Posts Tagged by Crescent Lake

Kill, Refurb, Marry: Disney Parks Transportation

Kill-Marry-RefurbEven though I am a firm believer that you MUST have a car when visiting Walt Disney World, I still love Disney transportation.  There is something wonderful about seeing the monorail whizz by and to here the boat horns in the distance.  The busses always remind me of that time from my childhood when were were returning from a long day in the parks and a glow necklace I was playing with from the evening show broke and the liquid went in my eye.  Ahhhh the memories.  They are uniquely Disney and always bring a smile to my face.

So here we go with my choices to kill, refurb and marry the Disney Parks Transportation systems.

Kill – Friendship Boats

I actually love the Friendship Boats…they hold a sense of nostalgia in me.  Actually the entire Crescent Lake area is very nostalgic for me because that area was built around the time that I begin having strong memories of The World.  And really, it’s so gorgeous there, isn’t it?

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Disney-Friendship-Boat-Crescent-Lake-1

So how could I want to kill the Friendship Boats that are a staple here?  Because the are SO DAMN SLOW!!!  Oh man that thing just moves at a snails pace.  And have you ever been on one on a hot day and it sounds like the air conditioning is blasting, but it just feels like hot air blowing on you?  I mean, if I’m going to sweat I might as well walk to my destination because I will probably get there faster and burn some calories along the way.

Disney-Friendship-Boat-Epcot

I love the Friendship Boats but I think at this point they are beyond repair…they just need to be replaced.

Refurb – Monorail

There is nothing more iconically Disney than the Monorail.  It is a staple in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  However both could use and upgrade.

Disneyland-Love-Monorail

Let’s start with the original Monorail in Disneyland.  I love this thing!  The windows open and it winds through the trees and attractions in Tomorrowland…so fun!  However, it lacks air conditioning.  I happened to visit Disneyland once during a particularly hot streak and that monorail was like a sauna.  Simply having the windows open did not provide enough breeze to make it bearable.  An upgrade here is needed.

DLHalf-Monorail

Now my favorite Monorail is in Walt Disney World.  I could say “Por favor mantengase alejado de las puertas” by the age of 5.  That is still the only Spanish I know, but that is another story.

Disney-Monorail-1

I love flying high above the Seven Seas Lagoon and whizzing through the Contemporary Resort, but have you taken a whiff inside one of those things lately??  Whoa.  They smell musty and moldy.  Plus the air conditioning units drip on the seats!  Another upgrade please!

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Disney-Monorail-3

 Marry – Motor Launches

These are those smaller, classic looking boats that provide transportation between the Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge Resorts.  There is also a line that circles Bay Lake and stops at the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Resorts.

Disney-Magic-Kingdom-Bay-Lake-Boats

There is something so charming about these boats that get me very excited each time I get to ride one.  They seem like a through back to simpler times.  Plus, unlike their friend the Friendship Boat, these things are speedy.  It is definitely the fastest way to get around the Seven Seas Lagoon if you are going to the Poly or Grand Flo.  An added bonus is that because they are small, you typically will have a very friendly skipper to chat with on your journey.

Disney-Magic-Kingdom-Bay-Lake-Boats-2

So those are my choices…what about you??  What Disney Parks Transportation would you Kill, Refurb & Marry??  Make sure to visit This Happy Place BlogMouse on the Mind and all of the other great blogs participating in Kill, Refurb, Marry today!

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A Better Course for runDisney 10K Races at Walt Disney World

I’m not impressed with the current 10K race course at Walt Disney World.  After running my first 10K in Disneyland on the BEST race course I’ve ever run, I was incredibly disappointed when I saw what WDW had in store for their 10Ks.  When I actually ran the course in February during the Glass Slipper Challenge, it was exactly what I had expected…boooooooring for the first half and then fun for the second half.  For someone who always struggles through the first few miles, this long stretch of road on Epcot Center Drive was the worst thing.

WDW-10K-Medals-Better-Course

With Disney’s Hollywood Studios being so close to Epcot, I wondered why couldn’t this race go through both parks?  Was it too far?  So I headed over to Map My Run to see if it might be possible, and guess what??  It is!

