Posts Tagged by world showcase

2016 Disney Princess 5K – A Family Affair!

A 5K is a great way to experience runDisney if you are just starting out running or if you want to just have a new, fun Disney experience.  Krista Wenzel is here today to share her experience at this year’s Princess 5K with her mom and sister…it was a family affair to remember!

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The shortness of breath I was experiencing from the Disney Princess 5K on February 19th was not from running. The running had not even started. I was standing at the start line, very front in line, with my mom and sister waiting for the countdown. For so many months we had planned outfits, timing, and dreamed, and here was the moment. We were about to begin.

Rewinding a little, in July 2015, I decided to tackle my second Glass Slipper Challenge. Working with a travel agent, after having a near stress attack of not getting a slot online, I was asked which races I wanted. The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend coincided with my mom’s 60th birthday week and my sister had been running for a couple years. Therefore, I made an executive and spontaneous decision to sign all three of us up for the 5K, as well as the Glass Slipper Challenge for just myself. It would be a first race for both my mom and sister, and what a fun birthday party I thought!

So after breaking the fun news, which both were a little shocked and hesitant, the Disney magic began to take shape. Because what would a runDisney event be without dressing up? It actually was pretty quick decision on who we wanted to dress up as: Minnie Mouse! For many years, we have all shared a love for Mickey and Minnie Mouse! So for a triplet idea, we all wanted to match as Minnie Mouse! A little homemade and a little bibbidity-bobbitidy-boo from the internet, we had our ensembles ready!

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Race morning wake-up alarms came early, but our excitement got us up even before our alarms, SO excited were we!  So we all got into our ensembles and realized the magic that was going to be headed our way for the next few hours! Since we stayed at a Disney resort, we were very blessed that we didn’t have to worry about traffic or anything beyond just getting to our bus stop at a timely manner.

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Once we took our short bus drive over, we realized being with other people who were as excited and nervous as us only got us more into the moment of it all! Once we finally arrived we took the short walk over, stopped for a photo, and were soon in the excitement of thousands of people getting ready for the 5K! There was music and so many fun costumes to admire all around! But we were ready to get over to our corral.

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Apparently so ready we were first in line in our corral C! This year’s theme for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend was Little Mermaid, so it was so fun to watch the corrals all around us fill with Sebastians, Flounders, Ariels, and yes, even, the evil sea witch herself, Ursala. So many fun interpretations made the 45-minute wait fly by! We even had some random racers tell us they had “liked” our photo we had posted on social media with the #Princess5k!

Suddenly, we were told to start walking to line up! This was it! The moment we had been training for! We lined up next to the start line and waited those painful moments of anticipation! And then, just like that! It was go time!

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Running along side my mom and sister I couldn’t ask for a more fun experience. We do everything together, but this was a whole new level!

The first mile or so was pretty low key, not many characters or photo stops, mostly runners finding their stride. So we talked a lot, mostly pointed out different outfits and how creative people are in their interpretations of Disney characters like Donald and Daisy Duck or favorite Princesses.

At mile marker 1, it was time for the real fun to begin as we came into Epcot casting area and then World Showcase! Our favorite place to explore at Disney as a family has always been Epcot. We travel internationally, so a big pull of the Disney Princess 5K was running through our favorite area.  As we curved our way around World Showcase, we enjoyed favorites like Germany lit in a purple hue or Italy with its skyline in a romantic lighting. Of course, this picturesque run was set to the tunes of the Little Mermaid echoing across the park.

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Mile marker 2 brought more fun as we came into the back-lot area of Epcot and into the Future World of Epcot. As we ran past “Turtle Talk with Crush,” we hit a milestone for my mom: she had now ran further than she had ever ran in her life at one time! It was pretty amazing to share that moment! The final half-mile was pretty much just a blur of excitement and fun running under Spaceship Earth and to the final push to the finish line!

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Once we saw the finish line, I’ll never forget my mom saying, “I actually did it.” She was never a runner, and never one to join me for a run, but she just pushed herself and did an amazing job! My sister finished her first race and 5K, as well!! We decided to finish together at the same time, all with huge smiles! We did it!

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My older sister was waiting for us three for a photo finish, and we gathered our medals, had some fun time at the after-math, and then headed to Magic Kingdom for coffee and rides! It was truly a magically fun time!

