my glass sneaker

A banker, baker, blogger, runner, and dog mom who loves to travel, especially to Disney destinations

runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Recap Part 1

It’s hard to believe that the runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler (#Tower10Miler) was over a month ago!  This was the second time I’ve been lucky enough to run this one, and it stands as the only runDisney event I’ve ever repeated.  In fact, other than this, there are only 2 local 5ks I’ve repeated.  I guess I’m not really one to repeat races, but my experience in 2012 with the #Tower10Miler was so bad it almost made me stop running.  I needed redemption.  Did I find it?  Hmmmmm, I’m not too sure, but I did have a much better experience so there’s that.

My issues with this race in 2012 were partly runDisney’s fault and partly not.  The expo was awesome and more than exceeded my expectations!  It was a great first impression as this was my first runDisney event.  The event staging area and event transportation were also huge hits!  The corrals were much more organized and closer to the drop-off than I thought they would be.  There were even port-a-potties in each corral, which was awesome.  However, it was all downhill from there.  The heat and humidity really got to me and made for a miserable night.  Also, I felt the entertainment and course theming were lacking, even for a newbie like me.  Fast forward to 2013, and from reports I read and heard, course theming and entertainment had really been stepped up.  When registration opened for 2014, the event date coincided with an already-planned family vacation so adding this on to the beginning seemed like a good idea.

I went into this event ridiculously under trained.  I considered bailing at least a hundred times.  I just couldn’t let it go, though, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I didn’t arrive until Saturday morning, so the expo had already been open for a day when I got there. 

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

I did arrive shortly after it opened on Saturday, which was right after the Happy Haunted 5k.  I enjoyed seeing all those runners with their cute Hitchhiking Ghosts medallions and all the cute costumes.  The kids races were about to get underway, too, so there was a lot of hustle, bustle, and excitement in the air, perfect for setting the stage.  The expo, on the other hand, was completely empty.  This worked to my benefit because my first order of business was getting the special runDisney New Balance shoes.  I wanted both the Minnie and the Cinderella ones and anticipated long lines.  However, I walked right up and 5 minutes later had my shoes in hand!  Next up was merchandise.  My only complaint about the event is that they were out of almost all merchandise.  I only got an “I Did It!” t-shirt, and had to settle for men’s at that.  I don’t understand why they can’t get the merchandise right.  They either have way too much and lots ends up in the outlets weeks later or they run out very early, and late-comers don’t get anything.  I’ve even heard reports of things being sold out at the expo, only to show up in the outlets weeks later.  What’s up with that?  I digress.  My next stop was the KT booth for the special Minnie KT tape.  I’m a sucker for all the things I can only get at a runDisney expo.  I needed tape anyway, so what of it?  Next I stopped at the Florida Hospital booth to pick up my free draw string bag.  Have I mentioned I love bags?  I do.  All types of drink ware and bags are totally my thing!  My dad came to the expo on a later bus than I did, so next I met up with him, picked up my bib, had a cute runDisney Instagram photo taken, picked up my shirt, and started to make our way back to the buses. 

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free.  You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free. You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

On the way back, I noticed the beer carts were selling beer in cute runDisney cups.  I didn’t want beer at 9 am on the morning of a long race so I stopped to see if they would sell me just the cup (hello, drink ware!).  They did, and $4 later we were on our way back to the buses for real this time.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll share my experience with the race itself.

Have you ever seen an almost-empty runDisney expo?

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The Fitness Games App Review

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

Through a partnership with Sweat Pink, I recently was given the opportunity to try and review The Fitness Games app.  This app is available for iPhone users and uses the power of social media to help keep yourself motivated.  Inside the app, you have the ability to challenge other users or accept challenges from other users.  After each of you complete a workout, a winner is declared, usually based on who finishes the workout with the fastest time.  There are a number of different workouts available so boredom is not an issue.  The workouts are also categorized based on fitness level so it works for novices and fitness experts alike.  After I downloaded the free app, I was to be upgraded to the platinum version at no cost to me for the purpose of this review.  I honestly could not tell the difference in the 2 versions so I’m not sure if I really was upgraded or if they are just that similar. 

