Christmas Scenery and Fort Finery, 12/3/11-12/14/11 *Update* 12/19

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by NeverlandClub23, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
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    Welcome to my Pre-Trip Report! Now, I have to guiltily admit that I have never finished a trip report I have started (but I've only attempted to do one). I vow, though, that no matter what it takes this trip report will have the following:

    a) Lots of Pictures
    b) An ending

    I can’t promise that it will at all times be funny (or, for that matter, entertaining), but I will do my best!

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    December 2011 Trip
    ~Introductions and Details
    ~Our Itinerary
    ~Purchases
    ~Cost Breakdown
    ~Glad I Did/Wish I'd Done Differently

    Sept.-Oct. 2010 Mini-Trip Report
    ~Beginning of Day 1: Arrival
    ~More of Day 1
    ~End of Day 1: Magic Kingdom and MNSSHP
    ~Day 2: Epcot
    ~Rest of Day 2: Epcot
    ~Beginning of Day 3: Race Expo and Naps!
    ~Rest of Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon
    ~Beginning of Day 4: Animal Kingdom
    ~End of Day 4: EMH at MGM
    ~Day 5: Epcot
    ~More of Day 5: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Magic Kingdom
    ~End of Day 5: EMH at Magic Kingdom
    ~Last Day! Checking Out and DTD

    _________________________________________________



    So, on that note, I bring you the Christmas Scenery and Fort Finery Trip Report

    Introductions of the lovely trip members:

    Dad – 62 (but doesn’t believe it), retired firefighter and lover of Harley Davidson T-Shirts and firefighter memorabilia (I'm sure many of which will be making an appearance on this trip). Also known as the person who put up the biggest fight before our first trip in ’93, but my Mom convinced him that it wasn’t a waste of money and now I think he loves it the most. He’s also a fan of the moustache.

    Mom – (a classy woman never reveals her age), almost retired from the financial service industry (retires in February 2012) and lover of her family. I think my Mom loves WDW, but it’s hard to tell with her. She’s gotten the I-love-anything-my-family-gives-me-or-loves down to a science, so I don’t know the difference between tolerance and love. She also loves her grand-dogs and desperately hopes my brother or I decide to have kids one day.


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    Mom, Dad, and Meeko (don't you hate when people take pictures when you're talking?)

    Keith – 32, my brother, and generally not a fan of WDW. His last trip with us was in 2005 when we all stayed in the same room at Wilderness Lodge (big lesson learned on that, what a nightmare!) and he hasn’t wanted to go back since. He had planned on going on this trip last year when it was in the beginning stages of being obsessed about and he and his girlfriend of 3 years were together. Well, in January they had a horrible break-up and she moved out. My parents told him he could still go and stay with them. He loves his dog, Kirby (a cardigan Welsh corgi), fitness, and, I don’t know, debating things? My brother and I didn’t really get along growing up (we’re much different analytically), but we’re better now and enjoy each other’s company (most of the time). He’s also a drafter (like in he draws blueprints for engineers, nothing to do with NASCAR ;)).

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    My brother and Meeko (she'll figure out a way to be in any picture :) )

    Matt – 34, my wonderful boyfriend. We’ve actually known each other for 10 years (I dated his brother when I was a teenager :upsidedow) and have talked off an on throughout the years. Last Fall we were talking and decided to go out on a date (we were both single at the time). After a few dates, we were both head over heels and moved in together. We’re so much alike and enjoy doing much of the same things. He has two dogs (a yellow lab and Miniature Pinscher) and works as a real estate agent and property manager. My Christmas present this year is that he leaves his phone in the room and only does work for an hour a day (since we’re going to be gone for almost 2 weeks I knew he couldn’t stop working completely, the joys of being self-employed!:rolleyes:). We’ll see if this actually happens.

    Me (Kimberly) – 29 (not a classy lady…), lover of amusement parks, animals, and running/fitness (only to counter balance my love for sweets!). I’ve traveled many places, but none touch my heart like Disney does. I’m hoping Matt has the same experience, but I know it’s different when you grew up with something and have a lot of memories attached to a place. I’m a paralegal for an Estate Planning law firm and I love it. I also have a wonderful little 4-year-old dog, Meeko, a Miniature Pinscher.


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    Matt and I on a recent camping trip. I went back to being a brunette (my natural color) as I am growing my hair out to donate to Locks for Love.

    Whew! Now, that that’s done, on with the show!
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    When
    : December 2nd through December 14th 2011

    Where: That depends. My brother was gracious enough to watch Meeko the last time I went to WDW with my parents (2008). She has ridiculous separation anxiety and hardly ate while we were gone or moved. Since he’s going this trip (and I don’t have the nerves or guts to leave her in a kennel/doggie-daycare in Virginia while we’re in Florida for so long), I had to figure out a way to take her with us. My 3 options were:

    1) Rent a house outside of Disney. This was appealing as we could have our own pool and a lot of privacy. However, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE night EMH’s and we have our own pool at home. Also, while I don’t mind driving, I knew we would have to leave the park every afternoon/evening to let Meeko out and I didn’t want to spend 30-60 min. every day driving. I felt like that would take away from the WDW vacation I was used to.

    2) Put her in a kennel in WDW or in Orlando, that way if she’s not eating I can get her or figure out what to do without driving all the way back to Virginia. The only problem with this is that I wouldn’t want to spend a whole day trying to find a decent pet-allowed hotel if something did happen.

    3) Rent a motorhome or camper and stay at Ft. Wilderness. This option made the most sense as it allowed us to get EMH’s and have Meeko stay with us. However, I grew up camping and really did not want to feel like I was having a cheap, camping vacation when I’m used to the nice Disney resorts! After looking around online, I decided this really was the best option and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t lose the Disney vacation “feeling” by camping. My parents own a 2-year-old motorhome and offered to drive it down for us and set it up at Ft. Wilderness so we wouldn’t have to rent one. Aren’t they the best?! The only catch was that we’re not allowed to fly, we have to ride down with them. Not a problem for me, I prefer driving to flying (safe naps, bathroom/drinks/food whenever I want, packing anything I want? Yes please!), but Matt would MUCH rather fly. He’ll get over it.

    Anyways, that puts us at Ft. Wilderness for the duration of the trip (I reserved a Premium pet loop site, I believe that would put us on the 300 loop and I also requested to be along the canal. Here’s hoping!). My parents wanted to stay at the Poly (we all love the Poly!), but it was just way overpriced. They decided on POR (we also love this resort). About the time they were figuring out where to go (March-ish), I got a discount code in my email. I told my Mom she should call as my mailing address is the same as theirs and they may be able to use it. Sure enough, the CM told them because our mailing address is the same it’s good for the whole household! They saved 40% on a few nights of the room at POR (some of the nights were blocked out [I’m assuming because of Pop Warner]) and switched the last three nights to the Wilderness Lodge (my parent’s love this resort, I like it okay) for 40% off as well. My brother will be staying with them (poor thing, I hope he packs ear plugs with the Snoring Choir in full force every night). Oh, also, the breeder where he purchased his dog from welcomes anyone she sells her dogs to bring them back to stay. He’s arranged to drop Kirby off with her to stay (he gets to play with some of his brothers and sisters) for the trip.

    Details: We’re actually in Florida for a total of 12 days. During this time we will be doing all four theme parks of WDW, Sea World, Discovery Cove (just Matt and I), and Universal/Islands of Adventure. We may also be doing an evening at Disney Quest and maybe Blizzard Beach. Matt and I will also be doing the Around the World Segway tour in Epcot.

