Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Walt Disney World During a Pandemic? Let’s Boo This! Day 3

Day 3 was Epcot day, which is always my favorite. We were happy to be able to sleep in a little bit later with Epcot opening at 11. We had a leisurely breakfast in the room before heading out before 10 to hit up the Skyliner to Epcot. We knew early morning Skyliner traffic was congested during the rush hour to get to Hollywood Studios, which opened at 10, but we hoped it would be mostly cleared out for the Epcot shift. We were partially correct.

My favorite Skyliner cabin

The line to board at our resort was non-existent, but when we got to the switch-off at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, it was very well controlled mass chaos. Everyone had to get in one big line regardless of destination. Then, after about 25 minutes in that line, a Cast Member directed everyone to a different line depending on whether they were heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot. We were somewhat surprised when a Cast Member asked us if we would be willing to share a cabin with another party in exchange for a shorter wait in line at that point. We politely declined. In total, we waited about 40 minutes, and most of that was in the larger line, which consisted of a lot of people still trying to get to Hollywood Studios.

There’s magic in the air! Dad and I aboard the Skyliner
We had already been in line about 25 minutes by the time we got to this point.

Once we arrived at Epcot shortly before 11, we quickly went through temperature check and security. We had planned on a very leisurely day of food, wine and a few rides. Even though they permitted entry to guests prior to park opening, we found the festival marketplaces were not open prior to 11. The first open booth we came to was the Citrus Blossom marketplace, and so we stopped. There were a few things I wanted to try here, and I’ve learned from many years of past festivals, if you want it, get it when you have the chance because you might be too full later. I got the Lobster Tail with Meyer Lemon Emulsion and Grilled Lemon, the Orange Sunshine Wine Slushy and the Orange Cream Shake in the souvenir Orange Bird sipper. I had wanted that sipper since it first debuted at the 2019 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival so I was excited they still had them available. I didn’t really want the orange cream shake and asked the Cast Members to leave that part off. They offered to put it in a separate cup so we could at least taste it. I agreed, and I’m so glad I did. That was the star of this booth.

Citrus Blossom marketplace was yummy!

After finishing off my snacks, we headed to the Land pavilion to ride Soarin’ and Listen to the Land. Safety protocols meant plexi glass dividers in the lines and on the ride vehicles.

Dad and I all strapped in ready for our flight on Soarin’
Living with the Land has all sorts of Mickey shaped vegetation.

After that, we walked right on to Journey Into Imagination. Then, we wanted to take one last voyage aboard Space Ship Earth before it gets reimagined.

Thanking the Phoenicians one last time

I knew a good bit of Future World was under construction due to Epcot reimagined, but I was not prepared for what that looked and felt like in person. Gracious! We walked for what seemed like eternity to get back to World Showcase for more food and drinks. We were rewarded by a cute Mickey and Minnie cavalcade when we arrived. We had also worked up quite an appetite by then and were ready for more noshing.

A cute Mickey and Minnie cavalcade

One drink I really wanted to try was the Bloomin’ Blueberry Lemon and Ginger Tea with Tito’s Vodka from Earth Eats. It was so refreshing and did not disappoint. The recipe for the non-alcoholic version was printed on the back of the signage of the booth. I snapped a photo so I could recreate this at home with blueberries from my parents’ garden. It will be perfect for summertime sippin’ next year.

So refreshing! Notice the cup is left over from the flower and garden festival.
Just add vodka!

While I was in line for my tea, my dad hopped in the Mexico line for the Ribeye Taco and the Mexican Craft Beer. I asked him to also get me the Pork Tostada and the Clasica Margarita. The description of the margarita said it included chile poblano liqueur so I was hoping it would have a spicy kick to it. I detected no kick. In fact, it tasted more like salt water. The Pork Tostada was a star, though.

The Pork Tostada was the star here.

By then, I needed a Diet Coke, and it was getting close to time to check in for our flight home. So we found an open table at the Refreshment Outpost, and I ordered my Diet Coke. It came in this cute little cup, so on brand for me.

Another cute cup. Do you see a trend here?

While we were sitting there, we decided to share some things from Germany, so I got us the Pasta Gratin with Ham, Onions and Cheese and the Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce. They were both outstanding and more than enough to share.

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce and Pasta Gratin with Ham, Onions and Cheese from Germany were the standouts of the day.