The Fitness Games

The Fitness Games

This app works best if you use it with friends.  I did challenge a few Sweat Pink users but as far as I could tell, my challenges were not accepted.  So, I really wasn’t able to test this app with other users.  However, I still really enjoyed using it.  The real benefit of the app for me was the tutorials.  When I first looked at the workouts, I was a bit intimidated.  The majority of my exercise comes from running or DVDs.  I have ventured to weight machines in the past but other than that, I’m pretty much in the dark.  What’s a Superman?  I read the workouts and immediately thought I would never be able to figure them out.  To my delight, I discovered short video clips showing the correct way to do the exercises, right inside the app.  I learned all kinds of new moves, things I had never heard of and things I had heard of but just didn’t have a clue what it was, like the aforementioned Superman.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

I think the app is great for cross training, and I can see how it would be really fun with friends.  I’m sure all fitness enthusiasts can find something they will love in this app.  If you are an iPhone user, you can find it in the app store.  Check it out and challenge me to a workout!

Disclosure: I received the platinum version (I think) of The Fitness Games for free to review through a partnership with Sweat Pink.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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runDisney #Tower10Miler Costume Reveal

It’s here, y’all!  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler is this Saturday!  Squeeeee!!!!  Costumes are a HUGE part of any runDisney race, and this one is unique because of the villains theme.

I tossed around several costume options before landing on my final one.  I really wanted to do a group theme with my Princess Posse girls but our initial idea wasn’t coming together.  So, I decided to go out on my own and go as one of the villains.  I had already purchased most of the elements for my costume when my group came up with a really cute matching outfit idea.  We had skirts custom-made by our friend Vicky with RUNWay Gear and we ordered super cute matching shirts.  So, I ended up with TWO costumes and ONE race!  It was such a hard decision to make but I ultimately could not let go of my villain.  I really have no plans to ever run this race again (yes, I’ve said that before but I mean it this time, I think) and since this is the only villains themed race at present, it’s either now or never.  I will have the opportunity to wear the other outfit in the future, even if I won’t be with my girls then.

So without further ado, I give you…………………………………………………………………………….

I'll be Hades at the runDisney #Tower10Miler.

I’ll be Hades at the runDisney #Tower10Miler.

Hades!

I purchased the running skirt online and got the gray tech top from a mall department store.  I bought the blue wig online and made all of the embellishments out of different colors of felt.  Yes, I sewed them on myself.  I’m no seamstress but I have a sewing machine and I’m not afraid to use it.

Since we are on the subject of costumes, I have a bonus one for you.  I also plan to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which is one of the few times adults are allowed in the parks dressed in costume.  Because I had already purchased TWO running outfits for ONE race, I didn’t want to buy yet ANOTHER costume.  So, that could only mean one thing, that it was time to dig in the closet and see what I could make with what I already owned.

I give you……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I'll be Sulley at the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

I’ll be Sulley at the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Sulley!

You may recognize the base of this as my Jasmine costume for Princess Half Marathon 2013.  I spent a total of $2 on more felt with which to make purple polka dots to sew onto the skirt and top.  My friend Bettina had this Sulley hat she no longer needed and gave it to me for the cost of shipping, $6.  Mission: accomplished!

What are your costume plans?

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Take a Lunchcation

Everyone knows what vacations are.  Now we also have runcations, which are basically just destination races, staycations, which are taking a few days off but staying home, and daycations, which are when you take a trip somewhere but don’t spend the night.  I have a new one for you: lunchcations.

I love to travel.  If I don’t have a trip planned, it’s pretty safe to say I have wanderlust and am thinking about planning my next trip.  Sometimes that’s just not enough.  Sometimes, I need a break, like, NOW!!!  This is pretty common in the fall.  Oftentimes summer vacations are just a memory, and spring vacations are only a dream.  So, for pretty much all of my professional life, I’ve taken lunchcations from time-to-time.  A lunchcation is a one hour break from work that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized.