This was my second runDisney experience after my first Glass Slipper Challenge from last year, and it was truly more fun and exciting to share it with my family. Even as I did the 10k and the Half Marathon the following days, it was a bit of a downer to now have memories not to share. What an amazing birthday party for my mom and memories we will share for the rest of our lives!

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Krista is a Disney enthusiast, loves to run, and has a passion for travel. Her multi-faceted career includes a professional tour guide in Washington DC and New York City, has worked in Congress, and works in agriculture business for her dad. In her free time, Krista loves to read, do anything active, and has been to over 30 countries and counting.

2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Family Fun 5K

My first race EVER was a 5K at Walt Disney World.  I wasn’t a runner at all back in 2010, but I managed to finish the race and I had a BLAST!  It’s a great way for Disney fans of all ages and athletic abilities to try a new challenge and see the parks in a completely different way.  The recent Walt Disney World 5K was Beth’s first runDisney race and as you can see from her recap, she LOVED every second of it!

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The 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend kicked off with a bang last Thursday, January 8 with the Family Fun 5K run/walk event through Epcot. This race is now known to all participants as the “Frozen 5K” with a wind chill advisory bringing temperatures to a balmy 38 degrees (but more on that in a little bit).

This was my first runDisney event ever, and a great introduction to the runDisney club. My best friend and I had originally signed up just to participate in the half marathon (also my first ever), but after realizing that the last training run of the Jeff Galloway training plan (provided for free by Disney) called for a final 30 minute training session the Thursday prior to the half, we thought – why not?! A chance to get another fantastic Disney medal? Sign us up! (It turns out, Disney medals are incredible and very, very addicting).

The 5K starts slightly later than most of the other races of the weekend. The first gun goes off at 6:15am (as compared to 5:30am for the half and full). This means we didn’t have to wake up until 3:30am (of course everyone’s wake up calls vary, depending on pre-race rituals). Heading out from the Art of Animation resort, we jumped right on a bus at 4:15am to arrive at Epcot at 4:30am. (Bus transportation was amazing all weekend long, with little to no waits at any point.)

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Arriving at the race, we knew right away we were in for a long wait to the start. As mentioned before, it was freezing with high winds making matters even worse. Racers lined the fence line seeking protection from the wind as much as possible. Other groups gathered around the spotlight generators which blew out warm air to try and stay warm. Disney had a great DJ going to entertain and pump up the crowd, but when the DJ is dressed in a coat, gloves, hat, and scarf, it’s hard to leave the sanctuary of your wind protector to dance the cupid shuffle in the open arctic tundra.

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During this time, runDisney did have bag check available as well as food and drink for purchase. Few racers appeared to check bags, due to the nature of the race. I was pleasantly surprised to see the food available for purchase, both from Disney and local food trucks.

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Lines were never long, and the Disney booth did accept Magic Band payments if linked to a credit card (they also accepted cash and regular credit). The most popular item was certainly the hot beverages since participants were doing whatever they could to stay warm. Though picnic tables and high top tables were available, few took advantage, instead seeking refuge along the fence blocking perimeter. (Some racers did creatively use the table clothes as blankets.)

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Runners were not moved into their corrals until 5:20am and the walk from the gathering area to the corrals was a quick 5 minutes. Had it not been so cold, the early arrival time would have been fine and filled with dancing and photos, but the chill made the wait until the start feel like forever. The longest line of porta-potties I had ever seen were lined up for use before entering the corrals. So many were supplied, lines never seemed to be that deep.

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Moving into the corrals, runners huddled together for warmth, which provided everyone a great opportunity to make new friends. One of the best things about runDisney races is the friendliness and camaraderie amongst the participants. Everyone is so excited and supportive. Past participants are a great sources of information and inspiration to first time runners.

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For the 5K, there are only 6 corrals. I was in corral E, the second to last corral to start. Corrals were sent out 8 minutes apart to help spread participants throughout the course. Each corral received their own starting fireworks, which can get even the chilliest runner moving. Especially moving was the playing of the national anthem. Everyone went silent as the trumpet started. Slowly, there was a hum through the crowd, and gradually a quiet sing-a-long. It was a beautiful moment.