After finishing those snacks, we backtracked a bit to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros and more plexi glass in the line and on the ride. I still would prefer to refer to it as El Rio del Tiempo, which is the version I grew up with. However, instead, I usually just call it the Mexican boat ride.

We were still both pretty full from Germany, and Dad was getting tired. So we decided to make our way back to the International Gateway to catch the Skyliner back to our resort. On the way, I stopped in Canada to get some maple popcorn to take home. Since I was going to be traveling with it, I ordered the souvenir bucket. Covid rules meant the Cast Member could not fill the bucket, even though it was still in their possession. So, she filled a paper box and handed me the bucket. This ended up being a much better value because, guess what! The box holds way more than the bucket.

Princess cavalcade

I also wanted to stop in France to see if there were any of the macaron ears in stock. There weren’t. Sadness! I tried to talk Dad into stopping at L’Artisan des Glaces because he hadn’t been able to get his ice cream that he always likes due to Covid closures. However, he was still too full and too tired. So, with that, we exited and boarded the Skyliner back to our resort to pack and call it a day. This was our last night, but there was still a little bit more fun to be had.

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Star Wars Dark Side 5k Flashback

Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

Welcome to Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend!

It’s runDisney race week again! This time it’s the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend, and no, I’m not going. I broke up with running, remember? However, since I never shared my race recap, I thought it was high time for a flashback to the only time I’ve ever participated in this weekend. Allow me to take you back to the 2017 Dark Side 5k.

2017 Dark Side 5k

I love these photo opportunities at the expo.

This is one runDisney weekend that was never really on my radar. I don’t know why because I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember, starting way back with A New Hope. I remember being terrified of Darth Vader as a child. To help calm me down, my parents told me the ones in white are the heroes and always win. The ones in black are the bad guys and always lose. I was confused because, Stormtroopers. They had to explain they were the exception. I wasn’t so sure.

Anyway, back to the race. Flashback to two years ago. At some point before the 5k sold out, it dawned on me that I was going to be there for the 5k and 10k. We had a cruise booked (shocker!) that was leaving the day of the 10k and we had planned on going to Epcot the day before, which was the same day as the 5k. Wait, what?! Hello, lightbulb! I thought long and hard about both races but ultimately settled on the 5k only. We like to get to the port as early as they will let us in the parking garage, and I didn’t want to hold us back.

So, Operation Costume Planning was in full swing. This was one of my favorite costumes ever, and soooooo cheap, too! I was Captain Phasma. It was a Dark Side race after all, back in the day.

Captain Phasma Running Costume

“Flat me” as Captain Phasma

My approach to runDisney race costumes has evolved to become a nod to the character I’m trying to represent as opposed to a dead ringer, so to speak. I already had the Sparkle Skirt from my Hades costume for the final Tower of Terror 10 Miler (can we please take a moment of silence in memory of this awesome event?) as well as the gray tech shirt. I purchased a child’s Captain Phasma costume on the Shop Disney website during one of their Twice Upon A Year sales for super cheap, like $10 or something, essentially free. Disney math, yo! From that, I attached the mask to a Sparkle Athletic visor and used the cape. I also took the belt from the costume and pinned it to the waistline of my skirt. I found out my friend Andrea was also registered, and I shared what I had planned with her so we could be matchy-matchy. I do love when people are matchy-matchy at these events, and I love it even more when I get to be matchy-matchy!

The morning of the race came, and I got up in the middle of the night, as runDisney racers do.

Star Wars 5k Start

Zero dark thirty, the worst part of these races

I was thrilled to see my girl, Captain Phasma as a pre-race photo character.

Captain Phasma at the Dark Side 5k

Me as Captain Phasma with Captain Phasma

I found Andrea, and we collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

A Trio of Captain Phasmas

Andrea and I together with Captain Phasma collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

That line was looooooong, y’all! That was the only pre-race photo I got. That’s ok, though, because I stopped for ALL the photos on course.


The first stop was the Ewoks. I die of the cuteness!

Emperor’s Chair

Up next was the Emperor’s Chair.


R2D2 was next and had the longest line. Also, I have no clue what’s happening here.


Up next was Chewbacca and another long line.

Ezra and Sabine

Next came Ezra and Sabine. I got an oddly placed shadow as a bonus.

Spaceship Earth

Next came a photo opp in front of Spaceship Earth. There was a Photopass Photographer here, otherwise I would have skipped it.


Finally, Stormtroopers. There was no Photopass Photographer here so I was glad I had my phone.