WDW-10K-Medals-Better-Course-Map

Look at that…same start and finish line in the Epcot parking lot, but with a run through TWO parks.  It works perfectly!  Let’s check it out…

The first mile is the same as the current course as we head out East through the Epcot gates, but instead of making that sharp right onto Epcot Center Drive, we go left and head South on World Drive for about one mile.  I’ll admit, the first 2 miles or so are still pretty crappy, but the good news is that we are now entering the Studios at mile 2.5!

WDW-10K-World-Drive-Epcot-Leg1 copy

We enter backstage behind The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and we enter the park next to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (similar to the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Course).  We run up Sunset Boulevard, down Pixar place, up the Streets of America and then back down Hollywood Boulevard to the park exit.  That’s just about a mile in the park!  So instead of entering your first (and only) park at 3.5 miles, you’ve already been through one and are moving on to your second!

WDW-10K-Hollywood-Studios-Leg2

The course will then follow the jogging path down towards the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake.  We will go past the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and onto the International Gateway to enter World Showcase right at Mile 5.

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The final 1.2 miles will be spent in Epcot rounding World Showcase Lagoon (in the opposite direction from the current course), through Future World and back out into the parking lot for the finish!

WDW-10K-Epcot-Leg4

This course is exactly 6.2 miles and in my opinion MUCH more entertaining!

Will it cause some additional traffic problems on World Drive and Buena Vista Drive?  Probably.  But because it is a 10K, all the runners should be off of those roads by 7:00 am at the very latest…plenty of time before any of the parks open.

Will it be more costly to have to staff two parks for the race instead of one?  Sure.  But seriously, with all the money they are now charging for these races, I think they can probably spare the expense.

What do YOU think?  How do you feel about the current WDW 10K course?  Do you like my course idea? Where would your ideal WDW 10K take you?

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The Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge Part I – Disney Enchanted 10K

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When your flight gets indefinitely delayed the afternoon before you are about to take on a back to back race challenge, the panic begins to set in.  Will I make it?  Will I have to forego my registration for the first race?  Most importantly…will my vacation be cut short?!?

I found myself in this exact predicament on the Friday before I was about to take on the Glass Slipper Challenge during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  A thick fog had rolled into White Plains, NY and no planes were landing or taking off from our tiny little airport.  Our plane was diverted to Syracuse and we were patiently waiting for the fog to clear so it could come pick us up and take us to warmer climates.  Sigh…  After about 5 hours of waiting at the airport and frantic texts to Amanda who was waiting patiently to pick us up in Orlando, B and I finally got on the plane and headed south.

By the time we landed, grabbed a bite to eat, got to our hotel, unpacked and settled in, it was about 11:30 pm…MUCH later than I would’ve liked given that my alarm was set to go off at 3:30 am the next morning for the Enchanted 10K.  Luckily we had thought ahead and I had Amanda pick up my race packet earlier that day…phew!

We wearily rolled out of bed, got dressed in record time and headed over to Epcot for day 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Because we didn’t have time to stop at the store the night before, I didn’t have any food to fuel up with that morning and I was starving.  Thankfully there were food trucks!  I grabbed a banana and was good to go…I don’t know how that egg and cheese bagel would’ve sat during a 10K!

01 Enchanted 10K

03 Enchanted 10K

02 Enchanted 10K

We arrived very close to the start time so after inhaling the banana and making a quick pit stop, we headed into our corral.  I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling great about this race.  I had hoped to be better rested, but things don’t always go as planned.  So we decided that we were going to tackle the Inaugural Enchanted 10K with smiles on our faces no matter what!

All of a sudden, our corral was moving, fireworks were going off and the race had begun!

05 Enchanted 10K

The first half of the course was boooooooring.  These are always the most difficult miles for me as I get moving and all I kept thinking about was how I couldn’t wait to get into World Showcase.  However we did see Elsa from Frozen soon we left the starting line…

06 Enchanted 10K

And the sight of  thousands of runners pouring out of the Epcot toll booths was pretty cool…

07 Enchanted 10K

But that was about it until…

08 Enchanted 10K

Yay!  World Showcase Lagoon!  Can you see the humidity in the air?  Yowza

From here on, the race was a blast!  There were sights to see and characters everywhere.

09 Enchanted 10K

010 Enchanted 10K

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I even snuck in a photo with my favorite character Marie without standing in line!  Amanda has all the tricks 😉

A quick tour around the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake made for very tempting pit stops…

013 Enchanted 10K

I said hi to a few friends, including my girl Cindy, in front of the Beach Club before heading back into Epcot and back out into the parking lot for the big finish.

