Monthly Archives: March 2019

Campground Review: Orange City RV Resort, Orange City, FL

Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Orange City RV Resort
  • Dates of stay: Feb 15 – Mar 29, 2019
  • Location: 2300 E. Graves Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763
  • Type of campground: Private / Sun Communities
  • Cost: $27.32/night
  • Additional fees: metered electric
  • Stay limit: none
  • Accepts mail / packages: yes
  • Cell reception: AT&T good
  • Website:
  • Pros: Inexpensive, nice amenities
  • Cons: Farther from Orlando attractions

Full Review

We chose to stay at this park because it was half the price of the KOA we stayed at earlier in the winter. Located about halfway between the northeast edge of Orlando and Daytona Beach, it placed us within reasonable driving distance of our son’s house, Disney and Daytona Bike week activities.

Because of the reasonable price, I was a bit nervous about what we would find, but those nerves proved unfounded. Although sand/dirt, our pull-through full hookup site was spacious (by commercial campground standards) and level. The interior roads are paved and navigable by big rigs (with care). The rolling terrain required strategic planning for hooking and unhooking our toad.

The utilities worked well. We did notice intermittent 50 amp breaker issues during our stay, but it was promptly replaced as soon as we notified the office. Cable TV is available if you obtain a cable box from the office (free, but a deposit is required). We didn’t bother, relying on over the air channels. The only negative about the site were the trees – they blocked our satellite signal and showered buckets of leaves on us during our late-winter stay.  Our ATT data signal was slow, but usable. We didn’t try the campground wifi. On the monthly rate, electricity is additional, which cost us about another $2/day at our usage rate.

The large resort has a beautiful pool/hot tub area which was well-utilized during our stay.  A fitness center and recreation hall is located near the front office and three bath house / laundry facilities are strategically located throughout. The bath houses are modern and clean, some of the nicer ones we’ve seen in our travels.

The campground recently hired a part-time activities director who is really working to offer a variety of seasonal activities. Activities on the calendar included a craft fair, farmer’s market, water aerobics, game night, craft sessions, themed parties, etc. I went to a couple and found them to be hit-or-miss (some successful, so not-so), but that is not unusual for a new program. I expect participation will improve as the program matures.

This is our second stay at a Sun Communities park and both have been positive experiences. The first was the new and fabulously-beautiful Vines Resort in Paso Robles, California. This is an older park, purchased by Sun Communities a few years ago. The majority of the sites appear to be annual rentals with park models or permanent RV setups — some appear to have been there many years. But the park is generally clean and well kept, and has a laid-back, suburban neighborhood vibe.

My only gripe is that it wasn’t especially close to the things we wanted to do, except perhaps for Bike Week venues. Disney was an hour away and our son’s house was a good 45 minutes. We ended up doing quite a bit more driving as a result. I also didn’t bond with folks here like I had at the Orlando KOA. The area we were in seemed to be an enclave of French Canadian seasonal residents, with French spoken more than English. The KOA was super-convenient to attractions, with activities and people I loved, but it was also super-expensive. It’s all a trade off.

However, if you don’t mind the location, the campground itself is very nice and quite reasonably priced by Florida snowbird standards.

Bottom Line: Good value, nice amenities, and within reach of both Daytona and Orlando.

Doing Disney: Flower and Garden Festival

003In yet another ploy to lure visitors during “off peak” times, Epcot offers the Flower and Garden Festival from early March to early June. And it works! The continuously changing face of Epcot draws seemingly never-ending crowds.

The Flower and Garden Festival, as you might expect, features a bright array of flowers and plantings. The Park simply bursts with bright colors in planting beds and floral arrays everywhere you look. Highlighted are the fanciful topiaries of beloved Disney characters, placed in appropriate locations for the theme. For example, the Beauty and the Beast topiaries are located in France, while the Toy Story topiaries are located in Future world, near the Mission to Mars ride. Just like the other Festivals, a guide to all of the offerings and features can be picked up at the entrance so you won’t miss anything.

