The Race Is On.... COMPLETE 14/7: Now with index


Earning My Ears
Aug 16, 2011
Introduction - The Master Plan

This is my first trip report, and indeed my first post on the DIS, so please don’t be too harsh with your comments :).

Hopefully I’m going about this right. First up is the cast list.

I’m Stewart, 36, I live in Hertfordshire and I am Creative Director at a London based web design agency. Never did I imagine when my then girlfriend (now wife) Joanne talked me into going to Florida with her family in 2004 that I would return a further 7 times in over the next 9 years! I used to tell people I was only really going for the shopping and some of the rides but the last 2 visits (including this one) have been pure Disney and I wouldn’t have it any other way now. My role in these holidays is to carry bags and luggage, drive cars and agree with Jo ;)

My wife of 5 years (we’ve been together for 12) is Joanne. She is 28 and is a former secondary school science teacher turned private tutor. She’s now been to Disney 12 times. Her first visit was when she was three - when I was three my family only went as far as North Wales (it was lovely by the way). Jo is the holiday planner, organiser and navigator (both parks and roads). Without her, none of this would be possible.

Our daughter Isabella is 14 months old (12 at the time of this trip). She is a massive Disney fan having been watching the Disney Junior channel since she was a few weeks old (bad parents). She has already visited Disneyland Paris and loved “It’s a Small World” and “The Haunted Mansion”. She loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso and Doc McStuffins. She also has a huge Pluto stuffed toy and a little Mickey Mouse, both of whom she loves cuddling.

My mother-in-law Janet has been to WDW five times before this but I don’t think she’s really a Disney fan although she enjoys the parks... I think. She will celebrate her (unspecified) birthday during the holiday. She is a secretary and lives literally 2 minutes down the road from us - handy for baby sitting ;). Thanks mum.

Ivor is Janet’s husband and Jo’s stepdad. He’s a building company director and loves constructing things out of bits of other people’s discarded wood. He likes beer and sleeping in the evenings and can usually be found in the garden at 5 o’clock on a Saturday morning with the aforementioned wood. He’s only been to Disney once before, and I don’t think he was that impressed. We thought it was going to be tough to talk him into going, but the lure of the free dining (more on that later) and seeing Isabella enjoying Disney for the first time (he loves Isabella - his first granddaughter - she calls him “Poppa”) convinced him straight away.

So, now on to the trip.

Our last trip to Florida was in January 2011 when we stayed on Disney (Saratoga Springs) for the first time together (Jo stayed on Disney many years ago), got free Disney Dining Plan and did the WDW Half Marathon. We had been wanting to go back and do the Half Marathon again ever since we finished the last one, but Jo’s pregnancy stopped us from doing it last year and we’d decided to wait until Isabella was at least two before we went again.

However, having been almost every year since 2004, having to wait another year was too much for us and Jo had seen the same deal online that we got last time; free regular dining plan if you booked your park tickets and stayed in a deluxe resort. The only problem was that the only way we’d be able to do the Half Marathon again would be if Janet and Ivor wanted to come with us and look after the baby while we go for a 13.1 mile run through Disney World at 5 o’clock in the morning. Fortunately, they said they did want to come and so Jo leapt into action. Flights, hotels, race entries, dining plan and rental car was all booked up in no time at all. Before I knew it, two weeks in Saratoga Springs in January was booked for Jo, Isabella and I. Janet & Ivor would be going for 9 days, so we get a few days to ourselves at the end of the holiday.

The Half Marathon would be on the third day of the holiday, and we’d also signed up Isabella for a 100m “run” on the second day.

The only other things left to do were to make our ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) and for me to prepare for this trip report.

Firstly, the ADR’s. Reservations were selected based for a variety of reasons; recommendations from other trip reports, wanting to visit certain hotels, appetizing menus, good experience from last time and fitting into our schedule for a particular day. Jo did them all online with some input from me (and her mum who chose the venue for her birthday meal). I was going to list all the restaurants to get you all in the mood, but Jo has insisted I put something humourous instead, otherwise she’ll troll me. With this in mind, I’ve decided there will be no teaser, you’re gonna have to read each day and try and stay awake till dinner.