014 Enchanted 10K

And like that we were done!  It started sprinkling very soon after we crossed the finish line, so we grabbed our medals and made a bee line for the car.

015 Enchanted 10K

This was my first 10K at Walt Disney World and I really do love the distance.  I’m so glad that they have added this to many of the race weekends.  It’s challenging and can be completed fairly quickly, but there really needs to be some sort of entertainment added to Epcot Center Drive…that long stretch was painfully boring.  Plus with the shorter distance, you still have a fair amount of energy left over to get some good park touring in after the race.  I headed over to Animal Kingdom for a few hours to say hi to some animals and get in some fun character time.

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Sarah-Rafiki-Enchanted-10K

Later that day we headed to the Osceola County Fair to support Amanda’s daughter at the steer auction.  It was actually a really fun experience for this Northeast city girl!  The big bonus was that I got to hold her 2 week old goat!!  I look like a crazy person…

Sarah-Goat-Enchanted-10K

After the fair we went to Splitsville for dinner where the service was severely lacking, but the food was good.  We also stopped in the new Fit2Run store in Downtown Disney for some KT Tape.  That place is nice…definitely check it out next time you are in the area.

Day 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge complete!  We headed to bed fairly early to get ready for day 2…my 3rd Princess Half Marathon!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

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A Royal runDisney Meet Up!

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend is full of tutus, tiaras and sparkle unlike any other race out there.  With all of these runDisney fanatics in one place (myself included), it’s no surprise that the coveted runDisney meet up/ tweet up was a seriously hot ticket.  So hot in fact, the Disney Parks Blog was brought to a screeching halt a week before the event!  I mean it’s understandable, right?  Where else can you run through an empty Disney park being led by some seriously elite runners?!

The meet up began at 6:30 am with check-in at the entrance to Epcot.  I love this time of day at Walt Disney World.  Everything is quiet, peaceful and just coming to life…a stark difference from the throngs of people that would be arriving in a few short hours.

Good Morning Epcot!

Good Morning Epcot!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

We all checked in, signed our lives away to Disney waivers and were given a runDisney t-shirt.  I LOVE these shirts…the women’s cut is great!

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

What a gorgeous morning, despite the insane humidity.  There is something different about Florida skies that we just don’t have up here in Connecticut.  The clouds are breathtaking…what a treat!

SE Sky

Before the morning started, we had some time to chat with the runDisney folks, celebrities and fellow runners.  It was great to see a lot of new faces at the meet up and also reunite with some old friends from past races.

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Amanda, Susan and I Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Amanda, Susan and I
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Group Shot

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Before I knew it, it was 7:00 am and we were ready to start our run!  We were briefed by the runDisney team on the course, a 3-mile run around World Showcase and Crescent Lake finishing in the Germany pavilion.

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Tony_Start

There were two groups that went out.  The first was a faster group keeping a 9 minute mile pace and led by reigning Princess Half Marathon champion Rachel Booth.  I’m nowhere near fast enough to keep up with that crew, so I decided to stick with the group led by Jeff Galloway.  I’m a huge fan of Jeff’s, so any chance I get to run with him I will.  Plus, the 30 sec run/ 30 sec walk intervals are more my speed.

We went through Future World and clockwise around World Showcase Lagoon…and look we saw some Princesses along the way!

Run_1

Future World

Run_2

Norway

Snow White in Germany!

Snow White in Germany!

When we reached the International Gateway, we headed out towards the Boardwalk Resort and around Crescent Lake.  This is a gorgeous area for a morning run, but running around there was bringing back some painful memories of the Walt Disney World Marathon a few weeks prior!

We entered back into Epcot and circled back towards Germany where a nice breakfast (they still need some healthier options!) and some much needed cold water were waiting for us.  We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Faron Kelly of runDisney who told us a bit about the history of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon and gave us ladies some serious props for making running so popular.  Did you know that this race has grown from 7,000 runners in 2009 to 27,000 in 2013?!?  Go ladies!

Bob Hitchcock

Bob Hitchcock

Faron Kelly

Faron Kelly

Jeff Galloway and Tara Gidus, official nutritionist for runDisney, took the stage next to give us some helpful tips for the race.  A heat advisory had been issued for the weekend and they helped prepare us for dealing with that, including proper nutrition, hydration and pace.  Rachel Booth, two time Disneyland Half Marathon winner and reigning Princess Half Marathon winner, also made a brief appearance.  What an amazing athlete!!