I can hear you now saying, “Wait a minute!  I get a one hour lunch break everyday.  What’s so special about that?”  Yes, you get a lunch break, but is it a lunchcation?  When is the last time you came back from your lunch break feeling refreshed, energized, and eager to tackle the rest of your day and week?

Most of us take our lunch breaks and either eat at our desk while catching up on emails, run errands, eat fast food in our cars, or the like.  A lunchcation is more than that.  It’s taking that hour and truly emersing yourself in a vacation-like experience that leaves you feeling de-stressed, lighter, happier, just like you would if you had taken an actual vacation.  But how?

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your own lunchcation.

  • Get a massage.  I don’t know about you but a massage is a real treat for me.  It is something I typically only indulge in when I’m on vacation.  However, there are so many massage franchises around that it’s not hard to find a quick, inexpensive one.  I’ve seen packages as short as 30 minutes, the perfect length for a lunchcation.  Make sure you grab that cucumber water on your way out so you can extend the experience all the way back to your office.
  • Dine at a local, chef-driven restaurant.  Most metro areas have them.  This is not your chain restaurant.  I’m talking locally-owned, often offering seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine.  You might think of this as your special occasion restaurant, for anniversaries and birthdays.  It’s also an ideal destination for your lunchcation.  These types of places often have lunch menus featuring smaller, more affordable portions.  You’ll go back to the office feeling like you’ve been somewhere special, because you have.
  • Read a book in a coffee shop.  Books aren’t just for the beach, you know.  Reading can be relaxing and good for the soul!  Redirecting your thoughts away from work, even for just an hour, can be surprisingly freeing.  It’s the stuff great lunchcations are made of!  Lots of coffee shops are even offering artisanal sandwiches to go along with their brews now, too.  You have to eat, right?
  • Have coffee in a book store.  All of the same from above applies here, too.  Sure, these mega book stores have thinned out with the growing success of certain mega websites but there are a few around still, and many of them offer a great café-style lunch, too, perfect for a lunchcation.  Fruit tea anyone?
  • Splurge on dessert.  You treat your kids to their faves when they stay green for the whole week, get all As, and clean their room.  You juggle your company’s budget, your kids’ carpool, and your husband’s meeting schedule.  Buy yourself a cupcake, for crying out loud!  I don’t mean one from your grocery counter, either.  I know you have one of those specialty bakeries somewhere near you.  Go!  Get one! And savor every last crumb!  After all, you are on lunchcation!
  • Get a mani/pedi.  There is little in life that makes me feel like I’m on vacation more than a mani/pedi.  With all those pop-up nail places on every corner, a mani/pedi lunchcation is more feasible than ever before.  As long as you are making it a lunchcation, spring for the sea salt rub, too!

The best part about lunchcations is that you can take them at any time, as often as you want, with little to no planning.  Give them a try!  See how much easier they will make your afternoon tasks.

Share your lunchcation ideas in the comments.

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Packing For runDisney: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Welcome, y’all, to my stop on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Virtual Blog Hop!

It’s getting closer!!!  I’m talking about the runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler!

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Tower of Terror 10 Miler

It’s only 2 and a half weeks away.  How did that happen?  That means it’s time to start packing, which is the inspiration for my part of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Virtual Blog Hop.

American Tourister

American Tourister

The thing about a racecation is there are so many different elements to packing.  First, you are packing for a vacation.  Next, you are packing for a race.  Third, if it’s a runDisney race, you also might want to give some thought about the gEAR bag (see what they did there?).

I’m sure you’ve taken many, many vacations and don’t really need any help with regular vacation packing.  So, I’ll skip right to race packing.  I have some rules about this.

  • Make lists!  Sure, when you are running at home you probably have it down to an art.  You have your stash of gels, you know exactly where your favorite socks are, you have your headphones and GPS watch right by your keys, and you grab water from the fridge on your way out.  However, when you are hundreds or thousands of miles from home, it won’t be that easy.  Make lists of what running gear you need to pack and also what you need to carry with you to the race itself.  Trust me, if you don’t have the exact gel you’ve trained with, it will wreak havoc on your mental state.

