Posts Tagged by Streets of America

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

01 Osborne-Lights

It’s that time of year again…the holidays have arrived in Walt Disney World!  By far one of my favorite things to experience this time of year are The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  This spectacle actually began in 1986 at the home of Jennings Osborne in Little Rock, AK.  It was a gift to his daughter that continued to grow each year.  In fact, it grew to be so big that his neighbors filed lawsuits against him and it was eventually shut down by the US Supreme Court in 1995.  To keep the show going, Disney offered to move the show to the old Residential Street at Disney-MGM Studios.  And the rest is history…

I first experienced the lights in 2000 when they were on Residential Street and I remember being in total awe!  Guests were able to walk through the “neighborhood” that was lit up with lights as far as the eye could see.  When Residential Street was demolished in 2004 to make room for the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show, the show was moved to its current home on the Streets of America.  While this doesn’t quite have the charm of Residential Street, it is the most logical place to house the show.

02 Osborne-Lights

03 Osborne-Lights

05 Osborne-Lights

The details are AMAZING aren’t they??  The display contains over 10 miles of LED rope lights.  Whoa!  Imagineers have placed hidden Mickey’s all throughout the display which are really fun to find and make sure you keep an eye out for the black cat!

04 Osborne-Lights

07 Osborne-Lights

Do you know the story of the black cat?  Well when the Osborne family sent over all of their lights, one of their Halloween decorations somehow got mixed in.  So the Imagineers decided to incorporate it into the display.  Now every year they hide it in a new spot for guests to find!

Oh and did you know it snows there?

06 Osborne-LightsAnd you can get some fun holiday treats as you’re walking around.  Spiced Egg Nog or some Hot Cocoa are a perfect way to get you in the holiday spirit!

08 Osborne-Lights

In 2006, the display was kicked up to add programmable dimmers to the lights.  This allowed the lights to be set to music which is where the “dancing” fits into the name.  This is insane!  Check out these 3 videos to see what I mean…mind-blowing….

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think I’d go with Winter Wonderland.  That canopy is too cool!

Have you seen The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights?  Do you remember it on Residential Street?  If so, which do you like better?

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler: Race Recap

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler took place last Saturday on September 29th and I was so happy that I could be a part of it!  Be prepared, because this race recap travels directly to…The Twilight Zone!

After a whirlwind morning of cheering on the 5K runners and a fantastic lunch at California Grill for the Mom’s Panel Fan Meet, B and I headed back to the room to rest up before the race.  Jeff Galloway gave a few tips on nutrition the day before at the Health & Fitness Expo and recommended eating your final large meal around noon for a night race and then to snack throughout the evening, so we decided to forego the dinner we had planned for a nap and some snacks.  We slept for about 2 hours then got ready for the race.  Our friends Marc, Amanda, and her daughter Alexus met us at the Boardwalk and we all headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the shuttles.

Ready to Race!

On the bus…total photo bomb 🙂

We arrived at the Studios around 8:00 pm it was still very warm out.  This did not bode well for the upcoming race.  I checked our bag and we settled in for the 2 hour wait to the start.  If you’ve never been to a runDisney race, there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” involved, so be prepared to settle in for a while.  We found some of our friends from the Be Our Guest Podcast family who were also running and that helped pass the time with a lot of laughs.

B and I were in corral C and we decided to head in around 9:00 pm to get a spot close to the front.  A great addition to this race were the Porta-Johns and water stations in the corrals.  This was so convenient and something many of the runners were saying great things about.  I hope this continues for future races.

The race instructions stated that all runners should be in their corrals by 9:15 pm and they were serious.  At that time, volunteers promptly started moving the corrals out onto the road for the walk up to the starting line at the tool booth plaza.  It was quite a far walk and with all of the runners jammed into that area, it was hot.

Starting Area Map

Pre-Race Smiles 🙂

Walking to the Starting Line

The race started off with the wheelchair racers and then corral A was off at 10:00 pm!  In typical Disney fashion, each corral was sent off with fireworks which is so fun!  We were all cheered on by the enthusiastic announcers Rudy, John and fellow FitFluential Ambassador Carissa.  They had great costumes and the whole announcer booth was perfectly themed liked the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

The Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Begins!!

Corral C moving to the Starting Line

Starting Line Announcers…they must have been HOT in those outfits!