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway  Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Rachel Booth

Rachel Booth

Next up were the truly inspirational moments of the morning.  Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, spoke about her weight loss journey and how adopting a healthy lifestyles completely changed her life.  She had a few gym towels to give away and had a very unique way of choosing who received them.  She asked everyone who had ever lost weight to raise their hands and then asked people to put down their hands based on how much weight they had lost, getting up to 100 pounds.  It was quite amazing to see how many people had lost significant amounts of weight and be able to congratulate them for their accomplishment.

Ali Vincent

Ali Vincent

Most inspiring of all was April Holmes.  Wow…just wow.  After a train accident 12 years ago resulted in April losing her left leg below the knee, she set out to be the fastest Paralympic athlete in the world and accomplished that many times over.  April has won numerous gold medals in the Paralympic Games in both 2008 and 2012 and continues to break World Records every year.  Her story of loss and overcoming the odds almost brought me to tears and motivated me to try and be better in everything I do.  She left us with this: “Your gold medal comes from being better than you were yesterday.”  From now on when I’m having a tough day, I will think of April and her strength.  Simply amazing.

April Holmes

April Holmes

The final presentation was from the folks over at Senses Spa, which recently opened at the Grand Floridian Resort.  They talked about various recovery techniques including foam rolling and massage.  Two lucky attendees were chosen for the demos!

Massage Demo

Massage Demo

Now it wouldn’t be a runDisney event without some giveaways.  The folks at New Balance were on hand to talk about the success of the new runDisney shoes that debuted over Marathon Weekend and they gave away a few pairs!  Look who chose the winners…Sean Astin!

Sean Astin

Goonies Never Say Die!

New Balance assured everyone that there would be plenty of shoes at the Expo that weekend, but encouraged people to get over there early just in case certain sizes sold out.  Good advice because the Expo was CRAZY!  More on that later…

The meet up wrapped up with an appearance by none other than Princess Minnie!  I mean obviously she would be there.  We also found out that is was Sean Astin’s birthday, so everyone joined in to sing to him!

Minnie & Bob

Happy Birthday Sean!

Happy Birthday Sean!

We all headed outside and were given some great giveaways of H2O products, a water bottle and other small tokens from the sponsors.  Princess Minnie and a few other Disney princesses were waiting for us for exclusive photo ops…score!  Minnie and I shared a few laughs and we’re now BFF.  Would you expect anything less from me?  The meaning of Sarah is Princess after all 🙂

Besties!

Besties!

S A & Minnie

The 3 Best Girlfriends!

Rapunzel!

Rapunzel!

Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines...

Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines…

And that concludes another magical runDisney meet up.  These events are so fun and give you a great opportunity to learn more about runDisney and get inspired to become a better athlete!  If you are interested in attending one of these meet ups, watch the Disney Parks Blog for an announcement about a week before any runDisney race weekend.  The competition is fierce, so you’ve got to be quick!  Hope to see you at the next event 🙂

 

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.

A Look at the Walt Disney World Half & Full Marathon Courses

We are now just under a month away from the start of the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!  I’m not sure if I’m excited or incredibly nervous about running my first full marathon…maybe a little of both with some “what the hell was I thinking” thrown in there.

I received a few questions about elevation for the race, so I thought I’d take a look at both the half and full marathon courses and map out their elevations using Map My Run.  Let’s take a look:

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

I haven’t run this race, but I did run the Princess Half Marathon which is on the same course.  It is mainly flat with a few hills on the overpasses, but they are manageable.

Miles 1 – 4 are almost completely flat with a small downhill going onto World Drive.  This is a great stretch to start the race with because it is fast and there is usually a good amount of entertainment on World Drive.

Pirate Ship on World Drive During Princess Half Marathon

You will encounter your first hill just before Mile 5 as you go under the waterway between Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.  Be careful here because the course is narrow and it tends to get very crowded.  Good news is you’re about to enter the Magic Kingdom!  Sadly, you are only in the Magic Kingdom for about 1 mile, but it’s the best mile of the race.  You will hit Mile 6 while in Frontierland and by the time you leave the park you will be halfway done!

