Ear hats are great an all… but really IMO they aren’t that great. Here’s what I’d rather get at the finish line!Read More
Let's go on a 13.1 mile magical journey and finish the 3rd race in the Dopey Challenge. I took lots of character pictures and just had a blast and ran easy. WDW Half Marathon 2016 here we come!Read More
Want to have a blast at the Walt Disney World 5k on Janury 7, 2016? Come join this team of adventurers! This is an open group costume welcoming to all who want to dress up, meet up and make a new runner friend!Read More
This was my first “real” day of running. Once again my dad and I arrived pretty early, we hopped on a bus just after 4am and it was cold but not as cold as the previous morning so people were a bit more lively in the pre-race area. My dad made a beeline for coffee as I went off to meet up with my friends for the race. I was running with my Australian friends, starting in corral A, so I wouldn’t have to wait around as long letting my legs get tired and cold as I did the day before. It also meant that were were dressed up as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf which was super fun and people seemed to really appreciate our outfits.
With the countdown from Rudy and some festive fireworks, we were off! We took the run at an easy pace and stopped for some fun characters. At the first stop a runDisney photographer came up and asked us to stay with the White Rabbit for a picture that would end up on Facebook, but then it never ended up there. Bummer.
We ran, chatted, got some pictures and had a really great time. We didn’t run into too many crowded areas (again we were in the first corral so our experience is different than others) and we finished in 1:09. The course is okay. Not great but just okay and it's very similar to the 5k course. The first 3 miles are pretty much all outside the park on the roads around Epcot.
Characters on the course included:
- Anna and Elsa - standing on an overpass
- White rabbit - Just before the bend on the highway outside Epcot
- Lilo and stitch - Just after the White Rabbit
- Mushu - China
- Genie - Moracco
- Mickey - Boardwalk EPSN Club
- Tweedles - International Gateway
- Chip and dale - Epcot West breezeway
- Large puppets - backstage before exiting Epcot to the finish line.
We got our medals and then went to walk through the Dopey tent but nothing happened there. We just walked through. We weren’t really sure what was going on or how they were verifying the races. We grabbed our snacks and then headed back to our respective resorts to shower and nap.
So as you probably already know because you were either there or read on social media, the 5k was cold. Like really cold. For anyone who has visited WDW when it’s cold, 30 degrees feels waaay colder in WDW than anywhere else. There was wind. There was cold. There was darkness.
My dad and I got ready and headed to the bus around 4:30. We waited for a little bit and then hopped right on and were at the race in no time. We then followed the huddled masses to the main area where normally everyone is dancing, laughing, chatting, and taking pictures but not this time. It looked like a barren waste land in front of the DJ because everyone was huddled around buildings to keep warm.
My dad and I decided to brave the cold in search of coffee and came across the massage tent which they had opened up for people to keep warm in. This was amazing and thank you so much runDisney!!! We never did find that coffee though.
The start of the race was at 6:15 and my dad and I were starting in corral F, the very last corral. We waited until about 6 to go to our corral and then tried to huddle close to others but the wind just whipped into the group and we froze. This year they had changed where the start line was and honestly, I thought it was fine. Lining up there was fine. I don’t really see a large advantage but if runDisney thinks it works better than I’ll defer to their judgment since it didn’t really change my race experience.
Since we had to wait for all the other corrals we didn’t get to cross the start until just before 7 and so it was a very long and cold hour of just standing there. My legs were stiff and my feet completely numb by the time we started. I actually let my hair down to keep the back of my neck warm which is big for me!
When we got to the first mile marker, my feet were starting to thaw as we walked at a fairly fast clip. The best part of the 5k is the sunrise in Epcot. It is just beautiful looking over World Showcase lagoon and seeing the sun peaking up. Beautiful!
Characters on the course included:
- Princess Atta (It's a Bug's Life) - Before the cast parking lot
- Daisy Duck - Norway
- Pinocchio - Italy
- Chip and Dale - Japan
- Marie - France
- Donald Duck - Canada
We didn’t stop for characters, in hindsight I wish I had waited in line for Chip and Dale in Japan but I was just too cold! They changed the course slightly this year and I thought it was nice. No better or worse that the old course that looped us up to the very front of the park rather than through Future World West.
We crossed in 48:51 and then hurried over to our very long bus line. More waiting in the cold. But the bus team assembled and got more buses working on the Pop Century/Art of Animation loop and we never had a problem for another race. Kudos!
Well another WDW Marathon Weekend has come and gone and what a weekend it was! I fell in love with this race weekend all over again and after the marathon I was on cloud nine. I have really found my personal favorite mixture of Disney fun and “real racing” that has me crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.
Let me set up the weekend for you before we jump into it.