So why am I doing this trip report? Well Jo has been lurking on the DIS for the last few years, and sharing some of the wonderfully entertaining trip reports with me. So after our previous trip to Florida in January 2011 we talked about how I should do a trip report next time we visit, at the time we didn’t realise that it would be such a special trip. With this being Isabella’s first trip I was excited about us having a written account of the holiday, that we could all look back on. There were times that I thought maybe we wouldn’t want to remember some of the stuff that happened (how’s that for tension building?!) but as I sit and write this now, I’m glad that I did.

So I think that’s the introduction wrapped up, here are links to all the days...

Day 1 - 5 people, 4000 miles and 17 hours

Day 2 - Isabella's Run

Day 3 - The Big Race

Day 4 - Taking it Easy

Day 5 - Animals and Fireworks

Day 6 - Showcase to Market Place

Day 7 - A Supercalifragilistic Day

Day 8 - Back to the Future (World)

Day 9 - Shop 'til You... Get Thrown Up On

Day 10 - ...And Then There Were Three

Day 11 - Shop 'til You... Get Thrown Up On - Pt 2

Day 12 - Brought To You By The Letter "Urgh"

Day 13 - It's All Part of the Plan (More or Less)

Day 14: Fantasyland FAIL!


Earning My Ears
Aug 16, 2011
Day 1 - 5 people, 4000 miles and 17 hours

So after a relatively short wait of 4 months the holiday was here. It had been a busy time for both of us (new job, the baby, half marathon training, Jo’s tutoring) and we were looking forward to getting away.

Jo spent the day before (a Wednesday) packing and I loaded the car up that night so that we were ready to go first thing.

Janet & Ivor were going to be flying with Virgin (we were going with BA) so they would be leaving an hour after us but from the same airport; Gatwick (although different terminals).

The plan was to get up at 5 so that we could leave at 6, which used to seem like a ridiculously early time but having a 1 year old has certainly altered that perception.

We always plan to get an early night before we go on holiday but as usual that didn’t happen, there’s always something that needs doing. To be honest we plan to get an early night every night of the week but it never seems to happen!

We’re no strangers to surviving on not many hours sleep, so we weren’t worried, of course Isabella “decided” to have a terrible nights sleep and so we ended up with even less sleep than we had resigned ourselves to.

This would explain why we woke in panic at 6 o’clock - an hour later than we’d planned. Fortunately having the car loaded was a great (Jo) idea and we were able to be on the road by 7.

The drive round the M25 to Gatwick isn’t really that long, it’s just, well, it’s the M25! Fortunately the notoriously fickle gods of the London Orbital had decreed that traffic would be light on this chilly Thursday morning in January and so we arrived at the APH off airport car park in good time - about an hour and a half.

We had a lot more luggage than usual due to the baby and her car seat (for the hire car), and when we got off the courtesy coach outside the North Terminal I realised we had no change to bestow freedom upon one of the tethered luggage trolleys. Therefore I did my best impression of a pack mule and half dragged the luggage for what felt like a mile to the terminal building. Jo did her bit too of course, but she’s not writing this so I can overstate my burden and superhuman effort ;)

The terminal was very quiet and after a surprisingly swift check in (really just a baggage drop as Jo had checked in online - my wife is nothing if not efficient) we had Armadillos for breakfast. They were a bit crunchy but smooth on the inside - the opposite of a Dime bar (remember those?)...

Looking forward to her first trip to America and WDW

Ahem, anyway, the breakfast in Armadillos was very nice and afterwards we popped to WH Smith to buy water and some whole milk for Isabella - which I somehow managed to lose in the bottom of one of the hand luggage bags, it was only discovered the next day - I’d assumed that I’d left it somewhere outside the shop whilst waiting for Jo.

There wasn’t time to do anything else so we went through security and headed to the gate.

We were flying British Airways because they have skycots available that are suitable for up to two year olds. You get access to this skycot when you sit in the bulkhead seats so we had two on the way out, which meant Isabella had lots of room to play in front of us.

Isabella trying to smile after just waking up

We sat her in the skycot - which is basically like a bouncy baby chair that doesn’t bounce strapped to a fold-out table - for lunch and then she fell asleep. Unfortunately she didn’t stay asleep for very long and was grumpy for a while.

Overall she was very good, my biggest worry had been her not liking being on the plane but we kept her amused by walking her up and down the aisles, reading books and playing with her toys.

We weren’t able to do the things we usually do on the plane like read or watch films but we coped, and I managed a little sleep when Isabella finally fell asleep on Jo for 2 and a half hours. I don’t think Jo did though unfortunately.