**TIP: Make sure to use the bathrooms while you’re in the park to avoid the Porto Johns!!  You will thank me for this later :)**

Miles 7 – 9 continue to be flat.  Here you are heading down Floridian Way, past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts and back onto World Drive.  After Miles 10 & 11 are where you will hit your next set of hills…it’s like a cruel joke that these come towards the end.  The first is the worst.  It’s a slanted, circular on ramp leading to the overpass that takes you back towards Epcot.  Then just after Mile 11 you come across an even steeper overpass…yikes!  But that’s it, you’re now in the home stretch and get to run through Future World and to the finish line.  Don’t forget to enjoy the gospel choir right at the end…they are amazing!

Walt Disney World Marathon

From the looks of it, the marathon course seems to have a lot more elevation changes…oh boy!  As if I wasn’t worried about the distance, now I have hills to worry about!  Ok, maybe I’m overreacting here…humor me 😉

Miles 1 – 8 are basically the same as the half maraton above.  During mile 8 you enter a new part of the course, the Walt Disney World Speedway.  My hope is that it will be on the inside portion of the course that is flat and not along the banked track…that wouldn’t be fun.

After the Speedway, the next 3 miles are spent on Bear Island Road heading towards Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I’ve never been down this road, but from Google Maps it looks very wooded and isolated.  You also run past some sort of environmental treatment plant…nose plugs anyone?  My hope is that they will have a fair amont of entertainment back here to keep us occupied on this long stretch.

Just after mile 12 you enter Animal Kingdom in a backstage area near Rafiki’s Planet watch.  The next mile is spent running through Asia, past Expedition Everest (take a ride if you dare!), through Dinoland USA and out into the parking lot.

Expedition Everest During Mickey’s Halloween 5K

Good news is, you’ve just completed a half marathon.  Bad news is, you have to do it all again!  Hopefully a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) wind will kick in at this point and you will continue on strong for the next 4 miles as you head out of Animal Kingdom and down Osceola Parkway towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Be warned that the steepest overpass of the entire course is here on Osceola Parkway, so pop that Gu before hand! 🙂

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is new to the marathon this year for the 20th anniversary celebration and we will be spending 3 miles here winding all throughout the complex.  runDisney has been tight lipped about the 20th mile celebration that they have promised for the 20th anniversary which will be taking place in Champion Stadium.  I know I can’t wait to see what this surprise celebration is…any guesses on what it will be?!

You will pass the mie 20 marker as you are leaving the complex and the next 2.5 miles take you over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  There is a great downhill here (of course followed by an uphill) so use that to your advantage as you start fading at this point.  Well maybe you won’t be fading, but I know I will be!  You enter the Studios by Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, run up the Streets of America, past the Great Movie Ride and down Hollywood Boulevard as you exit the park.  There is only about 1 mile that is run through here and most of it is backstage, which is a bit disappointing since they got about 3 miles out of the Studios for Wine & Dine.

Sorcerer’s Hat During the Tower of Terror 10-Miler

Only 2.5 miles left as you exit the Studios and head along the pathway towards Crescent Lake and Epcot!  The pathway narrows as you pass the Boardwalk and gets congested with spectators, so be prepared to slow down a bit here.  I love this resort area in the morning as they are waking up and it is starting to get bright out.  Unfortunately, I probably won’t come through here until close to noon so it will be lunch time for me!  But for you fast runners, make sure to appreciate the sights for a second as you zoom through.

Gorgeous!

Two final (and killer!) uphills here.  The first is as you are leaving the Beach Club resort and heading into Epcot, and the second is after you pass through the International Gateway and up into World Showcase.  Good news is that there is only 1 mile left after this and it is all spent through Epcot.  The course heads right and you get to run around all of World Showcase.  By this time, the park will be open when most of us are going through so I know having all of those spectators in there is really going to help push me though!

Running Through World Showcase During the Wine & Dine Meet Up

You exit Epcot in the same area as the half marathon and out into the parking lot to cross the finish line!! Oh and don’t forget about the gospel choir 🙂  I have a feeling that those last .2 miles are going to be the longest ever.

Well I don’t know about you, but after going through the course in detail and seeing all of the amazing things that are in store, excitement is actually taking over!!!  Yes, I haven’t been training like I should be but I still think I can do this!  Who’s with me?!?!

What are you most looking forward to on either the half or full marathon courses?

**Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a bunch of runDisney and RAD swag!!  You have until Sunday morning to enter…do it now!**

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