OniHaunts Christmas 2012 Pt. 4: Checking out of Art of Animation; migration to Tampa

It’s currently about 10 degrees in New Jersey FML. Here is a picture of Harknell and I in a hammock – something that I wish I could do now! :D Whee, chronic joint pain + cold! But I digress!

Truth be told, it as actually “cold” for Florida when this picture was taken. This means it was 75 degrees out. HA! Check out my boots – a rarity for me when I am in Fl.

So basically on this day we had checked out of our hotel and were busy messing around on Disney property. That is often one of the most fun things to do because you can go from resort to resort and commandeer their hammocks and food. :D

We found this Disney accidental Goatse. (If you don’t know what “Goatse” is, DO NOT google it. Trust me. It’s NSFW and traumatizing.)

We got to order gingerbread from a gingerbread house in the Grand Floridian:

But the highlight of my trip was the Mary Blair Small World gingerbread Christmas tree in the Contemporary:

It was hard to get good shots with just my iPhone because this display is very close to a wall. D:

We learned the hard way that Disney made a huge fail with some aspects of their bus system. Normally we have no problem, but we ended up stranded for hours at the Polynesian because the buses that would come by were too full to take on new guests. I would not normally expect a deluxe resort to be that bad with transportation. We had to monorail to the Grand Floridian to get a bus that would take us to where our car was parked so we coudl get back to Tampa that night – over 2 hours late. If you visit WDW during the holidays make sure you are aware that some hotels are just impossible to get a bus from.

We had checked in with our friends Jill and Mark Witecki where we would stay the rest of our time in Florida. These two were so nice to us that we were actually shaken (in a good way) by it. We are not used to people being nice to us!

They have 5 cats. Here is one of them LOL:

FACE!!!!! CUTE FACE!!!!! :D

Because of Mark and Jill we got to see a manatee eating lettuce at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo! :D

We got to eat the best Cuban food I have ever had at The Columbia in Ybor City! I just realized that I..I…holy crap you guys. It was so good I don’t have any pictures of it. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?!? I…wow. I never forget to get at least 1 picture. THIS PLACE IS A CAN’T MISS. It clearly knocked my entire brain akimbo!

I especially recommend the Cuban Bread Pudding.


We got to see the Henry B. Plant Museum (a museum NOT about plants, but about the historic Tampa Bay hotel). We saw the Christmas Stroll that had various parts of the museum done up for the holidays!


We got to see the Tampa Theatre! Built in 1926, this place is NUTS. The theatre itself was immaculate – the ceiling was a twinkling sky and a Wurlitzer Organ is built into the stage. I am sad that I did not have the chance to see anything here and also more sad that there is nothing like this near me. The facility itself is truly one of a kind.

HAHA! My finger is in that shot! (We were walking quickly. :D )

We did so much that I felt like this when I got back to New Jersey:

This trip was insane, foolhardy, and totally worth it. Not only would I visit Florida for the holidays again, we plan to do it every year from now on. I’m lookin’ at YOU, Art of Animation!

This was the first Christmas I have ever had in my life that wasn’t consumed with complete sadness about the past. Being abandoned as a baby is a tough thing to get over. Of course the holidays are always the worst. The tears were hard to hold back this Christmas, but for the right reasons. My mind was broken for a second because I never thought I’d make it this far or ever be this happy.

Florida has always symbolized unattainable things to me. Every time I go, I prove to myself that I’ve done things, will continue to do things, and am no longer the person who spent most of her childhood being told she would never do anything with her life. The reason I was able to do this is because no matter what life threw at me I was able to find something positive to hold onto. Whether it be books, good friends, art, martial arts, or music. Staying positive and being kind to others is the only way.

There are times that I lose focus of how far I’ve come – for me Florida brings it back into focus.

Thanks to Harknell, Jill, Mark, and all of my friends for making this possible.

Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.

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One Response to “OniHaunts Christmas 2012 Pt. 4: Checking out of Art of Animation; migration to Tampa”

  1. Karl says:

    Since it was at a Disney Resort/Park, wouldn’t it be referred to as a Hidden Goatse? ;)

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