And finally it was our turn to go!  Check out this video from the starting line featuring B and my friend Debbie:

This was B’s first long race and our pacing is very different.  I stuck with him for about the first mile, but we both decided it was best if I go and run my race.  I’m thankful he is so supportive and I was excited to see what I could do with after all this training.  As soon as we got on Osceola Parkway, I kissed B goodbye and took off.  Osceola Parkway is a long stretch of highway leading to Animal Kingdom and there are many hills due to the overpasses.  When the race course was first released, I was not thrilled about this area of the course, especially since it was just a straight out and back to the Animal Kingdom parking lot.  I was hoping that Disney would’ve provided entertainment along this stretch and was very disappointed to not find any.  After experiencing all of the entertainment along World Drive and leading up to the Magic Kingdom for the Princess Half Marathon, this was a serious let down.  There was only a DJ, a few puppets from Animal Kingdom and character photo ops with the Hyenas and Dr. Facilier over those long 4 miles.

Mile 2…Animal Kingdom Toll Booths

Photo Op with the Hyenas from The Lion King

Just before mile 5, we turned down a dirt path to head into the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS) complex.  I loved the haunted theme of this area, but this was my least favorite part of the course.  It was VERY dark and there were large stones all along the path.  I walked most of this area because I was concerned about tripping or twisting my ankle.  Most of the runners around me had the same idea.  It’s funny that this was B’s favorite part of the course because he enjoys running on trails and grass much more than the road.  I think he’d make a good trail runner…maybe we should give that a try 🙂

On the haunted trail to EPSN Wide World of Sports

Once through the trail, we entered WWOS which was a lot of fun.  We ran all throughout the complex, including the track and around the bases at Champion Stadium.  The stadium was a great spot for spectators too!  There were some really fun signs there like “Worst Parade Ever!” which made me chuckle.  I also saw my friends Rora, Joell and James screaming my name in the stands…I really needed that push 🙂

Entering ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Entering Champion Stadium

Rounding the Bases at Champion Stadium!

Once throughWWOS, we headed down the long drive back to Oceola Parkway.  Sadly, there was no entertainment here either except for one photo op with the Big Bad Wolf.  This was a tough stretch for me as the heat was really starting to get to me and bordem was starting to set in.  I generally don’t drink Powerade when I run because it doesn’t sit well with me, but because I was sweating so much I started diluting it with 2 cups of water at each water station.  I’m glad I started doing this around mile 4 because I don’t think I would’ve made it much past this point.  The main thing that was keeping me going now was knowing that I wasn’t far from entering the Studios and I couldn’t wait to run through the park.  So I trekked on…

We entered the Studios just before mile 9 through a back entrance on the Lights, Motors, Action! stage.  This was really cool to run across, but there was a strong smell of gasoline in the air which wasn’t too pleasant.  From there, we ran down the Streets of America and once again disappointment set in.  I was expecting to turn the corner and see some of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights illuminating the street as they had for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon for the past two years.  Nope, the street was dark.  The only bonus was to see my friend Suzie cheering at the end of the street…thanks girl!

Lights, Motors Action!

Streets of America

After the Streets of America, we ran past the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, up to the hub and around the Sorcerer’s Hat.  There was a huge crowd cheering here as well which really picked up my pace.  I hope everyone who spends the time to be out there cheering on the runners knows how much it means to us.  You all are amazing!

The course then went into the Animation Courtyard and through Pixar Place.  I think this was the first time I haven’t seen a wait at Toy Story Midway Mania!  We then entered a backstage area and I knew we were on the home stretch because we were heading back towards the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  Soon enough, the Hollywood Tower Hotel and the finish line were in sight…I picked up the pace and finished strong!!

Coming up on the Sorcerer’s Hat

Heading into Animation Courtyard

Pixar Place and a gorgeous night sky

Finish Line and the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the distance…FINALLY!

Crossing the Finish Line!

Finishing in the shadow of the Hollywood Tower Hotel

It was so great to see my friends all waiting for me at the finish line, including Marci who has been such a huge supporter and inspiration this year.  Congrats Marci on finishing your first 5K!  I also got a big, sweaty hug from my friend Melissa who completed her first long race with a big smile on her face.  Best hug ever…I’m so proud of you!

So here is where the madness began.  After getting our meal boxes, bananas and water (I took 2 because I felt severely dehydrated from the heat!), we began to wind our way through backstage and into Fantasmic!.  There was a “lovely” giant hill we had to walk up and then the path narrowed into the photo stop area…not ideal for hot, tired runners.  If you’ve ever seen Fantasmic! you know how long of a walk it is to get to the stadium, well we had to walk out that path onto an insanely crowded Sunset Boulevard.  I’m not sure what a better route would be, but this definitely was frustrating.  Many runners were overheated and needed a place to sit and rehydrate, but the volunteers where very adamant about keeping us moving.  I didn’t witness any of this, but I heard numerous stories of people passing out and vomiting after the finish line.  A rest area was definitely needed.

