Posts Tagged by Cinderella’s Castle
|December 16, 2014||Posted by Running at Disney under Walt Disney World|
Christmas is a little over a week away…can you believe it?!? I’ve never really been a HUGE fan of Christmas, but I’ve always wanted to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party because I love the look of the lights on Cinderella’s Castle and the idea of it snowing on Main Street. Well this year I got the chance and since the Christmas season is now in full swing, I thought I would share some Disney holiday cheer!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a hard ticket event held at the Magic Kingdom on select night in November and December. While many of the decorations and events like the castle lighting show happens every night during the holiday season, there are many events and photo opportunities that are unique to the party. Check out some of the fun decorations up and down Main Street.
Cinderella’s Castle is lit up with thousands of beautiful icicle lights and get turned on just after dusk by the characters of Frozen. You can catch a glimpse of Olaf here!
There are special character photo ops all around the park including a brand new appearance by Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws!! The wait for a photo was over 2 hours long so I didn’t wait, but people were THRILLED! I personally found him to look like a creepy alien, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t get on line.
Unique shows like the Jingle Jungle Cruise and holiday versions of typical shows take place. Check out all the pirates in Christmas garb.
There is a unique Holiday Wishes fireworks show and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade!
FREE cookies and hot chocolate all around the park!! You can find the stations by these huge inflated candy canes…I was clearly thrilled by this 🙂
And finally…it snows on Main Street!! Yup, in Florida, it’s snowing. This is the kind of snow I can get behind! No shoveling and moderate temperatures…woohoo!
So even this non-Christmas lover can’t help but get in the season when at the Magic Kingdom. I just wish I could spend the entire season there and not deal with the crowds, shopping, etc… Oh well, at least I have these great photos to look at to get me in the holiday mood 🙂 Hope you have enjoyed them too!
|February 4, 2013||Posted by Running at Disney under Guest Posts, Race Recaps, runDisney Races, WDW Marathon Weekend|
Big congrats to my good friend Jillian Hoffman for completing her first half marathon! We ran our first 5K together back in 2010 and look how far we’ve come!! I am so excited to have her here on RAD to share her experience. Take it away girl…
Hi All! I’m Jillian and can’t wait to share my experience of running my first ever half marathon during Marathon Weekend!
Let’s go back to Marathon Weekend 2010. I participated in the 5k that weekend, my first race ever! I had so much fun and knew that I wanted to run a half marathon…eventually. Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2012 just a few weeks before my 29th birthday. Every one kept asking what my resolutions were. Without even hesitating I said “to run the DisneyWorld Half Marathon in 2013 right before I turn 30.” And here’s my story of doing just that!
I spent all year training and even dealt with a severely strained psoas (hip) injury that sidelined me for almost 2 months back in Oct/Nov. So needless to say leading up to the race I had tons of anxiety about my injury and of course like so many others, came down with a cold the week before the race. Thank goodness that by Friday morning when I hopped on a flight down to Florida I was feeling much better.
The day before the race was a whirlwind! My friend Jen was joining me on this trip to run the half as well. After our flight landed in Orlando we hopped on Magical Express, checked into our room, and headed over to the Expo. We quickly got our race bibs (anxiety set in big time right there), then headed over to the Expo for some shopping. We dropped everything off in our room and it was already time for dinner with my parents who were down to cheer me on. We ate at Delmonico Italian Steakhouse, which isn’t too far off property and I can’t recommend it enough. We filled up on pasta & Lasagna Chips, the most amazing thing we’ve ever eaten!!
We got back to the room 7:30pm and had just enough time for showers, stretching (you bet I brought my foam roller with me!), and putting out our race clothes before we went to sleep.
At the cruel hour of 2:30am the first alarm went off. After hitting snooze twice we finally got out of bed around 2:45am. Both of us did some more stretching, chugged down bottles of water, and I ate my breakfast of 2 slices of whole wheat bread w/natural peanut butter and honey drizzled on it. We got dressed, put together our bag, and headed out the door. Since Jen is a way more experienced runner than I, we planned to just check her bag with both of our things since she was going to finish about an hour before me.
