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Packing For runDisney: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Welcome, y’all, to my stop on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Virtual Blog Hop!

It’s getting closer!!!  I’m talking about the runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler!

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

It’s only 2 and a half weeks away.  How did that happen?  That means it’s time to start packing, which is the inspiration for my part of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Virtual Blog Hop.

American Tourister

American Tourister

The thing about a racecation is there are so many different elements to packing.  First, you are packing for a vacation.  Next, you are packing for a race.  Third, if it’s a runDisney race, you also might want to give some thought about the gEAR bag (see what they did there?).

I’m sure you’ve taken many, many vacations and don’t really need any help with regular vacation packing.  So, I’ll skip right to race packing.  I have some rules about this.

  • Make lists!  Sure, when you are running at home you probably have it down to an art.  You have your stash of gels, you know exactly where your favorite socks are, you have your headphones and GPS watch right by your keys, and you grab water from the fridge on your way out.  However, when you are hundreds or thousands of miles from home, it won’t be that easy.  Make lists of what running gear you need to pack and also what you need to carry with you to the race itself.  Trust me, if you don’t have the exact gel you’ve trained with, it will wreak havoc on your mental state.

    Make sure you have everything you need for your runcation.

    Make sure you have everything you need for your runcation.

  • Bring more than you think you will need.  This applies to socks, undies, gels, tape, even shoes if you have multiple pair you rotate through.  Why?  It’s happened to all of us!  You put those tried and true socks on and something just doesn’t feel right.  When you are at home, you can simply grab another pair.  You pull out your favorite gel and, for some reason, you just aren’t feeling that flavor.  At home, you grab another.  Away from home that’s only possible if you brought extra.
  • Pack all your running gear in your carry on. This is very important!  Do not tempt fate by putting your trusted running gear in your checked luggage.  Yes, you can even pack your gels in your carry on.  Call me crazy but I also don’t trust the resort baggage handlers with my running gear.  It stays with me at all times until I get to my room.

Once you get settled into your accommodations, there is one more bag you might want to think about packing:  your gEAR bag.  At the expo, a runDisney gEAR bag will be part of your packet.  How big is the bag?  I get asked that a lot.  I measured it just for you!  It’s 17.5 inches by 24 inches.

runDisney gEAR bag

runDisney gEAR bag

You will also get a sticker with a number on it to stick on the bag.  Pro tip: the number on your sticker should match that of your bib.  Check it closely before leaving the expo.  If it does not match, head straight to runner relations.

This is where you'll stick your sticker that should match your bib number.

This is where you’ll stick your sticker that should match your bib number.

Why do you want to pack a gEAR bag? If you are like me, there may be things you will want as soon as you finish.  For me, it’s wipes, a Luna bar, and flip-flops.  Bandages and deodorant are also smart additions.  I usually pack a change of clothes, too.  This is especially true of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler because runners get access to the Villains Bash after party at Hollywood Studios.

There are a few things to know about gEAR check for this particular race.  First of all, where you check your bag will not be where you pick it up.  You will check your bag in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios when you arrive for the start of the race.  Just follow the signs.  It will be well-marked.  While you are making your way through the 10 mile course, your bag will magically be transported to the theater where the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is held.  Bag pick up will be on the stage.  Here’s where it gets, um, interesting for this race.  You will finish the race in the backstage area behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  From there, you will be ushered back into the park by way of the walkways around the theater where Beauty and the Beast is performed.  If you know anything at all about this park, you know these two areas are nowhere near each other. This means you will have to walk a ways across the park to get your bag.  You will also have to tackle a few stairs in the theater when you pick up your bag.  It’s really not that horrible.  I mean, you just ran 10 miles.  Surely you can walk across a theme park and take on a few stairs, right?  It is something to be aware of, though.  If you have family waiting for you at the party, an alternative is to just give your things to a family member and bypass gEAR check altogether.  I’ve done this in the past for this race, and I plan to do it again this year, too.

If you do check a bag, here is where double checking your sticker comes into play.  The volunteers working bag pick up will match your bag to your bib number.  Make sure you are still wearing your bib when you go to get your bag.  If the numbers don’t match, the volunteers will not be able to give your bag to you.

What if you lose your sticker before checking your bag?  Or what if you forget your bag altogether?  Not to worry!  Volunteers working gEAR check will have extra bags and blank tags if the Villains decide to show up early to the party and throw a wrench in your plans.

You know the drill.  An ounce of prevention yields a pound of care, and it’s really true when packing for runDisney.  Have a great race!  Say “hi” if you see me on the course!

The start of something EPIC!  Any guesses?

The start of something EPIC! Any guesses?

Thanks for hopping on over to my blog.  For the other posts in this virtual blog hop, click the Mickey runner below.

Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory

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Getting Ready to runDisney

My next runDisney race, Tower of Terror 10 Miler, is coming up in, oh, about 2 months.  Yikes!  There is so, so, so, so much left to do!  It can be overwhelming without a plan. 

The thing is, runDisney races aren’t like your normal race in your home town where all you really have to do to prepare is train.  No, runDisney races involve so much more!

  • Training, of course!  I do not want the other details to overshadow what still is the most important part of getting ready for any race, training!  You must have a plan.  You must follow the plan.  It just has to be done.  But what if you find yourself, say, 2 months from the start line, way behind in training?  I’m not talking about myself.  Noooooooo!  Well, maybe I’m talking about myself.  Whatever you do, DON’T start where the training plan says you should be by now.  For example, this past weekend’s long run was supposed to be 6 miles.  If you are like me and are way behind, don’t do the 6 miles.  It’s better to get to the start line healthy than not get to the start line at all or get to the start line injured.  So, I’m adjusting the plan, and instead of getting up to a long run of 11 miles, like my original plan called for, I’ll back my longest run down to 8.  What does this mean?  It means the race won’t be quite as easy for me as it would have been if I were completely trained, and recovery may be a bit more uncomfortable, but it does not mean I should just throw in the towel and quit.

