is, but we are going to get a copy of the DVD and find out.

In the meantime, here’s a little gift for you. After LanceAround’s interview with Edward James Olmos, he agreed to give you a shout out by holding up a sign written specifically for you and pictured above. We hope you like it!

In the following video, LanceAround gives you a front row seat as Henry Maldonado, president of the Florida Film Festival, interviews Edward James Olmos at the 2011 Florida Film Festival. Enjoy:

Phillies vs. Braves = “Hi Mom!”

March 27, 2011

A True Story That Could Only Happen to the LanceAround Family

Yesterday, dutiful Son LanceAround called his mom, Grammy LanceAround. She said she was watching TV where the Phillies’ had a spring training game against the Blue Jays. She was feeling a little lonely.

Grammy’s been feeling lonely ever since Grandpa LanceAround passed away a little over four years ago. I try to think of a way to make her feel happier.

I go www.AllegiantAir.com and find a cheap airline ticket so Grammy can fly from Allentown, PA to Orlando, FL the next morning, then watch the Phillies play the Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports–the stadium is so close to our home you can almost see it from our front door.

But Grammy LanceAround can’t go. So Mrs. LanceAround decides we will go to the game and find a way to say hi to Grammy.

A Great Sports Venue

Because we were more interested in saying hi to Grammy than watching the Phillies, we get to the stadium over a half hour after the start of the game. Still, it takes over 20 minutes to park as it is bumper to bumper getting into the parking lot. We take the parking shuttle from our car to the front of the stadium and see a booth labeled “Tickets For Media.”  I ask the person manning the booth if he could give us two free media passes. He says no, but he happens to have two tickets because someone did not want them. He gives them to us and refuses to take any money.

(Does this kind of thing only happen to the LanceAround family or is it a common occurence?)

Mrs. LanceAround is feeling a little peeked, so we go into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill across from the entrance to the stadium and get a slice of pizza and some coffee for $10. While there, we watch the game on the monitor and call Grammy. It’s the fourth inning. She’s watching the game on her TV at home just outside of Philadelphia and we confirm exactly where the camera is pointing when the batter is up.

Mrs. LanceAround and I finish lunch and walk into the stadium, sneak past the ticket checker at the top of the home plate stairway and walk down to an empty seat just behind the batter. We hold up the signs I had printed before leaving home and call Grammy.

“Can you see us?”

“Yes, but what is the sign Mrs. LanceAround is holding that says, ‘1-H’?

“1-H? Hold…on a minute…” (whispering to Mrs. Lance Around) “…You’re holding your sign upside down!”

Mrs. LanceAround turns her sign around and Grammy proclaims, “Oh, I see it now, it says ‘HI MOM!'”

In the meantime, just a few feet in front of us Ryan Howard hits a two run home run for the Phillies. (Really, does this kind of thing only happen to the LanceAround family?) There’s a Philly fan sitting behind us in the second row, listening to our conversation. She wants to know if Grammy can really see us on TV. So I hand her the phone.

“Hi Grammy, can you really see your Son on TV???…You can!…Wo-Hoo, can you see me too???…YOU CAN!!!…GO PHILLIES…WO-HOO!”

Up Close & Personal

By now, everyone around us is laughing and cheering for Grammy LanceAround.

Our mission accomplished, Mrs. LanceAround and I head out of the stadium as they’re singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch. This really is a wonderful venue in which to enjoy a ball game.

And tonight, maybe, Grammy LanceAround will feel just a little less lonely.

We love you, mom!

LanceAround & Mrs. LanceAround

PS:  Here’s a link to the video of Ryan Howard’s home run.  You can just see Mrs. LanceAround standing on the stairs right behind Ryan:  Mrs. LanceAround & Ryan Howard’s Home Run

Going To School Using Skype While On Vacation

September 17, 2010

#1 Daughter Uses Skype To Do Schoolwork While In The Hotel Room

I own a vacation rental home company because I love helping guests have the vacation of a lifetime.

I’m also a big fan of vacationing during the off season when rates are lower, service is more personalized, crowds are sparser and you can get so much more for your money.

Since Orlando is such a family friendly vacation spot, one of the biggest concerns guests express about an off season vacation is taking their kids out of school. They’re afraid their child will miss too much schoolwork.

I decided to put that theory to the test.

When I planned a vacation to Washington D.C. to watch my beloved VT Hokies play Boise State on Labor Day, I made a special arrangement with the teachers at Number One Daughter’s Montessori School. We set up a Skype account so Number One Daughter could join her classroom each morning as well as do all her teacher and classroom interactions online.