I was in WDW January 6-13 and stayed at Art of Animation with my Dad. This is a great resort and I really find it to be a great value. It’s the quintessential Disney resort in that, if you told someone you were going to WDW and staying at a Disney resort, this is what they would picture in their head. I LOVED it! We stayed in the Lion King section and I just loved all the little touches.
I was attempting my 2nd Dopey Challenge, the previous year I had run in the inaugural challenge and came away happy, but exhausted and sick and had sworn I would never do it again. It was just too much. Then an Australian friend from my College Program days who I had run races with saw my pictures and said she wanted to come and run the challenge. The idea of having people to run with made me happy, so there I was signing up again to do 48.6 miles and I’m so glad I did.
This time around I came away much happier with my performance and I’m actually excited to do it again next year should it all work out.
Going into the weekend I my nerves were starting to get the best of me. My final long run/Dopey dress rehearsal had gone great, however, on January 1st I had driven through the night to Boulder, CO to start a new life there and so felt very removed from my final training runs and generally tired from moving. As I was unpacking my boxes, I was already dreading having to repack for race weekend.
However, as always happens, I got there and was totally ready to tackle the weekend. My plan was to walk the 5k with my dad, jog/run the 10k and half with my Australian friends and then depending on how I felt on marathon day, maybe race it, but knowing that Dopey can be draining, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
So with that let’s get to the expo!
runDisney has got this weekend down pat. It’s grown a lot since my first marathon back in 2011 and there have been some road bumps but this year ran like butter, in my opinion. I know there are disasters for some people at every race weekend, but for me, it went so well. They are still trying to figure out the best way to prove that a person fully ran a challenge but I applaud their efforts to try new things.
Buses were running frequently, the expo floor felt more open and less crowded and bib pick up was fast and efficient.
I had flow in late Tuesday night, so my dad and I decided to take an easy morning and go to the expo Wednesday afternoon. We were in no real rush and there was no merchandise that we were “do or die” about. We arrived sometime between 12:30 and 1 and went and got our bibs quickly. I printed my waiver and picked up my bib and maybe took 15-20 min total, that place is big and there is a lot of walking. I then had to go downstairs to get my t-shirts which was new this year. Usually they put all t-shirt pick-up in the main expo but Goofy and Dopey challenge participants (maybe other too?) picked up their goodie bags and any pin pre-orders in the same building as the bib pick-up. Again, super quick and easy.
We went over to the main expo, got my dad his 2 shirts and then quickly grabbed an “I Did It” Dopey shirt and a runDisney wine glass (which I love). Neither of us were really looking for anything else that day so we did a quick lap and then left. In totally we were at the expo for maybe an hour.
I did end up going back the next day to grab a couple things to complete some running outfits/extra layers but it was not too crowded and everyone was extremely efficient.
Great job runDisney!
Let's get to the races:
Here we go with Part 5 of our epic trip to WDW/Universal from October!
You can catch up on Part 4 here:
So Thursday was jam packed with fun and we were out late so I had planned for a lazy morning followed by Animal Kingdom and then heading over to Epcot for a little more fun and then the Epcot After Hours at the Rose and Crown!
We caught the bus and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom around 10am, first stop Dinosaur! Here are our thoughts from our day at DAK:
- Dinosaur: When did they move the Carnotaurus to the other side? This attraction really needs some TLC in general. Still fun but could really be so much more.
- Everest: Wookie still talks about this attraction. Such a great ride!
- Festival of the Lion King: I love this show. So spectacular and the new theater and area is really beautiful.
- We went on some of the trails and the animals had already started going in for the evening which was a bit of a bummer. We also missed the safari because they closed earlier than I expected.
As always you can see all the pictures from our trip here: Universal/WDW Trip October 2014
Thursday we woke up bright and early because we were meeting up with my kicka$$ Bia boss who was in Orlando to get some watches in the Fit2Run stores (whoooo hooo!). We told her we'd meet her at 9 at Disney Hollywood Studios. Plan for the day was early to DHS, back to the resort to chill, then Hoop Dee Doo and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party. It was going to be a long, but AWESOME day!
After a bit of a delay at the resort we hopped a bus and were at DHS in no time. First stop? Rockin' Rollercoaster!
Disney Hollywood Studios Highlights:
- Tower of Terror is always great even if it does take all of my courage to get on it. Maybe one day this won't scare the bejesus out of me. Wookie enjoyed the different drop profiles!
- Rockin' Rollercoaster - LOVE THIS RIDE!
- Star Tours - still the best way to blast throughout the galaxy and the update is still awesome!
- Great Movie Ride - Really glad the rumor is this isn't going away! This really is the classic ride for this park
- Overall - really sad at how empty this park feels now. I can't wait for them to officially announce all the rumored plans!
|Your days are numbered...|
|All you can drink sangria, yes please!|
|Our view of Pioneer Hall!|
|All the grub!|
- The atmosphere can't be beat but the music in the areas was very loud and for some reason made me anxious and was just sensory overload for me.
