Some random thoughts on Disney World, where we spent most of last week on vacation:
* Fast Pass is a must if you want to avoid big lines at the popular rides. The Fast Pass allows you to come back later in the day -- usually within a couple of hours -- and wait only with fellow Fast Pass returnees, instead of having to stand in the general line.
It saves a ton of time. The only problem is that you can't accumulate multiple fast passes, even if the times don't overlap. At 9:30am on one day, I got Fast Pass for Toy Story Mania that told me to return between 12:30pm - 1:30pm to be able to ride. Then, I went to Rock 'N' Roller Coaster at 10:00am, tried to get a Fast Pass, which was having people come back between 10:50am - 11:50am, only it wouldn't let me.
A certain amount of time has to pass until you get to have a second Fast Pass.
* Another tip for saving time in long lines, go in as a single rider. Granted, this may not be available on that many rides, but for Rock 'N' Roller Coaster, I went on as a single rider and waited about 10 minutes, instead of 60.
Even if you're going on a ride with someone else, or a group, if you don't mind riding without them, you can really save time.
* Speaking of Rock 'N' Roller Coaster, I highly recommend it. One of the best thrills anywhere in Disney World is the first three seconds of that ride, when your car goes from 0 to 57 m.p.h. Makes my tummy tickle every time.
* I also enjoyed Tower Of Terror, which never disappoints, and Expedition Everest was solid, too.
* Test Track is ok. I rode it in 2003 -- and videotaped it as well -- and went on it with Megan this year. I think there should be more time on the outside track, and it should go faster, but that's just me. Good to see they still have the video at the beginning of the ride featuring John Michael Higgins.
* You absolutely must go to Beaches And Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club to have their No Way Jose ice cream treat. Look at this thing. It's about $7, and it's underpriced. Go ahead and have your cheeseburger or whatever you want for dinner, but make sure you save room for this. Helps if you're a peanut butter fan.
* The chocolate shake at Ghirardelli's at Downtown Disney is also splendid.
* Some of the best views and settings, for me at least, involve water. Find time to take the monorail from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom, if for no other reason than to see the view of the Grand Floridian Resort.
I also like the view outside of the Yacht and Beach Club, looking over water to the Disney Boardwalk.
There's also a nice setting overlooking the water at Downtown Disney.
* It may be a bit pricey, but the character breakfast at Chef Mickey's -- also at the Contemporary -- is worth it. The kids get to meet the heavy hitters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto), and everyone gets to enjoy a help yourself feast. Four types of potatoes, omelettes, french toast, waffles, breakfast pizzas, muffins, fruit...just about everything you could want.
* Bring your comfortable shoes. The amount of walking for the time you're there is insane. In addition to the walking inside the parks, there's all the walking to get from your room to the bus, and from the bus stop to the park. Of course, when you stay at the economy friendly places like we do, the walks are a bit longer.
* I can't say that it's like this all the time, but going in October, weather wise, was fine. It was hot all of the days we were there (mid to upper 80's), but the humidity wasn't too bad, the evenings were pleasant, and there was a nice breeze each day.
Now, try to avoid going the week of Columbus Day like we did. Apparently, a lot of southern schools take that whole week off, so it was more crowded than usual.
So, there you have it, some of my recommendations for good ol' WDW. If it were up to my wife and kids, we'd go back every year. Twice.
I'm fine with not going back for at least a few years, maybe more. But, as long as we got to do all of the things above -- with an added day or two for a trip to the beach and a round of golf -- I could possibly be talked into going again sooner.
Throw in a massage from Ariel, or Jasmine, and then we could be getting somewhere.