Skyping With Her Classmates

Every day Number One Daughter would Skype into her Montessori School at 8:30am to join her classroom’s morning meeting and get her assignments. She would then spend the day doing a mix of schoolwork and vacationing. Her teachers even designed some activities that were specifically related to the Washington D.C. area so there would be a seamless correlation between the vacation she was having and the opportunity to further her education.

Here’s a video of Number One Daughter Skyping with Montessori Teacher Rebecca and her classroom to discuss the literature assignment for the day. I think you’ll agree it proves that a dedicated school teacher and a motivated student can successfully use modern technology to achieve academic enrichment while enjoying the benefits of vacationing during the best value season!

Back to Work

July 27, 2010

What do Africa and India Have in Common? Food???

July is a very busy month for the lodging industry in Orlando.  Because of this, it has been a month since my last post.

In addition to the usual summer vacation crowd and the July 4th holiday, it is estimated that over 600 different sports teams converge on Orlando in July.  These include basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and other tournaments.  These events are held in various venues around the Orlando area, such as Disney’s ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, Kissimmee’s Heritage Park complex and Polk County’s new sports complex.

Our vacation rental home business has been extremely busy this July.  As a result, I have not had the opportunity to make any posts.  Don’t worry, I have been gathering information and taking lots of photos.  Starting this week, I will be going back to my normal posting convention of two to three posts per week.

There’s a lot I want to tell you about…

–Mrs. LanceAround and I met with the sales and marketing team for the new Legoland that will replace the old Cypress Gardens theme park.

–We discovered an interesting restaurant that serves only raw food and no sushi. (Yes, you read that right!)

–Have you heard about the new Sesame Street Safari in one of the nearby theme parks? Stay tuned, we’ll tell you all about it.

–What do Africa and India have in common?  Apparently food, as we found out when we dined in a wonderful new restaurant that combines African and Indian flavors. You won’t want to miss this one.

–A new tethered balloon ride soars guests above Disney World property.

–Michael Jackson is back at EPCOT. (In a video show, of course.)

–Ever put on two socks that don’t match? There’s actually a store inside Disney World that intentionally sells socks that don’t match.

As you can see, there’s lots to talk about, so stayed tuned in to LanceAroundOrlando. In fact, please use the button on the right column to subscribe to automatic updates via email.

Finally, to those of you who wrote me during the past month concerned that I have not done any posts I want to thank you, sincerely, for your concern and apologize, profusely, for letting you down.

July is over soon and it’s time for LanceAroundOrlando to get back to work!

You’ll see several new posts shortly, I promise.

LanceAround

Top Ten Posts ’09-’10

June 24, 2010

Infusion Tearoom is Wonderful and Just Missed Being On Our Top Ten List

In honor of Lance Around Orlando’s two year anniversary, here is the annual list of our Top Ten Favorite Posts from the past year:

1. National Champion to National Artist – This poignant, heartwarming and true story talks about the parallels between the accomplishments of two talented 19 year olds–30 years apart!

2. Turn the Tables on ‘Em – A whimsical romp through Disney World with an eye towards mischievous fun.

3. Disney World Handicap Access – Disney does it right when it comes to helping those less fortunate.

4. LanceAround Hits 100! – This post is a MUST READ if you really want to understand what this blog is all about.

The Hobbit Helped Crash This Party

5. Lessons From The Hobbit – The true story of how an old novel can lend an idea that helps resolve a current, real life dilemma. And it’s funny, too.

6. Philly Cheese Steak…In Orlando?!? – Combining childhood memories with educational information, this restaurant review gives conclusive proof that, well, we’re not sure it proves anything. But it’s fun.

7. FFF Best in Show Award Goes To… – Chosen to provide daily blog updates from the Enzian Theatre for this year’s Florida Film Festival, LanceAround goes deep into his psyche to reveal how he determines which movies to recommend.

8. DiVine at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – This post is a great example of this blog in action–a true insider’s guide to a wonderful experience that would be easy to miss without the help of LanceAround.

The Old Spanish Sugarmill Pancake House

9. Best Kept Secret IV-Pancake Breakfast – Another post about an off-the-beaten-path restaurant that is worth a special trip an hour north of Disney World.

10. Top Ten Vacation Movies – A list of our favorite, must-see movies, about vacations, and is perfect for anyone planning a vacation.

(Oh, and in case you’re interested, here’s the link to the Infusion Tearoom post! Did I just cheat and add an 11th to my top ten list?)

Top Ten Vacation Movies

May 21, 2010

Those who know us well know that we are diehard movie buffs.  Since this blog is about vacationing, we thought we would share with you our Top Ten vacation movies.  Before leaving on your vacation, it might be fun to schedule some family time to watch these classics.  