Stopping for ALL the photos means a lot of stop and go, and a really looooooong 5k. I think it took me around 2 hours to finish.

After the race, it was time to get cleaned up and meet my family for a fun day at Epcot.

Epcot Character Spot

Fun with Mickey and family

One of the best things about race weekends is seeing friends you don’t get to see throughout the year. My friend Aimee was in town for the other races, and I met her later for dinner at Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas.

Flying Fish

Pre-dinner drinks at Abracadabar and dinner at Flying Fish was a delicious way to celebrate the day.

Later, we strolled around World Showcase in Epcot tasting a few of the libations from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Drinking around World Showcase is always a good idea.

It really was the best day ever, and I think the fact that the race was so impromptu, as impromptu as a runDisney race can be, made it even better.

Star Wars Dark Side 5k Medal

My attempt at an artsy medal photo

As always, I’ll be following along, living vicariously through the participants from the comfort of my couch. I wish the best of luck and lots of fun to everyone making their way to the Galaxy. May the Force be with you!

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Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! Starring Bronwen Weber

Most people who are interested in attending the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival know about the kiosks located all around the World Showcase. For a few bucks per bite and sip, foodies can nosh their way around the World to their hearts’ content.  

Welcome to the Festival from the International Gateway


However, special events are also a huge part of the Festival. When I visited a few weeks ago, I attended one of the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! workshops. 

Admittedly, I didn’t do a ton of planning for this trip like I usually do. A few dining reservations and FastPass+ selections pretty much summed up all I put into it. About 2 weeks before the trip (last minute, much?), I began to peruse the list of special events taking place during my trip and found this new workshop. Even better, there was one with Bronwen Weber, celebrity cake artist from Dallas who frequents the Food Network. I was sure it was sold out, as all celebrity special events do, but thought I’d call just to be sure. Imagine my surprise when the Cast Member I spoke with told me spaces were still available. Sweet (pun intended)! 

Spaces were still available two weeks before the event.


Since this was a brand new event and I was visiting toward the beginning of the Festival, I couldn’t find out very much in advance about what I could expect for my $49. All the website said was we would leave with our very own edible masterpiece. What does that meeeeeeeeaaaaaannnn??? Still, I was optimistic that the Disney folks would do it up right, and I was not disappointed!

I arrived about 45 minutes in advance, and people were already beginning to line up. They started letting us take our seats 15 minutes prior to the event. I was lucky enough to score a seat at the front and center table, and I was thrilled. At each place setting was some colored fondant, a small pastry brush, child’s safety scissors, a skewer, a tiny bit of water, cornstarch and a cup for water.  

Place setting for the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! workshop.

There were also a few pages of instructions, which hinted at what we would be doing. They were hand illustrated by Bronwen herself, no less!  

Bronwen Weber hand illustrated our instructions.


Yet, I was beginning to wonder if I would find the value to be worth the cost. 

Soon after Bronwen took the stage, glasses of Prosecco were passed out.  

A bit of bubbly to set the mood


Ahhhh…much better! Then, we began to work on our masterpieces. Bronwen was an absolute doll, walking us step-by-step through each creation. We made a pumpkin, ghost and bat, all out of fondant.  

Fondant pumpkin made by yours truly


My ghost-my fondant skills are a bit scary!


My bat–clearly I don’t need to quit my day job.

I’ve never worked with fondant before because I don’t like the taste, and the workshop didn’t inspire me to change that. However, Bronwen was very entertaining and personable.  

Bronwen Weber and Pam Smith, Festival hostess

About halfway through the workshop, huge pieces of neopolitan cake were passed out.  

So delicious!

The cake was made by Bronwen and her bakers in her Dallas bakery, Frosted Art Bakery. I have to admit it was the very best cake I’ve ever had!

As the workshop concluded, bakery boxes were passed out to transport our fondant figures home. We also each received a packet of recipes from Bronwen and a bamboo cutting board featuring the Festival logo as a very nice take-away gift.  

Each attendee received this bamboo cutting board as a take-away gift.


My conclusion? I found the workshop to be, not only an excellent value, but a fun way to spend the afternoon. I can’t say that I will use any of the skills I learned (I use that term loosely), but I was thoroughly entertained. With so many of the Festival special events rising significantly in cost year-over-year, I say bravo to Disney for offering a new, high-quality, mid-level priced event. 

What’s your favorite Festival special event?

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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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