When we arrived at Orlando International it took ages to get through security, they are so slow there but the immigration official was refreshingly cheerful (shocker).

While we were queuing, we almost made friends with a sniffer dog, but it decided it preferred the couple behind us who had unwittingly left fruit in one of their bags. The couple argued about whose fault it was for the rest of the queue!

After we’d picked up our luggage, we had another long wait to get through customs. We were waiting so long we actually saw Janet & Ivor coming into the security hall. They were going to the resort via Disney’s Magical Express because there wouldn’t be enough room in the car for the 5 of us plus our luggage.

After getting through all that, we then had to drop the luggage off again because there’s no way we could manage to get it on the monorail over to the main building. This meant we had to wait for it to arrive AGAIN landside.

While waiting we decided to go and sort out the rental car. Usually there’s never a wait at the Alamo Car Rental desk... except today (of course!). While Jo decided to try the self service car rental machine I waited in the queue just in case it didn’t work. It was easy to do, Isabella helped as she’s great with touchscreens! There was a tricky part where Jo couldn’t understand the “how to swipe your card” animation. In her defence, it had been a long day and she’d not managed to get any sleep.

So the car was sorted, we just had to go and get the luggage again. The trolleys at Orlando were $5, so we decided to do the pack mule impression again over to parking garage - a thankfully short walk.

We had ordered a mid size SUV and settled for a black one but then realised the boot was too small for our luggage. Unfortunately Jo had already got the car seat in, so she had to take it back out again!

Jo putting the car seat in the wrong car!

We went for a white Jeep instead which had a bigger boot but looked like it was made from Lego.

With all the luggage loaded, it was time to head for WDW. Driving in America comes easy to me now, this is the 6th year I’ve driven out there. Jo is usually great at navigation but the lack of sleep and being distracted by Isabella - who was also tired and hungry - meant we ended up on the wrong road. We were aiming for the Beachline Expressway as it’s our preferred route, but ended up near Kissimmee. We then went to get on the I4 but ended up at an unmanned toll where the only options were paying 75 cents in exact change or using a pass. We had neither and a little bit of panic began to set in.

At this point a truck pulled up behind so I got out to ask for a change, he then revealed that the security camera didn’t work and that he was actually due to work on it that evening, and that we should just drive off as there was no barrier. So we took his advice even though the thought did cross my mind that he may have been lying!

We soon ended up on the I4 but had turned east towards Tampa, as we didn’t know where we were. This (obviously) turned out to be wrong and we had to get off again at the next exit. It was a Disney exit (there are quite a few afterall!) but it was a long way from Saratoga Springs - our resort.

Eventually we arrived, despite me inexplicably and frustratingly driving past the entrance and having do a U turn (I love that about American roads).

All in all, it was probably the most stressful airport to resort drive we’ve ever had!

The day’s “adventure” had ended there. A few minutes after we arrived, Janet & Ivor turned up and we all went to check in. Jo had rung the resort a few days earlier to ask for rooms close to reception and near each other. Due to it being Marathon weekend, they were very busy and Janet & Ivor ended up in the Carousel area, as far from the reception and us (we were in the Paddock same as last time) as possible! We like the Paddock area and the receptionist said that they’d be able to move Janet & Ivor to our building the next day, they would need to check out in the morning and then check back in again and be assigned a new room in the afternoon.

At least someone was having fun

After all that palaver, we were starving so we headed for Artist’s Palette to use our Disney Dining Plan counter service credits for the first time.

We had the following:

Me: Smoked turkey and brie sandwich. Cupcake
Jo: Chicken & artichoke flatbread. Cupcake
Janet: Buffalo chicken flatbread. Fruit
Ivor: Smoked turkey and brie sandwich. Danish

At this point it’s worth pointing out a few things:

1. I hardly got any photos of food (I’m using the baby as my excuse!), so I’ll have to use other people’s photos
2. Janet nearly always chooses the wrong thing
3. Isabella has a bit of what we eat

After we ate we got ourselves refillable mugs for using at the resort, which were included in our regular Dining Plan. We decided to get a coffee to take with us to the room and I managed to spill mine all over myself and the floor... In case you hadn’t realised the day had a familiar theme running through it which involved everything going wrong.

We somehow squeezed everyone into the car and dropped Janet & Ivor off at their room and then we headed to ours.

