Disney World Vacation: Resources for Planning

During the summer of 2022 my family took a trip to Disney World in Orlando. Before I share some of the resources I used to plan our trip, here are some relevant details:

  1. When did we go? We decided in April of 2022 to visit Walt Disney World starting Sunday August 7th
  2. Who went on the trip? Myself, my wife Megan, Charlotte age 16 and Izzy age 14
  3. Had we been before? Just once, ten years ago in 2012.
  4. What kind of vacations do we like? We mostly like to be on the go when it comes to a vacation. We thought about flying into Seattle, renting a car, and driving to Los Angeles but the high cost of plane tickets made us look for an alternate trip. You might say my wife Megan is the best at knowing how to relax. My daughter Izzy and I are the ones who really like to go from one thing to the next. Izzy is the most adventurous amusement park rider. My wife and I can both get motion sickness.
Ten years between family Disney World trips
photographs by Megan Torgerson

Here are some of the questions I remember facing pretty quickly in my planning. I’ll get to answering them in upcoming posts:

  1. How many nights should we stay?
  2. Which hotel resort?
  3. Would we go to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT?
  4. Should I purchase the park hopper option?
  5. What about Genie+? 

Here are some resources I found helpful for the planning of our trip:

  1. The Kindle version of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2022. I use an iPad to read from the Kindle app, and I really enjoy being able to highlight passages and take notes in the app.
  2. Purchased access to the book’s accompanying website TouringPlans.com. This included access to their Lines WDW phone app. I used this app constantly during our time in Orlando and found that its estimated wait times for rides was more accurate than what was posted in each Disney Park.
  3. Downloaded and started to get familiar with the Disney World phone app.

The Disney World and Lines WDW apps were not only useful in trip planning, but I also used them constantly when we were in the parks.

Some helpful YouTube videos:

  1. Genie+ Priorities at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom. These are all videos published on the TouringPlans channel.
  2. How to Conquer Rise of the Resistance by AllEars.net.
  3. How to get a boarding group for any Disney attraction. by Mark Ambrose. This one helped us nail our boarding group for EPCOT’s new coaster Guardians of the Galaxy.
  4. My Disney Experience APP Tutorial by Bear Savvy.

Two podcasts I listened to:

  1. Disney Travel Secrets
  2. That Park Life

Up next: I’ll explain why I booked Disney’s Contemporary Resort and ended up changing our reservation to Boardwalk.

Thanks for checking out this post and let me know in the comments section if you’ve got your own tips you think would be helpful to others or if you have additional questions about our family trip.

Writing Across the Curriculum and the Vertical Writing Model at App State

Conversation with Dr. Sarah Zurhellen, Assistant Director of Writing Across the Curriculum

Welcome to the August 2, 2022 edition of the Torg Stories podcast. On this episode I talk with Dr. Sarah Zurhellen, assistant director of the Writing Across the Curriculum program at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

This conversation is a part of a larger project in which I’m focusing on that examines the progression from the required first year writing course at App State, then to the Writing Across the Curriculum course that I most frequently teach, and on to the writing in the discipline and capstone course that student take as a part of the vertical writing model.

Audio only version above / also available in the Apple Podcast app.

Thanks for checking out the podcast!

Podcast on Directing Composition, Required Writing Courses, and the Vertical Writing Model at App State

Welcome to the June 6, 2022 edition of the Torg Stories podcast. On this episode I talk with Dr. Bethany Mannon. Bethany directs the Rhetoric and Composition program at App State University. I am a lecturer in that program, and I teach a second year required course called Writing Across the Curriculum / RC 2001. 

This conversation is a part of a larger project I am working on that examines the progression from the required first year writing course at Appalachian State to the Writing Across the Curriculum class I most often teach, and then on to the Writing in the Discipline courses that are taught within each major. 

Audio only version of the podcast also available in the podcast app of an iPhone.

I’m always hoping the podcasts can work as conversation starters among writers, students, and those who teach writing. It would be great to hear about your experiences taking and teaching writing courses.

