What its Like Growing Up in Kissimmee, Fl

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I did the math, and I’ve moved 11 times in my life. My parents exited the Air Force when I was a kid, and we moved to Kissimmee, Fl when I was 9 years old. I lived there for 13 years, and I proudly proclaim that I’m from Kissimmee. I’ve lived there longer than any other city. My hometown is unique in many ways:  It’s strategically located 10 minutes from Disney, and has a lesser-known cattle ranching history. 

Our Kissimmee home!

Kissimmee is one of the most diverse cities in Orlando, and I’m thankful for an upbringing that was verse in learning about the Russian oligarchy firsthand from my high school friend, and trying mofongo and tres leches at my neighbor’s house. My parents decided on Kissimmee because they promised my brother and I a pool, and Kissimmee fit the budget. Kissimmee was –  and still is –  one of the most affordable suburbs/cities in the Orlando area. 

I didn’t stay at a Disney resort until I was 21, because I didn’t really have the need. I’ve always lived 10 minutes away from property. To this day, the Disney resorts are the place I’m most unfamiliar with on Disney property because I’ve always lived so close to the parks. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a burden I must bear 🙂 

Getting into Disney was a snap! I grew up going to Disney with friends who worked at Disney, or with friend’s whose parents worked at Disney.  I only remember paying (or my parents paying) for Disney tickets a handful of times. If you live here long enough, you know someone who knows someone who can comp you Disney tickets, so I never grew up with an Annual Pass. 

As I got older, my first job was at the AMC theater at Disney, back in the oldin’ days of “Downtown Disney.” I loved finding the  behind the scenes areas at Disney, because they were such a stark contrast to “customer-facing” areas. I miss the cafe con leches at Bongo’s more.

I was zoned for Poinciana high school, which was a D-rated school at the time. My parents of course, didn’t want that for me, and (very forcefully) encouraged me to audition at the Osceola County School for the Arts. OCSA is a public magnet school open to all students in Osceola county who audition for and are accepted into different art majors. I joined the band and orchestra, and ended up really enjoying my time in high school. 

Graduating from high school at O.C.S.A. I dug deep in the archives to find this one!

While I was earning my A.A. in community college, I accepted a job at Give Kids the World Village. If you haven’t heard of GKTW, you are missing out! Give Kids the World  partners with the Make-A-Wish foundation to ensure that children with life-threatening illnesses can stay free of charge in a storybook-like village while experiencing the magic of Disney. You can volunteer or donate to this amazing organization here.

Looking back on my childhood, I do wish I had more permanent-resident neighbors, and I wonder what it would be like to grow up in a “normal” city without tourists, gift shops, and a dozen mini putt putt courses. However, I think the opportunities Kissimmee afforded me outweighed the bad, and I’m grateful for the life lessons and experiences Kissimmee gave me. 

I now run a Real Estate team servicing Kissimmee and beyond! If you’re interested in purchasing a home in Kissimmee, or the Orlando area, feel free to email me at Eric@Magicalmoves.com or follow along on Instagram here.

Eric Gross

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