After making sure we had everything, it was off to the buses. One was pulling up just as we were getting to the stop so we made a quick run for it to make sure we got on. We were staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort so it was a quick ride over to Epcot. On the long walk from where the buses dropped us off to the pre-race area, I started to get really emotional! Everything I had worked on all year was about to be put to the test. As Jen saw me starting to tear up, she said exactly what I needed, “Stop being a whiney (insert expletive here haha), suck it up, you’re gonna rock this! Look how far you’ve come!!” We laughed but that was exactly what I needed to get me pumped up and ready! We met up with some friends to say hellos and good lucks.
We took a few bathroom breaks and checked our bag. Once through the bag check, insanity ensued! You could barely move! It took us over 20 minutes to walk from the bag check to our corral!
Jen was supposed to start in corral C but was awesome and moved back to start with me in F. God bless that girl because I would have freaked just standing around by myself! While waiting we stretched some more, chugged down more water, and started taking GU & Shotbloks.
Pretty soon fireworks were going off all around us as the race had officially started!!!
About a half hour after that first start our corral started moving on up to the start line!! Ahhhh here we go!!
This was it!! I was about to start running my first half marathon!! I was excited, nervous, elated, you name it!! Goofy & Donald were there and all of sudden it was time to go!!!
I was doing intervals of 2 mins running/2 mins walking as per my doctors instructions since this was going to be my longest run since the psoas injury. As soon as I hit my first walk interval Jen gave me a big hug and was off running! Side note: That chick finished in 2:16:05 and that was with 2 bathroom stops! Yeah girl!!
The first few miles went great!! So great in fact that I did my fastest 5k since before the injury! I was happy and taking pictures of things as I passed. I just couldn’t believe I was running a half marathon!!!
Heading into the TTC at mile 4 I was still feeling good and getting really excited that I wasn’t too far from the Magic Kingdom!
Coming down the hill just before the Contemporary there was a DJ in duck wings cheering us on! I couldn’t help but smile running down that hill!
Then we passed mile 5 and started making our way into the Magic Kingdom! I was already getting emotional. I took out my camera to take some pics as I was coming down Main Street…
Once on Main Street, I started looking for my friends Shelley & Betsy. I soon spotted them but Shelley started pointing at something. I looked over and my best friend Kelly was there!! I started bursting into tears because I could not believe that she surprised me!! Thank goodness my friend Shalon caught this moment on video. I cry every time I look at it!
After hugs & tears, I ran off with a renewed sense of spirit! I seriously loved the time in the Magic Kingdom!! I took lots of pictures and was able to use the bathroom in Tomorrowland with a very minimal wait! I also was able to get in a quick photo with Alice & the Red Queen since it was the only short line I saw the whole race!
Running through the castle was amazing! It got a little congested but seriously, it was so cool!!
After that I passed by Tiana & Louis…
On my way through Frontierland…
And out the back entrance…by the garbage! They tried to spiff it up with Cinderella and the castle float…
But the 10k mark, the water/powerade station, & port-a-pottys were all right there by the garbage! Seriously Disney?! It stunk so bad and I had such a hard time getting down my water. After that it got very tight too. I tried to keep to my intervals as best as I could but my running ones were almost as slow and my walking because there was just nowhere to go. A little after mile 7 it opened up but my hip started to hurt a bit. I stopped right after the Clif Bar station to stretch a little then continued on. Then next 2 miles were the worst of the whole race for me. It was just a long straight road with no entertainment, the sun blaring hot in my face, and trying to push through the pain. I want to give you all an honest look at how I felt so please try not to laugh too hard at my mile 8/9 pictures.
I had a serious moment of “OMG I’m not going to finish.” But just as I was approaching mile 10 I got a text from Jen saying “Babe, ur right on track to finish!!! Ur doing AMAZING!! Keep it up, almost done!!!” It was what I needed; I perked right up and hit a few awesome spots in the race! As I was coming up the overpass the Green Army Men were shouting at us to pick it up and get to that finish line! So I snapped a quick pic and got on up that hill!
As we were running over the bridge I saw nothing but a sea of people running where I had just come from. I know this may sound awful but seeing that gave me confidence that I was going to finish; I wasn’t last! The next confidence boost came from this fabulous woman right before mile 11. She ran up next to me and tapped me on the shoulder. I pulled out my ear buds and she says “Can I just say that you look amazing! You barely look like you’re sweating and I’m such a hot sweaty mess. You go girl! You so got this.” I laughed and thanked her and told her I could just hug her right now but I can promise I’m as sweaty as you and I’m sure you don’t want to feel that! Folks, this is why I love runDisney races! The camaraderie and all the encouragement! So if that lady was you, THANK YOU, you got me through those last 2.1 miles.