Shot Talk: A Conversation About Shooting the Basketball

  1. This isn’t a “how to shoot” or a “how to teach shooting” video. I’m trying to answer this question: when I watch these shooters, what do I notice?
  2. What shooters did I watch? Steph Curry, Sue Bird, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, and JJ Redick.
  3. Who are some of my influences when it comes to teaching shooting? Indiana HS Coach Sam Alford, his son Steve’s workout videos, Dick Baumgartner, Dave Love and Drew Hanlon.
  4. When I have questions about shooting–for example, where should the guide hand be placed?–I try to watch video of great shooters and look for the answers.
  5. I think of this video and post as a sort of video remix about shooting. Yes, I am using short screen grabs from other people’s YouTube posts the way I might use a quote from a writer’s article writing my own research paper. As a kind of Works Cited, I will link you to each video I screen grab for this project. I hope you will check out some of those YouTube channels and that my linking to them sparks some great conversation / content about shooting.
  6. A belief I have about shooting: good shooters don’t shoot the same way. There are multiple ways to be a good shooter. By the way, I believe the same thing about writing.
  7. For this video analysis, I looked for mostly catch and shoot situations. Great shooters don’t shoot the ball the same way every time. Sometimes the situation–off the dribble or sprinting off a screen–demand the shooter do something different when it comes to footwork, balance, or the path the ball takes from catch to release.

Here’s the screen capture from my study of Steph Curry, Sue Bird, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, and JJ Redick.

image of Steph Shooting from SC30.com

After watching the shooters in the above video, what did you see worth bringing to this discussion?

Here are some of my thoughts after watching those shooters:

  1. A consistent shooting motion can overcome minor mechanical flaws related to some idea of an ideal shot. I need to chill out about some more minor things I see with the players I work with.
  2. Left / right footwork for a right handed shooter is a good starting place. Step toward the ball on the pass with the left foot and put the right foot down on the catch.
  3. The pocket is where the ball is taken on the catch. Teach the pocket as a ball width away from the stomach and slightly toward the side of the body of the shooting hand. I first heard the pocket described that way by Dave Love.
  4. Rather than keep the ball close to the body as it travels from the pocket to the release, the ball travels away from the body to the set point in what looks like a half circle. The upper arms, forearms, and hands can move together as one to the set point. See examples in video above.
  5. I teach what I call rhythm shooting. This rhythm includes taking the ball down to the pocket as needed, (if the ball wasn’t caught there) flexing the legs, and then the ball starts to rise toward the set point just ahead of the legs starting to push and extend. The timing of that process, which is one fluid motion with no stops, is what I mean by rhythm. The word tempo also comes to mind.
  6. I prefer the shooter and the ball go up and toward the basket. Many players have something (hand, jump, footprint) that goes somewhere not toward the hoops. A very common flaw is for a player to drift a lot if they are catching on the move. Some twist of the body is fine and this can become more pronounced depending on what kind of shot is being taken. Of course as players’ skill evolves, they will make use of fade aways, step backs, and drifting in a direction to get away from the defense.

When I finished this project, I wondered where the players I work with look when they shoot. I think they can watch the flight of the ball, the front of the rim, or the back of the rim, but I realized I had not talked much about that to the players I work with.

I do have a routine I use when I start working with a player on their shot. Perhaps that is a future post.

Here is a list of the videos I used in making the video on this page. Again, I am thinking of these videos in my video as quotes I would use in writing a research paper.

Image of Steph Curry on right from SC30.com

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section or on Twitter about what you noticed when you watched these shooters shoot.

My Daughters Charlotte and Izzy: A Basketball Journal Entry

Charlotte on the left and Izzy on the right. I’m holding my Father’s Day presents: Bird on the Left and KD on the right.

Many of you know the cycle: fall workouts on the court and in the weight room, the school season, and the travel season that follows in March, April and May. June is for high school team stuff and July is back to the travel circuit heading to places such as Louisville, DC, and Indianapolis. Since the basketball never stops, it’s tricky to find moments for reflection, goal setting, and starting a basketball journal such as the one I’m hoping for here. With the school year beginning, it seems as good a time as any to start the project. Up first: where (or is it who) are we now? 

