Woke up early and can't fall back asleep. Figured I would just write a little. Tammy is sound asleep next to me. I wish I had the ability to sleep that well. We went to sleep early last night so even though I'm up at this crazy hour (and I've been up for about an hour), I actually still got over 6 hours of sleep. We went to the Magic Kingdom yesterday and it was great. It was sunny, in the mid-70s with a breeze. You couldn't imagine a better day. It was a stark counterpoint to our first day in Florida which rained the entire day (sometimes quite heavily) and it was in the 60s. We took "advantage" of the rain day and went to the Kennedy Space Center where most of the attractions are inside.
KSC was very, very cool. It was really inspiring to be at the same place that so much history has occurred at. We took the "Up Close" tour of the facility (all from a bus) which got us closer to the launch pads for the shuttle and Saturn V programs. It's amazing to see these things up close. The size of everything in this place is of a different scale. The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where they build the rockets and then move them to the launch pads is the largest single-story building in the world (a Saturn V rocket can stand upright in it).
It was interesting to be here only a month after the Columbia was lost on re-entry. Perhaps most touching was the memorial to astronauts that have lost there lives in action and the picture of the Columbia crew in front of it. The memorial was really striking in it's directness. The sun wasn't out when we were there so we weren't able to see the way it reflects sunlight through the astronauts name (a fitting memorial for an astronaut in my book), instead they were illuminated with lights.
We also went to the IMAX 3D show about the International Space Station (ISS). That thing is really incredible. It makes Skylab and Mir look like an old trailer house. It's really quite far along already and it will be really amazing to see in a few years when complete. They said when it is complete that it will be the 3rd brightest object in the night-sky and easily viewed with a telescope (another good reason to get a telescope).
We returned to Orlando that evening (in the rain still) and went to Wonderworks. Wonderworks is a place where they take all the neat "game" things at a science museum and they get rid of the museum part and just make it a big play room. It was a lot of fun. They also have the worlds largest laser tag game on the top floor and Tammy and I played. Tammy won the whole game! She got 2,650 points (compared to my measly 800+) and beat everyone in our session.
Enough of the rainy start to our vacation and spending time indoors (we could have done that in Minnesota after all!).
Yesterday we went to Walt Disney World for the first day. We spent the entire day in the Magic Kingdom. It was a great time to forget everything else and just have fun. We spent the day going on various rides and just having a really great time. Before I get into the Magic Kingdom, you need to know about FastPass. So, the most annoying thing about Disney is the tremendously long lines. Well, Disney (in modern times) has found a great solution, FastPass. A handful of rides (the most popular) have FastPass booths where you can put your ticket in and get a "reservation" for a couple hours later. You return in a couple hours and walk right in to the front and your on the ride in mere minutes. Sounds to good to be true right? Well, it works.
We had a great strategy devised for the Magic Kingdom. The first thing we did was get a FastPass for Space Mountain and then while waiting for the pass to time in we went on Alien Encounter. Alien Encounter gets only an average rating. Not very scary, but the animatronics were pretty impressive. However, for a ride where you literally don't move it was okay. After that we walked over to Splash Mountain and got our next FastPass. This is critical, you can get your next FastPass as soon as your next one times in, not after you use it! As a result, you should always have 2 FastPass reservations out. Then, while waiting for our FastPass for Splash Mountain to time in we went and rode Space Mountain (walking by the hundreds of people in line). It's best, in my opinion, to only stand in the normal line on rides that don't have FastPass options. If you stand in for the ones that do, you wait forever! We continued like this the whole day and had a blast. In addition to Alien Encounter, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain we went to Tom Sawyer's Island, Thunder Mountain, Swiss Family Robinson, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.
It was a "magical" day at the Magic Kingdom. Who says this place is just for kids! (With the exception of Fantasy Land which is crazy with kids.)
Today (in a short while here) we are going to Animal Kingdom and Epcot. I'm really looking forward to both of these, they should be great. (Tammy just woke up and asked my why I've been up all morning, who knows!). I'll see if I can add some more later.
Oh, before I sign-off, I almost forgot about the drive down here. It wasn't really that bad (as "good" as 24 hours of driving can be!). However, Georgia was terrible. Traffic and construction in Atlanta slowed us down by 20-30 minutes. And then, about an hour south of Atlanta we had the worst road construction I've ever seen on an interstate. Cars were backed up for 15 miles (so we surmise from the signs). Luckily, some quick atlas work and help from the GPS by yours truly and we routed around it (however, it still ate probably an hour of time but who knows how long if we just waited there). We stayed in Padukah, Kentucky the first night, nothing special.