Thanks to Twitter and other internet channels, April 7 (4/07) has officially become “407 Day!” A day to celebrate everything great about “The 407”: Orlando, Florida.
The central Florida city has grown from a little college town, hosting the massive University of Central Florida, to becoming the Mecca of theme park enthusiasts and the gateway to millions of vacations each year. And it holds a special place in the hearts of everyone who has ever made the journey to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and more!
Yes, Orlando is a beautiful city on its own with beautiful lakes, a booming business district, a solid basketball team and one of Florida’s two MLS clubs. There is more to Orlando than the theme parks, but it is the theme parks that give the city a cherished identity as a world-renowned oasis for all escapists (cue that one song from The Book of Mormon).
For Floridians spread across the state, I-4, I-75, and the Florida Turnpike become a little more tolerable knowing that we are on the way to Orlando. On our way to Disney, or to Universal. And it is incredibly easy to find. Orlando sits at the heart of the Sunshine State, all roads lead to her.
For out-of-staters, Orlando International Airport (MCO) is their port of entry. While MCO, admittedly, gets a lot of hate from locals and other Floridians, its unofficial identity as Disney World’s airport, Universal’s airport, Florida’s Space Coast Airport, and Port Canaveral’s Airport gives it a slightly better image in the eyes of those who arrive wearing rose-colored sunglasses.
Orlando itself often gets overlooked because of the theme parks we love so much. We almost never say “I’m going to Orlando.” We say “I’m going to Disney World” or “I’m going to Universal” or we say “I’m going on a cruise” completely skipping over the city. But none of those trips and none of these theme parks would be possible without Orlando.
It is Orlando that provides the access we need to not only get to our favorite places but to create those places, to begin with. Orlando houses the Cast Members, Imagineers, Team Members, developers and all of the other employees that keep the parks going, it is Orlando’s buildings that hold the offices and headquarters, it is Orlando’s schools like UCF and Full Sail that mold the engineers, financiers, hoteliers and other magic makers of tomorrow. The theme park garden we have today could only be grown in the soil surrounding Orlando, Florida. That is why Orlando as a community is hurting right now.
Everything we love about that city is closed. The garden cannot bear any fruit. She has given so much magic to all of us across the country and the world. The least we can do is send a little bit of that magic back.
So thank you, Orlando, for everything you’ve done to shape our lives and our adventures. We can’t wait until the day we can come back and visit you.
Have a magical day.