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Since we will probably go back to Disney World, here are some things to keep in mind for the next time – written when the first time is still fresh in my mind:

  1. Go in winter. The worst thing about Disney World is the hot Florida weather which makes you sweat under your clothes. So go in winter, but check to see how much rain Orlando gets then. That could be a drawback.
  2. Go when children are in school. The lines will be much shorter. Disney World does have FASTPASS, but you can only hold one at a time, so lines still matter.
  3. Allow at least one day for each park you want to see. To see everything in a park takes two to three days.
  4. Eat a good lunch before you go and eat dinner afterwards. Food in the park is cheaper than I expected, but the prices are still high. You might think waiting till after lunch means waiting too long, but in practice you will not get there much sooner: you will want to stay till the park closes and then eat and get a full night’s sleep and so on.
  5. Over lunch come to a decision about what to see: which park you want to go to and which attractions in which order. It will not turn out just that way, of course, but it will save time in the end and mean you get to see more.
  6. Go on rides that everyone will like first and then split up. Agree on a place and time to meet.
  7. Know that some rides will be down for repairs.
  8. Places to eat dinner afterwards: For some strange reason there are not many places to eat that are open after the parks close. But there is IHOP. Two of them are on 192 close to Disney, open all night long. There is also Celebration Town Tavern, open till at least two in the morning. They serve good food. It is in Celebration, the town that Disney built.
  9. Epcot has nice places to eat dinner, one for each of its 11 countries. Not cheap and you have to reserve days if not months in advance, but it is worth doing at least once. Read about them on the Internet and choose the one that seems best. Go there and also to the Mexican place. The Mexican place seems like it would be good even if the food is so-so.
  10. Consider staying at a Disney hotel. It is not as much money as you think and it might be easier in the end.
  11. Get a good map. As always. We had one of those GPS things that give directions while you drive, but it did not know the places inside Disney World! And Disney World is twice the size of Manhattan.
  12. Read as much as you can on Disney World. What little I had read proved invaluable.
  13. Do not bring a book to read into the park. You might think with all that waiting in line you will need one. It does not work out that way.

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time share

A time share (1960s- ) is part ownership of a hotel or resort where people stay on holiday. Most are by the sea or in the mountains. You do not own a room outright, but for a given week of the year – you own a share of its time.

You can either go to that hotel and stay that week or you can trade it for a similar week in a similar hotel that is part of the same trading system. RCI is the largest and best known of these.

It is one of those things that sounds good in theory but rarely works out so well in practice.

The trouble is that the rooms that are up for trading are those that hotels cannot otherwise fill. So there always seems to be rooms everywhere except where you want to be. To get something close to what you want you have to book a year or more beforehand.

If you want a room in a large city like New York or London, forget it. The best you can hope for is a place an hour or so out of town by car.

The trouble is that city hotels are not part of the system, because they can always fill their rooms. It holds no attraction for them.

The hotels that are part of the system are those with a low season – a time of year when most of their rooms are empty. That is why so many are by the sea or in the mountains. For them the system is a way to get some money for empty rooms in the low season.

The empty rooms also offer a cheap way to market time shares: Hotels will offer to let you stay free for a weekend in the low season if you promise to bring your husband (they seem to write to wives, not husbands). In exchange you must hear one of their salesmen for 90 minutes.

The salesman tells you about time shares, how they work, about the hotel and its bright future and then shows you some of the newer rooms.

Unless you say “no” over and over and over again, the 90 minutes will easily stretch into four hours. It will ruin the day.

If you finally persuade him that “no” means “no,” he will send his manager to talk to you. He will offer you a better deal. But only for today – if you leave, the deal will be off the table.

If you tell him no, then he will send you to his manager – two levels up from the original salesman. He will ask, “What seems to be the trouble?” He might offer you an even better deal, but he seems more interested in how his sales force is doing.

They are like boys who sell watches on the streets of Bali: they think “no” means you are holding out for a better deal. And like them, if they sell nothing their family suffers.

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