    Training is important! More importantly, #LetMeTakeASelfie

    Training is important! More importantly, #LetMeTakeASelfie

  • Costumes!  One of the things that makes runDisney events unique is that so many people have fun with dressing up in costume.  It’s not as easy as heading to your local party store and picking out something like you would for a costume party.  It still needs to be running-friendly, meaning made of breathable tech fabrics.  Lots of people like to wear normal running clothes and throw a tutu on over it and call it a day.  I say people because, yes, men do it, too.  Don’t judge!  Some people who are super-crafty go all-out and either have their costumes made or make it themselves.  You’ll see a lot of group costumes, too.  These can be anything from a group that has each person depict a character from a certain movie or even a group that all dresses alike.  To be honest, I’ve never loved a costume I’ve done yet. 
    Does this even count as a costume?

    Does this even count as a costume?

    This time is going to be different!  To start with, I have an EPIC Disney Villain idea. 

    The start of something EPIC!  Any guesses?

    The start of something EPIC! Any guesses?

    I already had all the elements purchased for it when some of my BRFs (best running friends) decided we should do a group thing.  So, now I have 2 costumes and 1 race.  What to do?  Well, at least I have options.  Time will tell which one I’ll be wearing.

  • Reservations!  For most, runDisney races are more than races.  They are racecations.  That means making hotel reservations and sometimes even booking flights.  If you stay at a host resort, runDisney makes transportation to all race events really easy.  Plus, to me you just can’t beat staying on property. 
    Wilderness Lodge: my favorite!

    Wilderness Lodge: my favorite!

    Even if you are on a budget, you can find a competitively priced resort.  The key, though, is to book early for the best selection!  I cannot stress this enough.  Race weekends bring in lots of people, and hotels book very quickly.  The good news, though, is even if you didn’t plan ahead, there are a number of travel agents who have room blocks to sell.  The downside to this is you may not get your first choice and you may not have a ton of flexibility when it comes to arrival or departure dates.  The room blocks are often for the weekend only so if you are planning a long family trip before or after the race, this may not be an option.  I go back to this:  book early!

  • Dining!   For Walt Disney World, dining reservations are accepted 6 months in advance (up to 180 days +10, to be exact, but I’ll have to save that explanation for another day).  Believe it or not, for the most popular restaurants, you really do have to be on the phone or on a computer the second reservations open to even stand a chance of getting in.  Of course, you might get lucky later on if there’s a cancellation but if there’s a place you really want to visit, you better be sitting on ready when the time comes.  Since runners are often concerned with digestive issues leading up to a race, this will be something else to think about 6 months in advance. 
    You probably don't want to eat this Mom's Meatloaf Dinner from Prime Time Cafe the day of or the night before a race.

    You probably don’t want to eat this Mom’s Meatloaf Dinner from Prime Time Cafe the day of or the night before a race.  Just Sayin’.

    I hear you, though.  Many of you have no idea where or what you’ll want to eat in 2 days, much less 6 months.  If this degree of pre-planning isn’t for you, fine!  There are a number of counter service places available, many of which rival some of the sit down restaurants.  There will also be tables available somewhere.  It might not be what you want or convenient to where you are at any given time, but you’ll have options.  

  • Park Planning!  This one kind of gives me a headache as of late.  It used to be so easy.  Back in the good ol’ days (up to about a year ago) your hardest decision was how many days your park hopper needed to be.  Unless you had a dining reservation, you didn’t even have to decide what park you were going to until the day of.  Those days are gone, unless you really don’t care what you see or do once you get to the park.  Now they have these things called Magic Bands and Fast Pass+. 
    Magic Bands CAN be pretty magical, but the planning is anything but.

    Magic Bands CAN be pretty magical, but the planning is anything but.

    Your Magic Band contains your room key, tickets, charging ability, and your attraction fast passes.  So 60 days before the first day of your trip, you’ll log on to My Disney Experience (explanation for another day), and schedule 3 fast passes per day of your trip.  This means, if you don’t have a package, you will already need to have purchased your tickets and loaded them into your My Disney Experience.  The kicker is that you can only schedule them in one park per day. 

    Fast Pass+ in My Disney Experience

    Fast Pass+ in My Disney Experience

    Gasp!  Hold on!  They do allow additional passes to be scheduled in another park but you have to wait until your last pre-scheduled pass expires and you have to use a kiosk in the park where your additional one will be.  Want the Cliff Notes version?  Sorry, there really isn’t one.  It kind of is as complicated as it sounds.  I’ve had 3 trips since this new-fangled way of park planning was launched, and the rules weren’t exactly the same for any of them.  My best tip for this is read, do your research, stay on top of it, and try not to lose your mind.

  • Packing!  This is important. 
    American Tourister

    American Tourister

    First and foremost, it’s a race so do not forget your race essentials!  Shoes, clothes, socks, underthings, and gadgets are all things you don’t want to have to figure out how to replace once you get there so double, triple, quadruple check that they are packed.  Also, pack them in your carryon if you are flying.  Unfortunately, lost baggage happens so don’t tempt fate by leaving these things in the care of the airline.  It’s a vacation, too, so pack all the things you would normally pack for a regular Disney trip, also.

    #PackMoreFun

    #PackMoreFun

Whew!  See what I mean?  Lots to get done and not really a lot of time to do it in.  Training is my top priority at the moment, and then the park planning will begin next week.  I’ve already told my family to expect a lot of crankiness once that process begins.  Once it’s done, though, I’ll be ready to relax and have a great race and a great vacation.

What’s your next runDisney event?

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Throwback Thursday: Walking Down Disney Memory Lane

I don’t always participate in Throwback Thursday but this week I thought it was appropriate.  I’ve been looking at a lot of old photos lately triggering multiple walks down memory lane. 

