My daily commute takes me through the tourist corridor on Route 192 in Kissimmee. One of the first things I noticed is there are several gift shops that seem to be trying to outdo each other in their ostentatiousness, so I thought it would be fun to see how they stack up against each other. Therefore, I bring you the first ever Route 192 gift shop beauty pageant!
BOOORING! Moving on:
Blue Dolphin I'm not sure this place has an actual name, I'm calling it the Blue Dolphin. The dolphin is a nice try to attach something of a Florida theme, but still falls short. I had to do the oversaturated HDR treatment on this to make it look better.
Route 192 "You like this!" gift shop I can't help but think that a giant "Like" button would have worked better than this girl who looks like a tattoo gone wrong. The patriotic theme is a nice touch, though, and serves as a gentle reminder to those who may have forgotten they are in America.
Route 192 Jungle gift shop Now we're starting to get somewhere. Because Florida is crawling with wild tigers and gorillas. The landscape around them, though, is pretty accurate for the less developed areas (and there are still huge swaths of undeveloped Florida left - this state, like FunSpot, is HUGE). I might actually go in this store.
Giant Animal Head Gift Shop Looks a little more like a mini golf course than a gift shop, but I like what's going on here. Giant animal heads leaning over the parking lot are always a good draw for screaming children, and the facade was recently restored after fading in the sun. For those of you unaware, Florida is 50% closer to the sun than the rest of the planet, which means all exposed surfaces fade to white over time.
Route 192 AMERICA gift shop AMERICA! AMERICA! AMERICA! Also, $3.99 beach towels. This is one of the first shops on 192 as you head West from Walt Disney World, and the first to grab your attention like a smack across the face. Between the eagles, the flags, the fish and the palm trees I have absolutely no idea what's going on. And I kind of like it that way.
Route 192 Magic Castle gift shop Seriously, how could you not stop here, with the Welsh Wizard conjuring the dollars out of your wallet? We're nearing Las Vegas territory here, whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you. I've heard there is actually a magic castle inside the store, but inner beauty is for another pageant. We're all about appearances here.
Route 192 gift shop Old Florida at its finest, a wonderful reminder of the days of the Weeki Wachee mermaids and when Silver Springs was Hollywood East. I can't tell you how much I like this building. I think it deserves another trip to get a better picture. Now if only the owners would pressure wash the lady's hair...
Thanks for visiting, and don't forget to slow down and enjoy roadside America wherever you find it.