Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To RunDisney... or not to RunDisney... that is the question!

There are a variety of RunDisney events offered throughout the year. Whether you are visiting Florida or California, a runner/walker has options. The distances offered vary depending on the events, but most offer a several different distances. The distances are typically a combination of 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), and full marathon (26.2 miles). If you take part in a half marathon or longer on each coast, there is an offering called the Coast 2 Coast Challenge. This challenge gets you a special medal. There is a pink medal one for those who finish the Princess and Tinker Bell Half Marathons and a blue medal for any other East/West combination. Below is a breakdown of the events offered, so inevitably, there is something for everyone! 

The events begin with expos showcasing runner goodies from RunDisney as well as fit2run, Champion, race photos, and other race-themed vendors. Other pre-race activities from RunDisney include runner gatherings at various events. Star Wars Weekend offers the Wookiee Welcome party, a Star Wars themed part in Tomorrowland with Disney characters and desserts.  A Pasta in the Park party, offered at the Marathon, Princess, and Tinkerbell Weekends, features a buffet-style pasta dinner with character appearances. Wine & Dine offers an ‘exclusive’ after party in EPCOT available after you cross the finish line and enter EPCOT. The Marathon weekend features a Cool Down party which takes place at Downtown Disney on Sunday afternoon. Don’t use all your energy for the running, you have to party too!

A typical weekend involves attending the expo to pick up your race packet and other goodies. There is no day of race pickup for race bibs, which local races often offer. The events can start as early as 5:30 am, except Wine & Dine and 10 miler which start at 10 pm. Disney does offer race day transportation at Walt Disney World events; however, at Disneyland transportation is up to the runners. Once at the start area, runners are typically encouraged to begin entering the corrals approximately 1-2 hours prior to the race start. Due to the capacity of the events, there are multiple starts so each corral has their own ‘start’ and your time is based on when you cross the starting line. After the run, the day is yours to spend in the park, relaxing at the hotel, or heading home.

In addition to the events listed below, in 2015, RunDisney has rolled out the Castaway Challenge. The runner must sign up and participate in any 5k or longer during Marathon Weekend or Princess Weekend. Then book a cruise on the Disney Dream for a 4-night Bahamian Cruise on the following Monday. The runner must also sign up for the Castaway Cay 5k through Runners who complete the Marathon Weekend or Princess Weekend events and the Castaway Cay 5k will be awarded a special Castaway Challenge Finisher Medal.

One thing to note about the runDisney events is they are of a different crowd and they tend to be more crowded than local races. While these events do have runners that focus on time, I would say most are there for the Disney experience. What other races do you have the opportunity to stop and take a picture with characters? Or run through a castle? Get pictures at Disney with little to no guests in them? What I am trying to say is – please don’t go in expecting a personal record. It may happen, but don’t let your time ruin that fact that you started and finished a race. Now, get to the parks, show off that bling, and have the best day ever!

Race: Kids Races
Year Started: n/a
Dates: Half Marathon Events
Distances: Diaper Dash, 100m, 200m, 400m, and mile
Challenge Offered: no
The Skinny:

                RunDisney even has events for the little ones who dream big. The Kids Races at Walt Disney World take place at the Wide World of Sports Complex, while Disneyland offers them at the Downtown Disney District or Simba Parking lot. The races offered are listed below and begin with the 100m dash. These events are for youngsters; however, parents are able to participate with them. Sorry to give some bad news to parents, only the youngsters get medals.
o   Diaper Dash (crawlers) -12 months and under
o   100m dash – 1-3 years old
o   200m dash – 4-6 years old
o   400m dash – 7-8 years old
o   Mickey Mile – 13 and under 

Race: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Year Started: 1994
Dates: Early January
Distances: EVERYTHING (i.e. Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and kids races)
Challenge Offered: Goofy Challenge & Dopey Challenge
The Skinny:
The first events on the RunDisney calendar takes place in January at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. The Marathon weekend starts on Thursday with the 5k, and finishes Sunday with the Marathon. For runners looking for an extra challenge (and extra bling), there are two multi-race challenges. “Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge”, combines the half marathon full marathon for a total of 39.3 miles. If that isn’t enough mileage, the Dopey Challenge, which began in 2014 includes all 4 races … that’s 48.6 magical miles. “Dopey” runners get finishers medals for all 4 races as well as the Goofy medal and a Dopey medal.