Currently, there are several fun Disney contests going on with trips up for grabs.  One is Relive the Magic.  Disney is looking for pics from trips to Walt Disney World taken in the 70s and 80s.  From this little exercise, I’ve learned that my parents didn’t take a lot of vacation pictures when we were growing up.  However, I did find a couple of pics that put me right back in the year of our first trip, 1987.

My sister and I at Epcot Center in 1987

My sister and I at Epcot Center in 1987

My sister and I at the France pavilion at Epcot Center (it was still called that then) in 1987

My sister and I at the France pavilion at Epcot Center (it was still called that then) in 1987

Another contest is Disneyland Through the Decades, in preparation for Disneyland’s 60th Birthday celebration next year.  They are looking for Disneyland photos from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.  Sadly, I’ve never been to Disneyland.  My dad, however, went in 1966 after completing his service in the Air Force. 

My dad in front of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1966

My dad in front of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1966

He had been stationed at Nellis Air Base in Las Vegas, and once he was discharged, before heading home to start the rest of his life, he and one of his Air Force buddies headed to Disneyland.  I can almost hear the conversation now.  “Guys, now that you’ve finished your duty in the Air Force what are you going to do next?”  “I’m going to Disneyland!”  Ok, it probably didn’t go exactly like that.  Still, I’ve loved looking at the photos from that trip.

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1966

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1966

 

One thing that has made me really happy is the memorabilia my dad kept from his trip, like this stir stick from the Tiki Gardens and his guide book from the park. 

Disneyland memorabilia from 1966

Disneyland memorabilia from 1966

Walt was alive and well at that time and knowing he had more of a hand in these items than anything I’ve ever experienced at Walt Disney World makes them even more special.  So I think this photo is fitting for the 3rd contest they have going on right now, the Disneyland Get Happier contest.  They are looking for Disneyland photos that make you happy. 

I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than walking down memory lane with the people I love starring in those memories.

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Disney’s Hoop Dee Doo Revue Review

Back in January when I was at Walt Disney World for Marathon Weekend, some of my friends and I shared an evening of fun, food, and laughter at Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. 

Program

Program

Hoop Dee Doo is the nation’s longest running dinner show and is held up to 3 times nightly at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  

This was the second time I’ve gotten to experience this show.  The first time was when I was somewhere around the age of 16 so I was so excited to see it again. 

Getting there takes a little bit of planning.  We spent the day in the Magic Kingdom so when it was time for dinner, we took the boat from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness. 

Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness

Once we arrived at Fort Wilderness, the show, held in Pioneer Hall, was a short walk from the boat dock.  If we had not been at the Magic Kingdom already, we likely still would have taken transportation to the Magic Kingdom first anyway.  The other alternative is to take transportation from any other park to Fort Wilderness then take an internal bus to Pioneer Hall. 

Once we arrived, we checked in with the hostess, and pretty soon they called our party to be seated.  One tip about seating, you are assigned your table according to when you make your reservation, not when you check in with the hostess.  There are 3 seating categories, and the earlier you book, the better your table will be within the category you booked.  We booked Category 1, and I highly recommend it, if you can swing the few extra bucks for it.  There’s only about a $5 per person difference between the categories, so, really, it doesn’t add much to the cost.

The menu

The menu

A big silver bucket of salad was already waiting for us at our table once we sat down.  Pretty soon a warm loaf of sweet cornbread with butter made its way to us.  Our server took our drink orders (soda, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and sangria are included in the price of the event) and explained that the meal would be served family style, meaning platters and buckets of food would be brought out for our table to share.  In addition to the salad and cornbread, dinner was barbecue ribs, fried chicken, baked beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. 

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

We saw some tables being served mac and cheese so we asked our server about it.  He said that was for the tables with kids but he happily brought us some.  Everything was all-you-care-to-eat so if we wanted more of something, even adult beverages, our server would have brought it.

Beverages were served in mason jars.  How cute!

Beverages were served in mason jars. How cute!

 

By the time we had all our food and began chowing down, it was time for the show to start. 

Hoop Dee Doo

Hoop Dee Doo

The show was seriously hilarious!  They started by picking a few people out of the audience and singing a cute little song about where they were from. 

Great audience interaction!

Great audience interaction!

They also did a little diddy for people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.  Since earlier that day we ran the 10k and still had our medals on, they acknowledged us, too. 

They performed right at our table!

They performed right at our table!

Fun, fun!  I won’t give away any more of the show but we could.  Not.  Stop.  Laughing.  The unlimited sangria had nothing to do with this, either.  I promise.  Towards the end of the show, it was dessert time.  Each table was presented with its own whole strawberry shortcake.  Yum!  I was so full by then that I could barely hold any of it but I did manage a few bites.  I would have been thrilled to take the rest back to our room for breakfast the next day.  Sadly, as with any all-you-care-to-eat meal, that was not an option.

After the show, they directed us to a row of buses waiting to take us back to our resorts, which was so nice since getting there is not super easy.

I highly recommend this experience and would love to do it every trip if it weren’t for the pricy tag.  Tax and all came to just under $75 each, making this a special splurge.

Have you been?  What were your thoughts?  Tell me in the comments.

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Feel the Force Premium Package

You all know that Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places on the planet.  One of the things they are famous for is coming up with a really unique thing (or TEN) that is season-specific, making me want to come back almost on a monthly basis.  Where’s my money tree?  I did go to the Rock Your Disney Side 24 Hour event in May as well as Star Wars Weekends.  

Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends

Yet there are also several other things they’ve come up with since then for the summer that I’d really love to go see including Harambe Nights held on Saturday nights in Animal Kingdom, the Hollywood Studios villains party coming up on August 23, and now Frozen summer fun also at Hollywood Studios, just to name a few.

