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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.

Ewoks

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

Emperor’s Chair

Up next was the Emperor’s Chair.

R2D2

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

Chewbacca

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.

Stormtroopers

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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Freebies at Disney

The words “free” and “Disney” are not exactly synonymous with each other. Quite the opposite, in fact. Using them together in a sentence will often incite laughter among Disney veterans. However, I received several freebies last week when visiting Walt Disney World Resort, and I thought I’d let you know about them.

First off, when we entered our room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, these little beauties were waiting for us.

These little beauties were waiting for us in our room when we arrived.

They are a set of pins as a gift for tolerating all the construction happening at the Lodge as they build new Disney Vacation Club cabins on the property. Mickey in a hard hat is just too cute! Wouldn’t you agree?

The next day, this was placed in our room along with an offer to receive a $100 Disney gift card for attending a Disney Vacation Club open house and tour.

This in-room gift was accompanied by another offer.

So, naturally I had to take them up on that offer. $100 Disney gift card for an hour of my time (which ended up only being 38 minutes)? Yes, please!

Thank you, Disney Vacation Club!

And at the open house, they gave me this.

I received this Disney Vacation Club tote bag at the open house.

I also attended a Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! This is a new offering as part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Attendees received this bamboo cutting board as a parting gift.

This parting gift was given to attendees of the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It!

Technically, I did pay for this hands-on workshop, but I did not expect to receive a gift for attending and truly feel the cost of the workshop was worth it even without the gift.

Speaking of the Festival, as an Annual Passholder, I received this very nice glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

Passholders can pick up this free glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

In even more Festival news, all attendees can pick up a free Festival passport with stickers you can place on pages as you visit each location. In previous years, you had to wait in line to get a stamp, so I think this new method is much-improved.

All Festival attendees can receive a free passport.

Here are all of my freebies together as one big, happy family.

All the freebies I received last week.

Not pictured are the 3 extra fast passes I also received for each member of our party for attending the DVC open house.

And it didn’t end there! When I returned home, this gem was sitting in my mailbox.

I won this The Jungle Book combo pack from the Disney Parks Blog.

This was a Disney Parks Blog sweepstakes prize I won. They conduct a few fun sweepstakes throughout the year, and in the past, I’ve won several posters, a tote bag and now this!

What freebies have you received while visiting a Disney park?

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links.

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Back to the Blog

Hey, everyone!  Remember me?  I just looked back and saw that I haven’t posted in, oh about 10 months.  Oops!  So, what have I been up to?  I have been through a life-changing event, which has been the subject of the majority of my focus.  More on that later.  I’ve been doing a few other things, too, though.

Since my last update, I finished the 2014 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.

I finished! It wasn't pretty but I finished!

I finished! It wasn’t pretty but I finished!

That deserves its own post.  The stories around that day are many.  I also finished a quilt for a friend,

Minecraft Quilt for a Friend

Minecraft Quilt for a Friend

had a December staycation,

Oshi Burger as part of my December staycation

Oshi Burger as part of my December staycation

celebrated Christmas with my family, quit my job (insert major life event), started my dream job

My first day on my new job

My first day on my new job

(reality is even better than the dream), registered for the 2015 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, spent time at Magic Kingdom Park with some girl friends,

Magic Kingdom before the family cruise

Magic Kingdom before the family cruise

tried out the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Resort,

Yes, I kept the glass!

Yes, I kept the glass!

went on my 3rd Disney cruise with my family aboard the Disney Fantasy (that deserves its own post, too, several of them, in fact),

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay

Disney Fantasy docked at Castaway Cay

registered for the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series and registered for the 2016 runDisney Princess Half Marathon.  Oh!  And I’m on Periscope now, too.  I’m @myglasssneaker, same as Twitter.  I haven’t done much videoing yet, but that will change soon.

What have I not been up to?  Well, I haven’t done a ton of running.  This is a bad thing considering my upcoming race schedule.  I did complete the 2nd 5k

This was my first official race of the year.

This was my first official race of the year.

and the first 5 miler

Aaaaaand...my 2nd official race of the year

Aaaaaand…my 2nd official race of the year

in the Road Race Series, though.  The first 10k is coming up in less than a week.  The jury is out as to whether I am going to attempt it or wait until the 2nd 10k.  The reason (or excuse) for the struggle deserves its own post, too.

Based on the list above, it looks like I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  Please hang in there with me.

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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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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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