I knew B was a ways behind me, so I decided to head over to to bag pick-up so he would be able to change when he finished.  Changing was also a huge priority for me as my clothes were literally dripping in sweat.  I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life…that humidity was no joke!  Bag pickup was located at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which is all the way over by Echo Lake.  When I got there, I was greeted by a long line and a giant set of stairs leading down to the stage where the bags were.  Sigh…  It was very cool to walk on stage and the bag pick-up itself went smoothly, but it was just a frustrating experience after a long hot race.

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular Stage

Bag Pickup

Changing tents were set up along echo lake, but they were more like saunas than changing tents.  It would’ve been nice to have some fans set up inside the tents to get air circulating.  I was already over heated from the race and couldn’t bare the thought  of changing in there, so I set off to find a nearby restroom.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this idea because the lines at all the restrooms were incredibly long.  So I suffered with my wet clothes, at least I could change into my flip flops…best feeling ever!

It was around this time that I got the text that B had finished the race!  I was getting worried about him because he wasn’t answering any of my text messages and feared he got swept.  I literally jumped for joy and headed back to Sunset Boulevard to meet him.  We immediately headed to Fairfax Faire for some ice water and I grabbed a Yuengling for a nice carb boost 🙂  We were also famished and craving salt so I grabbed some chicken nuggets and french fries from Rosie’s.  These were the best chicken nuggets I’ve ever had in my life!!

Chicken Nuggets & Fries…Post-Race Meal of Champions!

It was around 2:00 am at this point and we were both exhausted and needed showers, so we decided to forego the Villians Hollywood Bash and head back to the room.  I finished the race in 2:20 and my Garmin recorded 10.16 miles, an average 13:48 minute pace.  This was a slow pace for me, but I was happy considering the heat.  B finished in an impressive 2:53 for his first distance over 3 miles!  I am beyond proud of him for taking on this challenge!  I’m not sure he’ll ever do another race, but doing this one is more than most people can say they’ve done.  The medals definitely lived up to the expectation and they are by far the best part of running this race!

Red faced and proud of our accomplishment!

While I had fun, this was definitely not my favorite race.  The heat definitely had something to do with it, which was also an issue the first year of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon held the same weekend in 2010.  Maybe this is still too close to summer to have a race in Florida because the weather can be unpredictable.  The lack of entertainment on the course was also a big negative for me and I heard a lot of similar feedback from other runners about this.  There is a lot of room for improvement with this race and I hope runDisney will take all of our feedback to make for a better experience next year.

So now I want to hear from you!  Did you run the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler?  What did you think?  What was your favorite part?  What improvements can be made?  Leave your comments below and I’ll compile all of the feedback for a future post.  Collectively we can help make this better!

Congratulations to everyone who completed the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  You are all rockstarts for braving that heat!

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler – The Map

Late last week, runDisney released the map for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler race.  While I’m still extremely excited about this race (especially the fun medal), I have mixed feelings about the course.

The race starts in the Studios parking lot and takes runners down to Osceola Parkway…never ending Osceola Parkway.  It looks like we go down to the Animal Kingdom parking lot before simply turning around an heading back.  If we’re going to go all that way, why not let us run through Animal Kingdom to get another park in.  Instead, we run around the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex…not so fun.  Most of the appeal of running at Disney is getting to run through the parks, and with this race we only go through one park and at the very end.  The majority of this race is going to be on long, boring highways and in the dark!  Knowing Disney, they will have a ton of entertainment along the course and I’m really hoping they deliver.

One part of the map I was happy to see, was the detail as we run through the Studios at the end.

The Studios is my favorite park and I can’t wait to run through there!  We will enter in the backstage area next the Lights, Motors, Action and then run through the set.  From there, it looks like we run up the Streets of America, down Commissary Lane, around the Giant Hat, through Pixar Place, and then head backstage again where the final half mile or so.  The race ends backstage in an area that seems to be between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror (of course).  I’m glad to see we will not be running down Hollywood Boulevard, which was my concern for congestion during the after party.  Hopefully there will be plenty of room to move around afterwards.  So while I’m not thrilled about the beginning of the race, I love that we’ll be distracted at the end of the race by the fun of the Studios.

Are you running the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler?  What do you think of the race course?