It’s not just about the Disney topiaries, either. Other attractions include a butterfly aviary and specialty plants in various countries.  Japan showed off beautiful bonsai trees and China exhibited topiaries of all of their zodiac signs. (This is the year of the Dragon) Two beautiful new play “gardens” (playgrounds) sprouted up for the younger set for the festival. I hope they keep those around, because I do think Epcot needs more amenities for the under-8 set. Of course, all of the outdoor kitchens fired up again, re-branded and with new offerings complementary to the theme.  It isn’t Epcot without eating and drinking around the world!


Like the other Festivals, this one has a concert series called “Garden Rocks!”.  A variety of artists are scheduled throughout the festival to perform their greatest hits. We caught “Air Supply”, one of my favorite duos from the 70’s,  the original artists still touring after 44 years. They were fantastic – very enjoyable!I’ve simply never seen a bad Disney-sponsored concert.  There are some great artists still in the line-up and if we were going to stick around longer, we would go back just to catch the shows. However, this was our last Disney outing for a while, since we are currently heading North to our next stop;  beginning our Midwest loop.

I guess if we lived in Florida all of the time, we might get blasé about Disney. But, after quite a few visits (I’ve lost count) in past months, it still really hasn’t gotten old. There always seems to be something new to do, or something to re-visit. There’s just SO MUCH offered between 4 theme parks and network of resorts.

Maybe it’s time to buy more Disney stock!

Throwback Thursday: Moving Days

Since we are in the process of packing up to move North, I thought it was a good time to revisit this Throwback Thursday post! The main thing that has changed since posting this a year ago, is that Pumpkin is now a bit calmer about the whole proceeding.  He still doesn’t LIKE it, and may retreat behind the TV to get out of the way, but he pops out as soon as we hit the road. And once we reach our new destination he’s totally chill. Pumpkin is an RV adventure cat now!


Every couple of weeks or so, we pack up our worldly goods and head to a new area. Do you ever wonder what that involves? If you’re interested, here’s the basic step by step process.

Prepping for the road

  • First thing: isolate cat in front section of bus. We can’t move slides unless we know where he is! He can’t hide anywhere dangerous in the front half of the bus. We bring his litter box up front so he has everything he needs.
  • Prep the outside:  Pack up any patio items (chairs, grill, etc) and stow in basement. Bring in awnings, if extended.
  • Load bikes:  Take backflip truck topper off pickup truck bed. Load both bicycles onto carriers on top of truck. Extend Load-All ramp and prep for motorcycle loading. Engage truck parking brake. Drive motorcycle up ramp into wheel chock. Secure with straps. Put motorcycle into “tow” mode. Stow ramp. Load Backflip cover and secure for travel. Release parking brake.
  • Prep bus holding tanks: Fill fresh water tank (if dry camping), unhook and stow fresh water hose. Turn on water pump. Empty and flush black water tank, using separate water hose. Empty gray water tank. Rinse and stow sewer hose and fittings. Unhook and stow fresh water pressure regulator.
  • Prep interior:  Pack/stow any loose items. Shake out and stow throw rugs. Retract and latch “L” sofa section and kitchen drawer extension. Push in dinette table and lock it. Sweep the floor. Lock shower doors. Lock refrigerator & freezer doors. Stow satellite dish. Turn off heating/cooling systems and water heater (gas / electric). Turn captains chairs to front. Take out trash. Check that all drawers and cabinets are firmly closed and latched.
  • Bring in slides:  Start bus engine to air up airbags, raise leveling jacks, turn engine off. Check for obstructions, then carefully retract rear slides and front slides, keeping eyes on cat. (After the slides are in, he can go hide under the bed if he wants.)
  • Final prep for moving:  Unplug and stow 50 amp electrical cable and surge protector. Set generator to “auto on” mode. Walk around bus to ensure everything loaded and secure. Lock all basement doors. Verify satellite dish stowed. Plug in toad brake remote indicator at bus dash.
  • Hook up toad: Start bus, warm up engine, pull out of site and drive to spot suitable for truck hookup (level, straight). Drive truck to bus, line up. Extend blue-ox tow bar arms and secure to truck. Put truck in 4 wheel down tow mode. (That’s really important!) Pull bus forward to fully extend and lock tow arms. Finish hook up:  safety cables, air line, electrical line, dead man switch. Push programmed button (3) to set truck interior brake position for air brake system. Verify truck is in tow mode.
  • Final walk around, hop in, and drive!

