Our Next Chapter

Near Death Experience

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We survived a harrowling near death experience together!

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“Near death experience” might be a bit subjective. Barb saw her life flash before her eyes while being tossed up and down in the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! We typically do not buy the PhotoPass image from Disney, but this one was so great. You can see Barb gripping on for dear life to her seatbelt! We made quick friends with some fellow RVers in the ride’s queue, the couple to our left in the photo. They are laughing and enjoying their time watching Barb’s reaction on the ride! Jason did have to admit that the particular random pattern we had been dealt was a pretty good shaker with some exceptional negative G’s. (The “elevator” just doesn’t fall, they pull it down faster than gravity lifting you out of your seat.)

Jason’s parents returned home this week and fortunately it was beautiful evening, on a non-headache day, for us to check out the park. The “penguin squeal” was in full swing at the Muppets 3D experience where animatronics penguins led the orchestra. It was a really low-key evening, something we can afford when we are living only 20 minutes from the park. Disney has made many little tweaks in this park since we were here in 2015 last and there are some really big changes coming too. What’s nice about this park is how compact it is and that is lower key with more shows than rides. Since it was an 8PM close night, we were there at park close and experienced the Disney Movie Magic which uses super high-resolution projectors to change the face of the buildings into moving elements.

On Saturday, we made our way to the Southeast of Winter Garden about an hour and checked out Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach on the East coast of Florida. There were three cruise ships in dock at the port, but they were not boarding so the area was pretty quiet. On the water at the port we enjoyed fresh shark, shrimp and scallops at Grills Seafood and Tiki Bar. Not only did we have amazing seafood in Port Canaveral but we also had a piece of a wonderful key lime pie that was made at the local Florida Key Lime Pie Company.

From the seventh floor observation deck of the Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral you can see the massive vehicle assembly building (VAB) on the Kennedy Space Center. It was a really humid day and the skies were heavy with moisture, especially along the seaside where the mist drifts inland.

As we headed south from the tower, we made a brief stop at the Manatee Sanctuary Park in Cocoa Beach. A few locals told us, “in all our time here we have never seen a manatee here.” So apparently the park’s name is an aspiration, not a fact. We continued farther south to check out the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier. Barb loves the ocean, the lapping of the waves and the smells of the fresh sea air. We walked out to Cocoa Beach Pier and it was very breezy with weather advisories. This didn’t keep the kids from playing in the water and the surfers from giving it a try on the what were probably pretty small waves.

After picking up a key lime pie in Cocoa Beach, we made our way back toward “home” and stop by two county parks in the Orlando area that Jason had spotted as potential campsites. He primarily uses Campendium to find potential campsites and then checks on cell signals using OpenSignal, Sensorly and Rootmetrics to determine what the AT&T and Verizon coverage might be at those campgrounds. He only trusts the carrier’s coverage maps when they say they do NOT have coverage, otherwise they usually overstate what really exists on the ground. Jason was concerned about these two parks because the websites were showing a potential issue with the AT&T coverage. Fortunately, after running some speed tests at each park we found that they are indeed horrible coverage areas. Disaster averted and now we know those are potential vacation spots and not telecommuting locations.

What’s next? We are heading closer to mouse land and are taking some time off to enjoy our Florida residency at Walt Disney World parks.

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CampgroundWinter Garden RV Park
13905 W Colonial Dr
Winter Garden FL 34787
(407) 656-1415
http://www.wintergardenrv.com/
Encore Resorts Property
Nights Stayed13: January 15-28, 2018
14: February 18 - March 3, 2018

(12 nights, we left on Friday and did not stay to the very end of our reservation. 14 in the "system" officially.)
Parking SiteSite 191

Site is not too bad, it is small but the East side of the site is up against an older park model home. This actually secludes the space and there are some shrubs too. The full time seasonal neighbors to the West were nice, quiet and working day/night shifts. CATV was not good. There is an extra sewer connection in the way of the outdoor kitchen. Good distance to the dumpsters and the bathroom that serve the area of the park. Up on a hump, level once you are up on the hump. Not really walking distance to the pool from here. It was pretty quiet here, with the exception of the working neighbors who were very courteous to their door slamming as they come and go.
Site 279

Stayed this time on the Trails Collection add on package. 279 is a tiny little spot in the Northeast corner by the fire station and is 5 speed bumps from the front entry. The electrical system at this site is very old. The CATV is not available here, had to run a cable over to the neighbors site. The 9th Street to get to this site is really beat up, no speed bumps but the entire road is such a mess it might as well have tons of them. Really tight to get into sites on this row because of the storage units that are on the North side of the road. You may or may not have space for swinging into your site on the South side of the road. Not walking distance to the pool from here. Other than the fire station this is a quiet spot.
Restaurants
Attractions
WELS ChurchesCrown of Glory
http://www.crownofgloryorlando.org
2101 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32835-5802
Remember for Next TimeCamping World is about 2 miles to the East, but is old and tiny.

Book a full two weeks and not 13 days, their discount for weekly rates is deep vs. the daily rates.
Winter Garden RV Resort is an Encore park and is then available as the Trails Collection package.

Tampa airport is about 1h45m from the RV park with good traffic. With bad traffic it can be over 2 hours away.

Access to Magic Kingdom through the 528 route south from Highway 50. About 20 minutes and you come at it from the Contemporary Resort side.
AT&T Coverage4G LTE very good, low latency
Verizon Coverage4G LTE good
WiFi CoverageNone at the sites, only at the recreation building
Anytime FitnessThere are two Anytime Fitness facilities in either direction about 2 miles out main entry. One to the East that takes twice as long to get to but is half as far as the one to the West. The Eastern gym in Winter Garden has more modern equipment but the Western gym in Clermont has less stop lights. There is also a third a few more minutes to the South.

Campground has a good fitness room with low-end fitness grade equipment. Also there are well paved roads in the park are good for biking and walking. There are two warm pools in the park.
Mail ServicesCan receive packages via USPS and UPS at main address, First Class envelopes are accepted. Must have the site number and the name in the address. The "Wi-Fi" room at the main office building has mail slots, you have to check there to see if you have a pack slip in your mailbox. You can also steal other people's mail there if you are so inclined.

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