    Food: I drove over to my parent’s house at 5 a.m. with my laptop in tow to make ADR’s with my Mom online at 6 a.m. at our 180 day mark (I believe, June 6th?). She didn’t wake up until 5:50, which freaked my Dad out as he was super paranoid we weren’t going to get an ADR at ‘Ohanas (we didn’t get to eat there during our 2008 trip and we’ve never heard the end of it, it usually goes like this “Oh, yes, I remember that trip. The ONE trip where I didn’t get to eat at ‘Ohanas, even though that was the ONE thing I REALLY wanted to do…”). Talk about pressure!

    I went on a solo 6 day trip to WDW last September/October (also ran the Wine and Dine half marathon), so I knew how to work the online system. We went through the ADR list, splitting up which ADR’s we knew would go fast and who was going to do which ones first. Not an easy task when my Dad is breathing down our neck. He had a heart attack 2 years ago and I kept telling him it’s a good thing he wasn’t making the ADR’s or he’d surely have another one!

    It was a stressful 5-10 minutes, but we got all the ADR’s we wanted! Even thinking about that morning now makes my heart race. We did have to tweak some times here and there, but we are eating at all the restaurants we wanted. I'll post the details on that in my next post! Hope you'll follow along! :cutie:
     
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  3. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

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    December 2, 2011 - Friday
    I'm taking half a day off this day and we're hitting the road as soon as everyone is out of work and we stop at a local restaurant (tradition). Hopefully by 8 p.m. as we have a hotel reservation in Lumberton, NC, about 4-5 hours away.

    December 3, 2011 – Saturday

    *Arrival Day
    Dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express CS
    *Tour resorts or Downtown Disney

    December 4, 2011 – Sunday
    *Morning at Magic Kingdom
    Lunch @ Tony’s (traditional first meal)
    *Evening/afternoon at MGM (EMH: 8-11 p.m.)
    Dinner @ Mama Melrose’s

    December 5, 2011 – Monday

    *Morning at Epcot
    Lunch @ CS place in Morocco
    Dinner @ San Angel Inn (our first time!)
    *Evening/afternoon at Magic Kingdom (EMH: 8-11 p.m.)

    December 6, 2011 – Tuesday
    **Our Anniversary!
    *Day at Sea World (9 a.m.-7 p.m.)
    Lunch @ CS place
    Dinner @ Ohana’s
    *Visit resorts/Downtown Disney or miniature golf

    December 7, 2011 – Wednesday

    *Morning at Animal Kingdom
    Lunch @ Flame Tree BBQ
    *Night at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (7 p.m-12 a.m.)
    Dinner @ CS at POR or DTD

    December 8, 2011 – Thursday
    *Day at Universal/Islands of Adventure
    Morning at Islands of Adventure
    Lunch @ Mythos TS
    Afternoon at Universal
    Dinner @ T-Rex at Downtown Disney (also a first)

    December 9, 2011 – Friday
    *Day at Epcot
    **Matt and I are doing the Around the World Segway Tour
    Lunch @ Biergarten
    Dinner @ Chefs de France
    *EMH night at Epcot

    December 10, 2011 – Saturday

    * Morning at Magic Kingdom
    Lunch @ Cosmic Ray's (first time!)
    * Night at Epcot
    Dinner @ Via Napoli (also a first!)

    December 11, 2011 – Sunday

    *Animal Kingdom or another day at Universal/IoA
    Lunch @ Pizzafari CS (if we go to AK)
    Dinner @ Sanaa (first time!)
    *Night at MGM (EMH: 8-11 p.m.)

    December 12, 2011 – Monday
    *Matt and Kim at Discovery Cove
    Dinner @ Hoop Dee Doo Revue
    *Visit resorts/Downtown Disney

    December 13, 2011 – Tuesday
    *Morning at MGM
    Lunch @ Sci-Fi (always my pick!)
    *Night at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (7 p.m.-12 a.m.)
    Dinner @ Crystal Palace

    December 14, 2011 – Wednesday
    Morning at Downtown Disney
    Lunch @ Earl of Sandwich
    Time to go home :sad1:


    Since I never finished my TR from my last trip, I'll do a sort of mini-TR within a TR in the next couple of posts. I went on a solo trip for 6 days last Sept./Oct. and ran the Wine and Dine half marathon. I also stayed at AKV Kidani (on rented points! :) ) and took WAY too many pictures. But, I can't remember too many minute details so it'll be more of a picture mini-TR with captions.
     
  4. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

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    Messages:
    5,762
    I woke up at the crack of dawn for my 6 a.m. flight on September 30th. These always seem like a good idea until you actually have to get up for them. It was pouring rain and lightning/thundering. I knew my flight would be delayed, but kept checking and no delays! My Dad drove me to the Norfolk airport (going about 35 mph on interstate because of the rain/wind). The flight was on time! I couldn't believe it. I noticed the plane wasn't even half full and I heard someone say that a truck full of vegetable oil had overturned on one of the main interstates, preventing a lot of people from getting to the airport. I was so glad not to be one of them!

    My flight was a direct, uneventful flight. I got to Florida around 8 a.m. and went to get my rental car. I think I went through Dollar rental agency and I got a pretty good rate. I love being able to pick out my rental car. The reason I got a car at all is because Kidani was not a host resort for the Wine and Dine half marathon, which meant I would somehow have to get to the Expo to pick up my race stuff, to the start of the race, and back. I found a great deal and was sold. It was also so nice to be able to drive to some of the parks and grocery stores.


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    Taking pictures and driving...almost as safe as texting and driving!

    I drove to AK Kidani to check in, I had rented points from someone I found on the Rent/Trade board on the DIS. I ended up paying $160 a night for a Deluxe Studio Savannah View! I also purchased a ticket to MNSSHP that night (last minute idea I had on the plane :) ).

    My room wasn't ready so I headed off to DTD for lunch and to Publix for a few groceries.


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    Lunch at Earl of Sandwich ~ Caprese sandwich, chips, drink, and the yummiest brownie sandwich EVER!

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    I took my lunch down to the area beside the Margarita bar (which was closed at this time of the day) as EoS was packed.

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    Soon after I took this picture I got a text that my room was ready!

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    Driving back to Kidani...

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    Walking to my room...

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    I always get this little fear before I open the door for the first time that I'm going to be walking into an occupied room to find God knows what.

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    Nice bathroom! Although, even when I travel with someone else and the hotel has a bathroom where the toilet is separate, I never let the other person use the rest of the bathroom if I'm using the toilet. It's just such a tiny room, I hate feeling closed in! You can wait 2 minutes to brush your teeth or take a shower ;)

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    I think the rooms are much prettier in person. I'm remember looking at photos before I stayed there and I thought the rooms looked kind of drab. They really are beautiful!

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    Balcony to the right...
     
  5. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    View straight ahead (I was on the second floor in the Rafiki, um, wing?)

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    View to the left...

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    Because you can never over-document a 366 sq. ft. room... :rolleyes:

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    Towel mouse?

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    Towel butterfly!

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    I was too full earlier to eat my brownie sandwich so I ate it over the course of 3 days (ok, maybe 2), starting now. Mmmmmm!

    After taking way too many pictures of every animal I could possibly see (I told myself I wouldn't be one of those people who stay at AKL and take 5,000 pictures of every angle of a giraffe. Alas, I was not strong enough. For some reason you just keep taking pictures, because every picture seems to be better than the last. I'll spare you and only show a few animal pictures at a time. Seriously, I took 500-600 pictures on this trip, most of which were taken on my balcony.), I headed out of the room to make my way to Magic Kingdom (I don't know where the time went :confused3 Maybe there was a nap in there. I do love my naps!) for the Halloween party.

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    African art in the hallways

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    Right outside the main lobby

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    The lobby

    Up next, my evening at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!
     