The Frozen summer events particularly caught my attention because it seems as though they’ve created these using the same model they used for Star Wars Weekends.  They have a Frozen opening show, a Frozen parade followed by a show on the stage in front of the Sorcerer Mickey hat, Frozen sing-along shows throughout the day, a Frozen ending show at night capped off with Frozen fireworks, and there’s even a merchandise area in the same soundstage as the Star Wars merchandise for Star Wars Weekends.  Not only that, but there’s ICE SKATING in there, too!  For $10, you can ice skate for 30 minutes.  That is, if you can get in!  Really, the set up of all of these events is identical to Star Wars Weekends.  They have even brought back the Premium Package, which includes reserved viewing for the parade, guaranteed seating for one of the sing-alongs, and reserved viewing and dessert party for the fireworks.

Since I took advantage of the Feel the Force Premium Package during Star Wars Weekends, I thought now would be a good time to tell you about it since they are doing something similar right now.  Advance reservations were required, and I booked it the day it was announced.  It sold out very quickly.  Instructions told us to check in near Bill and Min’s Dockside Diner at 10:30 for the first part of the package, which was reserved parade viewing. 

Feel the Force check in

Feel the Force check in

I had read the previous weekend’s reviews and knew to arrive much earlier.  As I was walking towards the check in around 10 am I saw, just as I knew I would, people already camped out waiting for the parade but there were still several decent spots left.  The reason I knew to get there so early is because, even though there was plenty of reserved viewing, the area was very deep, meaning there was plenty of room to stack people but not very much room right at the ropes.  They also had a reserved area just for kids.  They let the people who had an even more inclusive VIP package in first, so by the time the rest of us were let in, there was no front row space left. 

Feel the Force Wristband

Feel the Force Wristband

Being short, I took up residence behind the kids.  I figured I had a better chance of seeing over the littles than I did the bigs. 

Highlights from the parade

Highlights from the parade

It was ok.  Mickey ice cream bars and strawberry bars were available as part of the package as were bottles of soda and water. 

Snacks for the parade viewing were included with the package.

Snacks for the parade viewing were included with the package.

Honestly, I would have had a much better view of the parade had I staked out my spot on the street at the same time I arrived at the package check in. 

The second part of the package was the Symphony in the Sky fireworks and dessert party. 

No seats were available for the dessert party, just tables for standing.

No seats were available for the dessert party, just tables for standing.

I was really excited for this because, hello!  Darth Vader cupcakes!  Seriously, though, the Magic Kingdom has done a Wishes dessert party for years, and I’ve always wanted to go.  Unfortunately my family does not share my enthusiasm for copious amounts of expensive desserts prior to watching fireworks obstructed by the roof of the building in which the party is held.  My family wasn’t with me this time so it was all mine!  I arrived a little after 8 to check in, and we were allowed in right around 8:30.  They had LOTS of desserts!  LOTS!  And plenty of each. 

This is just a sampling of what they had.  I somehow missed getting a pic of the Darth Vader cupcake tray.

This is just a sampling of what they had. I somehow missed getting a pic of the Darth Vader cupcake tray.

It was quite hot and humid so the icing melted off the cupcakes a wee bit, but they were all headed for my belly anyway so I was ok with that. 

The Darth Vader cupcake at the bottom is on its side because the icing fell off.

The Darth Vader cupcake at the bottom is on its side because the icing fell off.

It just meant my pictures weren’t going to be as good.  Also available were 2 different adult beverage options.  Now, one might think you could get your money’s worth on the alcohol alone, and I’m sure some did.  However, I learned really quickly that fruity adult bevs and lots of super sweet desserts don’t really mix very well.  So, I just had a few sips of each one. 

2 different adult beverage options

2 different adult beverage options

Shocker!  I stuck to water and Diet Coke instead.  Not long after I decided I was done with the goodies, it was time for the closing show to start.  The reserved viewing area had great views of the stage and show. 

We had great views of the stage!

We had great views of the stage!

The fireworks set to Star Wars music were what I was there to see and were the real reason I had paid the premium price for the Premium Package.  As soon as the fireworks started, I realized right away that the fireworks view was not good, not good at all!  Remember that stage that we had such a great view of?  Yeah, it pretty much blocked a lot of the fireworks. 

Not so great view of the fireworks

Not so great view of the fireworks

So for me, this killed the Premium Package.

In short, if I had one day for the individual elements, I would go the free (with admission) route and stake out my parade and fireworks viewing spots.  You are likely going to get better viewing with about the same amount of time waiting and standing so why not?  Just buy your ice cream, sodas and cupcakes, and you’ll come out way ahead, even if you throw in an adult beverage (or 3).  If I had multiple days, I might spring for the premium package just for the experience, but not for the views. 

The Frozen version of this has gone up $5 per adult but there’s the added element of the sing-along show.  From what I understand, Frozen Premium Package holders get seating in the first 4 rows, which is a really nice added feature.  Also, since there isn’t the even more inclusive VIP package for this event, it stands to reason that prime viewing along the ropes would be easier to get for package holders than it was for Star Wars Weekends.  The viewing for the Frozen fireworks is still going to stink, though. 

Have you experienced either Premium Package?  What were your thoughts?

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Random Ramblings About Frozen

I’m pretty sure most people would agree that the Walt Disney Company employs some pretty creative geniuses.  If they don’t have all the ones they want, they just buy the company they work for (i.e. Marvel and Lucas Films).  Being a life-long Disney fan, I’m often excited by the new things they come up with, but I’m rarely surprised.  I’ve come to expect cutting edge technology, engaging (even if not always original) storylines, loveable characters, and top-notch marketing to draw me in.  But I have to say that I think Frozen takes it to a whole ‘nother level!

Disney's Frozen

Disney’s Frozen

Of course there’s beauty and artistry above and beyond what we’ve seen before.  The costumes are just gorgeous!  Of course the music is beautiful and catchy so that we’ll sing the songs around our houses and won’t be able to get them out of our heads.  There are so many versions of “Let It Go” out there that I don’t even try to keep up with them.  Of course it’s star-studded.   And with any new Disney film, there comes merchandise.  This time, it is a doozy!  They can’t keep it on the shelves, even now, coming up on 7 months after the release of the film!  Even I spent 2+ hours in the Disney Store one Saturday morning securing the elusive Elsa dress for my niece.