While we’d been hanging around in reception, I’d changed Isabella’s nappy in the men’s room (an experience that neither of us had enjoyed) but I hadn’t done a very good job and by the time we got to the room she was soaked.

Jo changed her while I made numerous trips to the car to get the luggage.

You won’t be surprised to read that the following items had split or broken in the cases:

- Washing powder
- Sun cream
- Jo’s razor

The room came with a travel cot which was a struggle to put up, but eventually it was done and we got the baby to sleep. We were exhausted - it had been a long and tiring day.

Tomorrow was going to be an exciting day... it’s Isabella’s big race!


DIS Veteran
Mar 29, 2011
Loving your TR so far Stewart - Isabella is adorable! Good to see fellow creatives on here, I'm a graphic designer by day and I love my job. Good on ya for running the marathon, being pretty unfit myself, I don't think I could do it :rotfl: Look forward to reading more!
  • Tinkerbell1989

    DIS Veteran
    May 17, 2010
    Loving your report! So much detail, I feel like l'm coming on holiday with you! I think we got caught on the same toll road in October. We had no change, no pass and it was unmanned, so we just drove through. Then we worried for the rest of the holiday whether we'd get charged! We didn't, luckily!
    Can't wait to hear about Isabella's run! Xx


    Never Forget: It was all started by a Mouse!
    Feb 12, 2005
    Love the report so far, but you called it 7 people, and I only counted 5 of you - have you got some more joining you??? Sorry, I'm a details person!



    RIP Tag Fairy
    Apr 25, 2006
    Great report! Looking forward to reading more. Oh and Welcome to the Madness :goodvibes
  • Laurafoster

    DIS Veteran
    Aug 7, 2005
    Love the report so far! Where abouts in Hertfordshire are you from? I'm from Herts too so know all about that wonderful drive around the m25 :)


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 16, 2011
    Loving your TR so far Stewart - Isabella is adorable! Good to see fellow creatives on here, I'm a graphic designer by day and I love my job. Good on ya for running the marathon, being pretty unfit myself, I don't think I could do it :rotfl: Look forward to reading more!
    Thank you, glad you're enjoying it. I studied Graphic Design at college a looooong time ago :)

    Loving your report! So much detail, I feel like l'm coming on holiday with you! I think we got caught on the same toll road in October. We had no change, no pass and it was unmanned, so we just drove through. Then we worried for the rest of the holiday whether we'd get charged! We didn't, luckily!
    Can't wait to hear about Isabella's run! Xx
    Glad you enjoyed it :) The toll road incident was extremely stressful!

    Love the report so far, but you called it 7 people, and I only counted 5 of you - have you got some more joining you??? Sorry, I'm a details person!

    Well spotted! I have now edited the title. Thanks :)

    Great report! Looking forward to reading more. Oh and Welcome to the Madness :goodvibes
    Thank you, I LOVE the madness pirate:

    Loving your report so far!!!( Its a nice break from study :dance3::dance3: )
    Glad you're enjoying it! :)

    Love the report so far! Where abouts in Hertfordshire are you from? I'm from Herts too so know all about that wonderful drive around the m25 :)
    We live in a village between Hertford and Stevenage. I'm from near Junction 26 on the M25 originally, it's always been a big part of my life!


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 16, 2011
    Day 2 - Isabella's Run

    It was the day of Isabella’s big race and as expected she didn’t sleep well. She woke up a few times in the night, and I had to get her back to sleep with a daddy cuddle and a hummed version of Red Red Wine - Neil Diamond’s original not the awful pop-reggae-synth version by UB40.

    When she woke up at about 5.30 Jo fed her and she fell asleep in the bed. While Jo did this I sat on the sofa and began making my trip report notes in Evernote on my phone.

    We left Isabella sleeping in the bed while we got ready and eventually Janet and Ivor came with their cases.

    They walked all the way from the Carousel - we did offer to go and pick them and I think they wish they'd accepted!

    Well I'm ready

    Saratoga Springs resort map

    When we were all ready, we headed for Artist's Palette for breakfast. We had the following:

    Me: Breakfast wrap
    Jo: Veggie omelette
    Janet: Breakfast platter
    Ivor: Breakfast platter

    We also got Isabella some biscuits and gravy.

    Janet and Ivor weren’t impressed with the quality of the food in Artist's Palette, which was a shame because it’s very convenient for a quick meal before heading off to a park or wherever. Jo and I had used it quite a lot on our last visit.