Honestly, I was really feeling great at this point. The pain in my hip wasn’t so bad, I know that I had properly hydrated and fueled along the course, and I knew my parents were going to be there at the end to cheer me on! Now we were coming into Epcot. Phineas & Ferb were rocking out and cheering us on with a DJ…
And I had just 1 more mile to go!!!!!
I called my parents & Jen to let them know I was making my way into Epcot and to find out where they were standing. Hearing my Dad’s voice and him telling me I’m almost there was all I needed. I was about to be a half marathoner!
The time in Epcot went so fast!! Before I knew it I was coming up to mile 13 and the sounds of the Gospel Choir.
Just past mile 13 was my parents and all my friends!! They were all jumping and cheering!
It was so amazing and I knew that finish line was coming! I started tearing up! I did it! I set my goal and I accomplished it!
My friend Rora was the one to give me my medal and a huge hug!! She let me have a good cry, gave me another hug and sent me on my way to get my powerade and food. I couldn’t believe it! I did it! I really did it!!
I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I’m ready to take the next step! I’m already signed up for the Double Dumbo Dare in Disneyland and I have a feeling my friends are going to convince me to run the full marathon next January!
|January 29, 2013||Posted by Running at Disney under Race Recaps, runDisney Races, WDW Marathon Weekend|
So I left of in the days leading up to the marathon recovering from a cold and nervous as hell about this race. Oh…did I fail to mention that? Yeah, I was NERVOUS!
My alarm went off at the oh so lovely hour of 2:30 am and even though I only had 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I popped right up. I didn’t sleep very well and I think I was running purely on adrenaline. I stuck with my nutrition plan and made an english muffin with almond butter and a cup of green tea. I also downed one last cup of Emergen-C and took some immune system booster vitamins.
I was happy I took the time the night before to lay out all of my clothes and the supplies that I would need to get ready. It made getting ready much less stressful. I taped up my legs and hip flexor with KT Tape, slathered on a ton of Body Glide (TMI?) and got dressed. I made sure my fuel belts were stocked and recheck the bag of supplies I was having B bring me later in the race. I was as ready as I was going to be…let’s do this!
I met up with a bunch of other media folks in the lobby of the hotel and we hitched a ride over to the Epcot parking lot. We were given the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the starting line before any of the runners arrived. It was so cool to see the event staff getting set up and ready for those 25,000 runners to arrive. I’m a logistics geek…what can I say? We were also able to watch many of the pre-race interviews (sadly I didn’t get to interview Joey Fatone 🙁 ) and see the wheelchair racers get set up.
The runners started piling into the corrals and what was a ghost town one second was FULL the next. This meant it was time to get going. We were brought back to the starting corrals and patiently waited for the race to start.
Before I knew it, the National Anthem was being sung and the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon was minutes away from starting. The most moving thing I saw during the day happened during the National Anthem. Just behind me a man stoically raised an American flag and quietly stood there as the Anthem was being sung. I have no idea if he was a war veteran or just a very patriotic citizen, but it was an amazing show of patriotism. I was wondering what he did with the flag after the Anthem. Did he run the entire marathon with it?!
Before I knew it Mickey began the countdown, the fireworks went off and the marathon was underway. Please forgive the foul language in the following video…I couldn’t contain myself!
Before I got sick, my goal time to finish the race was 6 hours. I knew that this might not be a possibility now, plus I knew the weather was going to slow me down a bit. The forecast had been saying it was going to be in the low 80s with high humidity, which are less than ideal running conditions. I decided to go at my steady 3 minute run/ 1 minute walk pace for as long as I could and then just go with the flow. My goal on that day became to just finish.
The first 5 miles went by incredibly fast. I kept a steady 13 minute per mile pace and I was feeling really good! Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy that first stretch of World Drive after the first mile of the race. It’s flat and a great place to really get your stride. Oh and you have this great sight straight ahead, which always makes me run faster! (I apologize in advance for any blurry photos and video…I was movin’!!)
