WDW Wine and Dine 10K 2018

I was really looking forward to this part of the holiday, although as it got closer we did wonder if we should have done the 5k instead as that was on the Friday, and not the same day we flew home…

The long-sleeved top we got with our race entry at the expo/ signs around Disney Springs about Run Disney races and then my number all ready to go.

We had been to the expo on Thursday morning, and I’d been quite restrained with shopping- getting a Run Disney vest, a nice running jacket (they both say every mile is magic) and a mug, as well as picking up our numbers and long sleeved shirts. (After that we went to a few normal shops and I got a cool penguin t-shirt and then some nice essential oil sprays – we’d seen someone use one on the plane and it was so refreshing to smell, and the little travel pack were under 100ml so you could have one in your hand luggage).

We had been back to our room on Friday afternoon for a few hours to pack as much as we could, get out our running kit for the morning, and also have a bit of a rest, as we’d planned a late night watching fireworks at Hollywood Studios and then Epcot. Because we’d driven (rather then getting the bus) we were back at the hotel at about 10.40pm, and probably in bed with lights out at 11pm. The alarm was set for 3.30am though, so it wasn’t a long sleep!

At the expo I had also got this little magnetic pocket thing (the magnet won’t damage phones or credit cards), which clips to your waistband (most of my summer leggings have good pockets but lots of the winter ones don’t)- I packed it with a cereal bar, lip balm face wipes and tissues.

The race bus picked us up from the bus stop close to our room just before 4am (it said all runners needed to be on a bus by 4) and it wasn’t a long journey to the Magic Kingdom car park where the race started. Andy ate his cereal bar but I didn’t fancy mine- I wouldn’t usually eat before a parkrun or long run, but with races when you are hanging around for a bit I usually do, although I think the super early start messed with my stomach as I didn’t feel hungry at all.

We had to go through security and then we joined a queue to see Mickey and Minnie, but the queue was an hour and they were leaving in 45 mins, and then at around 4.45 we were all called to the starting pens, so we decided we would try for a photo at the end.

There was a huge stage set up and the people did a great job of keeping us entertained as the race didn’t start until 5.30am- I’d never usually get somewhere so early especially as we already had our numbers. They had interviews with participants, songs and dances, videos of previous years, clips from their sponsors/ charity partners (a local food bank). Somehow we were in the first section, and pretty much bang on 5.30 they set us off with some fireworks and a blast of music! As we ran, every 5 minutes or so we heard another lot of fireworks go off, so we knew the next wave was being set off.

Mickey and Minnie/ the big screen/ one of the mile markers/ the medal)

The first few miles were along big roads between the two parks, and as it was so dark we couldn’t see much of the scenery (but then it’s all pretty similar with lots of trees, green spaces and man-made ponds) but there were lots of things going on for us to look at- characters with people queuing up for photos, big screens playing songs from The Little Mermaid (mainly) and bands. The tough bit was the loop as it was an on/off ramp and although it was a gentle hill, it seemed to go on for ages! I got confused there and saw the big screen, feeling surprised that the next one was playing the same song until I realised that was where we had already been!  I slowed down to take a photo of each mile marker, although looking back later some of them were linked to countries but others were themed as postcards from different countries. By then we could see the big Epcot ball and knew we were getting close to the park.

It was more lively in the park with more spectators, and more music playing. The buildings were all twinkling with fairy lights (they way they do during the fireworks) and there were loads of photographers. We had a photo pass  included with our tickets, and you could link your race number, so every now and then you would run through some very bright lights and it took me a while to realise that the photographers were just beyond the lights. As we ran past the stage in front of Spaceship Earth, I saw people running in to stand in front and have their photos taken, so I told Andy that on our way back we would get a photo there too. The route through the park went around the world showcase lagoon, with a little detour (I think around some building work by France), and then on our way back we got a quick photo before running out of the park and into the finish area. They were calling out everyone’s names as we finished which is always a nice touch.

