Culture + Style

Local Customs: 5 Things Orlandoans Do (and You Should, Too)

(Photo: Shane Gross/Shutterstock.com)

Tens of millions of people travel to Orlando every year, and the vast majority of those people never leave the area around the theme parks and the Convention Center. We residents get it; you’re not here to visit us, you’re here to experience one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth.

But occasionally, you may encounter a resident Orlandoan in their native habitat — and if they’re not helping you queue up for a ride or serving you food or drinks, some of their customs may seem unusual. To that end, here’s a quick guide to some of the unique behaviors that make us Orlandoans who we are.

  1. Treating lunch like vacation. Sure, lots of Orlando officeworkers eat soggy salad lunches at their desks like the rest of American professionals, but plenty of others are unable to resist the siren song of the dozens of small, beautiful lakes that are so prevalent in our city. When the clock strikes noon, you may find a lawyer paddle-boarding away the stress of her morning court sessions on Lake Ivanhoe, or an accountant’s jet skis zooming alongside the East-West Expressway on Lake Barton.
  2. Casually sidestepping alligators. Speaking of those lakes, they usually have alligators in them! So don’t be surprised when Orlando natives are nonplussed by a sighting of the scaly reptiles. You’ll discover that many of our children have been well-trained in spotting and avoiding gators … not enough to actually stay out of the lakes, mind you; just enough to keep from getting eaten.
  3. Talking like meteorologists. Weather in Central Florida is usually very predictable, if by “predictable” you mean “predictably insane.” Every Orlando resident knows that nearly every afternoon (usually around 4 p.m.) between April and September, a thunderstorm of some sort will roll through. Occasionally these storms dish out Biblical levels of rain, thunder and lightening, but don’t worry: you’ll know when a hurricane is coming! They don’t hit Central Florida often, but when there’s a threat, nearly every local will be able to tell you the exact track, predicted category of intensity, and likelihood that we’re gonna get hit.
  4. Wearing flip flops everywhere. This is Florida, not New York. We are casual. If you show up for a lunch date (or even dinner) wearing anything beyond “business casual,” we’ll ask you where you’re going later — and we’ll be disproportionately shocked if it’s not a funeral or a wedding.
  5. Offering to be your own personal photographer. Living in such a well-touristed location, we Orlandoans are very much accustomed to watching visitors do the awkward dance of trying to get a picture of their entire entourage with a combination of selfie-arms and camera timers. Don’t do that! We won’t let you! Someone will almost always come to your rescue saying “Want me to take that for you?” And we will take it, it will be a great photo, and then we’ll give your camera right back. Really.