I was so excited to see Jack & Sally near the TTC, but the line had at least 20 people and I didn’t want to waste that much time. I decided that I wasn’t going to stop for character photos if the lines were long (most lines were very long!) because I knew I was going to need all of the time I could get on the back end.
The 5 mile marker was just outside of the Magic Kingdom and I crossed that at 1:07. I was feeling awesome and was so excited to get into the park! This was my favorite part of the Princess Half Marathon. When you enter Main Street USA and see all of those people cheering from you, you can’t help but get a little emotional. It’s quite amazing…
I was so excited to see the WDW Radio crew right ahead of me cheering like crazy! My friend Suzannah saw me and called out my name…it is so amazing to see a familiar face, so thank you Suzannah for that!
As I turned that corner to see Cinderella’s Castle, I couldn’t help but smile. They had kept the holiday lights on the castle just for the races…what a beautiful sight! Further down Main Street, I also saw my friends Jillian and Kelly. Jillian just ran her first half marathon the day before (congrats girl!) and it was so great to see her out there cheering all of us on 🙂
The course winds through a lot of the Magic Kingdom. From the hub you head right through Tomorrowland and through New Fantasyland where there are a TON of character meet and greets! Of course the best part of the Magic Kingdom is running through Cinderella’s Castle. And what better way to do it than to be greeted by trumpeters!!
From there we wound through Liberty Square where I saw this guy with the best costume of the day…full on Snow White!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the best thing about Disney races are the real bathrooms! When you go through any of the parks, all of the bathrooms are open so make sure to make a pit stop here instead of at one of the Portalets. My favorite restroom in the Magic Kingdom is the one between Frontierland and Adventureland. It’s very large so you have less of a change of waiting in line.
The next few miles were fairly uneventful as we left the Magic Kingdom and headed toward the Walt Disney World Speedway. The course did get very congested here as we were down to just one lane, so I had to stop and walk more frequently than I would’ve liked. People were actually going on the other side of the cones, which was very dangerous because of oncoming traffic. Don’t do this during a race…
The Speedway was a new element to the marathon for this year and was just after mile 8. To get into the Speedway, there is a very steep downhill and uphill that proved to be a bit difficult for some runners. But when we entered the track, we were greeting to the beautiful sight of the sun rising.
I’m not a big car person, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the Speedway all that much, but it was actually one of my favorite parts of the entire course! It was a completely different experience from anywhere else I have run before. All along the track vintage and race cars were lined up and their owners were out there cheering…it was really cool! As you could expect, various stars from the movie Cars made an appearance here as well!
Mile 9 came at the end of the race track and I knew we were now in for a long boring 3 miles up to Animal Kingdom. The course goes up Bear Island Road which is pretty secluded (were we still on WDW property?!), but runDisney did a good job of placing various photo stops and entertainment along the way. Santa’s reindeer and the toy soldiers were even out…they must be on their post Christmas vacation. We also ran past the water treatment facility, which was just a gorgeous sight 😉
At this point in the day, the sun was starting to peak over the trees and the heat was creeping up. We made the approach into Animal Kingdom and to my surprise there were a ton of animals out! Now I’m a big animal lover and I have a small obsession with goats. So of course I bee-lined for one of the goats and asked the handler to take my picture with him….he looked at me kind of funny due to my excitement and how I hugged the goat, but whatever…
I immediately regretted this because now my hands smelled like goats. Kind of gross when you want to wipe the sweat off of your face. As soon as we entered the park, I stopped at the bathroom just outside Expedition Everest to wash my hands and splash some water on my face.
I had seen in prior marathons that runners have stopped to ride Expedition Everest during the race and I so wanted to do this! This is one of my favorite attractions and where else can you ride a roller coaster during a marathon?!? I was sad to see that the attraction wasn’t running yet so I had to just keep going 🙁 I know that is was open later in the day because I say ride photos. But looking back, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t ride because I’m not sure I could have gotten up afterwards!
As we exited Animal Kingdom, we reached mile 13. I had reached the halfway point in the race in 3:08 and was really happy with that time. It was a little over my original goal of 3 hours for the half and I was still feeling good at this point. No major pain, no chafing, still had energy…yeah! Oh how things were about to change…
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap!!