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Then we were off! Finally moving, it took a little while for the legs to warm up (the hands never thawed). Participants ranged in all ages and abilities. I had expected to see tons of younger children, but was surprised to find kids were a very small portion of the participants. Many participants wear costumes to the 5K, many more than to the half or full marathon. People can be so creative! Costumes are a great way to add even more fun to your race, and help to give your fellow runners something fun to look at during their run/walk.

Since Disney only requires a 16 per minute pace, it was common to see participants who walked the entire track, especially those participating in the Dopey challenge who needed to save their legs for later in the weekend. I did not hear of anyone getting swept off the 5K course and find it highly unlikely, but cannot confirm if they do or do not sweep for this race. An important note is that since so many people walk, to actually run the race can be difficult. My friend and I ended up bobbing and weaving all over the course and in many places where the course narrowed, there was no choice but to walk. Not a huge problem since this is supposed to be a fun run, but important for runners to be careful so they do not trip each other and cause injury.

The first mile of the course is mainly on a side road long the Epcot parking lot and then along a backstage access road where you reach the first mile marker right around where you enter the backstage of Epcot behind Test Track.

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During the first mile, there was only 1 character stop. This character was Princess Atta from “A Bug’s Life”. My friend and I choose not to stop for a picture since we barely knew the character and the line was fairly long.

Mile 2 takes place almost entirely within the park and is the best mile of the race. You enter the World Showcase between Mexico and Norway. The sun was just rising for us, providing a beautiful view.

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Norway Daisy was the next character, and we decided to stop since it is more rare to see Daisy in Norway garb. This also provided the perfect opportunity for my friend to use the park restrooms. (Park restrooms are preferable to porta potties any day).

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We then stopped for Pinocchio in Italy and waited about 8 minutes in line.

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We passed on Chip n’ Dale in Japan because the line was just enormous. Had it been nicer weather, we would have stopped, but we were just too cold. Marie from the Aristocrats in Paris had a short 4/5 minute line which was more tolerable.

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Note – wait times are not posted. Some lines look long but move very quickly because of the character attendant/photopass cast members’ efficiency. Other lines can be short but take forever if the character attendant is not taking photos with runners’ personal cameras.

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Running down international gateway and slightly behind stage, we finally hit mile marker 2. The three character stops had made this mile last 30 minutes!

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The course then jumps back into the park between the UK and Canada. Donald was the last character meet and great on the course at Canada. In all, there were 5 character photo opportunities; one in mile 1, three in mile 2, and one in mile 3.

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You finish the World Showcase and turn left for a straight shot down toward Spaceship Earth before turning left and running in front of Future World West (Imagination Pavilion, Land Pavilion, Living Seas Pavilion) and head back in front of the Electric Umbrella towards Spaceship Earth.

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You never pass directly under Spaceship Earth, but veer right slightly beforehand to go backstage for the last stretch out to the Epcot parking lot and the finish line. Crossing the finish line, the wonderful volunteers give you the great Pluto medal (while not metal like all of the other weekend races, the medal is huge and great quality. Plus, what other 5K gives a medal?!)

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My friend and I were able to backtrack and take pictures right outside the finish with our medals while the runners were still coming in (this was not allowed during the half).

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Professional photographers are everywhere to take your picture, and a very generous refueling kit of food and water are supplied to all participants (hint, always go to the photographer and food table farthest away – never ANYONE there!).

Disney still had other food available for purchase, and the DJ was still playing away on stage to keep the party going. Pluto, the 5K mascot, was available for photos and the line was quick at only 10 minutes (considering the thousands of participants, I was impressed). Dopey was also there for those participating in the 4 day Dopey challenge. Bus stops were very clearly labeled and nothing felt better than walking into that heated bus.

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Overall, the 5K race was tons of fun and very low pressure. Don’t let it intimidate you if you haven’t participated in a 5K before, don’t consider yourself athletic, but have always wanted to do a runDisney event. This race is perfect for any ability and a great way to start what is a very fun weekend of events!

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Beth Pope currently lives in Washington, DC and is a former Walt Disney World cast member. In addition to the 5K, she also completed the WDW Half Marathon. Prior to this race weekend, she had only ever completed two 5K and two 10K official races. She now plans to complete the Coast to Coast challenge in 2015.

