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February 2012
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April 2012

Book Review: The Busy Family's Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2012

Walt Disney World Guide Book
Just finished "The Busy Family's Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2012" by Jeffrey Merola. Here are my thoughts.

First time visitors of Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida may find this massive resort complex a bit overwhelming. Overwhelmed not only by the number of different types of amusement parks, but the vast number of entertainment, food and attractions found inside each of the parks. I was one of those lost in the colossal number of choices during my first visit. I live just minutes from Disneyland in Aneheim California, what could be so different at Disney World! Well I quickly learned the Disney experience in Orlando is decidedly different from the California operation.

For years I have been a "Details / Resources" magazine clipper. You know those portions of a travel magazine articles that give you all the nuts and bolts details of a destination. Often called "sidebars" these chunks of text suggest places to stay, when to visit, what to see, costs and other info.

Jeff's book is just such a detailed nuts and bolts resource of information about all the various options at Walt Disney World. Based on his personal research he provides tons of valuable inside information about almost everything your family will want or need during a Walt Disney World vacation. With or without a family in tow this book would be a excellent resource when planning a trip.

I'm not an expert on the Orlando parks, but I do know California's Disneyland like it was the back of my hand. The only issue, I found in the book was the limited explanation of the FASTPASS system found at the parks. He mentions where and when to use it, and some tips for using the system, but toward the end of the book after he has referenced it dozens of times.

The FASTPASS is a system that allows park guests to pick up a "reservation" for a ride. You pick it up near the entrance to the ride your interested in. This pass has printed on it a future time when you are asked to return to that attraction. When you come back you enter a special entrance that has a much shorter wait time in line. I've found this a great advantage around meal times. You pickup a FASTPASS, go to lunch, do a little shopping, then return at the printed time and stand in a much shorter line. One restriction, you can only have one FASTPASS reservation at any one time. Make sure you arrive at the time noted on your ticket.

This book is a must have when visiting any of the Disney World parks. It is available in paperback or as an eBook. I would download it to your smartphone for reference while in the parks. It isn't a massive book because he provides just the facts and spot on suggestions for families. Actually this book would be perfect for anyone, not just families, visiting Florida's biggest and best tourist attraction.


Sunday Travel Section Recap, March 18th

Some of the best from Sunday's newspaper travel sections. TB

NY Times: Curaçao After Dark

NY Times: 63 Years Flying, From Glamour to Days of Gray

LA Times: Cuzco, Peru's often overlooked treasures

LA Times: Smiles and smiles to go in a VW bus

SF Gate: Upgrading the Outback around Flinders Ranges

SF Gate: 5 Places: Hideouts for mobster madness

Miami Herald: Valparaiso, In praise of seedy seaside towns

Miami Herald: Traveling with elderly parents

Baltimore Sun: Celebrity traveler: Shodekeh's musical treks

Salt Lake Tribune: Titanic museums to mark anniversary of sinking

Salt Lake Tribune: Yoga adventure: Stretching deep inside a 10,000-year-old Utah crater

Sunday Travel Section Recap, March 11th

Some of the best from Sunday's newspaper travel sections. TB

NY Times: Evea Peron's Buenos Aires

NY Times: Out At Sea, Relaxing in the Philippines

NY Times: Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer

LA Times: Hanoi emerging as a destination for foodies

LA Times: Chicago, that tippling town

SFGate: A luxurious cruise on the wild Peruvian Amazon

Miami Herald: Europe's charms often found in its smaller cities

Miami Herald: Cheap Sleeps: Beyond Europe's Budget Hotels

Baltimore Sun: Miami nights: Plenty to see and do after dark

Salt Lake Tribune: ‘Mad Men’ fans, head to Manhattan for a cocktail

Salt Lake Tribune: Japan tourism recovering a year after disaster

Arrived OK, service for fliers.

Tell your destination and who you want to notify when you arrive.  When you land and turn on your cell phone the ArrivedOK service sees your phone pop up on the network and sends emails, text messages, and posts to social media site messages you have pre-programmed.  I personally see myself using this, but for some folks with lots of contacts this could be helpful.  You could set it all up before you leave, or while on the flight via onboard WiFi, saving you sending multiple messages just as you land.


Passport Day in the USA, Saturday March 10th


On March 10, this Saturday, the Department of State will host its 4th annual “Passport Day in the USA.” U.S. citizens may apply for a passport book or card at any one of the 25 domestic agencies listed below or hundreds of participating non-Department passport application acceptance facilities.

You can visit any of these 25 passport agencies in: Atlanta, Aurora (Denver), Boston,  Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, El Paso, Honolulu, Hot Springs (AR), Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Norwalk (CT), Philadelphia, Portsmouth (NH), San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Albans (VT), Tucson (AZ), and Washington, D.C. . 

This is the only day all year U.S. citizens may apply directly at a passport agency without making an appointment, arrive early to avoid any last-minute rush. Passport Day in the USA makes it easy for all travelers -- families going on summer vacations, students participating in study abroad programs, or those planning to travel to London for the 2012 Olympic Games -- to apply for a first-time passport or renew their current passport.  Dept of State Passports Website