    After breakfast was done, we headed to reception for more room shenanigans. If you recall, Janet and Ivor had checked out of their room in the Carousel in order to be moved into our building in the Paddock. This was particularly important for the Half Marathon on the following day when they would be coming to our room early in the morning to look after the baby while Jo and I headed to the race.

    Again they were anything but speedy, and when it was eventually sorted instead of being in block 63 some idiot had got the numbers mixed up and assigned them a room in block 36! So the receptionist got back on the computer and the phone and eventually got it sorted.

    I can't believe they got the room number wrong

    All this was making us late for getting to the Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports resort for Isabella's race. We had planned on driving but as we left the Carriage House (the check-in building) a bus to the Expo was right there so we jumped on it.

    The bus journey took a long time due to the amount of traffic trying to get into the Expo. We were relieved that we’d decided to go by bus rather than car as the parking looked chaotic.

    Isabella was really pumped for her race and fell asleep on the bus and when we got to the Expo we left her sleeping with Janet and Ivor while Jo and I rushed over to pick up her race pack - we only had half an hour before her race.

    Fortunately picking up Isabella's stuff took hardly any time at all, and when we met Janet and Ivor she was still asleep.

    We walked over to the start and woke her up about 5 minutes before her race was due to begin. We put her in her special race t-shirt and running bib and Jo went to the start line with her.

    It was a good job she’d had a sleep because she was full of energy and was excited about the whole thing, even though I’m not sure she really knew what was going on.


    Isabella can't wait for the race to start

    There were a lot of kids waiting to do the 100m “run” and they released them in waves. Jo hung back and when her and Isabella eventually started they were in the last group. Jo held her hand and helped her walk the whole way, which was really impressive because she’d only really started walking about a week or so before - Isabella not Jo ;)

    There was a really good atmosphere, with lots of music, commentary and people cheering and she loved every minute of it, even though she did finish last! While she was “running” I was trying to keep up and get photos and video on my phone - as you can imagine there were a lot of people in the way but I did manage to get a few.

    Look at her go!

    Check out my medal

    When she finished she was awarded her very first running medal, which she displayed proudly for the rest of the day! She also got a food pack which had some good stuff - banana, Clif Kid Zbar (a Clif bar for kids), and some water; and some bad stuff specifically some sugary artificial coloured gummi sweets - a strange choice considering the event.

    Jo and I then had to head to one of the buildings to pick up our race stuff, so we left our future Mo Farah with Janet and Ivor while we headed off.

    Where is everyone?

    I'm not a number... oh, wait...

    Can I have your number please ;)

    Could they not have made the sticker blue or yellow?

    There was no queue inside for picking up our bibs. Once we got them we had to walk through a scanner to verify our timing chip and then we went to runner relations to change our corral from C to B, as we recently ran a 10k in 1hr 02mins. For some reason, the sticker they gave us to amend the corral letter on our bibs was the wrong size and colour. As a designer, that upset me!

    Once that was all sorted, we had a quick look at the official merchandise before heading to the main Expo building - the wonderfully named Jostens Centre - to pick up our bag of goodies.

    The queue for the Expo was ridiculously long but surprisingly quick. Some idiots decided to jump the line claiming that someone (who that was I don’t know, *** I’d not seen anyone from Disney anywhere near the line) told them to. Honestly, these Americans, they just do don’t queues properly do they? Not like us British!

    Ooo look, a queue, just like England

    Oh, I see, everyone's HERE

    When we eventually got in, Jo bought some Yurbuds (they attach to your iPod headphones and fit inside your ear so that they don’t fall out when running) and we bought another 13.1 sticker for the car as the one we bought last time was still stuck to our old car when we sold it.

    Jo has been talking about Clif bars for the last two years, ever since we had some after the last WDW Half, and we were both quite excited to try some to the different samples being handed out. Some of them were really nice (Crunchy Peanut Butter was my particular flavour) and we resolved to buy them when we eventually made it to the supermarket.

    After picking up our WDW Marathon 20th Anniversary commemorative artwork we headed back outside past the huge queue for the brand new disgustingly garish trainers that New Balance have produced especially for Disney. Apparently they had to be shipped in that day from California after selling out the previous day, which may explain the massive queues.

    After meeting Janet, Ivor and Isabella outside we headed back to the buses and were lucky once again as we jumped straight on a bus back to the resort. It seems that after the debacle of the first 2 days, our luck had changed!

