Who’s LanceAround?

For those interested in such mundane details, let me tell you a little about LanceAround. I grew up in SE Pennsylvania and went to Messiah College in Central PA where I majored in theatre.  While in college I managed to win a National Championship in wrestling and was an All American. My goal was to be a professional actor. I took a detour and attended Lesley College Graduate School where I majored in Expressive Therapy with a concentration in Psychodrama. From there, I worked as a psychodramatist at a psychiatric hospital in Roanoke, VA. My yet-to-be wife actually interviewed me for the job.

Mrs. LanceAround and I got married in an outdoor ceremony at beautiful Camp Fincastle in Fincastle, VA.  (Alas, it is no longer there!)  During our ceremony, we were dressed in outfits reminiscent of medieval times and a wonderful band named No Strings Attatched who played large, hammered dulcimers was hidden in the woods creating beautiful, ethereal music that surrounded the ceremony. 

Three kids followed soon thereafter and they are the apple of our eye.  Both my wife and I grew up in families that did not have much money and we wanted to make a better life for our children.

We decided to start our own business, but had no business experience. So I joined a fortune 500 food service company with a great training program and I did everything for them from management, supervision and training to computer design, and development. It was a fantastic, roller coaster ride both educational and demanding as my family moved 14 times in 7 years accepting whatever promotion or new opportunity presented itself. During this time I received numerous honors including regional manager of the year and franchise rookie manager of the year.  Somehow during this time we also managed to purchase a Health Food store that was run by Mrs. LanceAround until we had to sell it during one of our many moves.

When our oldest child was 10, we decided that we needed to provide our family more stability. It was then that we heard about Celebration, FL, the town designed and built by the Walt Disney Company. We love Disney so we signed a contract to purchase a home. Okay, okay, I signed a contract, then told my wife about it.  We were living in Michigan at the time.  

(Actually, we talked about it BEFORE I signed the contract.  But I believe it adds a dramatic element to the story to suggest that I signed before telling her about it.  She, on the other hand, thinks it just embarrasses her by making her the butt of a joke and makes me look like an unsophisticated businessman and a jerk.)

We had no job in Florida, no money, and everyone thought we were crazy. However, the vice president of the company I was working for in Michigan heard that I was moving and knew that he could not convince me otherwise, so he graciously offered me a job working for him. When I asked what I would do, he replied, “I’m going to make you my National Director of Soups to Nuts!” Well, that job description was not in the company HR directory, but he gave me a nice raise and I worked very hard for him.

While living in Celebration, my family and I once again found ourselves in the spotlight as we were featured in two books written about the town–The Celebration Chronicles by Andrew Ross and Celebration USA by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins–And we also appeared on NPRs “Living on Earth.” We founded the Montessori School in Celebration which is run by Helen and Karen–two very dear friends. So buoyed were we by the success of the Montessori School that we founded another private school in Celebration. Alas, that school only served to be an object lesson in humility.

While working on creating the Montessori School, a friend on the development team invited me to learn how to rent out vacation rental homes around Disney. Despite being very poor and overworked, it looked like a good opportunity so we spent $250 we didn’t have on two little internet ads and #1 Dream Homes, Inc. was born in May of 1998.

By our second year in business we were doing over a million dollars a year in sales.  (Go figure!)

Without a decent school in Florida to educate our older children, we decided to move to Blacksburg, VA in the summer of 2003 to become part of a cohousing community. Again, the spotlight seemed to find us as we became featured in the documentary “Celebration” by Helena & Quirine–Two movie makers from the Netherlands who did a film about the town of Celebration and compared it to our cohousing community.

Our time in Blacksburg provided us some highs and lows. We found out that the cohousing community we had chosen sounded great on paper but proved to be very different in real life. We also shared in the tragedy at Virginia Tech as a close friend of our daughter’s lost his father. A member of our family also suffered personally from the fallout that occurred after the massacre. On the positive side, we loved the little town of Blacksburg and became true “Hokies” now enjoying season tickets to our (well, mainly mine,) beloved football team.

After four years in Blacksburg, we took a vacation in June of 2007 and ended at #1 Dream Homes for what was supposed to be just a week long check up. Before we knew it, one thing led to another and we have not left. Now we are devoting all our energy to helping people enjoy their vacation of a lifetime!

Looking back on the eclectic path that has been our life, it may, at first glance, appear very haphazard–Acting, psychology, food service, cohousing, schools, vacation rentals? Where did it all come from? For me, the answer is simple. I like helping people and I love to make people happy. When I was an actor, I had a knack for finding scripts and roles that helped to educate as well as entertain. As a psychodramatist, I helped people face moments of their lives that were painful and grow beyond them. In food service, I enjoyed making the best possible meals for customers and seeing how happy they were to enjoy them. When creating schools, I focused on the most advanced educational philosophies and tried to make learning fun and relevant. Now, as a business owner, I use all my background to help guests have the vacation experience of a lifetime. I know what I enjoy when I travel and I do my best to share that sense of wonder and enjoyment with all my guests. I don’t even think of them as guests, I think of them as family. I hope you’ll join our family as well–Even if it is as simple as participating in this blog.

And that’s why I created this blog–In the hopes that you will find things to enjoy and moments that inspire as you explore in and around Orlando!

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3 Responses to “Who’s LanceAround?”

  1. CJ Says:

    Why haven’t you tried MurderWatch Mystery Dinner Theatre at the Regal Sun Resort? It’s been running various shows ongoing for 19 years! Great fun; great food! And if you ask for vegetarian items in advance, they will prepare them specially for you! Shows are every Saturday night at 6pm. Family friendly. Looking forward to your review!

  2. lancearound Says:

    Hi CJ: I see from your information that you are involved with Murder Watch. I may have tried MuderWatch. When my number one son was accepted to college six years ago I took him to a mystery dinner show that was playing at a hotel on Hotel Row in Lake Buena Vista. I don’t recall the hotel or the show, but I remember it involved some kind of gangsters, a kidnapping, and a murder. At the end of the show, the murderer was revealed. My son and I both really enjoyed the show. Do you know if that was Murder Watch? I am pleased that you prepare special vegetarian meals. Personally, I always order them in advance. However, I hope you have the capacity to service vegetarians even when they don’t. I would love to review your show. If you would like to speed that process along, please know that I am not above accepting comp tickets for my famlly to attend! But I am also up front that such shameless acceptance of such a bribe only guarantees a review–It does not guarantee a positive review! Best of success with your Murder Watch shows and thanks for your comments on My Big Fat Grease Wedding! LanceAround

  3. Allan oakley Says:

    Fun Blog. Not a monthly contribution but still fun to read.Most certainly conveys there is life beyond the theme parks.

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