Tag Archives: Walt Disney World

The Main Event – runDisney Princess Half Marathon!

19 Mar

It was here, and I was ready. Well, I was ready for it to be here but knew it was going to take my innate stubbornness to cross the finish line standing up!!

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All set! MagicBand, Glass Slipper wristband and Race Retreat wristband

Once more, the alarms went off. I set them a little extra early since someone had very kindly given me entry to the Race Retreat for the Half Marathon. The good part of this is that I didn’t need to worry about making sure I had food in my room for breakfast – there would be bagels and water and coffee and fruit. On top of that, special “private” porta-potties, a separate bag-check, cel-phone charging lockers, mats for stretching and special character appearances!

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The Mad Hatter and I made breakfast plans for later in the weekend…

I found my group, we settled in at a table to wake up and get nourished! Before we knew it it was time to head out to meet up with the rest of our group to grab some pictures and then start the trek to the corrals. Unfortunately, we missed some of our folks but managed a couple of pictures with the ones still hanging around.  Then it was off to the race!

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The starting line…no real turning back now!!

I was lucky to be starting the race with friends, even if we weren’t going to be able to stay together the whole time. It makes the time go a little more quickly in the corrals if there are people to talk to. As is customary at runDisney events, each corral is sent out with their own special fireworks (and one of these days I’ll manage a good picture of it!!)

My plan was to take as much time as I needed – walk when I had to but run when it felt good. I was comfortable with this idea and my only concern was finishing in time to get my challenge medal! Since the course was familiar to me, I felt like I knew what to expect and when I might end up in trouble!

As always it was great to head up Main Street USA and see the castle in the distance!

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Foggy day — which means you can’t see the crane behind the castle!!

Fortunately, I was able to keep up a fairly decent, though slow, pace and was never in any danger of getting swept. It was nice to be able to make a couple of stops for pictures with one or two of my favorites along the way!

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Really, one of these days he WILL grant me a wish!

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A crowd favorite! And I got him to smile!!

Throughout the course, I was leap-frogging with several of my friends and it was always nice to get the encouragement when needed! Around Mile 8 or so, V and I kind of got together and were both ready to be finished! So for the last few miles we pretty much stayed together – talking, encouraging, planning… This was the first time I’d run with someone and I liked it! It was nice to have someone to cross the finish line with! And, to keep me from accidentally quitting (not that I think I am even able to quit — I might have to be seriously injured and hauled off of the course!)

And of course, the other motivation to finish quickly was to get breakfast!

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Okay…maybe I had Diet Coke for breakfast…

Again, the Race Retreat came to the rescue! Scrambled eggs, bacon (thanks to the fellow runner who dug some crispy bacon out for me!), muffins, bagels, coffee, fruit, oatmeal, yogurt…If I wasn’t already planning lunch at Be Our Guest (travel hint — FastPass+ for lunch! and ps – I still want to do dinner there at least once!) I could have completely overdone it !

After relaxing a bit, V and I celebrated with a glass of champagne and went out to get on our respective buses. But not without these babies!!

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The reward.

I had hoped to meet up with some folks on my way to my BOG lunch but it took me longer to clean up and re-dress than expected! But I made it back to the Magic Kingdom in time for my lunch – which was a completely different experience from your usual Quick Service lunch!

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This was pretty easy — ordering on the kiosks

It starts out when you check in and are brought into the Beast’s Study — this is where you are going to make your menu selection and get a “rose” — You touch your MagicBand to the kiosk, make your selections and then touch the rose to the kiosk. Easy Peasy.

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So it has a picture of a rose anyway!

The room is seat yourself and feels really large and loud. Beverage stations are against one wall, silverware is in carts around the room. Your meal is brought to you on carts — pretty fancy to see my lone turkey sandwich and strawberry cupcake riding in a huge cart all alone!

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The main dining room is gorgeous!!

