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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jobless? Get paid $25,000 to ride everything in Orlando

Pack your Dramamine: The tourist city of Orlando, home to seven of the most popular amusement parks on earth, is rolling out a job search for a couple who can take 67 days off to ride every ride, tour every attraction, get rubbed down at every spa, and generally explore every crevice (and line) of the Mecca of Mascots.

The pay, to cover expenses back home during those two months, will be $25,000, and the winner will be put up in a one-bedroom condo of their own in downtown Orlando, the better to dabble in its arts district, cafés, and prime Vietnamese restaurant drag when theme parking wears out. All the job holders will have to do in return is document their grueling, turkey leg-packed adventure using a supplied set of cell phone, video camera, and still camera, and to post their doings online via hotspots such as Facebook and Twitter. Their jealousy-making life, Orlando hopes, will stir Americans to venture out of their recession caves and come play again.

The application process is pretty simple: Turn in two photos, a one-minute video, and be at least 21. Applicants can be of any nationality, and your twosome can even be the same sex -- which means you can be in a romantic couple or part of an Amazing Race-style team-up. But given the name of this promotion, 67 Days of Smiles, it's a safe bet that you'll need to be able to grin on cue as an official online ambassador of the area that supports Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. The latter two resorts, in particular, which run a combined five parks, are entering hard times thanks to precipitous tourism drops, despite the fact that both of them have just added mega-coasters to their lineups.

Like Queensland, Australia's recent search for someone to paddle about in its Great Barrier Reef (sorry, that's been filled), Orlando's Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to beef up its flagging tourism trade with this stunt. Partners can apply through the official, tourist tax-supported website.

I think the promotion is a glorious idea. It will cost next to nothing to implement, and the publicity garnered will be worth more than $25,000 in advertising dollars. The theme parks will let the winners in for free, so as long as you can sell your personalities in that one-minute video application piece, you could even come out with more money than when you started.

I would love to take this job, but, in fact, I've already done it, when I wrote the Pauline Frommer's Orlando guide book to the city. Orlando was designed to be amusing and transporting, but the chief complaint about it, and its biggest weakness, has always been the high prices. Remove that from the equation, and get paid to see everything? What was that thing about wishing upon a star?