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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RAD Recap for March 16, 2014

Does anyone else have spring fever?!?  Daylight Savings Time came just in time for me as I was about to go completely stir-crazy!  The longer days and the taste of warmer temps have definitely brightened my spirits, but also have gotten me out and about to exercise and enjoy CT!  Yesterday I went to a really fun Escape to Spring Expo where I took in the smells of spring and gorged myself at some killer food trucks.

I have continued to stuff my face all weekend with more great meals to start my birthday week! My mom is visiting for a few days so we are doing a lot of indulging along with relaxing…both of which are much needed.  We also pampered ourselves a bit with some haircuts on Friday…look, I got bangs!

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I also started getting back into a routine at the gym which has felt great!  I feel energized and ready to kick my training back up again.  Even after deciding not to give it a go at in the CrossFit Open this year, I tried WOD 14.3 yesterday and did fairly well given my lack of training.  I got through the 20 deadlifts at 155# for a total of 75 reps.  I have definitely lost a lot of strength recently and I’m determined to get that back!

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I finished my recap of the Glass Slipper Challenge this week with the Princess Half Marathon, which is always fun but this time it was a bit of an emotional journey.

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Heather from I Love Characters! also stopped by this week to give a really fun recap of the Fit for a Princess Expo.  She got some rad photos and also made off with some great runDisney swag!

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And in case you missed it, this week was time for another fun game of Kill, Marry, Refub where we looked at World Showcase Counter Service Spots…what do you think my picks were???

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I’ve also been thinking about getting a GoPro Camera.  Does anyone out there have one? Do you love it? Hate it? After watching this super fun video from my friend Alli’s family vacation to WDW, I think this would be a GREAT way to capture my vacations and all of my runDisney experiences.

Well I’m off to enjoy my last night with my Mom and the beginning of my favorite week of the year…my birthday week!

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Kill, Refurb, Marry: World Showcase Counter Service Spots

Kill-Marry-RefurbIt’s time for another Kill, Refurb, Marry!  I’m excited about this month because we are talking about my favorite thing…FOOD!   Yes, that is a huge topic when looking at all of Walt Disney World, so we are narrowing it down to World Showcase Counter Service Spots.  Ooooh that’s a good one, right?!  I love World Showcase for its diversity and the food really is the best part…you know how I love the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 🙂  So let’s dive in!

Kill – Refreshment Port

I don’t understand the Refreshment Port.  It really seems to have no identity.  The current menu consists of chicken nuggets, a soft serve waffle cone, croissant doughnut, and various beverages.  That’s a little random…  If I was a newbie to WDW and walked past there, I would have no idea what they served.  To me, refreshments are cool and well, refreshing.  Chicken nuggets aren’t refreshing.  This spot would be much better utilized as a character meet  & greet area, or simply put some benches and tables down for people to rest their weary Epcot touring feet in the shade.

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Refurb – Tied: La Cantina de San Angel and Liberty Inn

I had a tough time deciding which location I would want to refurb, so I decided to go with two.

First is La Cantina de San Angel.  Yes, I know it went through a refurb not too long ago, but I wish it would’ve been just a bit better.  The tacos are a great start, but they definitely leave something to be desired.  And really, nacho cheese on the nachos?  Come on…  Plus, those red chips really freak me out.  That color can’t be natural!  Give us simple carnitas, real cheese and basic yellow corn tortilla chips!  Give us a real taste of Mexico!

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And then there is Liberty Inn.  This was a strong contender for Kill, but I think there is a real opportunity here to showcase some great American cuisine!  American food should not be defined by a chili-cheese dog, chicken nuggets and a burger.  Wouldn’t it be great if they could focus on local cuisine?!  Maybe a combination of the Florida Local from the Food & Wine Festival and The Smokehouse from Flower & Garden.  Sounds good right?  Or maybe a dish from various regions of the US.  There are so many options!

Marry – Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie

Now this is what all World Showcase Counter Service Spots should strive to be!  First, the exterior is so incredibly inviting.  You really escape into a small French village.

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But when you enter the building, it is spacious and more importantly smells delicious.  There is a large variety of options from the basic croissant, to sandwiches, quiches, and the most delectable desserts. Good luck trying to pick just one thing!

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And if all of that isn’t enough, you can head over to L’Artisan des Glaces next door for some artisan ice cream or sorbet.  You can even get an ice cream martini!!  It really is the perfect place to grab a snack and take a break.

So those are my choices…what about you?  What World Showcase Counter Service Spots 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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