Mike Vs A Night In Orlando
Alright, so Disney World, as mentioned, wasn’t exactly the most magical time for us. However, that wasn’t the only adventure in Orlando, Florida that I was looking forward to. B and I went to an Orlando Magic basketball game! How’d that go, you ask?
To back things up a bit, months ago, in our planning for our trip, I checked to see if the Magic would be in town, during our stay in Orlando. Turns out, they were, for a December 29 game against the Knickerbockers of New York.
We drove to Orlando, which took about 20 hours, broken up over two days. When you’re in the car that long, there’s only one thing to do: binge listen to true crime podcasts! J and KJ kept themselves occupied with their own devices. B, on the other hand, would listen in on what K and I were playing, if the subject interested in. One such podcast episode that he caught was about Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who went on a random killing spree, in between picking up passengers.
We spent the day hanging out at our hotel, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort, in Orlando, near Disney. Orlando was unseasonably cold, because, of course it was. Nonetheless, we’re Canadian, right?
Bring it on!
The outdoor heated pool, complete with waterfalls and a waterslide, was almost empty, so my family could splash around to their heart’s content. I sat poolside, sipping beers, shivering in a hoodie and sweatpants for a while, before jumping into the water for a bit, to warm up.
Afterwards, I checked my phone, to see what tickets for the game that night were going for.
Oh, I forgot to mention that part: we didn’t actually have tickets to the game yet. You see, for months, there were only resale tickets available, and the cheapest of those were like $100 US, for upper level, far back seats. I figured that if I waited closer to the game, the pricing would surely drop.
PRETTY SMART, RIGHT?
However, when I got out of the pool and looked, the cheapest tickets were now almost $200 US, for standing room.
On the way back to our room, I ended up chatting with one of the hotel staff. Turns out, he was a Knicks fan. He explained that a) it’s Christmas week, and everything is more expensive and b) the Knicks have alot of fans who travel well.
It was bad enough how overpriced our Disney experience was. It wasn’t surprising to learn that anything in town for tourists was also price-inflated, but it still sucks. My new plan, then, was to monitor the resale tickets prices like the stock market until game time, and grab the cheapest pair right before tipoff.
Kia Center, the Magic’s home arena, was about a 20 minute drive away, longer with rush hour traffic. Game time was 7pm. B and I headed down to the lobby of the hotel around 5:45pm, where I ordered us an Uber. B, with that stupid Uber killer podcast clearly on his mind, questioned me on the driver’s rating and history.
The lobby of the Cypress Resort really is spectacular. It’s the type of spot where I saw a well done up, designer clothes-wearing mom, take numerous carefully posed selfies in front of a fountain, while her well done up, designer clothes-wearing children ran around acting like unleashed menaces. She then wrangled them and got a hotel worker to take a beautiful family picture of them all, before she returned to her selfies, and the kids returned to being little terrors.
Soon into our Uber ride, at a stop light, as soon as it turned green, our driver started honking on his horn. Nothing seemed wrong, so I asked what that was about. He said that you had to honk sometimes, at people in Orlando.
As we zipped along the highway, in the fast lane, we were honked at most of the way. Orlando drivers, man. On the whole ride, I checked ticket prices. Just my luck….they weren’t coming down. We arrived near the arena around 6:20pm. As we stepped out of the car, a cold realization hit me in the face. No, for real, it felt frosty that night. Not just Orlando, hoodie cold, like I was dressed for. It was Canadian, winter jacket cold.
Chilly weather now?
Don’t bring it on!
My plan for waiting until tip-off to buy tickets was not going to work, as there was nowhere around to seek warmth, and I was shivering badly. I sucked it up, and bought us two upper level tickets that cost slightly less than the cost of two tickets to Disney World, but no where close to $100 US.
I had told my sister in-law my plan earlier. Right before game time, bless her helpful heart, she sent me this:
The game itself was a lot of fun. Knicks fans do travel well, as it felt like at least half of the fans weren’t cheering for the Magic. They even announced that it was the highest attended game in Orlando Magic history, which….
A meaningless regular season game in late December being the hottest ticket ever, more than an NBA Finals game, doesn’t make much sense at all. But it was neat to be part of history, I guess.
(For the hoops heads, this was also RJ Barrett’s last game as a Knick. Watching the poor guy get cooked on defense over and over again probably was the breaking point for the Knicks trading him in a package deal the next day for OG Anunoby, one of the best defensive players in the NBA).