  6. poisonapple_PRINCESS

    poisonapple_PRINCESS DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    569
    Hi! You guys will be leaving the day before we arrive! Cant wait to read more plans!
     
  7. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    I took the bus to Magic Kingdom around 5 p.m. for my very first Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! At first, my plan was just to get to the resort and hang out or go to DTD. However, while waiting for my flight I thought about how nice it would be to spend my first night at Magic Kingdom! I had purchased a little over $300 in gift cards when Kroger was having a sale of $5 off a pack of $45 gift cards, so I thought this would be a perfect thing to spend some of them on. I purchased my ticket when I checked in from the front desk.

    Anyways, I arrived at Magic Kingdom and instantly got that peaceful, Christmas morning feeling :goodvibes. It just washes right over you. Since this was my first solo trip, I wasn’t really sure what I’d be doing at the parks. I thought I would just go on rides, but I realized that rides, while still fun, definitely had a different feeling when you were on them by yourself. Usually when I go with my family, we’ll talk about the ride after or I’ll look around and see the smiles on their faces. I realized that I got more pleasure just walking around or people watching then I did riding rides, so I did a lot of that on this trip. It was so relaxing. At no time did I feel lonely or bored, it was just such a neat way to experience WDW. Like I completely immersed myself in each moment because I had nothing to rush off to or nothing to get distracted by.


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    I walked slowly down Main St. It was a lot more crowded than I was expecting, but it mainly just felt that way on Main St. I guess because the park was closing to the public soon and it was open to party goers.
    My favorite ride in WDW is the TTA. My parents think it’s comical that I can ride over and over and never get tired of it. I headed there for a relaxing ride and to get some pictures of the park. I am still really bummed about the new audio track. Now, it sounds like something you’d hear on the bus getting to the park. I loved that it used to feel so retro and I LOVE the mid 1900’s view of what the future was going to be like. I think that feeling was gone with the new audio. I still love the ride (and the new lighting).


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    After the TTA, I rode Buzz Lightyear. I usually get the 999,999 score as I know where most of the secret spots to hit are, but I just wasn’t as interested in shooting by myself. I did more looking around and really noticing the little things on the ride.

    After Buzz, I walked through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. It was fairly busy. I stopped at Columbia Harbour House for some food. I’ve eaten here before, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to eat. I decided on the chicken nuggets. The inside was PACKED so I headed outside to the patio tables a few feet from CHH.


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    Once outside I think I must’ve forgotten something inside (straws, napkins, or something?). I tried to go back in, but the doors were locked! It was 7:03 and I hadn’t realized most CS places closed when the park did to the public. I was glad I stopped when I did! I had so many families/people ask me where I got the food because they were having a hard time finding somewhere that was still open. Dinner was really good. I love nuggets with the crispier/thicker coating on the outside.

    After dinner, I walked around taking a few photos. I also purchased a poncho from one of the stores ($7, I believe) before going on Splash Mountain. I LOVE this ride, but didn’t want my camera and all my stuff to get wet. I also rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. None of these had any lines.


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    At this point I believe it was about 8:15. I walked through Adventureland and stopped for a root beer float (with greenish/blue ice cream!). As much as I love pineapple, I do not enjoy Dole Whips or floats. I set up post in front of the Crystal Palace along the railing waiting for the fireworks. I think they started at 9. By the time they started I had quite a few people around me. A few of my photos:

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    After the fireworks (which were AMAZING! Even better then the Christmas ones IMHO), I made my way back to Adventureland and rode Pirates of the Caribbean. I then walked around to the Haunted Mansion and rode this as well. There was a couple around me in line and I really enjoyed hearing their conversations, as it seemed like they were really in love.

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    I wandered around Magic Kingdom after this, not really riding anything.

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    I did get candy from a few places (they give you a candy collection bag when you enter the park), but as much as I love sugar, I’m not much of a candy fan. I rode the TTA again (ok, maybe more than once) and wandered around. At about 11:45 I decided to head out to the bus.

    There are no words to describe what a nightmare of a bus experience this was. I’m not a huge fan of the buses anyways, but this was crazy. The line was enormous for Animal Kingdom Lodge, but I figured it would go fast as it was the end of the night. I waited 45 minutes to get on a bus. Finally, after getting on the bus (standing and smushed up against a ton of other people), the bus driver asks if a “gentleman will offer up their seat to this woman holding a sleeping young child”. The bus was noisy and you could tell everyone was on edge. The bus driver LOUDLY and angrily says “Are you kidding me?! Not a SINGLE gentleman on this whole bus?!?” Another guy stands up and angrily yells back at him that no one had heard him and how about saying it louder and waiting more than 2 seconds. The bus driver angrily says back “I shouldn’t have to say anything. It’s ridiculous. She’s obviously standing here struggling.” They had a few words back and forth and I was so over it. Seriously, it was 1 a.m. at this point, my legs were killing me, and we still had another 25-30 minute bus ride back to the resort. I just wanted to scream “Does any of this matter?!? Just start the bus and leave!” I mean, I get what the bus driver was saying and, yes, someone (not just a man) should’ve offered their seat to her, but if I was her I would wait for a bus until I could sit or I would’ve driven (or not be at a park until midnight with a little kid I had to carry). Like I said, I’m not a fan of the buses as I think you waste so much time and it’s so unsafe the amount of people the cram into any available inch of space standing.


    Arriving back at the resort...


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    I FINALLY made it back to the room at about 2 a.m. I’m glad the bus drops off at Kidani first (even though there were a lot of disgruntled people on the bus that weren’t very happy about that). I was exhausted and so happy to be back in my nice, quiet room. I made a mental note to always drive to the parks at night and quickly fell asleep.

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    Up next, day at Epcot!
     
  8. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

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    Hi! Thanks for joining! I can't WAIT until this trip. It needs to come quickly before I make even more plans (and spend even more money!)
     
  9. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

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    I'm taking a break from my 2010 TR for a moment (which is turning out to be a lot less "mini" by the day!:rolleyes1) to talk about things I've already purchased for my upcoming trip!

    Last week I was up at 2 a.m. (unusual for me) and perusing ebay. I wasn't really even searching for anything and I have NO idea how I stumbled upon this, but I ended up purchasing a Kermit backpack/purse! :rotfl:

    The conversation with Matt went something like this:

    Me: "Hey, hey, are you asleep? I have a quick question."
    Matt (obviously asleep): "Hmph...hmmmm..huh? What? Are you ok??"
    Me: "Yeah, but would you be seen with me in public if I was wearing a Kermit backpack? Like when we go to Disney?"
    Matt: "Um, yeah. I think that's pretty cool"
    Me: "You do?"
    Matt: "Yeah, I mean where and when else in life would you be able to wear a Kermit backpack in public?"
    And then he fell back asleep.

    Now, he's a really deep sleeper and he wakes up and has 5 minute conversations with me all the time that he doesn't remember the next day so I was pretty sure he wouldn't remember this one. I jumped at his sleepy approval and bought it ($10)! When I told him the next day he told me thought he had been dreaming the conversation
    :laughing:.

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    Pictures from Ebay

    We have a standing tradition in my family that we have watched the Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas for the past 18 years (it came out in '92). I'm going to try and find a scarf like Kermit (Bob Cratchett) wears in the movie to wrap around his neck (Matt thinks this is overkill).

