Our Story: How Orlando Local Got Started
We owe this episode to a reader email from Trish. She asked how Lee and William met, and we included that in the story of how Orlando Local got started.
First, thanks to Trish for asking. Her email put a big smile on our face. We think it makes sense that you know more about us and why we're working to provide information about Orlando.
The Origins of Orlando Local
I've been online for years and enjoy writing. One day I decided that I wanted to write about life in Orlando. The original idea was to call it Orlando Native. I even had a tagline in mind.
“A Native View of Life in Orlando”
Unfortunately, orlandonative.com was already taken. I can't see that anyone ever did anything with the site. In fact, it's changed hands since I bought the orlandolocal.com domain.
I started the site in September, 2004 with the intent of writing about my experiences in Orlando.
Unfortunately, I realized that my experiences were basically a lot of griping about local news, poor customer service and things that annoyed me. That's not at all what I really wanted, so I let Orlando Local fade into the background for a while as I worked on other web sites.
Lee grew up in other parts of the world, often moving as her father's work required. Although she had friends who visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World, she never got to make that trip as a child.
When her daughter turned six, she decided it was time to give her the trip that Lee never had. They planned a 16 day trip to Walt Disney World and got hooked. On the flight home to Scotland, she was already planning another trip for the next year.
After a number of annual trips to Orlando, Lee bought a camera and had no idea how to use it.
That's when she discovered me. We both had a common interest in photography and Walt Disney World. Next thing you know, we had an online friendship for a few years that developed.
I was born and raised in Orlando, before Walt ever came to town. When I was a kid in elementary school, we used to get newsletters about Walt Disney World coming to Orlando. In hindsight, it was one of the most effective propaganda campaigns I've ever seen.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, I visited with my mother's hairdresser (Miss Louann) and bought a present for my mother – a pair of ceramic figurines from 101 Dalmatians. Mom still has them with the price sticker on the bottom at $1.50 each.
Growing up in Orlando, going to Walt Disney World was a spur of the moment decision. My father would come home from work and say “Let's go to Disney.” We hopped in the car and spent a wonderful family night in the park, or in the Contemporary Resort. Back then, it was about a $20 night for all of us.
That formed my impression of visiting a theme park in Orlando. We just went for a few hours and came home. It was always there when we wanted to visit, so we never planned on having a full day in a Walt Disney World park from open until close.
I started photography while in high school and it's always been a passion. Lee and I found each other on a discussion board dedicated to Disney, each of us in the photography section.
As we said, that lead to a few years of knowing each other online because of common interests.
A few years ago, Lee and Tové visited Walt Disney World over the Independence Day week. She invited me out and we talked for hours at Port Orlean's French Quarter. It was our first time face to face. I also got to meet Tové and we talked quite a bit while she roasted S'mores by the resort campfire.
Days later, Lee invited me to join her and Tové at the Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Wild Africa Trek. We both lugged around our big cameras getting some nice shots. Our connection really became clear and we shared our first kiss in Animal Kingdom somewhere in the Asia part of the park.
A few days later, we met up again along with some friends who operate another WDW blog. Without much forethought or any kind of planning, I proposed to her in Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe after a wonderful meal of chicken nuggets and fries.
After a year of waiting on USCIS to finalize her Fiancée visa (thanks to DACA applicants flooding the Texas Service Center), Lee and Tové packed what they could and moved to Orlando. We were soon married at the Winter Park Wedding Chapel.
Lee looked at Orlando Local and told me that there was a lot of potential with this site. That's when we started deciding what it should and shouldn't be. We gutted many of the old articles and started working on fresh posts. Shortly after, we began The Orlando Local Show podcast.
What's Next for Orlando Local
We're still working on building the Orlando Local site and podcast. Recently, we started adding video as a way to share more about Orlando and the Central Florida area.
We're very grateful to Trish for asking about us, and letting us know about some information she'd like to learn about deciding where to buy a “snowbird house” in Orlando.
If you have questions about Orlando or an idea for something we can provide at Orlando Local, please let us know. You can leave a comment below or reach out privately at our Contact Page.