Driving to destination

  • Plot route to destination on RV GPS (also usually on my iPhone as a double check).
  • Depending on distance, plan ahead for suitable rest stops and/or truck stop for diesel fill up. Rule of thumb is drive no more than 300 miles in a day, and stop halfway for a break and lunch. We like to arrive at our campground by mid-afternoon.

Arrival at new destination

  • Stop at office to check in. Pay fees and receive directions to campsite.
  • Unhook toad:  Take out of tow mode. Unhook all lines/connections and stow parts in bin. Put cover on tow bar.
  • Drive motorhome to new site, maneuver into optimal position, making sure bus wheels are straight. I usually guide Jeff using hand signals, although sometimes the hand signals are creative, and possibly less than complimentary.  It depend on how tight and challenging the space is! Park truck at site.
  • Isolate cat to front section of bus.
  • Check electric pedestal with surge protector. If operational, hook up 50 amp cable. Hook up water pressure regulator, inline water filter and freshwater hose. Turn off water pump, turn on water supply. Hook up sewer hose.
  • Extend slides, keeping eyes on cat. He’s getting pretty used to all of this by now, so he’s usually chill. Deploy leveling jacks. Unplug and stow remote toad brake indicator.
  • Extend L sofa and kitchen drawer extension. Turn around captains chairs. Turn on water heater and heat / AC. Lay out throw rugs. Unlock fridge and shower doors. Deploy satellite dish. Re-program main TV for local over the air digital channels.
  • Choose motorcycle unloading area. Unload backflip cover, set aside. Extend LoadAll ramp. Unstrap motorcycle and carefully back down ramp, drive to site. Retract ramp and stow wheel chock. Install backflip truck bed cover. Drive truck back to site.
  • Unload bicycles. Cover motorcycle and  cover / secure bicycles.
  • Open a bottle of wine!

As you can see, moving day is quite involved! It typically takes us two hours to pack up completely and get on the road. You can’t rush the process or risk missing something important. We are usually on the road by 9 or 10. By the time we reach our destination, check in, hook up and unload — it is a tiring all-day affair.

That is why we are finding ourselves staying longer at each destination. Doing this once or twice a month isn’t bad, doing it every few days would be entirely too much like work!

Daytona’s Bike Week

thumbnail_IMG_5239I’m a little behind in sharing our adventures, but am catching up! Daytona’s annual Bike Week was a few weeks ago, beginning the first weekend in March. The 10 day event draws nearly half a million people to the area. That’s a lot of motorcycles!

Bike Week rose out of the Daytona 200 motorcycle race, back in 1937. The race took a hiatus during World War II, but an unofficial “bike week” continued. The official race resumed in 1947 and Bike Week has grown exponentially in popularity and offerings since.  Bike Week activity venues are located in and around Daytona, not just in downtown Daytona.  That’s a good thing, because you’d be hard pressed to fit all of those motorcycles and people into one place!

We were able to visit almost all of the major locations during this year’s event. Downtown Daytona was packed, as usual, with motorcycles crowded into every available space. Shops overflowed with T-shirts and biker paraphernalia. Rock music blared from temporary “beer gardens”, competing with the popping of motorcycle engines as an endless stream of bikes paraded down the main street. Standing in front of the downtown church, a preacher entreated passers-by to turn from the ways of sin while his helpers offered free “bikers Bibles”. I guess he considers his front street to present a fertile mission field!

Moving on to the Daytona Speedway, focus turned to bike equipment and new bike displays. Vendors of every ilk provided installation services and the ability to customize your bike in every conceivable way. Want new exhaust pipes, or fancy lights? Want pin striping or new chrome accessories? Look no further! You could also view (and test drive) the current motorcycle lineup from all of the major vendors: Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Yamaha. And of course, there were vendor tents for any kind of biker clothing or accessory from T-shirts, to vests, full leathers, helmets and such. The Speedway also hosted a variety of motorcycle race events during Week, from motocross to flat track racing.