    Other purchases I've made (although none as exciting...):
    • Discovery Cove tickets ($150 for each which includes the dolphin swim and all food and drinks at Discovery Cove, I got this great deal when American Express had their Daily Getaways in April).
    • Sea World Tickets (Matt and I get free admission as it comes with the Discovery Cove tickets). We have Busch Gardens Williamsburg annual passes and got the refillable mug ($.99 refills) which we can use at Sea World too!
    • Universal Tickets (They raised their prices so I called my Mom and told her to go to Costco [they have a membership] and purchase us passes there. They had 3 day passes to Universal/IoA for $139 which can be used any 3 days until December 2014. We think we're only going to use 1 day this trip, but it'll be nice to have the option of the second day!)
    • Tickets to the Christmas Party - $242 for 4 tickets for the 2 of us :scared1: since we're going to 2 parties
    • Our package is paid off (finally!) - I went back and forth on whether to get the dining plan. I kept crunching the numbers, but it was always cheaper to go without it. However, Matt has never taken a vacation (ever!) and he can be very frugal (especially when he thinks things are overpriced). I didn't want every meal to be filled with "Yes, I'll just have water and a house salad" and him rambling on and on about how expensive everything is. So even though going without the dining plan would be cheaper (not by a ton), I sucked it up and purchased it. The value of us having a great time is worth more to me than a few dollars. The package took care of our campsite (about $800ish for 11 nights), tickets (7 day hoppers), and food. The rest of my family is not doing the dining plan.
    • Passporter 2011 book - Now, I'm not a huge fan of buying WDW books. I spend so much time on this website and on All Ears that I pretty much know everything in the book already. However, I love the extras (like important phone numbers all located in one place) and the envelopes for each day, etc. Plus, I got a pretty good rate on Amazon and it'll be nice to keep it as sort of a memento of this trip.
    • Rainforest Cafe gift cards from Saveology. I have registered everyone on our trip (you need separate emails) and purchased 5 $15 gift cards for $7.50 a piece. We'll be using these for our T-Rex dinner.
    • Pre-ordered Photopass CD
    • A Universal book (the name escapes me now, Kelly Somebody is the author...) - since we've never been to Universal or IoA, I thought some overplanning is in order! :laughing: I've read the book and found it very helpful for a beginner going to these 2 parks. I've planned our itinerary (a Plan A and a Plan B depending on which park people want to start with first). I like Harry Potter ok, but I'm not a HUGE fan. I'm more looking forward to just getting to experience a new amusement park(s) for the first time! :goodvibes
    • Reserved the Around the World Segway tour at Epcot for Matt and I for 12/9/11
    • A hotel room for Friday night in NC
    • Clothes and shoes (although there's always more to buy ;) )
    Yet to be purchased...
    • Buy a few Christmas decorations for the camper. While I'm not trying to win any awards with our decorations, I don't want to look like Scrooge either. ETA: I found a mini-Christmas tree to put on the dash of the RV, but when I go Black Friday shopping with my Mom this year I may pick up a few more things if I find anything interesting.
    • Purchase some DVD's for the trip. I am not a DVD purchaser. I own maybe 3 DVD's. I'm trying to find things that would appeal to all of us (well, except my Dad 'cause he's driving ;) ) and that's not easy. The only think I bought so far is National Lampoon's Vacation :laughing:
    • Order an anniversary cake from the Boardwalk Bakery (waiting until 2 weeks out)

    I think that's it for now! I'll move things around or add as I think of them. There are some things that can't be done until we get there, like I want the photo CD at Discovery Cove and we want to do the Behind the Seeds tour (just not sure what day).
     
  10. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    I woke up at about 8:30-9 a.m., relaxed, sat out on the balcony watching the animals, and slowly got ready. I headed out about 10-10:30. I'm not really sure how I got to the park this day (that's what happens when it's almost a year later...). I could've sworn I took the bus, but I think I drove to the T&TC and rode the monorail (I LOVE taking the monorail to Epcot) as my first picture is walking down from the monorail area.

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    You can see the candy collection bag from the night before on the couch.

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    I walked over to the Land to get a Fastpass for Soarin'. I've always thought this area could be much better organized. I've heard Sunshine Seasons was designed to look like an airport (Really? People really want to see airport-theme on vacation?) and the Land definitely feels like a chaotic airport.

    After getting my FP, I decided to tour World Showcase. I wandered around each of the countries. It was a beautiful morning and World Showcase was empty. It felt so good to be at WDW and not at work!


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    I saw these pandas walking through the gift shop in China. It made me laugh as it seems like one panda in particular is trying really hard to be bought...

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    I stopped in Norway for a school bread and soda. Delicious!

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    I worked my way back over to Future World.

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    I really enjoy Universe of Energy. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I really do like it. It's a nice, dark break.

    I then walked over to the F&WF pavilion. This place always makes me sad! One of my favorite memories from early WDW trips was watching Cranium Command. For those that don't know, the Wonders of Life pavilion was filled with hands-on, Children's-Science-Museum type of activities in the main floor and then a few things along the outside rim (like Body Wars and Cranium Command). Cranium Command was a tiny little theater in the back (almost hidden) and every time we watched it we were one of the few people even in there. The show was about a young boy and the different things his body goes through in a day. It was cute, funny, and entertaining. I still have hopes it will come back in some shape or form one day.

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    Some guy from Food Network

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    Cakes made for the Food and Wine Festival

    Continued...
     
  11. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    [​IMG]

    Ridiculously tall palm trees!

    I went back to the Land to ride Living with the Land (my favorite ride in Epcot) and Soarin'..

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    These creep me out. I can't imagine growing them and walking underneath of them.

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    FastPass line for Soarin'

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    I stopped for a pretzel at some stand by Journey Into the Imagination. It was pretty terrible. Dry and flavorless.

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    The ducks still wanted a piece though

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    These water areas are some of my favorite areas in all of WDW.

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    I decided to ride Spaceship Earth and then head back to the room for a nap! :cutie:

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    Up next, the rest of Day 2!
     
  12. kokotg

    kokotg DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    694
    I love corgis AND miniature pinschers, so I'm in :)

    Really interested to hear how Disney with a dog goes for you. The idea of taking my dogs kind of appeals to me...but then again having a week with no pet responsibilities appeals to me, too :laughing:

    And I just have to say: brownie sandwich...mmm....drool!
     
  13. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    After a peaceful nap, I started to get anxious about the half marathon I was doing the next night. I was doing great in my training until about 2 weeks before the trip. I was really sick and still had some mucous accumulating in my lungs. I kept telling myself that my goal was just to finish. However, I know how competitive I can be…(a little foreshadowing, perhaps?)

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    Animals I saw after my nap from my balcony

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    Pretty tile in the shower

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    My plan for the evening was to go back to Epcot and snack around at the F&WF booths and watch Illuminations. I drove to Epcot and got a great parking space only a few rows from the front, but the parking lot was FAR from empty. I should’ve known what was about to happen when I was going through the turnstiles and there were massive amounts of people going in. I thought this was interesting, there were quite a few families and groups around me trying to get into Epcot. The CM’s would come over and check passes and tell them that they didn’t purchase hopper passes. Then the family/group would get all upset and say that they had just left MK (it closed at 7 for MNSSHP) and they thought the “hopper” part was only useful if the parks were still open, that once the park closed they were allowed to go to other parks. I saw this happen about 3-4 times. I had no idea that that would be a common thought, but apparently, it is!

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    Anyways, Future World was a lot more crowded than it had been that morning. I walked around to World Showcase and it was so extremely crowded! Each F&WF booth had huge lines and the walkways were mobbed. I had been to the F&WF in 2008 on the last weekend and it was so quiet and hardly anyone was there. I knew I wouldn’t want to stay for long, but I wanted to try out the Moroccan counter service place as my Dad really wanted to go here during our 12/11 trip.

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    Crowds!

