We just returned from a great weekend in Orlando that had hardly anything to do with Disney! Despite a broken washer and a recently-discovered broken window in the garage (also courtesy of Wizard), we drove up to Orlando last Friday night. Unfortunately, Google maps sent us about 30 minutes in the wrong direction, and so we were nearly an hour behind schedule getting to the hotel. The boys refused to get to sleep that night, so Saturday morning dawned too soon.
Our primary reason for the weekend trip was to attend the Bar Mitzvah of our friends’ son. These friends lived near us for a few years, and we got to know them well through the synagogue. Their son is the same age as Wizard, and the two were good friends all those years ago. The boys have not been in touch at all since the friends moved to Orlando 4+ years ago. The son did a fantastic job reading his Torah portion, chanting his Haftarah, and leading parts of the service. It should be said that our friend is a rabbi, and his son did an excellent job of following in his father’s footsteps yet creating his own path. We enjoyed chatting with their friends and family at the delicious vegetarian luncheon afterwards. Our afternoon was free, so the boys played Hotel Tag and then swam in the pool. We dressed up again and attended Mincha-Maariv (late afternoon/evening) services. Those went by quickly, and a light dinner followed. The friend’s wife joined us at dinner, and we quickly caught up on the last four years. WineGuy and I were so happy to see our friends find a welcoming community and flourish in their Orlando synagogue. The son has become a handsome, polite, self-assured teen, who (to my mind) still has a lot in common with Wizard. I mentioned to Wizard that he should try to re-connect with the boy, but who knows if Wiz will make the effort. Instead of some dance-party blowout, the Bar Mitzvah party was an invitation-only evening at a local comedy club. WineGuy didn’t want to go, so I took Wizard. We had a good time laughing at the improvisation and the specially created skit of the Bar Mitzvah boy’s life. Innovative and fun!
Sunday dawned sunny and beautiful. After a leisurely morning, we drove down to the WDW area, where we had tickets to see the Houston Astros play the Atlanta Braves. Champion Stadium, in the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World, is the Atlanta Braves’ spring training home. It’s a modern new stadium that really evokes the past: lots of great, open seats; good sight-lines; plenty of concessions; plenty of clean women’s and men’s restrooms; a huge scoreboard; a great sound system and a good mix of music and entertainment in-bwwtween innings. Although we are not necessarily Braves’ fans, we all liked the stadium enough that we would go back there next year. However, access to the sports complex is a nightmare.
Disney planners must take great delight in thoroughly obfuscating park entrances and highway access. Getting into the WWS complex took more than 25 minutes because of poor traffic patterns and traffic congestion. Once we entered the stadium complex, I realized that more than just baseball was happening that day. There was a national cheerleading competition, a lacrosse camp, and several other sports games and/or practices. All of these events converging at the same time, in the same limited space, created a giant “cluster” for entering and leaving the parking area. Hoardes of overly made-up, beribboned and besparkled, scary-looking “cheer teams” bounced and flounced their way into the stadium complex as we were trying to get to the game. Their posturing made us late. We were not amused. Nevertheless, we had great seats out the first-base line. We saw some great hits and catches by both teams and consumed lots of frozen lemonade to stay hydrated. Exiting the sports complex went more smoothly, but we ended up in the wrong lane and suffered through some more Disney Highway Hell before we got back to the interstate. We eventually made it home in the early evening and got back in to the routine.