Lunch was good, my illegal cupcake was even quite good — fresh strawberry tasting!

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Strawberry cupcake! Next time I need to try some Grey Stuff though!

Once I was done, I was ready to spend some Magical time in the Magic Kingdom! Tomorrow I was heading home, but there was still fun in store!!

First Up — The Royal Family 5K

18 Mar
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Bib, t-shirt and medal!

So, after a really fun meetup (details to follow, of course!) I decided to head back to Pop and get some sleep. It wasn’t the mileage the next morning, it was the first of 3 early morning wake-ups that would be the challenge!

I made plans to meet Jackie (a fellow Team McGraw-er) at the bus in the morning and so I laid out my clothes and went to bed to wait for the alarm! Bright and early – before no time had passed it seemed! – various devices started beeping and it was time to rise and shine!

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Me and Jackie…pre-race happiness!

Somehow, no matter how early I set the alarm it’s a big rush to get out the door! So I threw on my shoes and grabbed my things and headed to the bus! Saw Jackie…er…Tinkerbell…waiting in line and hopped in with her to get on, hopefully, the next bus!! Things went quite smoothly and we made it through bag check and out into the corral areas. Which can only mean one thing — DISNEY DANCE PARTY!!! Absolutely, hands down, one of my favorite things about runDisney is the pre-race festivities!!! And this time, I was finally going to meet up with some of my invisible internet friends!

Jackie and I found my peeps and there was much picture taking and meeting, seriously, some of my new best friends! Eventually we headed in to the corrals and my goal was to be able to hang with Jacks the whole time. The only flaw in this plan is that this was my first run since…oh…Wine and Dine back in November…but we would see!

As usual, it was pretty crowded at the front and after awhile Jackie got a little bit ahead of me – though we did catch up for the run through the World Showcase, and were able to grab a few pictures! Lines for the characters were massive so we didn’t make any stops there but WS in the wee morning hours is an amazing spot and there are tons of photo ops that don’t necessarily involved characters!!

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American Experience – at sunrise-ish

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EPCOT gearing up for the Flower Festival!

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The Ball. Always a sign that the end is near!!

Once we headed towards Future World, Jackie booked and I dawdled… but when I crossed the finish line she was waiting for me and we got a shot of our brand new ‘bling’!

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First of several medals to be earned this weekend….

I had made a breakfast reservation over at Animal Kingdom Lodge so hopped on that bus while Jackie was going back to Pop.  Breakfast at Boma was really great! As most of them are, it was a buffet and since I was in Animal Kingdom Lodge,  there were some African influenced choices on the line. Since I love the buffet at Tusker House I knew I would enjoy this. And…sticky bun. Yeah, I splurged (and would pay for it down the road that’s for sure!)

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Boma!

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Sticky bun! Great with coffee…bad bad Anne!

After breakfast I headed back to Pop and planned to spend my afternoon just hanging out around the pool

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Pool Time!!

before going for Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian with some of my running gals! Definitely something I would do again – it’s a nice relaxing way to spend a couple of hours if you have the time to do it!

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Tea Sandwiches — My favorite was the curry-y chicken salad…

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Cozy tea pots!

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Scone, cream, jam, and a tart!

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What could possibly be under this beautiful whipped cream…?

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Strawberries! Lots of strawberries!!

Post-Tea, we all walked next door to the Polynesian Resort for another meetup. This time it was #runnerslove, set up by Kristy and Meg (who we met in the last recap!) and was VERY fun! We met out on the beach behind the pool, where there is construction going on (Poly is becoming a home to some DVC units)  Lots of giveaways and everyone left a winner! Rain threatened the entire time and eventually showed up but really didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm! 

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On the beach! At Disney! Does it get better??

Eventually it was time to head out and find some dinner – tomorrow is 10K and this girl needs her fuel!! Pop Quick Service to the rescue – Mediterranean Flat Bread yes ma’am! Another early rising day ahead so got my clothes ready and hit the sack!