    Janet and Ivor finally got their room issues resolved and were on the same floor as us, which was a relief to everyone.

    We tried to get Isabella to have a nap in the travel cot, but she was still on a high from her athletic exploits, so we headed to Publix on Universal Boulevard to do some shopping. She then promptly fell asleep in the car so Jo had to go in on her own while I waited in the car. I was disappointed because it doesn’t feel like the holiday’s really started until I’ve been inside a Publix.

    Jo got all the essential supplies we needed like water, cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter... and muffins. As I said - the essentials ;)

    Look at the view Mickey

    After getting back to the room, we got ready and then headed to Epcot for our first ADR at Coral Reef. It was an early dinner due to tomorrow’s early start, did I mention we were running the Half Marathon?!

    Janet and Ivor had already made their way there so we met them at the restaurant - they were late, tut.

    We got seated away from the tank but we could still see the fish and the giant turtle (and the divers) swimming about. I took Isabella down for a closer look when she got restless.

    Food choices were as follows:

    Me: Pan seared seasonal catch of the day. Orange cheesecake
    Jo: Short rib. Champagne dessert
    Jan: Mahi mahi. Chocolate wave
    Ivor: Lobster pasta. Jack Daniels dessert.

    Chocolate wave

    Orange cheesecake

    I was actually really disappointed with Coral Reef this time as it had been my favourite meal two years ago but they've changed the menu since then.

    So after the rather disappointing dinner we headed over to the Seas and took Isabella on Finding Nemo and Turtle Talk with Crush. She enjoyed them both, especially Turtle Talk. She thought everyone was laughing at her and was hamming it up.

    It was now getting late so we decided to head home. We got Isabella to bed and got all our kit ready for the following morning. The alarm was set for 2.40 and we hoped that we would get a decent night’s sleep before tomorrow’s big race!

    The Epcot golf ball


    RIP Tag Fairy
    Apr 25, 2006
    The baby race is such a great idea. Love the photo of Isabella and her medal.
  • nat1234

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 25, 2007
    I'm enjoying your trip report. Your little girl is so sweet. She ran her race just like a true athlete. Looking forward to more.


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 16, 2011
    The baby race is such a great idea. Love the photo of Isabella and her medal.
    It was lots of fun and the atmosphere was great. She loved it.

    Really enjoying your report! :goodvibes
    Thank you for reading, glad you're enjoying it :)

    I'm enjoying your trip report. Your little girl is so sweet. She ran her race just like a true athlete. Looking forward to more.
    She really enjoyed herself, thanks for reading. More to follow very soon...


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 16, 2011
    Day 3 - The Big Race

    It was the day of the big race - the WDW 2013 Half Marathon. The alarm went off at 2.40am, and as the kit was all ready all we had to do was get washed and dressed.

    Jo woke the baby - who was sleeping on the pull out bed rather than the travel cot, which turned out to not be very comfortable - and fed her, hoping that would keep her asleep till a reasonable time.

    Janet came round at 3.15 to sit with Isabella and Jo and I left to get the bus. On the way we bumped into Ivor who took a pre-race photo!

    There was quite a queue for the buses and we didn’t get on until 3.45.

    Wow, look at my shoes

    Wow, look at their shoes

    The start is in one of the parking lots at Epcot and the traffic was really bad getting there, much worse than when we did it in 2011, although I think we left much earlier that year.

    We arrived at the pre-race area at about 4.30 and we knew it was quite a walk to the actual starting corrals. We made a quick toilet stop before heading to the starting corrals. As expected there was a large crowd and we were still some way from corral B - our starting corral - when corral A started. We had about 7 minutes to get there and had to run the last 100m. We eventually made it at 5.40 - our start time was 5.42!

    We could have started in corral C if we’d missed the start but as we’d gone to the trouble to get our corral changed the previous day we wanted to make sure we started from B.

    Let's do it

    We'd planned on making another toilet stop when we got to the corral - all that hydrating takes it toll - but we didn’t have time so we decided to make a stop on the course.

    The start was the usual combination of fireworks, cheering and loud commentary and takes a couple of minutes before you can actually start running and get over the start line.

    We gonna start or what?

    The Half Marathon course begins at the Epcot parking lot and heads 5 miles to Magic Kingdom before doing a mile through that park, through the castle and then all the way back to Epcot by a slightly longer route, before finishing with a mile round Future World.