- It was VERY crowded. There were just people everywhere and combined with the loud music, it just made it feel even more chaotic in my mind
- The trick or treat stops were often and offered up a lot of candy
- We only took a picture with the "Old Hag" (aka the Evil Queen in disguise) but the character meets looked fun!
- Boo to You! - The parade was amazing as always, this is a don't miss part of the party!
- Celebrate the Magic - This is a great show, I love the projection shows on the castle. It plays so many tricks on your brain!
- Hallo-Wishes! - Wow! Just wow! This show is AMAZING!!!!! Be sure to stand back towards/on Main St so you can see ALL the fireworks.
- Merchandise was okay, some cute pins but everything else was just "okay".
- Villians Mix and Mingle - It's been a couple years since I had seen this show but it was short and ending with the Queen of Hearts dancing alone on stage was a weird way to end it.
|Looking for a "head" out :P|
- Food and Wine is the best time of year at WDW. It's just so fun/delicious and we really enjoyed getting our booklets stamped at each booth we went to! The merchandise was pretty awesome too!
- They didn't have Food and Wine beer glasses this year but they did have cute wine glasses, we saw them at the first booth we stopped and then discovered they were at every booth, ack! Let the search begin!
- Not a fan of the 6 oz beers. These were seriously annoying. I get that they are trying to curtail severe drunkeness, but these little dixie cups were annoying.
- Biergarten is the best! So much fun and great beer. I wanted to start off our trip by eating here because Wookie loves Germany. I also really enjoyed their Oktoberfest beer!
- Turtle Talk is so much fun. You need to take a minute to go check this out!
- Mission: Space - I hadn't been on this in a while and I forgot how fun this is. Great attraction!
- Lamented the closing of Maelstrom :(
- Illuminations - I still love this fireworks show. We had the perfect spot to view it from and no annoying people nearby to ruin it. It was magical and one of the highlights of the trip!
|This is my kind of dragon. (aka made of chocolate)|
|The only troll for me!|
Continue to Part 4 here: Part 4: Hollywood, Hoop Dee Doo, and Halloween!
If you are just joining me, you can check out Part 1 here:
Me (Katherine) - I grew up in Ohio with more of less yearly trips to WDW, I know the drive from Ohio to WDW well. I worked at WDW for a year on back to back internships, first was a DCP attractions internship and then a Professional Internship. It was awesome! WDW is my Disney home and I got the privilege of going to Universal a lot too while working there. This was my first time experiencing Diagon Alley and it had been over a year since I'd been to Universal.
Wookie (Boyfriend) - He grew up in the SF Bay Area and has made many trips to Disneyland but had never been to Florida at all. So while he was familiar with park touring and Disney, this was his first trip to the theme parks east of the Mississippi!
So anyways on with the trip! From here on out I going to be doing just highlights but feel free to leave questions in the comment area and I can go into more detail!
That morning we checked out of Cabana Bay and packed up the car since that night we were going to be checking into All Star Music and returning the rental car in at a hotel in the Downtown Disney area.
|Express check out card drop off!|
|Time to hit the road!|
After packing up, we hopped on the super convenient bus to the parks to take advantage of the Early Park Admission to Diagon Alley. On top of everything being awesome at Cabana Bay, this was the perk we were really hoping to cash in on.
We arrived and proceeded to the park entrance. We had printed out our tickets and I found it interesting that we just used the paper print outs the whole day, they didn't print a "real" ticket. Way to save some trees and $$$ Universal!
We then proceeded directly to Diagon Alley and here are my thoughts:
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts - I was nervous to get on this ride since I had read so reviews about how it's a bit intense but really this ride is pretty gentle. It swivels you around a lot and there is one or two drops that give you a little speed but the motion of the car is about as intense as Spiderman. The effects were cool and the queue and theming were AMAZING but overall, Wookie and I got off the ride and were kind of "meh" about it. It's totally worth waiting to check out for the first time, but I don't think I'd wait more than 30 minutes for this ride in the future.
- Knockturn Alley - This is such an amazing little part of Diagon Alley. You have to go looking for it since it's tucked away but it's such a gem!
- Interactive Wands - So normally I'm not one to buy things that are useful only the day you ar at a theme park, but these wands are so fun to play with! Right now, you can only get a variety of character based wands with the embedded tech in them but for $10-$15 dollars more than the "normal" wands you can interact with "stations" (for lack of a better word) all around the Harry Potter areas. Super fun and you really do feel pretty magical! If you are going to buy a wand anyways, I'd upgrade to this one!