The famed “cabbage patch” venue is just an open field across from Cackleberry Campground, about 20 minutes from Daytona. The field and campground sprouts vendor’s tents and entertainment stages for Bike Week. This venue offers such edifying entertainment as bikini bull-riding, which we observed. The ladies were serious about their bull riding, but it HAD to really chafe! Another offering was cole-slaw (lady) wrestling, which we just missed. (I was not terribly disappointed.) The slightly sour fragrance of fermenting cabbage occasionally wafted through the venue as we sampled the brews and ambled through the never-ending display of biker gear.

One of the most interesting aspects of Bike Week is simply observing all of the varieties of motorcycles and motorcycle decoration. From choppers to show bikes to elaborate paint jobs – limited only by their owners’ imaginations and budget.

028A stretch of US1 north of Ormond Beach becomes ground central for the Bike Week bar scene. Anchored by Boot Hill Saloon on one end and Broken Spoke Saloon on the other, the entire stretch becomes populated by vendor stands and temporary bars. Traffic along this road almost comes to a standstill during peak times.  We caught the band “Absolute Queen” one evening at the Broken Spoke, which was billed as the ultimate Queen tribute band. The musicians were good but the lead singer …. let’s just say that he’s no Freddie Mercury. Up the road is a large Harley dealership – Bruce Rossmeyer’s — which is yet another large Bike Week venue with vendors, bands, and motorcycle equipment installers of every ilk.

After a couple of days seeing the Bike Week sights, we approached motorcycle overload. It always fun to see all of the new vendor offerings, drink a beer (or two), peruse show bikes, and catch a band or a race. But after a while, it also nice to move along …. until next year!


Throwback Thursday Post: Sedona Summary

Just a year ago we were in Sedona, AZ! Enjoy this Throwback Thursday Post.

IMG_3700Sedona is an unusual, magical place. Its red rock buttes and spires emerge unexpectedly from the surrounding desert, casting a rosy glow over the landscape. I can see why the area has been viewed as sacred by peoples for many thousands of years.

We happened to arrive here during college spring break season, which made the area unexpectedly busy. The town of Sedona is divided into two sections: the original “Uptown” Sedona and the sprawling, newer West Sedona. Uptown Sedona reminds me of Gatlinburg, with its shops full of souvenirs, T-shirts and jerky.  However, Sedona offers a new age twist with a number of crystal shops and places to get psychic readings or aura photos. (As opposed to Gatlinburg’s moonshine breweries?!) Both get quite crowded during high season, and that’s what we hit. We also got hit by 15+% tax when we ate one lunch downtown! There’s a county tax, city tax and a health fee (?). Definitely a tourist town with tourist town prices. But fun to explore nonetheless.

IMG_3707The best way to see the area’s beauty is to get out on trails and hike or bike. There are a variety of trails of all levels (easy to difficult), and many of the most interesting and beautiful vantage points can be reached with just a moderate hike. One such point is devil’s bridge, a natural sandstone arch that the brave can cross. I wasn’t that brave. I clutched firm rock from a safe distance away and watched as the courageous waited in line to venture out on what appeared to be a VERY thin bridge hundreds of feet up in the air, in order to get that great Facebook photo. I am told that the bridge was wider than it looked, but I will take their word for it!

Other trails lead to the Sedona energy vortexes, four purported energy centers spaced around Sedona city.  A vortex is said to be an area of particularly strong subtle energy, that works on your body’s energy field to uplift and energize. People travel from all over the world to visit and experience these vortexes (properly, vortices, but that’s not how people say it here). We visited all four during our stay. Each vortex was placed in an area of unusual beauty. One can’t help but feel grounded and peaceful in such surroundings, out in nature, drinking in the beauty, soaking up the sunlight. And maybe, that’s the point.