The Kia Center really was quite photogenic. It’s the type of place where a well done up, designer clothes wearing, wannabe Kardashian family took turns posing for pictures at the bottom of the stairs in our section, from the end of half time to the start of the third quarter, shamelessly blocking our view of the game.
One really cool feature of the arena was a basketball themed indoor playground, which is perfect for kids who get bored and need to burn off some energy. B actually wanted to check it out, but, for the first time in his life, was turned away, for being too tall.
When the game ended, it was time to order an Uber. It was a clear black night, a clear white moon, Mike and B were on the street, trying to leave soon (word to Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg). We couldn’t get picked up in front of the arena, so we had to hustle across the street to a designated area. Our Uber driver was 10 minutes away, but he only had five rides in history, which freaked B out. Stupid podcast. We strolled past two police officers casually caressing big rifles, which freaked me out.
As we waited with a crowd, in the cold, I noticed that our driver kept getting close, then changing direction. After 40 minutes, the driver texted me his phone number, saying to call him, to set up a new pickup spot, because there was too much construction where we were. B immediately kiboshed this idea (stupid podcast), so I canceled that ride. Now freezing, I told B that we were going up the street, away from the construction/crowd, and getting an Uber to pick us up in a less busy area.
After walking up a street filled with sleeping homeless people, I ordered an Uber to pick us up at a corner of an active looking area. Five star rating driver with 1000s of rides in his history, which met B’s approval.
Active is putting this corner lightly, however.
Turns out that we were in a bar-filled area on a Friday night. As club music blared from all around, some guy with a megaphone screamed about God’s wrath across the street, I’m pretty sure a drug deal took place behind us. When I looked at my phone to track the Uber driver, I noticed that the same thing with the prior driver was happening with this one. They’d get close, then change direction, over and over. Five minutes stretched to 15 minutes, when my phone rang from an unknown number. It was the Uber driver!
It was hard to hear over the megaphone ramblings, but the driver said that he couldn’t get close, because of construction, and asked if I could meet him at some random street. I explained that I wasn’t from Orlando and didn’t know the area. While this convo took place, a car stopped beside us and started honking. B, in a complete 180 from his prior paranoia, then started telling me that this was the previous Uber driver, and that we should get in.
This guy didn’t have an Uber sticker, and his license plate was different. I have no idea who this guy was, or why he was honking at me. All I know is that he seemed more likely to make us a future true crime podcast episode than some five ride Uber driver. Now overwhelmed, I agreed with the driver on the phone’s suggestion that I go to a club up the street, to be picked up by him. I then turned down the honking guy’s offer, and proceeded to walk away.
Even though it was chilly, the Orlando club scene was poppin’. B and I posted up at our pick up spot, beside a bouncer who I’m sure was confused as to who this 40 something man and kid were. B saw some scantily clad drunk women doing drunk women things, which was a first for him. I saw some drunk guy stumble across the road, staring down at his phone, walk head first into a pole. Not a first for me on that.
When I checked to see how far our Uber was, I realized it was 15 minutes away….and that it was a completely different driver.
So a driver told me to go way out of my way, to pick us up….and then bailed? B’s paranoia immediately kicked back in (stupid podcast). K had called us earlier, and I had declined her offer to pick us up, when I thought our Uber was close. Now, though? It was time for her to come save us, like Nate Dogg did to Warren G in Regulate.
I tried to cancel the Uber, but Uber wouldn’t let me without paying a cancelation fee. After everything Uber put me through, they should have paid me! The only way to cancel was for me to call the driver #awkward.
The street was noisy, from club music, and megaphone rants (now performed by a woman), so I stepped into a Taco Bell, to hear the driver. I was stopped by a security guard at the door (how much crime is happening at Orlando Taco Bells that they require security?!). On the phone, I told the driver that I didn’t order him, and that my wife was coming to get me, so he needed to cancel the ride. He refused to, without being paid the fee.
We argued some more. I said that he could come, but I wouldn’t be there, and I wasn’t paying anything. I hung up, then sent a sternly worded email to Uber (What? My perfect five star rating was at stake!) K arrived a bit after, next stop….the Eastsiiiide Motelllll. OK, sorry, no more Regulate references. We went back to our hotel, though.
And that was how I spent a night in Orlando with my son. The basketball game was great, but the two hours that it took to get back to the hotel were kind of odd, not so great.
For our troubles, by the way, Uber….said sorry and gave me $5 in Uber Cash.
Until the next one, peace!