- Butterbeer Softserve - Pretty gosh darn good. I recommend trying it at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
- Overall - Just an amazing area. Everything is filled to the brim with Harry Potter-ness and any fan will appreciate the details. The dragon on Gringott's is pretty freakin' awesome too!
|Here we go!|
After Diagon Alley we took the Hogswarts Express to Islands of Adventure to see the rest of the Harry Potter experience! The train is so much fun! It's not so much that it's the best attraction but it just feels... magical. It's exciting to see it pull into the station and then board into your own train compartment. The only thing is that the Hermione voice actress was... not great. It just sounded completely wrong. Other than that, it's awesome and you should ride it both ways because they are very different experiences!
Now it was time for the "older" half of the Harry Potter experience. I had been here before so it was great to come back to such an awesome area!
- Forbidden Journey - This attraction is still awesome. I really came to appreciate it more this trip and Wookie said it was his favorite ride at Universal Orlando! We got to ride it twice since the wait time didn't get over 30 minutes when we were there. I think this kicks the Gringott ride's butt.
- Threesbroomsticks - This is still my favorite Harry Potter restaurant. I love the shepard's pie and the Hogsmeade brew is a delicious beer.
- Dragon Challenge - I forgot how great this coaster is! We ended up riding the fire side twice and the water side once. SO MUCH FUN!
- Overall - I love that this area feels really different from Diagon Alley. They clearly come from the same world but they each have their own personalities. Hogsmeade is just so charming! The Hogwarts a cappella group is pretty awesome too if they are singing when you wander by.
|Here be dragons!|
Other Universal Highlights!
- The Hulk - This is such a great coaster. The power, the rumble, the rush as you burst out of the top of the gamma ray gun (or whatever you want to call it) really can't be beat!
- Spiderman - This is a can't miss for me. There is so much that makes this ride beyond awesome and everything works together to make a seamless ride experience.
- Men in Black - We single rider-ed this ride because the wait was super long, you miss so much of the queue and all the fun nods to that movie doing this! If you haven't been on this ride before, don't single rider it, you will miss a lot.
- Terminator - this was a new one for me and we ended up having technical difficulties so 2 of the scenes were messed up, it was good but I don't think it's as impressive as Spiderman interms of overall story integration.
- The Mummy's Revenge - I remember being really underwhelmed when I went on this ride before, but this ride is solid. I love the psyche out at the end, totally forgot about that!
- Poseiden's Fury - I remember the final scene being way more epic, did they change this experience? Overall still a really unique experience and I totally recommend it!
- Simpson's Ride/Area - I'm not the biggest Simpson's fan so I never spent much time in this area before, but this is a great area! We grabbed a beer at Moe's (so fun!) and we rode the ride which was better than I anticipated. If you like the show even the slightest bit, you should take a second to wander through the buildings here.
|Grabbing a drink at Moe's!|
We really had a BLAST at Universal, it will never be Disney but it has a solid day of theme park fun!
Once we finished up at Universal, we hopped on the bus, grabbed our car from Cabana and made the drive over to All Star Music! Once we checked in (getting a King bed room - score!), we got everything in the room and then willed ourselves to head to Downtown Disney to return the car. We dropped it off and then went over and grabbed dinner from Earl of Sandwich, because what's better than a Holiday Turkey sandwich?
We grabbed our food to go and hopped the bus to All Star Music and spent the night relaxing. We had a full day of Epcot and Food and Wine ahead of us!
You can check out all our photos here: http://www.pinterest.com/kpease128/universalwdw-trip-october-2014/
Continue to Part 3 here:
Let's do this!
As with all runDisney race registration days, it's been a whirl wind. As of 4pm PST, here is where registration stands!
Oh My Disney announced yesterday the March magic tournament! It matches up your favorite WDW and DLR experiences and then on the Walt Disney World and Disneyland fan pages fans will vote in each round to move their team forward. Voting starts 3/18!!
This reminds me a lot of the WDW Today podcast, they did a very similar thing last year with a focus on just the WDW attractions. It was super fun! Check out the podcasts from last year's tournament here: Epsode 1008 Episode 1009 Episode 1014 Episode 1017
Check out all the fun here: Selection Sunday: See All 32 March Magic Teams
Also, they came up with these awesome team logos! Here are some of my favorites but you can check them all out at the link above.
|You are not the first to pass this way, nor with you be the last... to be crushed!!!|
|One little spark of perspiration, is at the heart of all domination!|
|Fin, noggin', duuude... just keep winning!|
|There's no escaping now!|
|The wildest team in the wilderness!|
|Their tricks will keep you spinning!|
|I don't think your ready, for this yeti!|
|Dead men tell no tales.|
|You're going down!|
|They'll trade two of their shots for one of yours.|
Which team do you think will take it all?!