IMG_3712The area is also known for the extensive network of mountain biking trails. According to Jeff, it is sweet single track through hard pack clay and slick rock. He liked that most of the trails could be done in loops (rather than out and back) and he never felt truly isolated anywhere (unlike the Big Bend area). He is so busy having fun that he is a couple of months behind in his mountain bike trail reviews!

thumbnail_IMG_3301As we found in New Mexico, ancient peoples left their marks on the landscape here in the form of cliff and hilltop dwellings and petroglyphs. Interesting historical sites in this area include Montezuma Castle (cliff dwellings), Tuzigoot historical monument (ancient hilltop village), and Palatki Heritage site (cliff dwellings and petroglyphs). All are unique, but the Palatki site’s petroglyphs were especially interesting in that they showed a continuous record of rock art spanning back more than 10,000 years. It is always fascinating to learn about the interweaving of ancient cultures. And all of the sites are covered by our National Park pass!

Our exploration of the area isn’t complete without sampling the local cuisine and wineries. The Verde Valley area (where we camped) is known as Arizona wine country with a dozen or so vineyards. We visited several, but our favorite was Alcantara Vineyards, the first and oldest in the area, with over 13,000 vines and 12 varietals. The sociable lady pouring our wine tasting also happened to be a knowledgeable mountain biker and she and Jeff launched into a discussion comparing trail systems from here to Vancouver. Their super Tuscan blend and Merlot were particularly tasty and a bottle of each now resides in our bus. Not for long, though.

Our favorite eatery was a small, family owned diner known as Pepe’s Café. It’s got all of the attributes of the best kind of diner – quick service, good food, and inexpensive. A full dinner plate of home made goodness runs about $8. We went there twice.

Our fun here was enhanced by the fact that Jeff’s brother was able to fly out and join us. Sedona is a place we’ll definitely come back to – and stay longer. Tomorrow, we pack up and head off to Las Vegas as our westward track continues!

2019 Itinerary Finalized! And Blog Improvements.

nnco-pyc_blk02_i01Now that we know where Sean and Marissa are going, we’ve finalized our 2019 plans and started looking at 2020!

From Florida, we’re heading up to our cabin in Gatlinburg for a month in a real house! Then we’ll mosey up through Indiana to visit friends and family.  I’ll be able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom! We’ll get our final warranty work done at the Entegra Factory in Middlebury Indiana. Following that, we’ll enjoy the month of July in Petoskey Michigan, then will loop around Michigan’s Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin. After visiting Milwaukee (Harley Museum!), we’ll shoot south to Nashville for the Labor Day holiday. We’ll visit Asheville NC for a couple of weeks, then stay a month near Greensboro, NC before heading back south to Florida. We’ll visit Disney for a week in late October, staying at the Fort Wilderness Campground and go nuts at the Theme Parks while our annual passes are still valid.

We’ll settle down for the winter season at a new RV resort: the Recreation Plantation in Lady Lake, Florida. It’s about a half hour from Jeff’s favorite mountain bike park in Santos and is quite near the retirement mecca of The Villages, with all of its amenities and activities. Recreation Plantation is primarily a seasonal park with many park models and a very full calendar of  activities. They take their activities seriously! The exercise classes, crafting, and gaming sessions appeal to me, while the softball league, poker sessions, and pool tables appeal to Jeff. The location also offers cooler winter weather as compared to South Florida, and a more convenient jumping off spot for heading out West in the spring of 2020.

The new route map is posted!

I’ve also added a new “Our Travels” page to the blog. If you look at the top, you’ll see a tab for the Blog, About Us, Contact Us, and now, Our Travels. I added a synopsis of our 2018 adventures and included our 2018 map. I plan to do that every year to keep a running history of our journey-ing! I do it mostly for myself, because I get forgetful in my old age! We’ve done so many things, it’s easy to forget stuff.

We’ve also started thinking about a new 2020 West coast loop. I know that seems WAY in advance, but we’ve learned (the hard way) that some campgrounds book a year (or more) in advance. We try to think ahead,  identify those critical places, and make a reservation well in advance. It’s much easier to modify/cancel plans than try to find something too late in the game!