The finish area was very efficient with loads of people there giving out scary-coloured rehydration drinks (I’ll pass thanks), water, medals (woohoo), bananas and then little Run Disney boxes filled with snacks. The wait for Mickey and Minnie was only 10 minutes, so we joined it and ate our bananas in the queue. Then it was time to get the bus back to the hotel, have a shower and finish packing.

We must have been back at the hotel before 7.30am, so after showering we walked over to the cafe in the hotel grounds and shared a cinnamon bun. Then it was time to check out and head to Epcot for a final morning- we both wore our medals (lots of people did) and we got so many “congratulations” from various people which was lovely.  As we had only shared the cinnamon bun we decided to share a second breakfast of a school bread (the cardamon spiced bun filled with custard and topped with coconut)- sitting in the sun enjoying one of those was a pretty good post-race treat.  The park was totally rammed- it was the only Saturday we were there and seemed full of hen dos and locals on various versions of pub crawls (drinking around the world…. showcase), so we only went on a few rides in the end, watching the France film (both nearly fell asleep), going to see the Pixar shorts film, and then one last trip to Soarin’ to finish the holiday in style.

We left the park, drove to the airport, checked our luggage and had a wander before our first flight (to Miami). I’d packed the lavender spray and put that on my flight pillow and eye mask in the hope that it would help. I fell asleep on the internal flight for a bit, then our main flight was from Miami at 10pm (we nearly missed the fight because we found where we thought the departure gate was, but in fact the sign was for the gate and it was down some stairs, and by the time we realised there were more people downstairs they had nearly finished loading the plane so that was a bit of a panic for me), so I just put on my eye mask, loaded up some podcasts and went to sleep- the lavender spray helped but probably the 34,000 steps plus the super early start had something to do with it! They woke me up to ask me if I wanted dinner (I think because I had requested a veggie one) but that must have been about 11pm and after being up at half 3 I wasn’t fancying dinner!). I pretty much slept the entire time, waking up about 30 minutes before we landed.

The best snacks! We tried a caramel apple chai latte (which basically tasted like Philharmagic smells- I am glad we had it once, but once was enough!). delicious almond kringla from the Norway bakery, the cookie sandwich with pumpkin ice-cream, an almond banana soft serve from the food festival, a Dole Whip and our newest discovery of school bread (also from the Norway bakery).  Until next time Disney…

A half term trip to Florida

This is quite a long post – sorry! 

Last week on Friday we got the train to Gatwick, and then flew to Tampa on the Saturday. The flight was fine (lots of films to watch including a couple of new ones with Hearts Beat Loud and Leave No Trace, plus some Disney classics of Moana, Inside Out and The Lion King to get me in the Disney mood), but we must have queued for a good hour at immigration after. Anyway, after picking up the car and a quick supermarket stop, we drove to Orlando and checked in to our first hotel- Pop Century, which is themed around the culture of each decade.

Thanks to the wonder of jet lag, I was awake pretty early on Sunday so treated myself to a run around the hotel grounds- there was a big lake with signs for the running route so I ran around it a few times, avoiding the path closest to the water because of all the signs about alligators and snakes. There are signs all around there about different things that happened (from when certain films were released to when toys were first marketed and technologies invented and so on) so it was good to keep me entertained while I ran around. I was worried about it being hot but it was fairly cool at that point before the sun came up. I then managed to get lost, because although I had remembered the room number, I had forgotten to check the building number. I messaged Andy but he didn’t see it, and so in the end I had to just try my luck (thankfully I was right first time).

We had to check out that morning as we were transferring to the Contemporary resort (the one that the monorail goes through) and so one w had checked in there, we had the luxury of being able to walk to Magic Kingdom. Because of it nearly being Halloween, there were pumpkins and decorations everywhere (this also meant that the park closed early unless you had tickets for the party, so we had to plan which day we would see the Magic Kingdom fireworks).

The decorations were very impressive, and we managed to get on a lot of rides too. We used the Disney app which meant we could book Fast Pass tickets 3 (?) months in advance (and for the big rides, they go straight away)- then once you had used your final one of the day, you could log on and book more for that day. Andy spent a lot of time in queues getting us more passes!