    I purchased the chicken schwarma platter and there were no tables available (and this is at about 7:30-8 p.m.). I sat on a concrete ledge area (to the left of the fountain) and enjoyed my delicious meal. Right about the time I sat down, Mo’ Rockin’ came out! I was so excited as I really enjoy listening to them. I also find it very entertaining that only a few people stand around watching until the belly dancer comes out. After that, hoards of men and their video cameras come streaming over.

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    Mo' Rockin' (please excuse the dirty camera lens!)

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    Yummy dinner!

    After my great meal, I wandered back over to Future World. Only a few things were still open so I decided to ride Spaceship Earth again (love this ride!). I didn’t know what to do next. If I stayed, I would just stand around for two hours waiting for Illuminations to start and I didn’t really feel like doing that. I decided to hop in the car and drive to the Poly for dessert and to watch the Electrical Light Parade.

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    I just love these fiber optics

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    One more picture on the way out!

    After arriving at the Poly (I believe I parked at the T&TC and just walked over to the Poly), I went to Captain Cook’s. I wanted some soft serve ice cream, but I couldn’t find any that wasn’t pineapple flavored. I looked at a few more sweet options, but decided to just get a soda and go find a spot on the beach.

    The beach was super crowded too! (I’m assuming from all the people that couldn’t get into Epcot) I found an empty-ish area of sand to sit down and wait for the parade. I have a lot of memories with this beach and I sat there thinking about when I was 11 and ran out on the beach when we stayed at the Poly on our first trip and seeing MK for the first time. I thought about being proposed to many years ago at Sunset Point and being glad for the decisions I made in life. It was a very nice, peaceful moment and I was glad I came that night. The parade started and was nice as always. I don’t think kids are as impressed as their parents are about this parade though. A few kids mumbled “That’s it? That was lame” and most didn’t watch at all. I think it’s something you appreciate more as you get older.

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    I didn’t stick around to watch the fireworks as I wasn’t sure what time they even started and I wanted to get a good night’s sleep before the race the next evening.

    Up next ~ Checking in for the race, the expo, and getting ready for my first half marathon!
     
  14. momabaarjo

    momabaarjo Cupcakes, Cocktails, & Crap Load of Pixie Dust

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Messages:
    4,705
    popcorn:: I will be back later to catch up...so love your pictures!
     
  15. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    I woke up this day around 8:30 a.m. with no real plans. It felt pretty good and strange at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever been to WDW and spent a whole day not going to a park. I was trying to put the thought of having to run 13.1 miles that night out of my mind. I got up and showered before deciding to walk over to Jambo House for breakfast at Mara (Kidani doesn’t have a counter service place).

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    Outside Jiko at AKL

    It was a lovely day and the walkway over to Jambo is pretty nice (maybe ½ a mile?). I walked out to the other side and Mara was PACKED. The line was almost out the building. I had zero desire to wait 30-40 minutes to get something to eat so I moseyed on back to check out the gift shop. I always get some sort of African art or sculpture from AKL’s gift shop. I think they have one of the best gift shops in all of the Disney resorts. I picked up a wooden Zebra-ish bowl and thought it would be perfect to store my remotes at home. I also looked over at the Vinylmation displays and they drew me in like a magnet!

    I’m a sucker for surprises and I just had to have a Vinylmation! I was so overwhelmed by all the displays that I just randomly picked one up. My plan was to open it when I got home, but I only lasted about halfway back down the path to Kidani. Sadly, this is the only Vinylmation I got this trip (I’m not really sure why? I’ve got my Vinylmation budget ready to go for the next trip though!).

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    Walkway between Kidani and Jambo House

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    Across the street from the walkway

    Back at Kidani, I threw a bagel in the toaster (part of the groceries I picked up on arrival day) and ate breakfast in my room looking through the sliding glass door at the animals. The lovebugs were terrible in the mornings (they seemed to die down in the afternoon/evenings), so I didn’t want to sit out on the balcony. After breakfast, I headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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    Breakfast

    This was the funniest part of my day. When I rented the car I knew it didn’t come with a GPS so I brought mine from home. I have only had it a few years (got it for free when I purchased some tires), but I’m too cheap to update it. Not to mention, I’m more of a Mapquest girl. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used my GPS and get about 20ish minutes before my destination and it’s not able to find satellite reception. Frustrating.

    Anyways, I plugged in the address and left Animal Kingdom Lodge. I wasn’t really sure where the ESPN complex was in relation to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I started out going straight on some road (I think after turning left out of AKL? I’m not sure…), then turning right. I followed that road for about ½ mile and then it said to turn right. After turning right and driving another ½ mile, it told me to turn right again. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on around me, just kind of zoning out. Well, I went in a circle (technically, a square) FOUR times before I realized it. What a dummy! Apparently, on the first road I turned right on that road didn’t exist to my GPS. But before it could say recalculating, the road it knew came up and it told me to turn right (when I should’ve just gone straight). I was laughing like a crazy person, I wondered if I had just kept daydreaming how long I would’ve gone around for!

    I finally get to the complex and park. It was a beautiful sunny day and there was a fair amount of people coming in and out of the complex.

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    I entered the complex and picked up my registration info, technical shirt (which basically means moisture wicking for those that don’t know), and goody bag. I walked around, but didn’t want to spend any money on stuff I could find cheaper online. However, I did want to get some runDisney race specific merchandise (one of my regrets is not purchasing more, I got a travel mug and a long sleeve T-shirt).

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    After purchasing my goodies (which you would think they were giving away as people were grabbing handfuls of hangers of stuff, it was crazy!), I took a look at the course map as I hadn’t really looked at the race course before. It looked like a lot of fun, but I also noticed a lot of long stretches of empty road between the parks (What was I expecting? A shuttle?).

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    This is where the Waiting for the Race was held. The field was a sea of people for hours. You can see in the distance rows and rows of port-a-potty's that all had 20-40 people deep lines about half an hour before the race started.

    I took a few more pictures and then headed back to the car. Now what? I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. The race didn’t start until 10 p.m. and it was about 1 p.m. at this point. I decided to get a few more groceries at Publix. On the way, I noticed a Buffalo Wild Wings and decided to order some food to go from there.

    I placed my order and took a seat. They weren’t super crowded. The guy I ordered it from said it would take 10-15 minutes. Thirty minutes later and I STILL don’t have my food! I saw the guy I ordered my food from walk by and I asked him. He walked to the back and apparently it had been sitting there the whole time! He never said sorry or anything, just kind of laughed as he handed it to me. Service is never their strong suit, though. Good thing I had the deliciousness of the buffalitos to look forward to!

    On my way back to the car I opened the door and went to get in. Somehow I slammed my thumb into the door. At that point I realized this Buffalo Wild Wings is cursed. My thumb swelled up and was black/purple an hour later.

    I scurried back to Kidani to eat my delicious meal while watching something on TV. I tried to take a nap, but it was NOT happening. I was starting to feel nervous and get anxiety about the race that night. I finally just got up and got dressed. My nerves were already giving me the shakes and it wasn’t even 5 p.m. by this point!

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    Free "small" technical shirt. And by "free" I mean $150 registration fee and hundreds of dollars in traveling costs. Please excuse the lack of makeup ;).

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    Mmmmmmmmm...buffalitos...

    Before I tell you about the rest of the night, I think you need a little background info. This was Disney’s first Wine and Dine half marathon and (to the best of my knowledge) it was the first time they’d ever done a night race (usually their races start at the crack of dawn and end before most people even wake up). I don’t think they knew what the interest was going to be in this race and weren’t really sure how much resources to even devote to it. When I signed up for this race, everyone was like “You’re going to LOVE Disney races!” to “You’ll be hooked! Disney should be everyone’s first race!” Reading how smoothly and well-organized other Disney races tend to be, my expectations were pretty high. However, looking back, I don’t think Disney should have been my first half marathon. There were SO many things I would’ve had a better appreciation for had I run other halves first. For example, I thought course entertainment was a standard with most half marathons. I ran the Myrtle Beach half marathon earlier this year (Matt’s first half marathon) and I quickly realized why people say Disney is the best!