I spent more than 2 hours at the Disney Store to get this dress for my niece.  Aunt of the year, right here!

I spent more than 2 hours at the Disney Store to get this dress for my niece. Aunt of the year, right here!

Then there are the characters.  Wait times to visit with Elsa and Anna have been as high as 3 hours!

Wait times can be as high as 3 hours to see these 2 in the park.

Wait times can be as high as 3 hours to see these 2 in the park.

However, none of this is really all that surprising to me.

So if it’s not all of this, what is it that makes it truly genius, in my opinion?  It’s that little snowman Olaf!

Olaf

Olaf

Here’s the thing.  It’s a movie, released just in time for winter, about a perpetual winter.  So of course it was going to be appropriate for the holiday season.  However, it’s not particularly Christmas or holiday themed, so it had staying power throughout the winter.  Then just as winter was wrapping up, the DVD came out, carrying it through the spring.  Still not too surprising because most blockbusters get that second surge as the movie is released on DVD.  Here’s where Olaf comes in and does what no other movie has done before (that I know of).  Olaf is a snowman who loves summer!

Olaf loves summer!

Olaf loves summer!

He is all about it!  So now Olaf is taking it past the DVD surge, giving the movie yet even more longevity, and taking Frozen into pop culture phenomenon territory.  Also, what the creators did with this character never even occurred to me while I was watching the movie.  Sure, I thought it was cute that a snowman loved summer.  I just didn’t realize that we, the consumers, were being set up for more Frozen saturation 2 seasons into the future.  This just hit me this week, the first week of summer, and now Olaf and Frozen are popping up in full force everywhere again.  Since the hype never really died down, it seems as though it’s actually gaining strength with this 3rd push.  Do I think this is an accident?  Absolutely not!  I think it’s pure genius!

I can just imagine the planning sessions the creative minds of Frozen had in the early stages of development.  One person pops up and says, “I’m not so sure about this guys.  It’s a winter movie and no one’s going to care about it in the summer.”  See, another thing Disney does very well is they create stories that they can use any time, in all of their platforms.  Parks, merchandise, dining, attractions, even Disney Cruise Line and their luxury destination travel arm, Adventures by Disney, get in on the action.  Another guy or gal chimes in with, “What if we take this little snowman here and make him have a love affair with summer?”  The room is silenced as everyone looks around at each other.  Finally, someone says, “How would we do that?”  Yet another person drops in with, “Let’s put this little song and dance number in about summer.”  There ya go!  Problem solved!  I bet they are all on a beach somewhere, smoking cigars, grinning and high-fiving each other, sitting on their Olaf beach towels.  What will they think of next?

I bet this is what the Frozen creative team is doing right about now.

I bet this is what the Frozen creative team is doing right about now.

 

Congratulations to Katie Hughes, for winning my Coppertone Clearlysheer giveaway.  Now, just think of all the fun you’ll have, in summer!

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How to Survive 24 Hours in the Magic Kingdom

Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event at Magic Kingdom

Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event at Magic Kingdom

On May 23, Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort was open for 24 hours, from 6 am to 6 am on May 24, for the Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event.  A little more than a month before, I decided I wanted to go.  So some of my Princess Posse girls and I got to planning.

Me, Heather, Aimee, Katie, and Heather's daughter Hailey

Me, Heather, Aimee, Katie, and Heather’s daughter Hailey

I’ll be honest, when I first started talking about it, I had no intention of staying for the entire 24 hours.  I thought I’d be there for rope drop (the Disney term for park opening), head back to the hotel for a nap and maybe the pool in the middle of the afternoon, then head back in the evening to shut it down.  It didn’t take long for my Posse peeps to convince me otherwise.  I realized pretty quickly that I needed a strategy.  So, I came up with a plan, and it worked beautifully!

  1. Pack a bag.  Spending 24 hours in the Magic Kingdom is like a sleepover, only with no sleep.  You need stuff.  How much stuff is a personal preference.  I took a backpack full of 2 changes of clothing complete with undies and socks, flip-flops, my glasses, contact solution and case, deodorant, wipes, tooth paste and tooth-brush, hair brush, hair spray, and head band.  I used every single thing in there.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Aimee only took a robe and sleep mask (Tinkerbell ready for bed) and deodorant spray.  Katie was somewhere in the middle.
  2. Take resort Transportation.  Sure, you could drive your own car if you have one there but there is really nothing more convenient than resort transportation.  They were well-prepared for the crowds and even though the bus line was super long at our resort, it moved quickly, and there were plenty of buses to move us all. 
    The bus line--ack!

    The bus line–ack!

    We headed down to the bus stop a little before 5 and made it right on time for the 5:45 opening show.

  3. Divide and Conquer.  This is especially important if there are multiple things your group wants to accomplish at the same time.  We wanted some of the special merchandise and since you never know how well stocked it is, it’s always best to go right away.  We also knew that there might not be enough lockers to go around so that was a priority, too.  Katie and I went to get the lockers (we ended up getting 2 and sharing) and Heather, Aimee, and Hailey went to get the merchandise.
  4. Pace yourself.  24 hours in the Magic Kingdom is not easy.  You cannot go full speed ahead and expect to make it through.  Well, maybe YOU can, but I knew I couldn’t.  Be realistic about what you will be able to do and prioritize.  Do you want to ride everything? Do you want to get fun character pics?
    Fairy Godmother loves us!

    Fairy Godmother loves us!

    Glad we had fast passes for this one!

    Glad we had fast passes for this one!

    Pinocchio

    Pinocchio

    You may have to choose because as long as 24 hours seems, there is not enough time to do it all.  We tried to find a good balance.  We got some great character pics and rode some of our faves.

    Will I ever get 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin?  Not this trip!

    Will I ever get 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin? Not this trip!

    We even rode the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Train before it was officially open to the public!  We also were able to do many of the special experiences just for that day.