Our time in Florida is nearly up. Just another week or so and we’ll be heading North again. Where did the winter go???

And the Match says …..

A couple of weeks ago I shared in a post about our uncertainty regarding this years’ itinerary. Our son’s longtime girlfriend will be graduating from medical school soon and progressing on to a residency program out of State. March 15 was the big day for fourth year medical schools all over the country as students learned of their destiny – all at the same time!

thumbnail_IMG_5245The magic hour was noon, so we arrived at the medical school building about a half hour early. A crowd of students and family were gathered, partaking of offered food/beverages and clustered around tables set in a Harry Potter theme (as selected by the students). The tables also held the all-important sealed envelopes, ready for the big reveal.

All medical students had received an email earlier in the week, notifying whether they had matched (or not), so some of the pressure was off. But, still, the excitement of soon learning the actual match location was palpable. As the noon hour approached, several nice speeches were made, and then a countdown from 10 …. 3 …. 2 … 1 …. MATCH! 117 envelopes were simultaneously ripped open and the squeals of celebration commenced! It was exciting and inspiring to hear excited students announce match locations all over the US.

And the Residency Match location for Marissa and Sean is …. Greensboro, NC! They had wanted to go somewhere with mountains and four distinct seasons (but not too harsh winters), and this certainly fits the bill. Her grandparents live in Asheville, NC and our cabin is only 4 hours away.  They are now in the throes of planning for relocation – housing, job changes, packing/moving, etc. However, the new location is about 9 hours from their current home, which is logistically much easier than something cross-country. It’s all good!

So, we are now able to complete our 2019 itinerary! We’ll run from Wisconsin down to Tennessee and North Carolina, spending a month in the Fall near Greensboro. Then, back to Central Florida for the winter season.

See you down the road!


Hangin’ out in Orange City

Orange City RV ResortOrange City is a small town located off I-4, approximately half-way between the outskirts of Orlando and Daytona Beach. It’s a quiet area with a rural feel, laid-back and peaceful.

We came to the Orange City RV Resort because it was considerably less expensive than our Orlando KOA. Like – less than half the price! I was a little nervous because it was so much cheaper, a bit afraid it would be a dump. But I have been pleasantly surprised. Although dirt/sand, our shady site is level, solid and reasonably spacious with a concrete patio, full hook ups, and  a picnic table. The bath house is modern and clean. There is a decent pool and hot tub area. It’s quite nice, especially considering the price!

The resort is fairly large with several hundred sites. Many are “annual” rentals, with either RVs or park model trailers permanently located onsite. There is quite a population of Canadian snowbirds, down for the season (I hear French spoken more than English!), but some annual sites undoubtedly house permanent, year-round residents. Some of the units have obviously been there for quite some time, while others are newer. And interspersed are RVs of all types and sizes, including not a few expensive big rigs. The permanent sites give the resort almost a residential feel, like walking down a suburban street. There are paved roads, streetlights, and tiny homes with mature landscaping and front porches. It’s quite pleasant actually.

The primary downside is that Orange City isn’t really close anything. It’s about 45 minutes drive to Sean’s place and at least an hour to Disney. Daytona is about a half hour away, which will be convenient for bike week. But otherwise, there’s not so much around here. The RV park has an activities director and a calendar of planned events, but I haven’t engaged in any – yet. Some of the activities don’t interest me (like, chair yoga) and events I have been interested in have either occurred at times that conflicted with work or other plans, or were cancelled. There’s a craft session later in the week, so hopefully I can give it a go. I really got integrated quickly into the activities at the Orlando KOA and miss that camaraderie.

We’ll see how it goes!





Haiku 4, by Pumpkin

It’s been quite some time since I shared my creative musings. Why? Because, I didn’t feel like it. You can peruse my prior offerings here, here, and here. You’re welcome.


You silly squirrel
Dance, squawk, flip your tail.
I am not impressed.



Lie in the window
In warm sun, safe and secure.
Watch the world pass by.


I grow weary. Time for napping.