1. Enchanted April (1992)

Our All Time Favorite

This little gem is having some distribution problems and has not been released on Region 1  DVDs.  Pity.  It is far and away our favorite vacation movie.  What’s it about?  A woman sees an ad entitled “Wisteria & Sunshine” in a local paper.  It is for a vacation rental in Italy.  Is it a coincidence that this is our favorite vacation movie and we now own a vacation rental home company?  Is it a coincidence that our company newsletter is entitled “Palm Trees & Sunshine”?  We think not!  

2. A Room With A View (1985)

An E. M. Forester novel produced as a movie by Merchant-Ivory and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala—could you ask for anything more?  This takes its place alongside the other Merchant-Ivory classics “Howard’s End” and, one of our all time favorites, “The Remains of the Day.”  When Mr. Emerson, played by Denholm Elliott, discovers that Lucy, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is disappointed because her hotel room lacks the promised “view,” his classic response is one of our most quoted movie lines.  He points to his chest and replies, “I don’t care what I see outside.  My vision is within.  Here is where the bird sings.  Here is where the sky is blue.  I don’t need a room with a view.”  He then offers his room, which has a view, to Lucy.  Beautiful.  

3. Field of Dreams (1989)

This might be a bit of a stretch.  Is “Field of Dreams” a vacation movie?  Well, remember that Ray Kinsella took a vacation to meet Terence Mann.  Also remember that the movie ends with carloads of vacationers paying $25 to see the Field.  But, most importantly, remember the last line delivered by Kevin Costner to the “catcher.”  If you can watch it without a lump in your throat and a tear in you eye—then you better check your pulse. During Amber’s vacation, she scheduled a stop at the actual ballfield and farmhouse where this movie was filmed.

4. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Hysterical!

When you broaden your definition of “vacation” to mean more than the annual family trip, this weekend jaunt to California to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant is a definite MUST SEE.  It was the film we wanted to take home the Oscar for Best Picture in 2006.  It should have won.  

5. City Slickers (1991)

What a great reminder of how vacations can be different things to different people.  Watching Billy Crystal cling to the rope as the cattle drags him through the mud and he wails, “I’m…On…V-a-c-a-t-i-o-o-o-o-o-o-n…” somehow says it all.  

6. A Goofy Movie (1995)

Somehow Disney manages to have two cartoon dogs give us all a lesson in the value of family vacations, single parenting and father/son relationships.  This is a great movie for dad to watch with his teenage son.  (PS: The spoof of a Disney-esque Theme Park is hysterical.)  

7. Summertime (1955)

Directed by one of our favorite directors, David Lean, and starring one of our favorite actors, Katherine Hepburn, this is worth a look. It’s not their best work, but it will do.  

8. A Little Romance (1979)

Diane Lane and Thelonious Bernard

If you are a 13 year old poor young man and in love, for the first time, with a 13 year old rich young lady visiting from another country, how can you ensure that your love will last forever?  By kissing her under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, at sunset, while the bells toll—even if it means kidnapping her and running away to Italy.  This movie is directed by George Roy Hill (“The Sting” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), stars Laurence Olivier and features the debut of Diane Lane.  

9. The Four Seasons (1981) (not recommended for children)

Written by, directed by and starring Alan Alda, this movie follows three middle-aged friends who take joint vacations four times every year.  Even with its flaws, it is a fascinating character study of relationships, middle age, values and vacationing.  

10. Same Time, Next Year (1978) (not recommended for children)

A man and woman, who are married, celebrate each year by making love during a retreat at a Northern California Inn.  Problem is, they are married to different people who aren’t attending the retreat.  This fascinating look at marriage and clandestine relationships amidst the backdrop of societal upheaval is poignant, funny and disquieting all at once.  Tour de force performances by Alan Alda and Academy Award nominated Ellen Burstyn help to glide over rough spots in the screenplay.  It’s not perfect, but it is a very thought provoking and humorous film.

Valencia College, Dr. Shugart, the Garden Theatre and Joseph

May 14, 2010

I don’t believe in coincidences

Lately, Number One Daughter has been thinking about school next year.  Even though she is only 15, her teachers have decided she is ready to take some college courses.  She is a little nervous about it. We discuss it as Mrs. LanceAround and I are driving to the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden to see a live production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.

Valencia College, one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated two year colleges, is in Central Florida. Both Number One and Number Two Sons were “dual enrolled” at Valencia.

Dual enrollment is a special program the college offers to outstanding high school students who take college courses and receive both college and high school credit. This is what Number One Daughter plans to do next year. She’s just a little nervous about it.

At the theatre, I am reading the program and point out to Number One Daughter that Dr. Shugart, the president of Valencia College, is doing a guest appearance as Potiphar in tonight’s production of Joseph.