  5. Use social media.  It was a special day so bloggers and media were out in full force, both official and unofficial.  While Disney released a lot of the deets during the weeks leading up to the event, they didn’t spill everything.  If it weren’t for social media, we would have never known about the Mine Train being open.  Ok, to be fair, we probably would have figured it out, but not until much later in the day when thewait was insanely long.
    Nope!  We didn't wait 3 hours!

    Nope! We didn’t wait 3 hours!

    There were also food and beverages we wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t for social media.

    Special drink mug I found out about through social media.  Also, I thought I was smiling!  I was tired!

    Special drink mug I found out about through social media. Also, I thought I was smiling! I was tired!

    There was even a live webcam on Main Street, and some of our friends who couldn’t make it were able to see us.  How did we coordinate this?  You guessed it!  Social media!  Oh, and if you are going to use social media, this also means you will need to bring your charger and take advantage of the many charging outlets throughout the park.

  6. Hydrate. Y’all it was hot!  The heat index was over 100 during the hottest part of the day.  Dehydration is not magical!  I drank about 6 of the 20 ounce sized bottles of water throughout the day and Diet Coke, too.

    I drank 6 of these throughout the day.

    I drank 6 of these throughout the day.

  7. Don’t forget to eat.  You need fuel to make it through 24 hours of non-stop fun.  And yes, it is possible to have so much fun you forget to eat.  We only had one dining reservation, and that wasn’t until 10:45 that night.  We also had planned a 2 pm Dole Whip meet up so we could easily meet up with everyone we knew who were there.
    Hailey tried to get my tiara at the Dole Whip meet up.

    Hailey tried to get my tiara at the Dole Whip meet up.

    We found Maryanne at the Dole Whip meet up.

    We found Maryanne and Kelsey at the Dole Whip meet up.

    Other than that, we had to remind ourselves to eat.

  8. Get into the spirit.  Walt Disney himself once said he doesn’t make movies for kids.  He makes movies for the kid in everyone.  The same is true of his theme parks.  This was the first time in history that the Magic Kingdom allowed adults to dress in costume during regular operating hours.  They do allow kids to dress in costume all the time, and they allow costumes during the fall special ticketed Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and other special events.  However, adults in costume during the day is unprecedented, and some people went all out!  I had 2 outfits for the event and pajamas for over night.  Aimee wore a full-blown Tinkerbell costume and got lots of attention.
    Tinkerbell Aimee

    Tinkerbell Aimee

    Also, characters love it when adults want pics with them.  We even got pixie-dusted in Bibbity Bobbity Boutique!

    Pixie Dusted

    Pixie Dusted

  9. Keep your eyes open.  Even if you’ve been to Magic Kingdom dozens of times, when it’s a special day, special things sometimes happen.  Cast members were handing out buttons to promote the new Maleficent movie.  Also, around 1 am, we were approached by a cast member who handed us special passes for an exclusive meet and greet with Maleficent from the movie.
    We got special tickets to an exclusive Maleficent meet!

    We got special tickets to an exclusive Maleficent meet!

    I met Maleficent!

    I met Maleficent!

    Aimee and Katie were able to get their pic with Pain and Panic from Hercules because they were paying attention.  No joke, that line had been 4 hours long earlier in the evening, but around 5 am, they saw the line was nonexistent.  They were able to get several other great photos, too.  About this time, I was sitting on a bench resting, not sleeping, resting!

  10. Stop and smell the roses.  Not literally, unless you really want to.  24 hours in the Magic Kingdom has only happened 2 other times so there aren’t a lot of people who can say they’ve done it.  We watched the sun rise in MK 2 days in a row and never left.  That’s pretty epic!  The energy of the day was electric!  From the opening shot of fireworks to the characters waving goodbye to us in their pajamas, it was truly an amazing day!

It was certainly a day I’ll never forget and to be able to spend it with some really amazing ladies made it even more special.  Were you there?  Share some of your thoughts!  I’ll leave you with a few more of my favorite photos from the day.

We found Betsy on Main Street!

We found Betsy on Main Street!

I, Aimee, and Katie made it for the entire 24 hours!

I, Aimee, and Katie made it for the entire 24 hours!

Heather and Katie staked out great seats for Festival of Fantasy.

Heather and Katie staked out great seats for Festival of Fantasy.

We found Maryanne and Jennifer after wishes!

We found Maryanne and Jennifer after wishes!

Middle of the night silliness

Middle of the night silliness

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I’m a Bad Blogger!

I guess you’ve noticed by now I’ve been a little MIA lately.  Sorry for that!  Have you ever felt totally overwhelmed with life in general to the point that you can only focus and complete what absolutely has to happen at that particular moment and everything else gets put on the back burner?  That’s been me lately.  Between work, a huge list of things around the house that need attention, and my running woes, I haven’t really had the mental capacity to fill you all in on what’s been going on.  I’ve been doing some fun things that I’m sure you all would love to read about, and if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram you might already know about some of it.  However, when it comes time to share after the fact, I’m already in the mentality of handling what’s next on my it-has-to-get-done-now list.   I deeply apologize and hope you’ll stick with me while I catch you up.

So, here are a few of the things I’ve been doing this year (I do plan to write more in-depthly in the coming weeks about these things).

  • I took a semi-last minute trip to New York in January with a girlfriend of mine.  It was my first time going!
  • My family booked our third Disney Cruise Line trip, which will be coming up next year.
  • I once again registered as a St. Jude Hero for the Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon.  To support me, visit my fund-raising page here.
  • Over Memorial Day weekend I spent 24 consecutive hours in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World for the Rock Your Disney Side 24 Hour Event.
  • I also took some extra time to enjoy some of the special things happening during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • I finished my first distance event since being injured–the Navy 10 Nautical Miler.
  • I’ve been working with a company called BzzAgent and will be bringing you a Coppertone product review and giveaway soon.
  • I’m also working with a company called Influenster and will be reviewing their Spring Fling Vox Box.
  • I’ve also had a request from a reader to share exactly how I went from couch to half marathoner.  I’ve touched on my story a little bit but I never really shared what happened between point A and point B.
  • Finally, I have developed a summer slush recipe that my family loves and I hope yours will, too.