Philharmagic is one of my favourite attractions- it’s a 3D theatre show with clips from some of the classics- Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aladdin, but we also went on Pirates, Small World, Peter Pan and the classic Tiki Room. We could not resist getting a dole whip float- you can only get them at Disney or  in Hawaii- it’s sort of pineapple soft serve  on top of pineapple juice and it is so refreshing (but huge- we shared it although our philosophy with snacks is to share them so we get to try twice as many things…)

The park was hosting a Halloween party so we went back to the hotel, popped to Disney Springs for an Earl of Sandwich and a pootle around the shops, and then headed to Epcot for the evening- it’s my favourite park, especially for the fireworks (which sadly are ending next summer). We had time to do the Nemo ride, see the manatees and watch the fireworks.

I also found a Totoro bag in the Japan shop <3 (also how cool are the Minnie Vans? Sort of ubers for getting around Disney…)

Monday was time for Animal Kingdom as we had passes for one of the newest rides, a boat ride through the Avatar land- very pretty and relaxing. I haven’t been there for years as for our last few trips to Disney we have missed that park out, so it was good to go back and see The Lion King show (live singing and dancing). We did some of the walks around the animal enclosures and the safari ride, and even got some lunch there. Veggie options were always so poor, but we found a place that did hummus with veggie sticks and mini pitta breads so we shared that. Then it was back to Magic Kingdom as it was one of the days there wasn’t a party so we could stay for the fireworks (plus rides on Buzz Lightyear, Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Cruise). We had a photo pass included in our booking, so we could get photos by the Disney photographers. We had seen online that in the newish land there were all these lanterns (like at the end of Tangled) and it was a good spot for a photo at night, so we queued for a while there to get a picture taken.

It always looks so pretty at night. The fireworks show was a new (to me) one, about dreams coming true. They had some cool music medleys with various Disney songs, and lots of projections into the castle as well as fireworks.

On Tuesday morning we were off somewhere, which I’ll get to another time (I’ll stick with Disney today) and then in the afternoon walked back to Magic Kingdom. This time our treat of choice was a cookie sandwich- the bakery on the Main Street does them with fresh chocolate chip cookies and your choice of ice-cream (we went for pumpkin).

We sat there and shared it while the parade was going past, and then had a bit of a chilled out afternoon going on some of the classics like Carousel of Progress, the  People Mover, Philharmagic, the Muppets outdoor show about the  declaration of independence, before going out for dinner and then going to Epcot for Soarin’ (which had changed- it isn’t just California any more, it goes all over the world with lots of CGI and so in my opinion isn’t quite as magical as it was before) and the fireworks.

On Wednesday we went to Hollywood Studios in the morning for the Toy Story ride (so much fun), I watched the Beauty and the Beast show while Andy did Rock and Rollercoaster and the Tower of Terror, we both went to the Little Mermaid show, saw the Muppets show and went on the Star Wars ride and then queued up to meet BB8.

Then it was back to Epcot for more fun (Soarin’ again, because I still love it even if it isn’t as good), the Canada show and the ride in Mexico.

The Food and Wine festival was going on while we were there, and I thought it might be interesting to see, but it surpassed by expectations. There were loads of food stalls (but they looked permanent) dotted all around the world showcase, each with 3 food offerings (plus lots of drinks)- they were sort of tasting plates, so usually around $4 which isn’t too bad. After looking at some of the menus the other day, we had decided to have a small breakfast and then share a few items for a late lunch/early dinner. We got some lovely sundried tomato hummus with little almond crackers, a gigantic German pretzel, some shaved ice,  and then some amazing guacamole and chips.

The decoration was brilliant too, and it had the atmosphere of a Christmas market or something, with people milling around and eating/drinking.

Of course we watched the fireworks too- I shall never get tired of that show.

On Thursday morning I’d pencilled in a run, as we had booked a breakfast in the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian hotel, but I didn’t realise it was quite that early (8.30am) so I saved my legs for walking around the parks. Breakfast was amazing and I have no doubt we will go there again. We shared two dishes- I got the tropical fruit plate, and Andy got some banana-stuffed French toast (they even put the bacon on the side so it wouldn’t touch the food) which came with the most amazing fruity sauce.