Suddenly, the gentleman sitting right in front of us turns around and says, “I overheard you say you will be attending Valencia next year. I’m Dr. Shugart.” He continues to converse with Number One Daughter, helping her feel at ease. He gives her instructions for how to email him.

Then, sure enough, at the proper moment he leaves his seat and gives a flamboyant, flirtatious performance as Potiphar–much to the hearty amusement of many members of the audience who clearly know him personally.

After his cameo role, he comes back to his seat. In a joking manner, I loudly proclaim to Number One Daughter, “I’m not so sure I want you to attend Valencia next year, I hear the president is a little…” By this time, Dr. Shugart is laughing and says, “That’s as wild as I’ve been for a long time!” 

Too bad, it looked like a lot of fun.

The rest of the show, by the way, was also really good. The Garden Theatre did a wonderful job. The audience gave a standing ovation at the end. Dr. Shugart got the biggest applause.

And Number One Daughter was feeling a lot more relaxed about attending Valencia next year.

Like I said, I don’t believe in coincidences. Thank you Dr. Shugart, for helping Number One Daughter feel more relaxed.

LanceAround Hits 100!

April 1, 2010

Today is April 1st, but this is no April Fool’s Prank.  Today is Lance Around Orlando’s 100th post!

What a journey it has been!

When my friends, Jedi BFA and Liz The Fair, helped me create a blog, I had zero experience with blogging or any type of social media.  Mrs. LanceAround and I are only the owners of a small business that provides gorgeous vacation homes at an exceptional value to guests traveling to the Disney World area.  We started this business because we had become passionate about all the wonderful things to see and do in Central Florida. 

We then started this blog as an extension of our desire to share that passion and our knowledge with our guests, whom we think of as our friends.

More importantly, we began our journey by being tourists ourselves.  After succumbing to the siren’s call of the big boys–Disney, Universal, Sea World and so forth (which we think are wonderful in and of themselves) we then decided to poke around at the vast array of alternate attractions in the Central Florida area; attractions that are not as large or well known.  We discovered some hidden gems as well as some tacky rip-offs.

Most of the guides we have read about Central Florida spend the majority of their time talking about the big and the obvious.  Yet we knew there were a lot of people, just like us, who enjoy the unique, off-the-beaten-path, places where passion and artistic creativity are the order of the day.

We made it our mission to seek out these treasures and announce them to the world while at the same time providing tips and advice to help navigate through the touristy swamps of Central Florida.  We promise nothing except our honest opinions, dedicated efforts and heartfelt observations.

In less than two years we shared 100 of these blog posts with you, our friends who read this blog.  We must be doing something right.  Since our first month almost two years ago, our readership has increased over 4000%!

Our trademark is that we are a blog for informed readers looking for “more than a mouse.”™   This obvious reference is the hallmark of our blog–that there is so much more to discover in Central Florida beyond Mickey and all his large theme park counterparts.  Of course, we’ll keep our readers informed of anything new or unique at the large theme parks, but always with an eye towards those special experiences that aren’t already inundated throughout the vast array of tourbooks and advertisements which permeate the landscape.

We are the blog to turn to when you want to find out where the “locals” go for their food, fun and entertainment.

In addition, we vow to provide due diligence in our efforts to ensure the most thorough and accurate information available.  We’re not afraid to seek out the owner, interview the staff and give you the behind-the-scenes story of the places we blog about.  And even if someplace gives us free access or perks because we are part of the social media, they are told up front that our posts will be honest and direct because our readers deserve both the truth and our very best effort.

My real name is Lance and I am a real person with a real wife, a real mother and three very real children.  Yet, for the purpose of this blog, I have chosen to create a somewhat fictionalized persona in the LanceAround character with Mrs LanceAround, Grammy LanceAround and Number One and Two Sons and Number One Daughter.  These personas are based on who we are, yet allow us the creativity and artistic freedom to craft blog posts that convey information in a consistent, down-to-earth, homespun manner.  Likewise, Office Manger Anne and Guest Relations Guru Giselle are fictionalized personas of two real team members at our business.  They make regular contributions to this blog.

After all, this blog isn’t really about me or my family–it’s about you and the things you might want to see or do when you are our guests here in Central Florida.  And if my LanceAround family can help you with that, well, that’s what we love to do!

These past two years and 100 posts have been a great ride–more exciting than any theme park thrill ride–and all of us at Lance Around Orlando have enjoyed having you, our dear readers, along for the trip.  A very special shout out to those of you who have taken the time to post comments and improve our blog with your voice.

Let us know if we can be of any further service to you and please feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your opinions.

Lance Boyer aka LanceAround
Karin Boyer aka Mrs. LanceAround
Emily Boyer aka Grammy LanceAround
Brandon aka Number One Son
Colin aka Number Two Son
& Amber aka Number One Daughter