Dig A Little Deeper: Dopey 2019


Beer-powered running machine
Feb 6, 2013

It's not every day that I go to Walt Disney World and do the Dopey Challenge, so I figure I might as well do a little trip report. This is my second trip report. You can read the first one here.

First, some introductions. I'm Lee, your trip report guide. I'm a 35-year-old father, husband, writer, amateur photographer, runner and unabashed Disney World fanatic.


Traveling with me on this trip was my wife, Hannah; my twin 12-year-old daughters, Josie and Robyn; and my 4.5 year old daughter, Maya.

Here are the deets:

We were scheduled to fly out of the Moline (Ill.) airport on Tuesday, Jan. 8 and arrive at Orlando International Airport later that day. The plan was to stay at Port Orleans Riverside at Walt Disney World from Jan. 8 to Tuesday, Jan. 15, then spend one day at Loews Royal Pacific resort at Universal Studios where we had a one-day, two-park pass for Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure.

In addition to having a rocking family vacation, my plan was to participate in the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon) on Jan. 10-13. The Dopey Challenge was my second runDisney event following the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon, my first marathon. The Dopey represents my fourth marathon, fourth half, first technical 10K (I've run several 7-milers) and ??? 5K.

Here I am during the 2017 full:


I've also been a member of the runDisney community on Disboards for around three years.

My goals for the trip:

- Have an awesome family vacation
- Complete the Dopey Challenge
- Meet a bunch of runDisney All-Stars
- Try new Disney restaurants
- Get some good photos of the various nighttime shows

So, there you have it... Interested in what happens next? Feel free to follow along. I'll be happy to have you. Feel free to ask questions (like "why in the heck would anyone do Dopey?") or provide commentary ("your photos aren't very good and you look overweight for a marathoner") along the way.

Ready? Here we go!
Last edited:


Beer-powered running machine
Feb 6, 2013
Oh man, one post in and I'm already screwing up.

A little about the title I wanted to mention... I was really feeling the Princess and the Frog soundtrack in the weeks/months before this trip, especially "Dig A Little Deeper." Seriously, it's a jam as far as Disney tunes go. And I figured going into this trip that I was going to have to "dig a little deeper" to complete the Dopey Challenge, while also balancing racing with family time. And, as it turns out, "Dig A Little Deeper" makes an early appearance in the Dopey Challenge for me.
  • lhermiston

    Beer-powered running machine
    Feb 6, 2013
    Day 1: Travel and Hollywood Studios

    So, our trip actually started on Jan. 7. We left Iowa City around 6 p.m. and drove an hour or so to Moline so we didn't have to get up quite so dang early the following morning for our flight to Atlanta and then Orlando.

    That said ... my alarm went off around 4:15 a.m. Jan. 8, which is really flipping early (there'd be a lot of that his week).

    Fortunately, our flights to Atlanta and Orlando were uneventful, easy and we got into MCO with no problems whatsoever. In practically no time at all, we were on the Magic Express and heading to Port Orleans Riverside:


    After maybe 30 minutes or so, we were dropped off at POR. Along the way, I got a text notification that our room was ready and we made our way to Building 25 in Alligator Bayou. It was a little out of the way from the main lobby area, but pretty close to the west depot, which turned out to be super handy for our entire stay.

    We got in early afternoon, dropped off our bags and made our way to Hollywood Studios. The walk from the bus stop to the HS entrance was fairly heinous, but right after we walked in, we got to see some Star Wars stuff.

    DSC_2786 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    Our first FastPass was right at 3:00 or so for the Frozen Sing-Along. I'm sure a lot of you all are sick of the Frozen songs, but Maya really loves it, so it was fun to kick off our trip with that show. Plus, she loved it at the end when Elsa made it "snow."

    DSC_2814 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    Immediately after, we had our first failed attempt at a family photo (there would be many this trip).

    DSC_2796 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    After the failed pic, we headed over to 50s Prime Time Cafe for our 4 p.m. reservation. I totally screwed up when I made this reservation. In my mind, I was compensating for the time change and trying to get us a meal when it would "feel" like dinnertime, but I compensated in the wrong direction. Either way, I was looking forward to to dinner since it was our first time eating here and we were all pretty hungry.

    We got seated pretty quickly and let me tell you ... 50s Prime Time Cafe did not disappoint. My wife and I ordered the sampler, which came with meatloaf, pot roast and fried chicken. Josie got a chicken pot pie, Robyn got pot roast and Maya got a kids meal. I also got an adult beverage since we were on the dining plan. I don't know if it's just that I had been up since 4:15 and was super hungry, but that pot roast was DELICIOUS. The fried chicken was great, too; and the meatloaf was passable. I crushed that meal, along with a few bites of Robyn's pot roast. Seriously, that roast was one of the best things I ate all week.

    On the downside, the meal took a little while and it ultimately cost us Muppets 3D, which is a bummer since I love the Muppets and that attraction. Oh well. After dinner, we did Star Tours, which was funny because Maya was asking if it was "real." Following that, we had a FastPass for Toy Story Mania. The last time we did Toy Story Mania (five years ago), my wife was pregnant and had an awful time. But this time, everyone loved it.

    Also, Toy Story Land was beautiful:

    DSC_2831 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    After Toy Story Mania, we had FastPasses for Tower of Terror, which I honestly thought Hannah and Maya would skip. But Maya wanted to do it, despite insistence from her sisters that it would be scary. As it turns out, she and Hannah handled it like a champ (though I'm not sure either one of them would volunteer to do it again).

    After ToT, we had a little time to kill and rushed over to Toy Story Mania and did that again. It was a big hit with everyone.

    Following Toy Story, it was getting a little late for everyone considering we'd all been up since 4:15 CST. I don't remember what time the Star Wars fireworks were scheduled for, but trying to keep everyone up for them seemed like a bad idea. Hannah agreed and she and the girls went back to the hotel. I decided to forego a little bit of sleep and finally see a show that had been highly recommended by some friends.

    I made my way back to the theater and tried to stake out a spot. After being advised by some cast members that I had to steer clear of the emergency exits, one of the CMs pointed out a better spot for me to shoot from, right in front of a concession stand. I've had bad luck with Disney World fireworks in the past - I'll stake out a spot an hour in advance, only for some clowns to elbow their way in front of me at the last minute. But in this instance, I got a great spot and no one obstructed my view.

    The Star Wars fireworks (and the pre-show) were awesome:
    DSC_2876 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    DSC_2883 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    DSC_2891 by Lee Hermiston, on Flickr

    After fireworks, I roamed around HS just a little bit before heading back to the hotel and crashing.

    Next up: Expo and Animal Kingdom


    DIS Veteran
    Dec 27, 2011
    Following along!

    “You look overweight for a runner” made me LOL! Love the pics!

    How were the “antics” at 50s? I really want to try their fried chicken but the antics give me pause...


    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates