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Old 04-29-2013, 11:48 AM   #1
clemsondisneygirl
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Challenging the Yeti for the first time!

Preface: though I've read many a trip report, I've never written one...so bear with me, ask plenty of questions and here goes nothing!

Background: my family and I are "Disney people" as many of you Dis-ers are and we are heading down for next trip this upcoming Friday! We've been so many times that now we always wait until we have planned something we've never done to center out trip around. This time there are 3 major items on this agenda!
1) new fantasyland (duh!)
2) wild Africa trek in DAK
3) Expedition Everest Challenge 5k
I anticipate this being an whirlwind of 3.5 days of disney awesomeness and I can't wait!!!

Cast: Mom -- reluctant and often cautious disney lover, also the non-runner but a great cheerleader
Dad -- biggest kid of all and down for any and all rides
Sister -- aka the princess, pretends she's not pumped but we all know she is!
Me -- disney nerd, soaking up any and all disney factoids and annoying my family with them, also former DAK cast member (2009-2010)

Trip Plans: we fly out of Greenville, SC on Friday, are staying at the new Art of Animation resort and sadly are leaving Monday afternoon. Our tentative plan (as we are pretty go with the flow tourists) is MK Friday after arrival, DAK Saturday morning with our Trek, HS Saturday afternoon, EEC Saturday night, then EPCOT Sunday!

Well thats the set up, Stay tuned to see how it all plays out!

(Did I mention I was SUPER EXCITED!!! 👍👍&#128077
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clemsondisneygirl View Post
Preface: though I've read many a trip report, I've never written one...so bear with me, ask plenty of questions and here goes nothing!

Background: my family and I are "Disney people" as many of you Dis-ers are and we are heading down for next trip this upcoming Friday! We've been so many times that now we always wait until we have planned something we've never done to center out trip around. This time there are 3 major items on this agenda!
1) new fantasyland (duh!)
2) wild Africa trek in DAK
3) Expedition Everest Challenge 5k
I anticipate this being an whirlwind of 3.5 days of disney awesomeness and I can't wait!!!

Cast: Mom -- reluctant and often cautious disney lover, also the non-runner but a great cheerleader
Dad -- biggest kid of all and down for any and all rides
Sister -- aka the princess, pretends she's not pumped but we all know she is!
Me -- disney nerd, soaking up any and all disney factoids and annoying my family with them, also former DAK cast member (2009-2010)

Trip Plans: we fly out of Greenville, SC on Friday, are staying at the new Art of Animation resort and sadly are leaving Monday afternoon. Our tentative plan (as we are pretty go with the flow tourists) is MK Friday after arrival, DAK Saturday morning with our Trek, HS Saturday afternoon, EEC Saturday night, then EPCOT Sunday!

Well thats the set up, Stay tuned to see how it all plays out!

(Did I mention I was SUPER EXCITED!!! ������)
Oh, I am excited for you! I would LOVE to do the EEC!! My DS and I just completed our 2nd annual Rugged Maniac 5K Mud run/obstacle course! It was a blast! I was just telling him how fun I think the EEC would be! Good luck and have a great trip!
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:52 AM   #3
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Today's the day! We are packing the car now yo make our few stops we have left before flying off to the World! We have to pick up my sister at her apartment, then drop off my pup at doggie camp/boarding school for the week, then it's on to the airport. I am very excited at this point but trying to contain it since its early in the morning and not everyone is quite as perky as me yet. Forecast calls for rain all weekend so I've packed a raincoat but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for better than expected weather...and for a quick, short line at magical express when we land! More to come after our arrival!
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:42 AM   #4
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Yay!
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:11 PM   #5
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Well Disney was magical, as it always is, and now we have just boarded our flight back to SC and the real world I promise a full trip report when I have made it home and have a full keyboard to type on (vs just my iPhone that I'm using right now) but I wanted to post a little teaser...

-Art of Animation is awesome but very "Disney-fied"
-the Wild Africa Trek is an amazing experience and if you like animals, aren't a penny pincher and (like me) love insider Disney info then this is a great tour!
-runDisney knows how to do races! Period!
-EEC is really more than just a 5k, prepare accordingly
-stay at a host resort!
-RDIF is cool but we had a few kinks
-cheerleaders and middle schoolers...whomp whomp
-pool days/slowing down are important and we always forget that!

Well those are pretty much the highlights that are to come...sad to leave the world and already planning our next trip!
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:46 PM   #6
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Day 1: Friday - Arrival day - the day it rained...


We left from Greenville, SC around 10:00 am and arrived in Orlando by 11:30, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready for some Disney magic! This was our first ever experience with magical express so we wandered our way through MCO and found it tucked all the way at the end of the building on the first floor and I'm not sure what I expected with this service but it was definitely bigger and more extensive than I ever realized. We got our bar codes scanned and headed down our first typical Disney queue of the trip. Luckily we only waited about 15-20 minutes for our bus to Art of Animation to arrive, however I did notice that there were certain lines that appeared to have longer waits (and unhappy people) and it had seemingly nothing to do with the number of people in the actual line, so maybe its just luck of the draw. However, our experience with this service both going and coming was great and we will certainly use it again in the future. The baggage handling alone is a great thing to not have to do ourselves!

So it was off to AoA we went. Bus driver was friendly and full of insider Disney fact which are always fun to hear. The resort itself was beautiful! We walked in and were helped right away. The room was ready so we went by to drop off some things from our carry-ons that we didn't need to carry around in the parks. We stayed in a Lion King Family Suite and could not have asked for a better location...we were room 0540 and it was the first room on the first floor as you entered from the main resort side. Since we are a family of 4 adults (and my parents are both snorers) this set-up is perfect for us with 2 bathrooms and everyone has their own bed. The room was...bright! It is super-themed and I'm sure perfect for every and any little kid or kid at heart out there.

**sidenote info about my fam: we have been to disney probably 15+ times and have stayed in almost every resort, however the older we all get the more we tend to lean towards the deluxe accommodations, so this was something different for us, but we aren't snobs and enjoyed the theming just the same!

After dropping off stuff we decided to go ahead and find our way to Wide World of Sports to pick up our packets for Saturday night's race. We learned very quickly if you are going for a runDisney race, and you aren't bringing your own car, it is probably best that you stay at one of the race's host resorts. The host resorts for this weekend were All Star Sports, Caribbean Beach, and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we've stayed at all of those options before and wanted to try the new one. Little did we know transportation would be so difficult. We ended up walking across the bridge to get to Pop Century where we caught a bus to WWoS but after packet pickup we wanted to head straight to MK so we decided to take a cab instead of going all the way back to Pop and then getting another bus to MK. The cab wasn't bad however, since we normally only take Disney transport while in Disney, we never knew that a cab had to drop you at TTC. Luck was on our side however and a ferry boat was pulling in as we walked up and we were across Bay Lake in no time.

As we walked through the turnstiles, we were again smiled upon by the Disney gods...to be continued tomorrow!
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:57 PM   #7
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Sounds like an amazing time, eager to read day two! So glad you had fun!
I really want to do one of the Disney races.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clemsondisneygirl View Post
Day 1: Friday - Arrival day - the day it rained...


We left from Greenville, SC around 10:00 am and arrived in Orlando by 11:30, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready for some Disney magic! This was our first ever experience with magical express so we wandered our way through MCO and found it tucked all the way at the end of the building on the first floor and I'm not sure what I expected with this service but it was definitely bigger and more extensive than I ever realized. We got our bar codes scanned and headed down our first typical Disney queue of the trip. Luckily we only waited about 15-20 minutes for our bus to Art of Animation to arrive, however I did notice that there were certain lines that appeared to have longer waits (and unhappy people) and it had seemingly nothing to do with the number of people in the actual line, so maybe its just luck of the draw. However, our experience with this service both going and coming was great and we will certainly use it again in the future. The baggage handling alone is a great thing to not have to do ourselves!

So it was off to AoA we went. Bus driver was friendly and full of insider Disney fact which are always fun to hear. The resort itself was beautiful! We walked in and were helped right away. The room was ready so we went by to drop off some things from our carry-ons that we didn't need to carry around in the parks. We stayed in a Lion King Family Suite and could not have asked for a better location...we were room 0540 and it was the first room on the first floor as you entered from the main resort side. Since we are a family of 4 adults (and my parents are both snorers) this set-up is perfect for us with 2 bathrooms and everyone has their own bed. The room was...bright! It is super-themed and I'm sure perfect for every and any little kid or kid at heart out there.

**sidenote info about my fam: we have been to disney probably 15+ times and have stayed in almost every resort, however the older we all get the more we tend to lean towards the deluxe accommodations, so this was something different for us, but we aren't snobs and enjoyed the theming just the same!

After dropping off stuff we decided to go ahead and find our way to Wide World of Sports to pick up our packets for Saturday night's race. We learned very quickly if you are going for a runDisney race, and you aren't bringing your own car, it is probably best that you stay at one of the race's host resorts. The host resorts for this weekend were All Star Sports, Caribbean Beach, and Animal Kingdom Lodge, but we've stayed at all of those options before and wanted to try the new one. Little did we know transportation would be so difficult. We ended up walking across the bridge to get to Pop Century where we caught a bus to WWoS but after packet pickup we wanted to head straight to MK so we decided to take a cab instead of going all the way back to Pop and then getting another bus to MK. The cab wasn't bad however, since we normally only take Disney transport while in Disney, we never knew that a cab had to drop you at TTC. Luck was on our side however and a ferry boat was pulling in as we walked up and we were across Bay Lake in no time.

As we walked through the turnstiles, we were again smiled upon by the Disney gods...to be continued tomorrow!
Thanks for the trip report so far! Eagerly awaiting more! We are planning to do the Expedition Everest Challenge next year. I would LOVE some planning tips...were there kids participating? I have a very athletic DD12 (as of next year she'll be 12) and DS16 (as of next year). Both are year round swimmers and are extremely fit. My DS and I participated in the Rugged Maniac 2 years in a row this year and am wondering how Everest Challenge compares. RM is a 5K mud run/obstacle course...VERY rugged!!! Thanks for any tips!!!!!!
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:59 PM   #9
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Day 1 Continued...


So we walked into MK right as the 3:00 parade was stepping off, and my family loves parades! We were very lucky to see the whole thing walk by (and me to be the dorky girl in the background singing along!) After the parade was passed we made our way down to Casey's Corner, a staple in our MK visits, and it was tasty as always. French fries with warm cheese, a yummy hot dog, or some delish corn dog nuggets...how can you go wrong. After our late lunch we made our way to New Fantasyland to check out all the new stuff. It looks really awesome but there is definitely some bottlenecking going on, especially with the walls still up for the new mine train being built. Still we were able to walk on to the new Little Mermaid ride with a 35-40 minute wait and the theming in and around the queue is definitely the best part. The ride is cute and believe me Ariel is the best princess in my book, but probably not something that will be on our "every visit list". However, I am always blown away at the details that Disney adds that most people just walk right past (or on) and never really appreciate. Example: seashells in the concrete of the queue line. Awesome! We then just meandered our way back through, tried to walk in and see Be Our Guest restaurant but we had just missed the cut off for visitors so we headed towards some of our favs when it started to rain. We decided to duck into Small World because it was close and covered. Classic is a classic but I swear those dolls are a tiny bit creepy...especially if you have read the Kingdom Keepers books. When we were done it was still raining so we busted out the dollar store ponchos and decided to head to splash mountain since we were already getting wet, via detour to a dole whip of course

Sidenote: splash mountain is probably my all time favorite disney ride, its so well themed, super fun, and full of childhood memories that I wouldn't trade for a million dollars! It is a must do for me every trip and I hope other people have the love and appreciation for it that I do.

I'll fast forward the play by play from here but we hit a few more small rides and then jumped on the monorail for the Polynesian to make our reservations at Kona Cafe. This is a new restaurant for us and so we were excited and yet apprehensive all at the same time. I had read good reviews here on Dis however so that why we went with it. We were seated 10 minutes before our res time which was nice, however our service was slow (at best) and it is definitely a loud restaurant environment being open the way that it is. I had the pot stickers, which were delicious and the best thing on the table, and a volcano roll. My mom had the tuna steak. My dad wasn't feeling 100% so he went simple with the thai watermelon soup and my sister had the asian noodles with chicken. Everyone agreed the food was good, not amazing, but definitely each dish (except my pot stickers) was more spicy than anyone anticipated. My mom's tuna was nearly unbearable with the spice on it. My sushi roll had heat but it wasn't in the tuna, it was in the sauce over the top so it hit me at random times and if there was too much in one spot it was overwhelming. Basically my recommendation is, if you like spicy food and want a relatively easy/quick sit down meal then this is a good option. If this doesn't apply to you then try finding something else.

After dinner it was back to MK for Wishes and MSEP. It was, of course, still raining when we walked out of Poly and as we got on the monorail we even considered punting the park and heading back to the resort. However, by the time we got off the monorail the rain had lightened to a mist/drizzle and we all agreed we would stick it out. Because of the rain the 1st parade of the night had been cancelled and people were leaving in droves...which for us meant prime real estate for fireworks and the 2nd parade which went as planned because the streets were dry enough. All in all it was a busy but awesome first day with lots of unexpected magical moments!
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:08 PM   #10
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Thanks for the trip report so far! Eagerly awaiting more! We are planning to do the Expedition Everest Challenge next year. I would LOVE some planning tips...were there kids participating? I have a very athletic DD12 (as of next year she'll be 12) and DS16 (as of next year). Both are year round swimmers and are extremely fit. My DS and I participated in the Rugged Maniac 2 years in a row this year and am wondering how Everest Challenge compares. RM is a 5K mud run/obstacle course...VERY rugged!!! Thanks for any tips!!!!!!
I will be happy to give you any info about EEC that you would want and I will be discussing it at length coming up in my trip report soon...however if you have done a rugged maniac then this will be a piece of cake! I have also done a rugged maniac so I know the degree of ruggedness and EEC is nothing like that. Basically is it a 5k with 3 VERY basic obstacles. The hardest part (for me at least) was running 3.1 miles and then immediately taking off to walk (no I did not run from clue to clue) the entire park again to collect your clues before getting your medal at the end. Its closer to a 10k distance-wise when you're all done, and some people take it very seriously because your total time is calculated as well as your split times for the 5k and the scavenger hunt individually. Yes there were kids and it is a great event for kids if they are interested in participating in a real race instead of the fun runs that runDisney puts on usually the day before their races. The biggest planning tip I can give, and believe me I will say this over and over, is to stay at a host resort for your race or bring your own car! You cannot rely on Disney transport if you are not at one of the designated host resorts. My other big planning tip, take it easy on the walking the afternoon before the race and the morning after. Its a long day and a late night and we tried to commando through the parks the whole time and I'm still sore. Hope this helps!
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:42 AM   #11
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So sorry I'm a slacker! I promise to finish this trip report soon and I promise never to complain about anyone else's slow completion ever again! Life is just getting in the way these last few days...work, weddings, etc My sincerest apologies to any readers!
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:04 PM   #12
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Day 2: DAK with Wild Africa Trek, DHS, and race time!


We started day 2 bright and early, headed over to DAK to get our trek on. Our tour time was for 8:45 am and they say to get there at least 15 minutes early, however, we were probably there around 10 after 8:00 because we didn't hardly have to wait on a bus! Luckily our transporter/greeter was already there at the turnstiles waiting on us so after coffee and potty breaks we were off into an empty park before opening. Even after being a cast member I am still amazed and awed at the peace that comes with an empty park. You can hear the background music and where it changes, you can notice the details that you rush by when in a crowd, you can take in the magnitude that is a Disney theme park when there is no one else in your way...sorry I digress... So our greeter took us straight back to Africa and to the Trek lockers/suit up area. We were fitted with our harnesses, met our guides, stored our stuff and away we went. I wont review the whole trek here because it would be really long but if you have specific questions about this tour feel free to ask. In short it was awesome! If you love animals, want a way to see them up close, want to know more about behind the scenes with Animal Kingdom or behind the scenes at Disney in general, I would highly recommend this tour. Because we were on an early morning tour we got the breakfast/brunch type menu at our food stop which was very yummy, but adventurous if you're a picky eater. Our guides were great, very easy-going and conversational and happy to share any info about anything we saw or their personal Disney experiences. I will tell you the rope bridge that you see in pictures is actually more challenging than you would expect from Disney...the steps are pretty far apart in some places!!

After our trek was over, we got some yummy park food (pretzels, funnel cakes, etc) and headed over to Festival of the Lion King which is still my favorite show on property! It's so sad to walk through Camp Minnie Mickey these days though as everything else is pretty dead. I know they are trying to gear up for new and magical things but it still bums me out a little that there isn't more happening down there. After the show we decided to forgo the rest of DAK since we knew we would be back for the race/party that night and the rides would be open then so it was off to Studios we went...

Once we arrived we quickly realized that we wouldn't be accomplishing very much since we were arriving there that late in the day (aka ~1:00). There were multiple events happening in Disney that weekend including a cheerleading competition, some kind of middle and high school band competition, not to mention the race. So needless to say fastpasses were either for hours later or were already out for the day. We decided to head down Hollywood Boulevard and grab some late FPs for RnR and then take some ice cream into stand-by for ToT. We all agreed that if you have to wait in line for something ToT is the easiest/best wait so thats why we chose that. Posted time was about 60 minutes and we probably got through in just under that, but its always worth it! I am not a heights girl and don't do drop rides anywhere else, but for whatever reason I love this one, as does the rest of my fam! After ToT we decided we should eat a real meal so we grabbed a table and ate some quick service. As we were finishing the street performers of Hollywood were rolling out and we stepped up to the curb to watch. This is one of mine and my dad's favorite parts of DHS and I honestly would stop and watch anytime I see them come out. They really just add to the entertainment factor of this park and I think they have one of the coolest jobs in the World. Once they were done, we stepped into the Beauty and the Beast show, which is my sister's favorite. She's always been a Belle girl, whereas I am an Ariel all the way! The show had some technical difficulties with their backdrop/set changes but the show went on as they say it should. I'm sure if you had never seen it before you probably wouldn't have even noticed. After it was over we had killed enough time to use our RnR FP. Always a good time. Since it was "May the Fourth Be With You" weekend we felt like we had to head over to Star Tours and take a trip. It was basically walk on which was cool, even though there was a huge crowd hanging around that area, and we got a trip we had never taken before which always makes for a better ride. This pretty much ended our DHS day so we wandered back towards the front and caught a bus back to AoA.