I am an assistant coach for the girls basketball team at Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina, and I teach completely online writing classes as a lecturer at Appalachian State University. Teaching online means that I have a lot of flexibility about when I do the job and so am free for morning workouts and practices after school. I find I have way more time to prepare to coach than I ever did when I was teaching at a middle or high school.

I have two daughters. The oldest, Charlotte, is a high school sophomore. Eighteen months ago, as her last middle school season came to a close and the CDC was confirming the first case of Covid-19 in the United States, Charlotte set the goal of making the varsity team for her freshman season. We had a few weeks of travel basketball but then the season was cancelled. We couldn’t get into a gym, and so I hung a goal in our garage that could only be nine feet high because of the height of the ceiling.

Izzy posing with the Watauga graphic she made under our garage hoop. This is where our pandemic training began.

The girls and I worked on ball handling, agility, finishing, and post moves. Like a lot of other people, I invested in more weight equipment and as the weather warmed up, Charlotte, her sister Izzy, and I logged what now seems like an incredible four months of six days a week of outdoor workouts in our backyard and at Junaluska Park in Boone. We got up early to avoid the heat and tried to get our workouts in before the sun rose above the trees. A surprising number of people passed through the park each day, and we made many new acquaintances. Charlotte did reach her goal of making the varsity, and she started all twelve of our games during the pandemic-shortened season. I’m proud of what she accomplished.

Charlotte as a freshman playing for Watauga High School in Boone, NC

My youngest daughter Izzy is an eighth grader, and up until this past summer, I felt like she might just be along for the ride when it comes to basketball. When Charlotte and I had plans to workout, we’d always ask Izzy and she’d agree to go with varying amounts of enthusiasm. Although I tell her she’s always free to decline the offer, I’m not sure how free she could really feel to stay home. Charlotte would probably be the first to tell you that Izzy can pick up a ball handling move faster than she can and is more of a natural shooter, but over the years, I have just been unsure of how badly Izzy wants to work to improve.

Last season, for the first time in Izzy’s life, she was on a team where she didn’t play very much. It was the first time that our school system took the eight K-8 schools that feed into the high school and made a district wide middle school basketball team. The competition to make the team was tougher, and while Izzy did accomplish that, she rarely played in the games. Izzy didn’t say anything to me about not playing. When she’d hop in the car after a practice, she was always happy and chattering about things her teammates had done or funny things her coach had said. Izzy liked her teammates, her coach, and took pride about her team’s undefeated season.  

Izzy and Charlotte in Lentz-Eggers Gym at Watauga HS

What I did notice about Izzy in the weeks and months that followed her season was that Izzy started to go out and work in the backyard on her own. When Charlotte and I were gone for high school workouts, Izzy would join my wife Megan for Peloton workouts at the house. A player really can’t just decide one day to start working very hard on their game. A player has to also decide to get in shape. Working hard on your game takes a lot of cardiovascular fitness. Izzy became a more enthusiastic runner of the big hill outside of our house, and I no longer have to prod her to keep running all the way around the mile loop we run at Valle Crucis Park by our house. For most of Izzy’s life playing basketball, she could get by because she could handle the ball with both hands, shoot layups with both hands, and consistently make wide open shots. Like most basketball players, and probably all athletes and maybe anyone who pursues a goal in or out of sports, Izzy came to a point when what she was doing to prepare to play in games was no longer good enough for her to succeed on the floor. It’s one of the great things about playing sports. A challenge rises up; we have to work to meet it or give up. So far, it’s been a pleasure for me to watch Izzy respond to the challenge.

Not too long ago, Izzy hit a rough spot of missing a bunch of shots while doing a transition / run-the-sideline drill. “Keeping working,” she told herself. I jumped on her comment and told her it was one of the best things I’d ever heard her say in a workout. Charlotte and I have also latched onto the phrase and it’s become a simple mantra for the three of us. Keep working. Rough spots are coming on and off the court because that’s part of what it is to be human and that includes playing playing basketball: there are missed shots, turnovers, bad losses, and days that we struggle to bring energy to our work. We often don’t get the results we want as quickly as we expect. Izzy, Charlotte, and I will ride those up and downs together and, like Izzy says, we’ll keep working.