Race: Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend
Year Started: 2015
Dates: Mid-January
Distances: Half Marathon, 10k and 5k
Challenge Offered: Rebel Challenge
The Skinny:
                The Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland - takes place in January following the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. The half course weaves runners through Disneyland Park, California Adventure, and the streets of Anaheim. The 10k and 5k courses trek through Disneyland and California Adventure. If the force is strong with you, take on the Rebel Challenge – a combination of the 10k and half marathon. Just make sure to Let the Wookiee Win! 

Race: Walt Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Year Started: 2009
Dates: Late February
Distances: Half Marathon, 10k and 5k
Challenge Offered: Glass Slipper Challenge
The Skinny:
                The Princess Half Marathon weekend is the second Florida RunDisney event of the calendar. While this run is geared towards the Princesses, there are a handful of Princes that take it on. The Half course starts and finishes at EPCOT and weaves through Magic Kingdom, while the 10k & 5k are in and around Epcot. I intend to take on the challenge in 2015 – with my prince right beside me! 

Race: Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend
Year Started: 2008
Dates: May (Mother’s Day Weekend)
Distances: Half Marathon, 10k and 5k
Challenge Offered: Pixie Dust Challenge
The Skinny:
                Earn your wings with Tinker Bell and run straight on to Neverland! at the Disneyland Resort. For 2015, the races were moved from January to May to coincide with Mother’s Day, and a new 10k was added to create the Pixie Dust Challenge. Similar to other Disneyland half marathons, it is run through both parks and the streets of Anaheim. The 10k and 5k have magical courses through the Disneyland Resort. This is the 2nd event geared towards Princesses; however, Princes are welcome to participate. I will be participating in the new Pixie Dust Challenge – with that same prince from Princess Weekend right beside me!

Race: Expedition Everest Challenge
Year Started: 2008
Dates: Early May
Distances: 5k
Challenge Offered: no
The Skinny:
                Expedition Everest Challenge takes place during the night at Animal Kingdom and is a combination of 5k, obstacle course, and scavenger hunt. Runners are given the opportunity to run solo or on a 2 person team. Some obstacles that have been used in past events are jumping over hay bales, crawling under ropes, and a tire run.  The scavenger hunt is trivia questions offered in the different lands of Animal Kingdom, but you have to answer all 5 clues correctly to move on to the next challenge. Introduced in 2014 was the Family Edition, which requires a team of 2-6 people. It takes place at Wide World of Sports during the day and it offers a shorter run and scavenger hunt.

UPDATE: This event is having its last challengers in 2015.

Race: Disneyland Half Marathon
Year Started:
Dates: September (Labor Day Weekend)
Distances: Half Marathon, 10k and 5k
Challenge Offered: Dumbo Double Dare
The Skinny:
                The Happiest Place on Earth brings runners to Disneyland at the end of the summer for the ‘Happiest Race on Earth’. There truly is something magical about running a half through the original park, before continuing through California Adventure, the streets of Anaheim, and even Angel Stadium. The locals had a car show along some of the side streets for runners to enjoy on the course. The 10k starts on the streets of Anaheim before going through Disneyland Park, and California Adventure, while the 5k is run through Disneyland Park. 

Race: Tower of Terror 10 Miler
Year Started: 2012
Dates: Early October
Distances: 10 mile and 5k
Challenge Offered: no
The Skinny
                The 10 miler starts at Hollywood Studios, heads out towards Animal Kingdom, weaves through the sports fields at Wide World of Sports, then back to Hollywood Studios to finish by the Tower of Terror. The Happy Haunted 5k takes place at Wide World of Sports at the Track & Sports Fields. The inaugural event was in 2012 and that was my first ever long race – greater than 6 miles!

UPDATE: this event is suspended for 2015.

Race: Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Year Started: 2010
Dates: Early November
Distances: Half Marathon, 10k and 5k
Challenge Offered: no
The Skinny
                “A Runner’s Night Out” takes place the last weekend of the Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World. The half starts at Wide World of Sports, weaves through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and ends at EPCOT. While runners earn access, spectators are also encouraged to attend exclusive ‘after party’ at EPCOT with a special hard ticket. The 5k takes place on Saturday morning at Animal Kingdom. In 2012, this was my first ever half marathon and I had a blast – and have done almost all other RunDisney half marathons. This event started out as the “Race for the Taste” and consisted of a 10k and 3k but was amped up to a half marathon weekend in 2010. I participated in the last 3k event in 2009. 

