I left on 6 February for Orlando via Houston to attend the American International Franchise Convention at the huge Marriott World Hotel.  I always arrive a day early so what did I do?  I went to Universal Studios and saw Harry Potter World – simply amazing.  Within the park you took the Hogwarts Express and passed through the forest with Hagrid waving to you.  I did all of the rides as I am really “a big kid”.
 
The conference started the next day with 4,000 attendees – I spoke on ‘Franchising in the Asia Pacific’ and covered 15 countries including NZ.  We are the most franchised country in the world per capita with 631 systems pre COVID-19 – who knows what will happen now.  I had completed the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) course online, which is like a degree in franchising, so I attended the big graduation ceremony – the first person in NZ to graduate with CFE, so it was very special.  I caught up with many colleagues since I have been attending these conventions for over 20 years.  There were many excellent educational sessions and lots of socialising.
 
The day after the convention I covered the four Disneyworld Parks in one day and walked 28,000 steps.  The highlight was Star Wars and I took the Millennium Falcon ride which was unforgettable.  The queues were long but being on my own I could often take the single person section and accelerate past hundreds of people.
 
On the way back I stopped at Houston for two nights and spent the whole day at NASA Mission Control.  The tour and what you saw was “out of this world” and the highlight was seeing the Saturn V rocket up close with 5 huge exhaust outlets which propel the rocket from the launch pad and then that section drops off in orbit.
 
Unfortunately, I spent our 39th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day coming home so I missed it;  but Janice received 12 long red roses on the day and was very happy.  Next year will be our Ruby anniversary and she has already told me that  “it will be expensive”.
 
Stewart Germann