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10K outfit, ready to rise and shine!!

Time to Shop!!! Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Part 2

13 Mar
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This is where things start to get exciting….

Yeah…if you know me – and if you read along long enough you’ll know me more than you probably want to! – I’m not a big shopper. Seriously, I have clothes in my closet that I bought when I moved to the East Coast. TEN YEARS AGO!! 🙂 And I have no problem with that!! Really, there are a couple of reasons I hate shopping and one of them is that I’m not a huge fan of spending money!! (I prefer to spend on experiences, not things!) The other is way more personal!

ANYWAY. I got up early Thursday morning to get to the Expo. Lately, at runDisney events, the expos have been kind of out-of-control frenzies…and I don’t deal well with that! And, really people, all I want is a magnet, a wine glass and a coffee mug (yes, if you’ve read my race recaps you already KNOW this is what I’m going in for!)

When I got to the bus stop I saw a “familiar” face. I was FINALLY able to meet fellow CT runner/#runnerslove(r) Meg (aka @WarsawMermaid, AKA Runaway Royalty Meg). I am almost ashamed to admit that we’ve been at some of the same SMALL events in CT and never managed to meet!! Those days are gone though. Sorry Meg! 🙂 I also got to meet #runnerslove(r) Kristy (aka @KristyrunsKato, AKA Kristy Runs Kato ) and we chatted on the bus over to Wide World of Sports.

We were probably on one of the first buses to head over to Wide World of Sports and when we got there the expo seemed to have opened early. I had a very small moment of panic but then took a deep breath and headed in!

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Gotta love an empty store!! Well..as much as one can love a store 🙂

My first stop was the runDisney merch booth (as usual) but after picking up my wine glass(es)! and coffee mug

both wine glasses 2014 Princess

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Cute mug!!

I realized my hands were full and I would need a basket. A basket people!!! There’s a tear in the matrix or something…

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What??!!

We had been looking at some things on the interwebs on the bus ride over and I had to look at the really cute zipper hoodies. They are really soft inside.

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This one is mine 🙂

And. The “I Did It” t-shirts. Not a purchase I usually make….but these were pretty cute!!

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And, well of course, my magnet!

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Let me say, Thank you Disney Visa for your 10% off – hey, every little bit helps!!

Then it was off to pick up my bibs and gear! Things were really pretty conveniently set up — All Glass Slipper Challenge could be picked up in almost one spot! The 5K pickup was more spread out but…a second spin though the expo floor isn’t a bad thing!

I mean, one can get their ankle taped up at the KTTape booth…

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New England legs in the winter!

One can even become a fairy…

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I tried to walk away with the pretty tiara but I didn’t get very far….

But — I had a lot planned for the afternoon so it was time to bring my belongings back to the room and head out to visit a park or two!! Then there was a meetup later that evening that I was really looking forward to!

On the way out, I stopped by the Oikos van

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— hoping to pick up a little John Stamos for the afternoon but, alas…they were just offering yogurt…

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Talk about disappointing…

See ya on the road!!!

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Here We Go! Princess Half Weekend Part 1

7 Mar

So, if you read running blogs, or you read Disney blogs you know that the Princess Marathon weekend happened a couple weeks ago! And, if you read *this* blog, you know that I have not yet told you of my amazing weekend!

Now, I’m tellin’!!

I made my reservations long ago, back when there were “meetups” sponsored by runDisney. So I was coming in a day early. Just in Case. The day before I was to leave, we got some “snow”….not as bad as expected, but I still had a driveway full of ice that I was HOPING someone would take care of for me! And luckily someone did while I was taking the dog to his babysitter!

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Thank goodness for 4WD!

Woke up early Wednesday morning to …well, pack and head to the airport! Weather cooperated thank goodness!

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View from my airplane window…Sunny Florida here I come!!