So, what story should I tackle first?  What are you most interested in?

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My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Two–runDisney Wine and Dine

In case you missed part 1, which was the Memphis Greenline Half, you can find that recap here.

I was so incredibly excited for this race for a few reasons.  First of all, Wine and Dine was my inspiration race, the reason I started running in the first place.  Some of you already know the back story but in case you don’t, here is the short version.  I was at Walt Disney World Resort in October of 2011.  I arrived the same day as that year’s Wine and Dine Half and saw all the preparations being made the afternoon of the race.  The next day I saw lots of people walking around with their medals and wished I could do that.  After I got home, I did some research and decided to make that wish a reality.  I was determined to run in the 2012 Wine and Dine Half, which was scheduled for October but later moved to November to accommodate the inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  I did the 10 miler instead and resigned myself to never getting to do Wine and Dine until one night in Spring of 2013 when I found myself in front of my computer registering anyway.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

The other main reason for my extreme excitement was where we were staying–Beach Club! 

Disney's Beach Club

Disney’s Beach Club

I had never stayed at Beach Club but I got a really, really, really good rate on it, and the fact that it’s located just steps away from the Wine and Dine after party made it a deal I could not turn down!  I had always wanted to stay at Beach Club because of its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (but mainly Epcot) so I was stoked.

Wine and Dine is a bit different from other runDisney half marathons in that it is at night, starting at 10 pm.  Since I had done Tower of Terror, which is also a night race, I was better prepared for the challenge of a night race.  So on the morning of November 9, 2013 I got up, had a sensible breakfast at the France pastry shop in Epcot, went back to the resort and chilled by the pool for a few hours. 

Relaxing By the Pool

Relaxing By the Pool

Then I took a nap and at some point I also ate a turkey sandwich for lunch that I had purchased at the France pastry shop that morning.  My parents were out enjoying Epcot so I texted them to pick up a cheese plate for me also at the France pastry shop.  That was my dinner along with some sliced apples I had picked up at the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party the night before, some crackers, and a Luna bar.  Normally I wouldn’t go into such great detail about what I ate before a race but with it being a night race lots of people ask how to eat during the day.

Ready to head out to the busses!

Ready to head out to the busses!

 

Around 7 pm I headed to the buses to go to the start line. 

Transportation Information

Transportation Information

Yes, 7 pm for a 10 pm start.  It really does take that long to get everyone there and in place.  Busses for runners only run between 7 and 8, and I wanted to be on an earlier one.  As soon as I got there I noticed 3 long lines right down the middle of the staging area.  I correctly guessed they were character lines but I could not tell who they were for.  I jumped in one and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Until finally I saw I was in line for Chef Goofy. 

Me with Chef Goofy

Me with Chef Goofy

The other lines were Chef Minnie and Chef Mickey.  Once I got my photo with Goofy it was time to meet some of my Princess Posse friends for our group photo. 

Princess Posse Friends

Princess Posse Friends

We sat around chatting for a bit, listening to the DJ, and trying to relax. 

I can't believe people were actually dancing before a half marathon.

I can’t believe people were actually dancing before a half marathon.

Before long it was time to head to the corrals.  I stopped at the potty then took my place.  Shortly thereafter, off we went!

Each corral got their own fireworks start.

Each corral got their own fireworks start.

Wine and Dine Start Line

Wine and Dine Start Line, complete with bubbles coming out of the champagne glass

We headed toward Animal Kingdom and took a quick loop around the park.  I loved the light up elephant tusks that welcomed us into the park.  I also loved seeing Everest all lit up at night.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos on the course so, sadly, I have nothing to show you.  This part was very dark and crowded so I really had to watch my step.  After leaving Animal Kingdom we headed back down Osceola Parkway toward Hollywood Studios.  This is the part that really made this race seem short to me.  It felt like we approached Hollywood Studios way earlier than I had anticipated.  So the last half of the race was filled with things to keep my mind occupied, and it flew by.

Running through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios is the highlight for many during this race, and it did not disappoint.  You do have to run through the Studios for quite a bit before getting to them, though.  This only added to the anticipation of it for me and made it that much better when I finally got there.  Shortly after the lights, it was time to exit the Studios and head for the Boardwalk area between Studios and Epcot.  It was right at the exit of Studios that I had my biggest regret of the race.  I did not stop for a pic with Darth Vader.  The line was fairly short and I should have stopped.  I don’t know why I didn’t because it was the only pic I really wanted.

After exiting Studios, we ran along the path between Studios and Epcot and even ran right past the Beach Club.  I thought I might be tempted to stop at the hotel and just go to bed by that point, but nope!  I was still going strong.  We then ran through some backstage areas of Epcot before heading through Future World and out the front of the park towards the finish line.

At the finish line area I got my medal, food box, water, Powerade, banana, and my beer.  Wine and Dine is the only runDisney race that gives runners alcohol at the finish.  You get your choice of beer or wine.  Then it was time to head back to the entrance of Epcot for the after party, which was happening in World Showcase.  I took one look at how far away I was from the entrance, thought about how far Future World was from where I was standing, and almost wished I could just grab a bus back to my hotel.  I knew my parents were waiting for me at the after party so I just sucked it up and started walking.  I did text my mom to have my dad meet me as close to the entrance as he could so I could get my flip-flops and compression calf sleeves from him.  I don’t check a bag when my parents are there since my dad can just stash some of my things in his back pack.  This is one race that I wish I had, though.  I could have had my flip-flops and compression sleeves much sooner had I checked my bag there.

Once I got to the after party, I saw they were selling race merchandise.  I was hopeful that they were also selling the race banners from the displays at the expo. 

See the "I Did It" banners hanging in the expo?  I got one of those!

