I'm with you on that "smell the roses" thing. There's a place for competitive epeen, but my priority is to have fun playing a video game. That said I assume just playing the game constantly will get to me to 90 in no time. Thanks for the heirlooms tip.
My current intention is to avoid the crowds by skipping the first zone entirely, and just run dungeons until I reach whatever level the second zone starts, hopefully ahead of the wave. Though I hope that doesn't mean I miss any story beats which are important later on. =\
I'm trying not to think too hard about all the stuff there is to do. I get a strong impression that the breadth of content in this expansion is going to be much greater than any of the previous ones, and look forward to discovering it all at my own pace.
I will definitely be there on the 5th.