After getting the boat across the water to Magic Kingdom (noticing that overnight the pumpkins had gone, being replaced by Christmas decorations!), we walked back to the hotel, checked out (we were moving to Coronado Springs) and drove out to the Wide World of Sports for the race expo.

The expo was just on such a huge scale- number pick up was in one building, t-shirt pickup was in another, with vendors in one place and Disney stuff in another, there were signs for the queues for the merchandise… crazy. It only started on the Thursday so I think we were lucky to get there before it got too busy.  Our race shirts were long sleeved, and I also got myself a Run Disney vest and jacket, as well as a cool little pouch thing to use when my leggings don’t have pockets.

Then we had a speedy shop- visiting Bath and Bodyworks in one shopping mall for me to top up my supply of hand sanitsers, and then a few clothes shops in another (some trainers, leggings, a penguin Christmas t-shirt and jumper for me) before racing to Animal Kingdom as we had passes for the other new Avatar ride. This one was really weird- a bit like Soarin’ where you were looking at a big screen, but instead of being in a seat, you sat on a sort of bicycle thing and were clamped in from the back. The idea was some sort of dragon ride around the Avatar planet, and it was so realistic that you could feel the dragon “breathing” between your legs. I was very nervous as I don’t like rollercoasters, but I would do that ride again. Another safari visit and the Up bird show, and then it was time to go to Magic Kingdom (we did park hop a lot!) for the fireworks (and managed to fit in the Buzz Lightyear ride and the Haunted Mansion too- up until now the queues had been crazy, and then once we were at the front of the line and the whole ride got evacuated so we did wonder if we’d ever make it). I was so shattered by the time we checked in to the hotel and then I saw the signs for the race buses- runners had to be on them before 4am on the Saturday morning. I did wonder if we had made a bit of a mistake at that point.

On Friday we had an early Fast Pass for Test Track but then before we were leaving got an email saying the ride had stopped so our passes would be valid all day if it was fixed, or on something else if not. This meant we could have a slightly later start. Earlier in the week we had looked at the Norway bakery and seen some amazing looking foods, so had decided to head there for breakfast, sharing an almond Kringla (a bit like a soft pretzel I suppose)- we kept seeing people buy school bread, so after googling them, decided to share one of those too. This was a very good idea. They are basically cardamom spiced buns filled with confectioners custard and topped with toasted coconut. So good.

More rides (Nemo/ seeing the manatees/ Spaceship Earth to hear Judy Dench say “math”) and then a quick whizz over to Disney Springs to look in the art shop and get a few gifts for family, plus an Earl of Sandwich for dinner, and then we went back to the hotel for a rest and to pack as much as possible, plus get our race bits out. This was the only rain of the week- it poured as we drove back to the hotel from Disney Springs, so we had to make a run for it from the car- perfect timing as by the time we were packed it had stopped. It was our last night and there were Star Wars fireworks at 8.30pm and Hollywood studios and then the Epcot ones at 10pm, so we decided to see both of them, especially as it would be our last chance for Illuminations and we both really love that show. We even managed to do the Toy Story ride again. We did have our most disappointing snack- we’d seen a peanut butter cupcake in the bakery at Hollywood Studios and decided we would share it, but it turned out to be chocolate, with weird white icing and then just sort of peanut sprinkles covering the icing, so it looked like peanut butter icing but it was just weird white stuff in disguise! Ah well, at least we know not to bother with a cake next time!

I’ll save Saturday and the race for another post as this has gone on rather a lot!

Have you ever been to Disney? If so, which is your favourite park? While the Magic Kingdom is very Disney (and yes, magical), I think Epcot would win if I could only go to one. What type of rides do you like? I don’t like rollercoasters so I think Disney is pretty good for me as they do thrill rides but in such clever ways, so there aren’t too many rides I won’t do. Do you get disappointed by snacks?  That cupcake did annoy me because it just looked and sounded so good, but it was really just OK.