After so long away, I was so happy to get to Orlando! With my MagicBand I breezed through the Magical Express (even after going down the WRONG stairs and having to walk REALLY FAR to the desk and being confused!). Got right on my bus and was on my way to Pop Century!!

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Front desk of Pop Century resort — not time to hustle yet!

My plan was to hang at the pool for the afternoon and I had made dinner reservations at the Wilderness Lodge. All worked out as planned. I spent a couple of hours out by the pool where  I met a great mom and daughter pair who were doing the half together – of course it made me miss my mom. We had a great chat and I ended up seeing them a couple more times during the weekend!

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View from my chair at the Hippy Dippy Pool…

I love the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge but have never eaten there by myself. Turns out that’s not so bad at all! A single person can get the “all you can eat” plate with all the meat and sides and whatnot!

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Lots of protein on the plate! Plus mashed potatoes!!

Yay!!! I enjoyed the tasty BBQ and watching the families and kids having fun! Even caught a glimpse of one of the chefs coming out to do the Disney thing where they make sure people with allergies are accommodated!

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Chef comes out to take care of special dietary needs – the Disney standard!

Since it was a late reservation, I had planned to just head back to the room and hit the hay — I had expo-mania to deal with on Thursday and there was always a chance that it would not be pretty!!

Up next — The Expo, a MeetUp and some Disney Magic!

FastPass+ and the Magic Band!

18 Feb

On my last couple of trips to Walt Disney World I’ve used the new Magic Band —

A couple of months before your trip starts, you have the opportunity to “customize” your band — that is, you get to choose the color and you can have a name inscribed on the inside.  My first time I chose Blue

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You always remember your first one.

On my next trip, I was with a larger group and I didn’t make the reservations and we got the generic grey bands when we checked in to the resort.

Now that I’m heading to Princess Weekend, I decided to get all kinds of girly and got my pink Magic Band!!

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Time to get my Princess on!!

It’s always fun to get mail and this is no exception!

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What a GREAT package!!!

Now, while not actual “Magic”, the band does do some magical things! It opens doors – specifically, your resort room door! It buys you things. Well, it let you buy you things without fumbling around with credit cards or cash (though, if you’re an Annual Passholder or a Disney Visa Card holder, you may have to show those cards for any savings). It holds pictures for you — the Disney Photopass photographers simply have to scan your band and you can look your pictures up online, almost immediately!

And, it holds your FastPass+ reservations

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A Day in the Life…

You can see it also keeps track of your Dining Reservations (see Making ADRs )

But. FastPass+ — what is it and why do we care? Once upon a time, long ago, when you wanted to go on a ride at Walt Disney World, you had to wait in line. Sometimes, that line could be HOURS long! Then the Disney folks introduced FastPass. With your park ticket you could go to a machine and get a ‘reservation’ to get in line for a ride. This line tended to be a bit shorter than the normal line and you may have gotten a little smug feeling as you sped past everyone waiting in the serpentines…This was a great process – one person in your group could grab all the tickets and race to the machine to make sure you were all able to get FastPass at the same time frame.

Then, last year, they started introducing FastPass+ as part of the whole new MyMagic+ (Magic Bands+MyDisneyExperience+FastPass+). Now you can secure your place in line before you even leave home! BUT…you can only get 3 a day in one park. There are also “tiers” of attractions – so, for example, I cannot get FastPass+ for Tower of Terror AND RockandRoller Coaster. So, more decisions!!! Some people are not thrilled with the new system which I can understand.  As someone who does a lot of “single” traveling to Walt Disney World, I often use the “single rider” lines (and don’t get me started on the abuse of THIS system!!) so I end up spending less time in lines, generally but it’s nice to have the FastPass backup. Especially if there are attractions or rides that you MUST go on!!

I kind of like the MagicBand system in general. I haven’t had issues that some folks have had and it really does make life easier. For me.

Now, if only I could get it to do my packing 🙂

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