Archive | August, 2011

Keep on Hopping

17 Aug

When purchasing a Magic Your Way park ticket to Walt Disney World, you have the opportunity to add the “Park Hopper” option.  Without even thinking, I always add it.  To me, there is no other way to visit the parks.  I MUST have the flexibility to come and go as I please between the four main theme parks at WDW.

Photo credit: news.getaroom.com

Why is having the ability to hop so important?

I think one of the reasons I’m so accustomed to “hopping” is because many of the trips I’ve taken to The World have had a duration of four days or less.  For a period of ten years or so, my visits to WDW consisted of day trips during our beach vacations or weekend trips over Thanksgiving break.  If I didn’t have the ability to hop between parks, I might have missed a whole park entirely.

Another reason I always add the Park Hopper option has to do with the way I explore the parks.  I would classify myself as an aggressive park guest.  My level of satisfaction is directly correlated to how much I accomplish (on my list of must-do’s) during my trip.  I appreciate the details, the history, and the stories associated with every corner of WDW.  Those attributes are often what make a headliner attraction so popular.  They are usually the most immersive experiences and therefore usually have the longest lines.  In addition to the headliners, I have a list of less popular attractions that are must-do’s – often for nostalgic reasons, to rest and cool off, or because I like the attraction narration/music.  To sum up, my list of must-do’s is extensive and having the ability to hop between parks is essential.

Photo credit: chipandco.com

How do I hop?  I’ve tried different strategies and have come to my own conclusion.  Yes, I’ve been to all four parks in one day.  No, I do not recommend it, but if one day is all you have and you have a ton of energy, go for it.  Since WDW requires between 45 and 90 minutes travel time between each park, you can reach a point where you’re spending more time on buses, monorails, and ferry boats, than you are in the parks.  This is not ideal.  Three parks in one day is not unheard of, but you can run into the same issue of having too much travel time consuming your day.

Photo credit: disneymeetings.disney.go.com

I have found that visiting two parks each day provides a nice balance.  It helps break up the day by either going back to the hotel for a nap or simply by changing scenery to boost my adrenaline.  Besides Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I try to experience each park once in the morning and once the evening on every trip.  Since DAK often closes early, I only visit that park in the morning.  On three-day trips or less, this system does not work.  I have to decide if I want to visit DAK at all.  On four-day trips, this system works perfectly since I can spend one morning in each park.

I think the only way I could decline the Park Hopper option would be if my trip was a minimum of six days.  Even then, I think I would have a hard time being restricted to a single park each day.

Out of curiosity, how important is the Park Hopper option to you?  Do you or anyone you know purchase MYW Base tickets without the Park Hopper option?  Please enlighten me and comment below – what are your hopping strategies?

Sharks are Scary, but…

3 Aug

I get REALLY excited about Shark Week.  I can’t wait to watch the new shows and to watch some of my old favorites.  Occasionally I step back and think, “Why is Shark Week such a cultural phenomenon?  Why do we all get so worked up about it?  What do we gain from Shark Week?”  My answer: “Who cares?  Shark Week is AWESOME.”

Photo credit: entertainment.ezinemark.com

To me, the ocean is one of the most interesting and petrifying things on our planet.  It’s just TOO BIG.  It covers 71% of the earth’s surface.  That’s insane.  And we don’t even know how deep the ocean is.  The deepest known point in the ocean is in the Mariana Trench at around 6.78 miles.  In the grand scheme of things, humans still know very little about the ocean and its creatures; this intrigues me.

I said the ocean is both “interesting” and “petrifying”.  Yes, I am petrified of the ocean.  One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen is The Perfect Storm.

Photo credit: currentfilm.com

That movie and the television show Deadliest Catch are my ninth circle of H-E-double-hockey-sticks.  When I think about cold, deep water, I go a little numb.

Back to Shark Week:  I think one of the main reasons I love to watch these shows is because I truly believe that sharks are misunderstood.  I don’t think they’re mean; I think they’re just REALLY hungry all the time and have a lot of testosterone.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t plan to go swim with them, but they really aren’t the scariest things in the ocean to me.

The creatures I am most afraid of in the ocean are whales.  Yep.  Whales.  When I say whales, I’m including killer whales/Orca which are really related to dolphins.  I know that some of my fears are silly, but I believe some are valid.  The fear I have of Blue Whales isn’t really rational.  Just like the ocean, I think Blue Whales are just TOO BIG.  No creature on earth should be that big.  Anything that can swallow a human whole is too big.  The person is this photo is NUTTY.

Photo credit: telegraph.co.uk

The rationale behind my fear of killer whales is much more reasonable.  Everyone loves Shamu.  Not me.  Shamu is a killing machine.  Killer whales will attack and kill almost anything.  They’ve been known to eat sharks, rays, seals, fish, birds, and of course, other whales.  They were once called “whale killers” but at some point the words were switched.  They often hunt in a pack which has earned them the title of “wolves of the sea”.  They even play with their food.  I was amazed/disturbed the first time I saw this video.

If the Discovery Channel really wants to give me nightmares, they should move on from this Shark Week stuff and have a “Whale Week”.  It would be interesting, alliterative, and terrifying.  Can we all agree that a Whale Week would be fantastic?