    Most (if not all) of Disney’s races have transportation from all their resorts to the race. This race only had a handful of resorts with transportation to the race (as I mentioned before). If you were not staying at those resorts, you had to drive yourself to Epcot or find some way to get there. From there, charter buses (not Disney buses) took you to the ESPN sports complex (if you were transported by WDW transportation from the select resorts they took you straight to the sports complex). Well, the LAST bus from Epcot would be leaving at 6:45-7 p.m. This means you had to be at Epcot, parked, and on a bus before then. Do you get what that means? That means for at least THREE hours you are just waiting for the race to start. For THREE hours I sat in a field. For THREE hours I drank one bottle of water I brought with me (I didn’t see anywhere to refill my bottle and there certainly weren’t signs, just lots and lots of port-a-pottys). They did have a DJ in the far corner of the field, but Johnny Depp himself couldn’t entertain me for THREE hours.

    I stretched a little, I called my Mom and chatted for 15 minutes, and basically just sat forever. I had a waist hydration pack that had a little pocket so I had my cell phone, car key, energy chews, and tickets for the after party stuff at Epcot. At about 9 p.m. they announced they would start lining up the corrals soon. Even though EVERY running book tells you to just stay in line constantly for a port-a-potty, even if you feel like you don’t have to go, I didn’t bother going. As I stood up to head into the corral (at about 9:30), I felt like I had to pee. I glanced over at the Port-A-Pottys and the lines were 30-40 people deep. I’ll be fine I told myself (really? I’ll be fine for 3 hours of running with a full bladder? What is wrong with me??).

    I get in the corral, but since I hadn’t been feeling well and my training hadn’t gone well for the last 2 weeks, I stayed at the back of the corral. I struck up a conversation with 4 other lovely women and we all commented about how we wanted to stay in the back. One of them had her boyfriend/husband with her and he gave us all glow bracelets! She told me she had run the NY marathon in 7 hours and I think she took it the wrong way when I looked shocked and said “7 hours?!?”. I didn’t mean to sound rude, like she was slow, I couldn’t imagine even walking for 7 hours! That’s a long time! We all talked about where we were from and things like that. We also talked about our general paces and when they all said 11-12 minute miles, I felt relieved. I was trying to stay around an 11 minute mile pace. I run 10k’s and below at about 9:30-10 minute mile pace, but for this kind of distance I didn’t want to push it).

    Next up...the rest of the race!


     
  16. MelMel11

    MelMel11 Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    Messages:
    364
    Count me in!!!
     
  17. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    I have tried to take pictures of my brother's corgi, Kirby, but he's one so every picture is just a blur. Eventually I will get one! :)

    I'm really interested to see how it goes too :laughing:. To be totally honest, I'm not thrilled about having to camp during this trip, but I think Matt is and at least I don't have to spend the days leading up to the trip with anxiety about having to drop her off at a kennel. I told my parents if she comes on the next trip, it's their turn! ;)

    The brownie sandwich IS soooooooooooooooo good!

    Thank you! :cutie:

    Alright! I love having readers! :goodvibes
     
  18. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    Matt and I have discussed marriage from pretty much the beginning of our relationship. I mean, I'm almost 30, he's 34, and we're both past the wild, crazy growing stages of our lives (and we've technically known each other for 10 years...). It's always been a dream of mine to get married in Florida (I truly think I was a Floridian in a past life as I just LOVE the state so much, even Tampa! :cutie:). However, I am NOT into beach weddings.

    We've discussed getting married next year (he has a ring so I know the eventual engagement is coming, I know, not a very romantic notion to know it's coming, but I don't mind! :laughing:) and he's agreed to Florida. Since I don't wish to finance a wedding and know my parents disagree with spending tens of thousands of dollars on weddings, I decided my dream would be to have a beautiful ceremony outside of WDW, a private dinner somewhere around WDW, and an Illuminations dessert party. We would also have a reception at home for friends/family that didn't get to come.

    However, (I'm getting ahead of myself) if we got married next year in Orlando, our available vacation (and budget) would be sucked up by the wedding/honeymoon, preventing us from doing any site visits. I asked Matt how he felt about taking some time out of this trip to look at a few places and he was all for it.

    So, at some point of our upcoming trip I have to find time to fit in a visit to the Maitland Art Center where my #1 pick for ceremony location is, the Mayan Chapel.

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    Matt wanted to know if we could do a cake tasting too :laughing:. I told him I'm pretty sure we'd have to put a deposit on something before any tasting of anything occurred.

    I have no idea when I can squeeze this in. We weren't planning on getting to the parks most days until 10-11 a.m. so maybe we can do it early. I'd just have to look up the hours for the Art Center.

    Once I'm "officially" engaged I will start a planning journal on the Weddings/Honeymoon boards, but for now it's just something to add to the itinerary for this trip!:cloud9:
     
  19. let'sgo

    let'sgo DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,143
    I'm really enjoying your trip report. I feel as if I am there with you!
     
  20. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    This post is lacking in pictures since I only had my cell phone with me (and most of the course was dark). I will try and make up for it by borrowing pictures from the Internets, where appropriate.

    My new friends and I dubbed ourselves the “B-Minuses” because we wanted to be as far back in the “B” corral as possible. A lot of the people in the "B" corral looked like some serious runners! An announcement came over the speaker that we would be starting in 5 minutes! I felt out of breath and excited and I really had to pee! Too late now, though. I’d never make it back in time for the start of the race.

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    In the field waiting for the race to start. This was about 6:30 p.m.

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    Still waiting...

    The gun and/or fireworks went off. I’m not really sure which as, even though we were in the “B” corral (out of A, B, C, D), it was just a sea of people in front of us. After a few minutes we were still standing in place. Someone mentioned that the wheelchair people had just started (they have a more technical name, I’m sure. Something with “crank” in them?). Another few minutes went by and another gun/firework went off, people were cheering and full of excitement! A surge of people pushed forward to go…nowhere. Everyone stopped. A few more minutes and we were slowly walking. The crowd was so massive (for some reason they didn’t do a wave start like they do at other Disney and bigger races; a wave start is where they let one corral go, wait a few minutes, let the next corral go, etc. This was just a get-everyone-in-a-corral-shoot-off-a-gun-and-hope-they-don’t-kill-each-other start). We slowly walked over the start line. Not exactly what I had been envisioning for this race. I hit “start” on my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch as I crossed the start line.

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    Back of Corral B, fence with the front of Corral C, and, apparently, the second coming

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    Sitting on the curb in Corral B

    We were doing a light jog about ¼ mile after the start. I glanced down at my watch a few minutes later (which all of my B-Minus girls were wearing too, I noticed) and we had increased to a steady 11 minute mile and I felt great! Most of the other girls had taken off (so much for the 11-12 minute miles!), but one of the women and I stayed together.

    It then turned into one of those awkward things I hate about running with other people. You’re not sure if you’re holding them up and they’re not sure if they’re holding you up so you both probably end up going faster than you normally would. I glanced down at my watch and we were doing steady 9:30-10 minute miles as we passed mile marker 2. Uh oh. I felt great, but I knew I couldn’t hold on to this pace forever. About mile 3, the urge to pee came back and made worse by the hydration pack bumping around on my bladder.