Race: Avengers Half Marathon
Year Started: 2014
Dates: Mid-November
Distances: Half Marathon and 5k
Challenge Offered: no
The Skinny
                Hosted by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, RunDisney encourages ‘Avengers’ to assemble and unleash their inner super hero! This event takes place at Disneyland and had the inaugural weekend in November 2014. The half runs through Disneyland Park, California Adventure, Angel Stadium, and the streets of Anaheim, while the 5k runs through the 2 theme parks. This race is on my RunDisney bucket list – it’s the only Disney half I haven’t run!

So now I ask again... to RunDisney or not to RunDisney?? 


The long awaited arrival of Breakfast at Be Our Guest is finally here! I visited BOG on the second day of breakfast service and much to my surprise it went off without a hitch! (I always expect slow wait times or errors in the first few weeks of something new) Breakfast service runs EXACTLY like lunch service! You may pre-order your food before your trip or order when you get inside (we order inside because you may change your mind when have that menu in your hand). We managed to score an 8:30 am reservation for 8 people! Yes that meant we could get into Magic Kingdom a whole 30 minutes prior to opening! I love this option as we get some AMAZING photo opportunities without so many strangers coming home and hanging on our walls with us (see below). Breakfast at BOG has a set price (for now) of $19.99/adult and $11.99/Child. Every meal comes with a pastry platter as well (and boy were they ALL delicious!) The pastry platter included assorted muffins, croissants, chocolate chip croissants and cinnamon rolls. I have posted the menu below for you all to drool over. Be sure to add the BOG breakfast option in on your next Walt Disney World trip, it is well worth the price! 

By Travel Time Agent Rachel

Monday, March 16, 2015

Downtown Disney or "Disney Springs" Parking Garage

The Downtown Disney area is under construction and is a hot mess! This past weekend I shopped at Downtown Disney and parked in the new parking garage. The road will be widened and a second parking garage will be built soon.  

Disney says “the three- and four-story garages are a key component of a broader transportation overhaul that has been planned as part of the Downtown Disney expansion and will ease chronic traffic congestion in the area. That work includes a new extension off of an Interstate 4 exit ramp that will deposit cars directly into one of the garages.” (Orlando Sentinel)  How cool is that?  An exit ramp right into the parking garage! 

The garage itself is high tech.  There is a sign telling you how many parking spaces are available on each level.  Once you reach the level of your choice there are signs indicating how many parking spaces are open in each row!  Green lights shine above each open space!  Handicap spaces, close to the elevators and escalators are available on each level. 

As we walked out of the parking garage, near the AMC theater, we were directed all the way down the sidewalk until we allowed to cross near the Cirqe Du Soleil theater due to the construction.  This was as far away as we could possibly be from the MarketPlace where we wanted to shop.  We caught the water taxi boat that took us across the marina in just a few minutes! 

Don’t let the construction scare you off.  Downtown Disney is still open for shopping and dining.  Once you get past the construction on the roads and the construction near the parking garage everything is wonderful.  If you are staying at a Disney resort, be sure to use the bus transportation. Don’t forget about the water taxis if you need to reach the other end of the area.  

Parking garage on the left, Planet Hollywood on the right, the hot mess part is in the foreground.  

sign at the entrance

22 open spaces in this row

green lights indicate an open space

escalators and elevators take you to the ground level 

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Quick Winter Getaway...Vacation in your home with these drink recipes!

A Quick Winter Getaway... 

 It's been a cold and wet Winter in most of the US. So I decided I was in need of a warm getaway with my 2 sisters. We booked a 5 day Carnival cruise to Nassau and Little Stirrup Cay Bahamas. 

 First thing I was looking forward to was the On Board Embarkation Party, mostly the best lil frozen drink on board~ A Kiss On The Lips. If you like fruity frozen drinks, this is the one to enjoy. 

1 - 1 1/2 oz peach schnapps
4 - 6 ozfrozen mango mix
1 tbsp grenadine syrup

The mango mix should be blended with crushed ice firstly with the schnapps. Pour the schnapps and mango mix into a cocktail glass with the grenadine already placed at the bottom.

Not only did I enjoy a Kiss On the Lips, but my sister was dying for a Pina Colada! 

Ingredients3 ounces of rum
2 ounces Cream of Coconut
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
Crushed ice (enough to fill the serving glass).
Directions1. Add ice, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and rum to the Blender, Blend until smooth.
2. Pour into a Hurricane Glass and garnish.

Just kick back, enjoy a nice fruity frozen drink and enjoy the ocean views.