    As there’s obviously a lot of congestion at the beginning, we decided to wait until the crowd thinned out at about mile 1 before making that stop the we both needed - we didn’t want to queue because we wanted to be as quick as possible.

    With that out of the way, we were back running again but unfortunately had to make another stop at mile 3. Jo had got a really bad stomach ache after the previous half marathon and was hoping to avoid it this time around. So whenever she needed to, we made a stop. It gave me an opportunity to do some stretching of my Iliotibial Band (which runs from the hip down to the knee) to avoid the knee pain I often suffer with when running more than about 6 miles.

    We both felt pretty good other than the stops and the miles seemed to pass quickly this time around. Last time we stopped regularly to get photos of the mile markers and a few of the characters (which I’ve included) but this time we were hoping to improve on 2hrs 42 mins, so I didn’t really get any photos.

    Entering the Magic Kingdom

    Entering the castle (from 2011)

    It was still dark by the time we got to Magic Kingdom and the castle was light up and looked stunning.

    After leaving Magic Kingdom the 6 miles back to Epcot wasn’t as tedious as last time around.

    At about mile 9 the sun was coming up and we stopped again. I got some more stretching in and we were quickly off again.

    Those fast passes for Toy Story Mania go quickly

    We’d discussed the overpass at mile 10 quite a lot as we struggled with it last time around. This time however, we barely realised it was there, we were much stronger runners this time around as our training has included a lot of running up hills.

    At this point I thought it would be worth mentioning some (but not all) of the characters we saw along the way:

    Between Epcot and Magic Kingdom:

    • Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa with the Black Pearl - at about mile 2 and 10 (here and back) - there was a big queue for them.
    • Chip and Dale - outside the Speedway dressed in racing drivers gear
    • Jack Skellington and Sally - apparently they’re very rare to see around the parks together and again the queue was long

    Inside Magic Kingdom:

    • Buzz Lightyear
    • Belle and the Beast
    • Jessie from Toy Story
    • Aurora and Prince Philip (no, not that that one!) were backstage on one of the parade floats

    Between Magic Kingdom and Epcot:

    • Mary Poppins and Bert (just before mile 8 - we got a picture with them last time)
    • The Genie (mile 9 outside the speedway)
    • The Army men from Toy Story (mile 10 - the overpass) we saluted them again just like last time!

    Mary Poppins! (from 2011)

    In Epcot:
    • Phineas and Ferb (mile 12)
    • Also at mile 12 we saw Stitch - and ironically Jo got a stitch!

    The mile markers were the same this year as last time

    Anyway, back to the race. So we were into Epcot for the last mile and a bit which really seems to drag. It’s quite narrow and windy and gets a little congested in places.

    There’s quite a crowd as you head to the finish line and we crossed the line in 2hrs 29mins 04 secs - I actually finished 1 second slower than Jo, despite starting and finishing at the same time!

    We were pretty pleased although we know with fewer (enforced) stops we could’ve done even better.

    The finish line (from 2011)

    Check it out!

    After finishing we jumped straight on the bus back to Saratoga Springs and as we made our way back to our room we saw Ivor with Isabella asleep in the Ergo baby carrier, apparently she’d woken up just after we left and Janet hadn’t been able to get her back to sleep again.

    While we had a rest and got showered and changed Ivor and Janet headed off to Magic Kingdom. We met them a bit later on and went to the Columbia Harbour House for lunch.

    I got one of those too you know

    Who's holding the baby?

    Me: Fried Fish Basket
    Jo: Fish and Shrimp Combo
    Janet: Fish and Shrimp Combo
    Ivor: Fried Shrimp Basket

    After eating we took Isabella on a couple of rides. Janet and Jo went on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin with her and she loved it so much.

    We then took her in the Enchanted Tiki Room which she really enjoyed - she loves music and birds.

    This is so much fun

    Check out my carpet... it flies!

    Look daddy, ducks!

    It started to get really hot so we decided to leave. We also wanted buy a B.O.B. Revolution SE stroller which is a really good jogging buggy and currently unavailable in the UK, so we headed to the Babies R Us on Millenia Boulevard (next to the Mall at Millenia). We got it for a really good price, it was supposed to be $449 but it was ex-display and reduced plus we got an extra 20% off for some reason (we don’t know why!). All in all we got it for $268 and we also got a snack tray for $30. We were so pleased with our bargain we forgot to ask someone to show us how to fold it up (it didn’t come with a manual due to being ex-display) and so we put it in the boot unfolded!

