So close I can almost feel it now. I am on chapter 21 of 29 of my final read-through of Eternal Knight. It scares the hell out of me that I just read one of my favorite chapters and loved it. What's scary about that? If it turns out that nobody else likes it, well... it makes me out to be a deluded idiot. And who wants to be a deluded idiot?
Progress has been excellent over the past week, this despite the fact that we just got back from Walt Disney World. So now, a brief commentary on Walt Disney World:
1) Disney is an amazing organization. The employees were incredibly helpful and friendly. The whole park is clean and runs like clockwork. They picked us up from the airport and took great care of us up to the very moment they returned us to the airport.
2) We stayed on the resort (Port Orleans) and used their dining plan. The dining plan, combined with a $500 gift card (a free upgrade to our package) meant that we only spent $40 cash above the actual package cost. If you go, get on the dining plan, it will save you a ton of money. And make reservations well before you go. Once you get there you will have a very hard time getting meal reservations at their (excellent) sit-down restaurants.
3) Use the Fast-Pass system. It lets you cut to the front of the line for the really popular rides. My strategy: get to the park as soon as it opens, get a Fast Pass for the most popular ride in the park, ride your #2 and #3 choice rides, and then use your Fast Pass. Then, if you are there during Spring Break, be prepared to wait forever for another ride. Or, go back to the resort and swim and do other activities. After dinner, go back to one of the parks. By the way, we'll never go back during Spring Break-- it was mobbed. The crowds were the only downside of the experience.
4) I think you're best off waiting until your youngest child is five or six before you go. I don't think you can get the full experience before then. And toting around a grumpy kid at a theme park is just no fun. Amelia just turned six, and she had a great time. You also need to be 44 inches tall to get on the decent rides.
5) Must do activities.... The Himalaya roller-coaster at Animal Kingdom was great. The Safari ride was also very good. We didn't get a chance to see the shows there, but I heard they are good. Animal Kingdom was MOBBED. The Stunt Show, Indiana Jones Show, and Jedi Training were all great Hollywood Studios events. The auto Stunt Show was truly amazing.
One of the best parts of the trip was the chance to visit with our friends the Brinsons and the Grodes. In a later blog post I'll write about my adventures in the World of Warcraft. The best thing to come out of that year of gaming was my friendship with Kemp and Melissa and Bob and Lori. All are Orlando area residents and came out to the park to see us. Bob and Lori brought their kids and spent the day at Magic Kingdom with us. Kemp and Melissa brought their daughter and met us for dinner. Two years ago (the last time we were in Florida) my wife was incredulous that I was taking us to meet my World of Warcraft friends. She was certain they would kill us and that our bodies would never be discovered. They turned out to be some of the nicest people IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
I haven't played WoW in over a year, and they were still happy to spend the day with us. Bob and I keep in touch with occasional phone calls. Kemp has become a valuable Eternal Knight editor. These are good folks!
My dad and his wife also happen to be in Florida on vacation right now. Debbie told me that my dad has been out twice to hit some golf balls. The last time he hit golf balls was over two years ago. Why the lapse? A terrible battle with cancer. The rare (and aggressive) cancer was in his nasal passage, pressing up against his brain. The radiation and chemo beat the hell out of him. The surgery (which intruded into his brain) was equally traumatic. The recovery has been riddled with complications.
So to hear that he has the strength to hit even a small bucket of balls at a driving range is wonderful news. I look forward to when I can play a round of golf with him again.