    There was a guy on a stage at mile marker 3 singing the song “Cooler than Me”. It was a great upbeat tune to run to and made me forget about having to pee for a second. People around me were dressed as grapes, some chefs, waiters (complete with a serving tray with, I assume, glued on wine glasses), and a few Swedish costumed people: all dancing and having a great time. Really?! I’m barely able to maintain my speed and these people are dancing and running!

    I’m not sure if it was the actual guy who sings “Cooler than Me”, but it sure looked like him. Then I entertained myself thinking about him and if he thinks this is a low-rent gig. “Yeah, I gotta go do this thing in Orlando, it’s like an open-air club. Real cool. Very VIP, sorry, I don’t think I can get you in.” and if he just has to sing that one song over and over (I don’t think he had any other “hits”).

    Anyways, about this time I decided to try and swivel my hydration pack around so that the bottles were behind me instead of in front of me, squeezing the life out of my bladder. Bad idea. As soon as I rotated it, I felt the bottle go flying out of its secure little home, flying into the sea of runners behind me. Now, in my right mind, I would’ve just let the bottle go, remembering that there will be plenty of water stops along the way. I don’t know what I was thinking. The bottle felt like my baby I had to save from the trampling wildebeests. I swear I almost heard “Circle of Life” playing as I turned around to run into the crowd of runners to try and find my bottle. I found it off to the side, quickly put it back in the holster (with bottles facing front, I wasn’t going to try again), beating myself up about losing time and getting in other runners’ way trying to save a $5 bottle.

    I was running an 8:30 mile trying to make up time (a real smart move when you still have about 9 miles ahead of you…), when I ran into one of the B-Minusers! She had slowed down to wait for me ‘cause she didn’t know what happened. We were approaching the entrance to Animal Kingdom and you could see the hundreds of people in the distance who had already run through Animal Kingdom. A bit discouraging.

    The entrance to Animal Kingdom was one of the coolest parts of the race. They had these awesome HUGE teeth on both sides of the path that were lit up in red. All throughout the park there were those people/animals on stilts and other performers and CM’s cheering for us. It felt great! I honestly couldn’t even tell you where we ran through Animal Kingdom without looking at the map. It was so disorienting to be there at night and running through with other people.

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    Source

    On our way out of Animal Kingdom there were dozens and dozens of port-a-potties in the parking lot. I finally couldn’t take it anymore. We were almost at mile 5 or 6, I believe, and my bladder was in so much pain. I wished my B-Minus friend well and stopped at an empty port-a-potty.

    What a weird feeling being in a port-a-potty, in pretty much pitch black (they had these huge emergency flood lights out, but inside the port-a-potty it was like having a small candle), and rushing. The night had felt cool when the run had begun, but now coming to an abrupt stop in a humid port-a-potty (ok, I’m over having to type that word!), felt nauseating and sweaty. I quickly peed and felt 30 lbs. lighter! I was ready to RUN!

    Or so I thought…

    After departing the wonderfulness of that P.A.P. (much better!), I set out at an 11 minute mile pace. It felt nice to not feel pressure to finish in any sort of time frame. My original goal had been to just finish, but as I accumulated more races under my belt before this half, my goal turned into getting in under 2:30. After getting sick and, now, having to stop to pee, I just wanted to finish at a decent time.

    All along the race there were speakers with some ominous way-too-perky announcers somewhere giving us the play-by-play. After passing the halfway point of the race (complete with characters cheering [as much as one can silently cheer…] and an actual halfway point line), I heard an announcement that the first people had just crossed over the finish line. I was so envious of those people that they were enjoying such wonderful amenities as a seat, water, and, I’m sure, a nap.

    I trudged along the dark spans of roadway between Animal Kingdom and DHS/MGM. I started cramping in my sides, but pushed through. I stopped at a few water/fuel stations and managed to get a few sips before tossing the cups. This part felt sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long. I think there was entertainment, but I’m not sure. I just remember lots and lots of road. And more road. There was one of those green Army soldiers from Toy Story saying things like “We’re counting on YOU soldier!” and “Get up that hill!”, which was pretty cool.

    We entered MGM through the back gate, coming up through the Streets of America. I was SO excited to see the Osborne Lights on! It made me think of my Dad and our trip this December and how, even though I’d had a great solo trip, WDW is so much better when experienced with the ones you love.

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    Source

    We ran down the entrance road to MGM and I was in so much pain. I was cramping and every step hurt. I wanted to stop, but I also just wanted to get it over with! We exited MGM and ran around the walkway to the YC/BC/BW area. At this point it’s almost 1 a.m. I am tired and in pain, kicking myself for not stopping at the last several fuel stations.

    I wasn’t really sure where the end was. The race was such a blur at the end. I remember running up the wooden boardwalk along the front of the Yacht Club and Beach Club. I could hear the cheering people and knew the finish line must be close. I started SPRINTING. All out, full on sprint. My Garmin said I was doing about 6:30-7 minute miles, very fast for me. I was passing dozens of people (most of which were probably thinking “does she know someone’s already won?”) and I came around the corner and saw the finish line. Freedom!

    The announcers were there, along with I believe a DJ? I don’t remember. All I know is I crossed that finish line, thankful to be done, at about 2:38:and some odd seconds. Immediately after the finish, there were people handing out the finisher’s medals. The guy I got mine from was really disgruntled that people wouldn’t let him put it over their head, they were just grabbing it from his hands. I told him I didn’t care if I got it sweaty and he seemed pleased that he got to put it on me. I then grabbed my goody bag with stuff like muffins and bananas and a bottle of water.

    This is where the fun ended (if you call running for 13.1 crampy miles and having to pee “fun”).

    There were no signs or directions of where to go at this point. There was this huge warehouse looking building with doors leading into it and no way around it. Everyone was piling into the building because there was nowhere else to go. The building was hot, sweaty, and humid. We were packed in there like sardines (lots of fun being squished by other gross, sweaty bodies, let me tell you…) and no one was moving. After FIFTEEN minutes of not moving and the room getting blurry and feeling like I was literally going to pass out I just started squishing my way over to the side of the room. At that point, I didn’t care if I had to set off an emergency door alarm. I HAD to get out of there. There were people throwing up into trashcans all over the place :sick:. I felt along the wall, squishing my way around. I finally came to a doorway and pushed it open. Sweet air! Unbeknownst to me at the time, that building was the baggage pick-up area if you had dropped a bag off before the race. But they made EVERYONE go through it and it was apparently such a huge disorganized mess that it took people over an hour to get their stuff.

    I felt fine, muscle-wise, so I started to head out into World Showcase. Runners were given a free drink ticket and a free snack item ticket to use at the Food and Wine festival booths that were open until 3 a.m. as an “exclusive” event for the Wine and Dine half marathon. The problem, though, they sold so many “guest” tickets that each Food and Wine festival booth had lines so long, each one would be a 30 min. to an hour wait. I have never seen World Showcase so crowded in my life. I was starting to feel awful (dizzy, lightheaded) and the huge crowds weren’t helping. I could barely even get out of World Showcase, the walkways were jammed with people standing around. I’ve read a few blogs and reports on this race after the fact and it seems a general consensus that the after party was a disaster.

    I slowly walked back to my car through Future World. It was empty and quiet. I sat on a bench for a few moments trying to get my bearings. I felt extremely cold and goose-bumpy (dehydration, anyone?). It was all I could do to walk out to my car. I sat in the car for about 10-15 minutes with the heat on full blast. I pulled out of the Epcot parking lot at 2:30 a.m. and hoofed it back down the deserted WDW roadways to AKL.

    Once back in the room, I sat in a sweltering hot shower for what seemed like an eternity. Not a good thing to do when you’re dehydrated, but at that moment I didn’t care. It felt so good. I turned the A/C off in the room, drank a huge bottle of water, and curled up in bed at about 4 a.m. I didn’t even care if I couldn’t walk for the next three days at WDW, it was just the best feeling to be in the nice warm bed.

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    Picture from the Animal Kingdom part. Another thing I disliked, I was all set to buy every photo of me during this race. This is the only one I got (and I searched through the lost and found pictures where the race numbers aren't visible). No finish line picture :sad2:.

    Up next, can I walk? ;) And, if so, do I make it for my morning at Animal Kingdom and EMH at MGM??
     
  21. NeverlandClub23

    NeverlandClub23 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,762
    The plan for today was to sleep in as long as possible, then head to Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, I was so used to waking up by 8-9 a.m. that I popped up, wide-awake, at 8:30.

    I wasn’t feeling sore or anything laying in bed, but I knew that didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t. I cautiously put a foot out and on the floor, slowly adding weight to it. I was a little tender in my knees/hips, but other than that I felt great. Wahoo!

    I took a shower and got ready. I debated wearing my medal to the park, but ultimately decided against it. I’m not really sure why. It may have something to do with the fact it was so heavy it was like carrying a stapler around your neck.

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    Coming soon to a room service menu near you, Burnt Half o' Bagel and 1/18 of Sweet Pretzel. Diet Pepsi sold separate.

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    I'm only smiling 'cause my neck is straining to hold my head up due to the weight of the medal

    I got on the bus to Animal Kingdom and a lady sitting on the bus with her husband/boyfriend asked me “Are you into sports?” I thought that was an odd question and was kind of thrown by it. It was almost accusatory in tone, like maybe someone that looked like me had stolen a bunch of baseballs or streaked through a local game. I quickly thought about it and declared “Um, no.” I hate most sports on TV. I don’t mind playing sports or going to games if yummy food is involved, but for the sports themselves, I’d rather be taking a nap. She looked at me and said “Oh, you looked like someone we saw last night.” I noticed then that they were both wearing medals from the race. D’oh! I couldn’t bring myself to say something and by that point I was at the back of the bus, taking a seat. I then spent the rest of the bus ride thinking to myself, what in the world did I do last night to bring attention to myself? I mean, out of thousands of people you don’t really notice someone unless they’re doing something crazy or interesting (my bet is on crazy). Maybe they were one of the people intent on trampling my poor, defenseless water bottle.

    Once we arrived at Animal Kingdom everyone departed the bus (and by everyone, I mean 5 people). I was headed to Guest Relations to figure out some things. I had purchased a discount 2 day pass available to registered participants of the race (I think it was around $110), but I also had a 10 day non-expiration hopper pass I had bought during my trip in 2008 (and used a few days in 2009). I couldn’t for the life of me remember how many days I had left on it. I don’t even remember why this is important. I guess I just wanted to know? I only had 2 park days left anyways, today and Monday. I was leaving on Tuesday afternoon. **ETA: Oh! I remember now! I had already used one of my days at Epcot on Friday so I needed to know how many was left for my park day on Monday (to make sure I had any at all!)

    I thought I only had 1-2 days left, but she told me I had 4! I guess she could tell I was confused, as she kind of laughed and said “I know, it happens a lot more than you think. Sometimes the scanners at the turnstiles don’t accurately scan or the CM just pushes the button to let you through if the machine is having difficulties.” I was excited and felt like that was kind of sneaky at the same time. She told me not to worry about it and to enjoy my extra 2 days when I get to use them. I still won’t be using them during this trip (in 2011), though, as I bought our tickets as part of a package. It really will only be a good idea to use them if I don’t have to buy a ticket at all, since it’s so cheap to add extra days the higher-day ticket you have.

    After that was taken care of, I headed into the park. It was a gorgeous day. I know I’ve pretty much said that about every day, but this day especially. It was in the mid 70’s and sunny pretty much the entire trip, with mid 60’s at night. I can only hope for such great weather in December!

    I headed to Dinosaur and grabbed a Fastpass (even though there wasn’t a line). This is one of my favorite rides in AK. I just love how it completely immerses you. I then headed over to ride the safari (Warden: “You have got to be the worst poachers I have ever heard of”, Poachers: “Ah, yes, but you HAVE heard of us”), which was fun, as usual.

    I was getting hungry at this point (I know, you thought that half burnt bagel and nub of sweet pretzel was going to last longer too) and I’d heard such great things about the jalapeno cheese pretzel at Animal Kingdom. I went out in search of it, knowing the general direction of the cart. I bought one and a diet Coke and walked around the corner to the Flame Tree BBQ seating area. I’m not much on counter service (in the real world, and not the one with 7 strangers), but Disney really knows what they’re doing with a lot of the great counter service options available at WDW. I just LOVE the cool shade and quiet seating areas at Flame Tree. I set up shop to devour the absolute deliciousness that is the jalapeno cheese pretzel. Seriously, I almost got another one right after. I think what really makes the pretzel is the bits of browned cheese (parmesan?) on the outside. It even made the slideshow I showed my parents when I returned (such a nerd! But in my defense, it’s not a real slideshow, I just edit my pictures down, plug my camera into their TV, and show them the pictures from my travels. I think your parents are the only one you could ever show something like this to. Otherwise you get a lot of blank stares and some snoring.)

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    If you look long enough at this picture you can start to hear angels singing

    I moseyed around to Dinosaur and rode with my Fastpass. I love the queue on this ride. I also think it’s funny when hardly anyone is in line and they put 10-12 people in the pre-show room and everyone squishes up next to the door and you’re the only lonely soul in the middle of the floor not counting down the seconds until the door opens.

    (Spoiler alert! ;)) We captured the dinosaur once again. You’d think we’d have been taken over by dinosaurs by now with all the ones we’ve brought back. I walked over to Finding Nemo, the Musical (‘cause they have to put that in case an unsuspecting young group of males wanted to see Finding Nemo. Unsuspecting Male #1: “You want to go see Finding Nemo? It sounds pretty cool!”, Unsuspecting Male #2: “What?!? No way, didn’t you see ‘The Musical’ part??”, Unsuspecting Male #1: “Whew! Good save. Crisis averted.”). I had never seen Finding Nemo and felt a little guilty about going to see it without my family. I convinced myself it was ok because we had wasted 2 hours of our lives already on a previous trip seeing Festival of the Lion King. I was preserving future trip time! I can justify just about anything.

    I waited in line for about 15 minutes and got a great seat in the upper, middle. Wow! The themeing in the theatre is great! I love that Nemo wanders around in the bubbles and all the kids yell when they see him before the show starts. I had the weirdest feeling sitting there though. I started getting choked up! I felt guilty for enjoying this trip so much, knowing my family was at home working. I got over it though once the show started. What a great show! I loved every second. The show is truly on par with other shows I’ve seen on and off Broadway.

    After the show, I wandered around AK. I love It’s Tough to be a Bug, but decided against going. I went down the trails in Africa and Asia and took the train to basically nowhere (they need to seriously do something about Rafiki’s Planet Watch).

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    Someone's tired of the paparazzi...

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    Pretty!

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    Flags above the tiger area

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    Prayer tree, say a prayer, tie a piece of cloth. I'm surprised Disney doesn't try and make money off of this...

    The parade was about to start and I knew I didn’t want to get stuck in the park, so I worked my way back to the entrance. I’m not a fan of EE (even though I’ll probably have to ride it during our upcoming trip since my brother and Matt have never been on it) or Kali River Rapids, in case you’re wondering why I didn’t go on those.

    Once back on the bus, I started to feel a little sleepy. I knew a nap was in order before going to MGM’s EMH that night. And nap I did!

    Up next, EMH at MGM. Did I ride anything? How much wandering can someone do at WDW, anyways?
     

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