    For dinner we were going to try the Whispering Canyon Cafe at Wilderness Lodge despite reading some negative reviews about the “new” menu and despite the fact I hadn’t enjoyed it last time due to being very tired.

    This time around though I thought the food was excellent, we all enjoyed it. There’s no point describing what each of us had - we all had the skillet!

    Isabella was very tired and so we headed home to bed - it had been a very long and tiring day!

    Mmmm, corn bread

    The skillet - most of it was gone before I could get a picture!

    Isabella enjoyed it too

    Isabella Crockett


    Earning My Ears
    Aug 16, 2011
    Day 4 - Taking it Easy

    So after yesterday’s long and action packed day we were woken up at 5.30 by Isabella, but thankfully, after a feed, she fell back to sleep until 8.10.

    Having gone to bed at 9 the night before, this was probably the longest sleep Jo and I had had in 2 years!

    As today was a rest day we were in no rush to go anywhere and decided to have breakfast in the room. Isabella had some porridge and Jo and I had some toast.

    Where's my porridge dad? I'm starving!

    Isabella had woken up grumpy and remained that way all day unfortunately.

    After stopping by the guest laundry to put some washing on, we headed over to Downtown Disney to meet up with Janet and Ivor - today was Janet’s birthday and we had some presents to give her.

    One of the great things about Saratoga Springs is how easy it is to get to Downtown Disney, either by boat or by walking.

    We decided to walk over and let Isabella try out her new pram. It was about nap time when we ready to leave and she fell asleep almost instantly, which was amazing because she never slept in the pram at home. It had definitely been worth getting the pram, and we’d worked out how to fold it up and down now too, thanks to the manual which we found online.

    Sleeping Beauty

    Where's my mum?!

    Today was also Marathon day and it was turning into a real scorcher. We were glad we weren’t out there today and felt sorry for those that were.

    We’d arranged to meet Janet & Ivor by the Lego shop but hadn’t specified whereabouts. We waited in the shade outside the World of Disney shop and they were waiting the other side by what used to be the McDonalds but is now Pollo Campero (which has now shut down apparently). Eventually I went and found them and we gave Janet her birthday presents.

    We found them!

    After some debate about where to use counter service dining plan credits for lunch we headed to Wolfgang Puck Express.

    Me: Rotisserie Turkey Club sandwich

    Jo: Cavatappi Chicken Alfredo pasta

    Janet: Rotisserie Turkey Club sandwich

    Ivor: Pepperoni Pizza

    Jo and I had never been there before, and we were very impressed with both the food and the service. It was nice and quiet sitting outside too, and Isabella was able to explore.

    Where's my lunch dad? I'm starving!

    I can't believe I forgot nanny's present!

    After lunch we walked back to the Saratoga Springs and then we headed to Publix on Universal Boulevard again to do some shopping.

    After an uneventful shop we headed back and got ready to go for dinner. Tonight’s choice was the birthday girl’s and was to be at Tutto Italia Ristorante in Epcot.

    The restaurant itself isn’t very intimate; it’s more like a big room full of tables than what you’d expect from an Italian restaurant. The food was very nice though and the waiters sang Happy Birthday to Janet and bought her out a birthday cupcake - Jo had put on the reservation that it was her birthday.

    You're gonna need to blow harder than that nan!

    Here’s what we had:

    Me: gnocchetti / cannoli

    Jo: polenta valsugana (traditional Northern Italian creamy polenta) / cannoli

    Janet: salmone / torta di nocciole (hazelnut polenta cake)

    Ivor: osso buco d'agnello (braised lamb shank) / sorbetti (sorbet)

    Mmmm... cannoli

    Mmmm... cannoli


    Unfortunately Isabella didn’t really enjoy the meal as she was tired and grumpy and I had to take her outside in between courses as she was very restless.

    After the meal we headed back and left Janet and Ivor to enjoy what remained of the evening in peace!

    Isabella went straight to bed and Jo and I sat on the balcony and relaxed. I began writing up these notes and we watched the fireworks at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. We could also hear the Marathon after party at Downtown Disney.

    Eventually we both got tired and headed to bed.

    Not exactly the most exciting day, but one that we desperately needed after the previous three days of organised chaos!


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