Doing Disney: Through the Years

I’ve been visiting Disney theme parks for most of my life. My first time was seeing Disneyland way back in 1978. I was a college student back then, visiting California with friends. Jeff beat me, visiting the newly-constructed Disney World resort in the mid-70’s with his family. They stayed at the new Contemporary Resort, taking the high-tech Monorail to the Magic Kingdom, which was all there was back then! But we didn’t REALLY start visiting the Disney World parks regularly until we moved to South Florida back in 1984. We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years!

<The first photo is of Jeff and baby Sean at Disney. The other shows him all grown up!>

The cost of admission has skyrocketed. When we first did Disney in the mid-80’s, a one-day ticket would set you back about $25. That equates to maybe $55-60 in today’s dollars. NOW that one day, one park ticket will set you back around $125! If you want to visit more than one park, figure $140 for a park-hopper pass! That doesn’t include parking which now runs $25 / day. Purchasing a multi-day pass brings the per-day cost down a bit, but the daily parking fees still eat you alive – which apply even if you stay at a Disney resort! The only way to avoid parking fees is to purchase an annual pass. But if you’re not a Florida resident, an annual pass is very pricey and not worth it unless you travel there a LOT!

No more “forever” tickets. When we bought our first tickets, Disney had a policy to honor those tickets forever. So we’d intentionally purchase multi-day passes, use only a day or two then, and save the other days for a future trip. We built up a stockpile of these unused tickets over time. A few years ago, we brought in one of the ancient paper tickets that had one unused day out of 4 (used days were manually stamped back then). We took it to guest services who cheerfully accepted it and handed me a new one-day park hopper pass. We brought in our leftover child multi-day passes another trip and not only were they honored, they upgraded them to adult passes for free with no questions asked. We finally used up the last of our stockpile only a year ago! NOW however, all tickets have an expiration date. No more stockpiling of forever tickets. Bummer.

There is SO much more to see and do!  When we first started visiting Disney World, Epcot’s World Showcase wasn’t complete, and MGM Studios (as it was called when it opened) and Animal Kingdom didn’t even exist. The parks have continued to expand their size and offerings. Epcot offers a variety of special events that keep drawing you back in for more, especially during times that were traditionally “low” season. There are running race weekends and special holiday events. Disney’s combination of theme rides, shows, characters, and events engage you like no other place. And that is why ….

Disney is ALWAYS busy! There used to be peak seasons and low seasons. Now with a year-round schedule of “special” events and offerings, it seems there are peak seasons and slightly-less-than-peak seasons. Truly peak times mean unbearable crowds and parks that close to additional guests because they are at capacity. We simply won’t go then. But the parks always seem busy nowadays, even during the week and during seasons that traditionally had lower attendance. The most popular fast passes are always snapped up weeks in advance.  Waits for even the most basic rides can be an hour or more by noon. We haven’t tried going in bad weather – maybe it is less busy then!

So what do we do to cope with the high prices and busy-ness?

  • For us, purchasing annual passes made sense because the length of our stay and because we can get Florida resident rates. It also covers parking.
  • For others, purchasing multi-day passes help to bring the cost down a bit. You can also check the Disney world page for discounts, which are offered sometimes. Just watch for ticket expiration dates.
  • If we want to hit a particular ride, we try to get a fast pass. If unsuccessful, we go EARLY to the park, ready to go at rope drop, and head straight for the coveted ride. As long as it isn’t a “special magic hours” day that allows resort guests into that park early, we’ll get to the ride before the line can build.
  • We dine strategically – we don’t just nosh on all of the snacks available in the parks. We will eat before we go, take water and snacks, and decide where we want to have a dining experience. Often we find better food and a lesser price at the resort hotel restaurants. The exception is the Epcot World Showcase which has a variety of good places to eat.
  • We bring our patience. There will be lines – although Disney manages crowds better than anyone. Sometimes, you just have to wait in line for an hour or so to see or do what you want.

057Disney knows what they are doing. Even after multiple visits over the last few months, it really doesn’t get old.

And that’s why we own Disney stock!