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media. My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.
|November 1, 2012||Posted by Running at Disney under runDisney Races|
Women are now leading the pack when it comes to the sport of running! According to Running USA, the percentage of female participants in running events across the U.S. has increased by nearly 8% in the past seven years to a majority of 55%. This is a pretty amazing statistic for a sport that didn’t even have women specific apparel until the late 1970s when three friends stitched two jock straps together to create the first sports bra. Thank you ladies!
Women-only running events (95% or greater female) are on the rise as well, with over 200 events in 2011. Women of all ages, all shapes and sizes, and all athletic abilities are coming together to take on the challenge of conquering a long distance run. There is a sense of camaraderie and a lack of inhibition at these events that have women flocking to run. In fact, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon had over 13,000 women finishers last year, making it the second largest women-only event in the country.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Tammy Jacobson from runDisney‘s marketing department about not only the popularity of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon, but also the increase in women participating in all runDisney events. Like many runDisney events, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon began as a way to fill the attendance gap at the Walt Disney World resort during a slow time of the year. Building on the success of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, this event combined the growing trend of women participating in running events with the popularity of Disney’s Princesses to create a one of a kind race. Participants not only get to don tutus and tiaras, but they can run through Cinderella’s Castle and meet Prince Charming while running 13.1 miles. This race has now become THE event for a fun girls weekend and is also the race of choice for many first timers. I know from experience, since this was my first half marathon. There is something a little less intimidating about running a half marathon when you are surrounded by smiling ladies in tutus 🙂
This popularity of runDisney events among women runners has sparked other events, such as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland which debuted in January 2012. This event is also centered around women and the 2013 race sold out to over 14,000 runners in just under a month this past summer. That is record breaking time! But this increase in popularity among women is not just for the women-only events that runDisney holds. For the first time in it’s 20 year history, the sold out 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon has more women than men participants…amazing! I’m so proud
and terrified to be one of those women!!
So what is making these runDisney events so appealing to women? Well the most obvious answer is the bling…we all love that bling. But there is so much more than that. Women have the ability to build family vacations around these race weekends and incorporate their family into the fun! Most race weekends include a Family Fun Run 5K and Kids Races that can get the whole family involved.
runDisney has also created many strategic partnerships over the years to make the sport of running more accesible to the everyday woman…someone (like me!) who may not have a ton of time to devote to training but is determined to conquer that 13.1 (or 26.2) miles. There is now a runDisney mom on the Walt Disney World Mom’s Panel to answer any of those travel planning questions around the events and they have also brought a nutritionist, Tara Gidus, on board to provide valuable nutrition tips for training and during the races.
By far the best partnership has been with Jeff Galloway. His Run-Walk-Run method has proven to be INCREDIBLY successful in helping people finish these races, myself included. It helps to ease fatigue and save muscle strength in order to push you though those long miles without getting tired. He also provides many valuable tips on training, running night races, and how to stay motivated.
But in my opinion, social media is what has played the biggest part in the growth of the runDisney brand over the past few years. There is a constant dialogue over networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram between runners reliving past races, sharing photos, and building up anticipation to the next race. runDisney is jumping in the social media game as well with the recent creation of the runDisney Twitter account and Facebook page. As Jacobson says, “Our runners are our family” and the daily interaction they have with participants through these mediums helps to make that more of a reality. They have also launched numerous interactive campaigns to get the fans more involved, such as the Choose the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Shirt Design, the Great Medal Caper for the reveal of the 2oth Anniversary Marathon Medal, and most recently the Run Like a Princess Sweepstakes to win a night in the Cinderella’s Castle Suite over Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I can’t think of a better way to entice more female runners to participate in a runDisney event than a chance to stay in Cinderella’s Castle!
Running has changed my life in the past year and I know I can say the same is true for many of my female friends. It started as a way to get healthy, but has turned into so much more. runDisney has obviously played a huge part in that journey for me and I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the chance to run through those parks, there is NO WAY I would even attempt to run a marathon elsewhere. I’m just happy my girls will be there to support me 🙂
So ladies, I want to hear from you! Why did you start running? What is your favorite race? Do you prefer women-only events?
Running USA (2012, May 9). 2012 State of the Sport Part I: Growth of Women’s Running. Retrieved October 30, 2012 from Running USA website: http://www.runningusa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=334&returnTo=annual-reports