Once we got back we had dinner in the resort food court and had time to lay down/change/rest for about an hour before it was time to be up and going for the race. If we could go back and do it over again we all agreed that we would have left the parks earlier and had longer to rest. After a full day of walking, getting back up on our feet was tough. However, we did and we had our matching t-shirts on, ready to take on that Yeti...
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:34 PM   #13
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Night 2: Expedition Everest Challenge 5k, Scavenger Hunt and Post-Race Party


So since we had chosen to stay at a non-host resort for this race we decided, and were not alone, to take a cab over to DAK. The race information had suggested that we get there an hour before the start time and boy were they right! The traffic all trying to get into the parking lots was pretty backed up, however, we made it in with plenty of time to spare, hit the potty and staked out a spot for my mom who was not running. If you have a spectator for this event, there is not much space for viewing except at the finish line. (more on spectators to come) As it got close to for the first heat to start we headed over to our corral. There was music and a snow machine and there was a good atmosphere amongst the runners. Heats start in 15 minute increments and we were in corral F so there were many (fast) people done long before we even started. However, it doesn't matter which heat you're in, you get the countdown and the fireworks, etc just as if you were the first runners off the line. As with all races, everyone took off quickly at the gun and bunched together trying to gain position, however, because the course is designed to start on the main road that goes around the parking lot there was plenty of room for people to then spread out. I'm really not sure what the theory was behind the placement of the "obstacles" but the first one came up pretty quick, about the half mile mark, and was hay bales that you had to go over. That was handled easily with no apparent back up among runners. Then there was just running for a long time. The run through the park is actually pretty cool though, and the wonder got me through the first two miles with pretty good time and motivation. However, the last mile or so is all backstage behind where Everest is and I promise backstage is not as appealing as you might think. Maybe I'm jaded because this is the park I worked at so I've been through there a lot in my life but its just access roads and retainer ponds. Also the last two "obstacles" were within the last half mile of each other. The 2nd one you come to are the tires, which definitely caused a bottleneck. You may think of football players doing high knee drills when you picture tires, however, with this many people trying to get through only two sets of them it was more like synchronized walking. Basically you just got into the rhythm/pace of the person in front of you and tried to keep moving forward without tripping. Once you were through those though people spread back out and ran the last little bit to the final "obstacle" a crawl net. This again caused a slow down, though not as bad as the tires, mostly because many people skipped crawling through the dirt. After you come up you are basically at the finish line and people start handing you your first clue, a flashlight and some water/gatorade/etc.

Now it was time to hunt! I'm not sure what I really expected but I didn't expect to be doing the course all over again, which is basically what the scavenger hunt is. Since my sister, dad and I weren't really aiming for a good total time we walked the scavenger hunt part, enjoyed the park at night and took some pictures along the way. There were people running though, trying to keep their total time low because there is a winner for 5k times and for total times with this race. The clues were cool and the experience was fun but by the end I was really pooped. The total ground you cover is closer to a 10k than a 5k when the whole thing is said and done. But we finished and got our medals!!!

All the while, my mom was hanging out in her spot by the finish line. We had gotten her a ticket to the post-race party thinking we would all go in, ride some rides, have a few brews, and enjoy the park. However, there was no where set up for her to sit so she had been on the ground the whole time, it was really late by the time we were finished with race and hunt and we had had a long day of parking it before this, and come to find out there was nothing complementary at the party. (this we should have figured since it IS Disney but still bummed) So we didn't really stay much longer. We wander through the party, rode everest and kali, I got soaked and was cold, we were all exhausted so we left. I don't know about other runDisney races, but I would think long and hard before being a spectator for one or asking someone to be a spectator. This is the other big change we would make if we do this race again. Mama would stay home and enjoy the amenities of the resort, as she is not a runner.

All in all, it was a fun event that I will probably do again at some point, though maybe not every year! I do know this though, if you are a runner/want to be a runner/pretend to be a runner -- do a Disney race! They bring that element of entertainment and planning that is evident in the parks to their races as well and it was certainly the most fun race I have ever run. They also play up their runDisney brand really well and my sister and I are convinced we are doing another Disney race soon. Since we are both beginner runners we are thinking the next step is to train for a 10k which Disney has recently added to their marathon and Princess half marathons in January and February. This also gives us a reason to plan another Disney vacation!

Next up: Day 3 in EPCOT!
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