See the “I Did It” banners hanging in the expo? I got one of those!

Luckily they were, and I got the last “I Did It” banner.  I will figure out a place to hang that at some point in the future.  Dad and I met up with my mom, and I really didn’t want anything to eat.  I drank my beer and chatted with a few other runners.  Shortly thereafter I decided I would rather just go back to the room than fight the crowds for food and rides.  I always end up wishing I had stayed longer.  This was no exception but at that moment, leaving was what I wanted to do.

I really loved my Wine and Dine experience!  I do wish I had taken some photos along the course and stopped for Darth Vader.  If I ever do this race again I will check my bag so I can get to my stuff quickly.  Like always, I wish I had stayed at the party longer.  While it lacked the magic that Princess Half Marathon had, I think I like the course better.  It goes through 3 of the 4 parks so there is quite a bit to look at. 

With that, I was two-thirds of the way towards my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic.  Just to review, that’s 3 half marathons in 90 days.  The third was coming up in just four weeks, the Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon.  If you’ve been following along, you already know what happened with that race.  It was cancelled due to an ice storm.  My goal of becoming a half fanatic was all but gone.  Or was it?  Check back soon for part 3 of my quest and see if I was successful. 

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My Disney Side @ Home Celebration

This past Saturday I hosted my Disney Side @ Home Celebration.  Thanks to a partnership with MomSelect and Disney Parks, I received a kit full of fun to help me host my party.  I had so much fun hosting this party, and I think everyone else had a great time, too.
Show Your Disney Side

First let’s talk food!  I wanted to feature all four parks at Walt Disney World Resort as well as Disney Cruise Line in my menu.  So, this is what I served:

My menu card

My menu card

  • Fantasmic! Firecrackers (Hollywood Studios)
  • Farmer Mickey Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Epcot)
  • Living with the Land Tomato Soup (Epcot)
  • Chilled Strawberry Soup (1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Mickey on Safari Rice Crispy Treats (Animal Kingdom)
  • Dole Whip Push Ups (Magic Kingdom)
  • Nemo’s Konk Kooler (Disney Cruise Line)
    This is most of the food I served.  I forgot to take a pic of the soup but here are some garnishes I put out for it.  I also forgot to take a pic of the sandwiches after they were toasted, but you get the idea.

    This is most of the food I served. I forgot to take a pic of the soup but here are some garnishes I put out for it. I also forgot to take a pic of the sandwiches after they were toasted, but you get the idea.

For some items, I actually used Disney recipes, like the Konk Kooler (minus the alcohol, thus Nemo’s) and the Chilled Strawberry Soup.  Everything else, I merely made as a representation of the Disney Parks theme.  I really had fun developing the menu, and everything was really easy to put together.  I also used some popcorn buckets I’ve gotten in the past at the parks and put some different store-bought flavored popcorn in them.

No party is complete without great decorations!  My kit contained plates, napkins, cups, a table cloth, and swirly decorations. 

Cups, plates and napkins were included in the kit.  I also used a flower pot I bought at World of Disney last year for the utensils.  I took it on my DCL Dream cruise last year and had the characters sign it.

Cups, plates and napkins were included in the kit. I also used a flower pot I bought at World of Disney last year for the utensils. I took it on my DCL Dream cruise last year and had the characters sign it.

I used everything except the table cloth.  I had a different idea for the table.  The kit also contained runDisney/ESPN ChEar cards, as used at runDisney races and ESPN sporting events.  I covered the cards in clear contact paper to protect them, and used them as place mats. 

ChEar cards make great place mats.

ChEar cards make great place mats.

I also picked up some containers from the dollar store, added some ribbon and tulle fabric to them, and made some fresh flower arrangements for the center of my table. 

I made three of these flower arrangements and placed them down the center of the table.

I made three of these flower arrangements and placed them down the center of the table.

My finished table

I used the swirly decorations on the back drop to a photo booth I made along with plastic table cloths, also from the dollar store.

Back drop for my photo booth

Back drop for my photo booth

My friend Beth picked up some of these celebration buttons for me in the parks and sent them to me. 

I used these celebration buttons as name tags.  Beth even included a penny for good luck!

I used these celebration buttons as name tags. Beth even included a penny for good luck!

Disney Parks has complimentary buttons for pretty much any occasion and it’s not uncommon to see lots of people in the parks with them.  I thought they would make really fun name tags since some of my guests didn’t know each other. 

After we had spent some time eating and chatting, it was time to play Bingo, which had been generously included in my hostess kit.  After a few minutes, it was pretty apparent that all the cards were very similar and it was likely that everyone was going to Bingo at the same time.  It became a race to see who could yell it out first. 

We played three games of Bingo before it was time to have fun with the photo booth I set up.  HP was a sponsor of the party and had included some photo cards for my guests.  I thought it would be fun to take some pictures and play around with the Disney Memories app on my iPhone.  The kids had such a blast with it!  They enjoyed putting borders, stickers and characters on their photos with the app.

My Pic

My Pic

This pic won the day!

This pic of my mom won the day!

Later on, I texted all the photos to my guests that they could print out at home using the HP photo cards each family took home with them.

Each guest also received goodies from the sponsors.  The adults got a poster, the HP photo cards, a runDisney/ESPN bumper sticker, and a Muppets calendar.  The kids got runDisney arm bands, Craisins, stickers, temporary tattoos, and a few other things I threw in for them.

All my guests got goodies to take home with them.

All my guests got goodies to take home with them.

It was a really fun way to spend an afternoon, and I’m very thankful to all the sponsors who helped put together the generous hostess kit.  I especially love my hostess gift from American Tourister!

Decorations, gifts for my guests, and this piece of luggage from American Tourister were all included in my hostess kit.

Decorations, gifts for my guests, and this piece of luggage from American Tourister were all included in my hostess kit.

Disclosure:  I received free products from MomSelect and Disney Parks with which to host a party.  As always, my opinions are my own.

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