It’s that Time of Year Again—Revisions

Walt Disney World with Kids 2017After some intense weeks of work, and multiple revisions, my 2017 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids is finally off to the printer. The annual ritual starts in March with a research trip to Orlando and is followed by a first deadline for updates and new material by May 15th.

This year, however, there were so many changes that by the time June came, I went on a second research mission to the Kingdom of the Mouse. It was fascinating to be at Epcot the day the Frozen Forever ride opened. The ride opened at 9 a.m. on June 21st. I had made breakfast reservations at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for 8:30 a.m. and was allowed into the park shortly after 8 a.m. that morning. It was great to enter the park early and enjoy taking pictures on my way to the Norway pavilion. And yes, it was my ticket to the front of the line once the ride was about to open.

RevisionsNeedless to say, this made all the difference in the world. I exited the ride at 9:10 a.m.; 20 minutes later, the ride broke down. The park was officially open since half an hour and the line for the ride went back all the way over the bridge to the China pavilion. Cast members held up signs indicating that the wait currently was 180 minutes. Unfortunately, the ride broke down quite often that day, and when you add to this the low loading capacity of the former Maelstrom ride, it is no surprise that the wait, at times, was 300 minutes—five hours!

I did experience the new Soarin’ Around the World flight, enjoyed all the new nighttime entertainment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and saw Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, the new show in front of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

IMG_5666Over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, I paid a visit to Skull Island and rode the new King Kong attraction. Skull Island: The Reign of Kong really did impress me. This multi-sensory, multi-dimensional ride is absolutely amazing.

Back in Birmingham, it was crunch time. I had to revise the revisions and submit last-minute changes to my wonderful editor Amber Henderson. Amber brings it all together, and while it looks like magic when she takes over, believe me, it is not. It is hard work. A huge research team, editors, fact checkers, indexers, and a layout and art department support the authors. These behind-the-scenes professionals make me look good and are the guarantee that a great product reaches the reader.

This Year’s Revisions Are Over—Let’s Play!

So what is next? Well, it is never too early to start collating data again, is it? In a few weeks, I will once more board a plane and visit my happy place. I am excited to stay at three different hotels, including the newly opened Loews Sapphire Falls. I want to take tons of pictures and videos. But, most of all, I look forward to having more time for friends than during my past two visits. And yes, there will be pool time!

Lacing Up My Running Shoes: Defeat Simply Not an Option

Launching PR campaigns has much in common with running a Marathon. Both require a lot of training, focus, and a firm will to produce results. I often wonder about measurements, ROI, and the bottom line. Why do I run? What do I do once I have reached the goal? Is it enough to see my efforts mirrored in the media? What else is it that I want?

Lacing up my running shoes

Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios

Since the beginning of May, I have been training for a 10-miler race in October in Orlando. In the meantime, I am registered to do a 10K race at Disneyland in Anaheim, and I signed up for another 10K in Orlando in February 2014.

When the heatwave hit New York City, I started to think that the October race was appropriately named the Twilight Tower of Terror 10-miler, and I decided that for the longer training runs I would be paying the neighborhood gym a visit. The Tuesday and Thursday 2-mile morning runs I kept on doing outdoors. I felt confident that all was under control and nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

Lacing up my running shoes - At Lenox Hill Hospital

At Lenox Hill Hospital

Next was a trip to the hospital and an unforeseen gall bladder surgery. The hospital stay and the included dining plan was nothing to write home about; even the cute Minnie Mouse my colleagues brought to cheer me up was wishing for room delivery from Victoria & Albert.

Back home and on an improved dining plan, I am trying to figure out how best to continue training for the October race.  I walked 2 miles today and while it was not easy I felt encouraged that it is doable. I have one month till the Princess 10K in Anaheim, and I know I will do it, one step at the time.

So why do I run? I think that it is mostly to prove that whenever I “hit the wall” I can somehow overcome my physical and emotional limitations, a chance to overcome all obstacles. It is not about the medals but about the determination that with every mile the word defeat is eliminated from my vocabulary