    Make sure you have everything you need for your runcation.

    Make sure you have everything you need for your runcation.

  • Bring more than you think you will need.  This applies to socks, undies, gels, tape, even shoes if you have multiple pair you rotate through.  Why?  It’s happened to all of us!  You put those tried and true socks on and something just doesn’t feel right.  When you are at home, you can simply grab another pair.  You pull out your favorite gel and, for some reason, you just aren’t feeling that flavor.  At home, you grab another.  Away from home that’s only possible if you brought extra.
  • Pack all your running gear in your carry on. This is very important!  Do not tempt fate by putting your trusted running gear in your checked luggage.  Yes, you can even pack your gels in your carry on.  Call me crazy but I also don’t trust the resort baggage handlers with my running gear.  It stays with me at all times until I get to my room.

Once you get settled into your accommodations, there is one more bag you might want to think about packing:  your gEAR bag.  At the expo, a runDisney gEAR bag will be part of your packet.  How big is the bag?  I get asked that a lot.  I measured it just for you!  It’s 17.5 inches by 24 inches.

runDisney gEAR bag

runDisney gEAR bag

You will also get a sticker with a number on it to stick on the bag.  Pro tip: the number on your sticker should match that of your bib.  Check it closely before leaving the expo.  If it does not match, head straight to runner relations.

This is where you'll stick your sticker that should match your bib number.

This is where you’ll stick your sticker that should match your bib number.

Why do you want to pack a gEAR bag? If you are like me, there may be things you will want as soon as you finish.  For me, it’s wipes, a Luna bar, and flip-flops.  Bandages and deodorant are also smart additions.  I usually pack a change of clothes, too.  This is especially true of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler because runners get access to the Villains Bash after party at Hollywood Studios.

There are a few things to know about gEAR check for this particular race.  First of all, where you check your bag will not be where you pick it up.  You will check your bag in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios when you arrive for the start of the race.  Just follow the signs.  It will be well-marked.  While you are making your way through the 10 mile course, your bag will magically be transported to the theater where the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is held.  Bag pick up will be on the stage.  Here’s where it gets, um, interesting for this race.  You will finish the race in the backstage area behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  From there, you will be ushered back into the park by way of the walkways around the theater where Beauty and the Beast is performed.  If you know anything at all about this park, you know these two areas are nowhere near each other. This means you will have to walk a ways across the park to get your bag.  You will also have to tackle a few stairs in the theater when you pick up your bag.  It’s really not that horrible.  I mean, you just ran 10 miles.  Surely you can walk across a theme park and take on a few stairs, right?  It is something to be aware of, though.  If you have family waiting for you at the party, an alternative is to just give your things to a family member and bypass gEAR check altogether.  I’ve done this in the past for this race, and I plan to do it again this year, too.

If you do check a bag, here is where double checking your sticker comes into play.  The volunteers working bag pick up will match your bag to your bib number.  Make sure you are still wearing your bib when you go to get your bag.  If the numbers don’t match, the volunteers will not be able to give your bag to you.

What if you lose your sticker before checking your bag?  Or what if you forget your bag altogether?  Not to worry!  Volunteers working gEAR check will have extra bags and blank tags if the Villains decide to show up early to the party and throw a wrench in your plans.

You know the drill.  An ounce of prevention yields a pound of care, and it’s really true when packing for runDisney.  Have a great race!  Say “hi” if you see me on the course!

The start of something EPIC!  Any guesses?

The start of something EPIC! Any guesses?

Thanks for hopping on over to my blog.  For the other posts in this virtual blog hop, click the Mickey runner below.

Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory

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Getting Ready to runDisney

My next runDisney race, Tower of Terror 10 Miler, is coming up in, oh, about 2 months.  Yikes!  There is so, so, so, so much left to do!  It can be overwhelming without a plan. 

The thing is, runDisney races aren’t like your normal race in your home town where all you really have to do to prepare is train.  No, runDisney races involve so much more!

  • Training, of course!  I do not want the other details to overshadow what still is the most important part of getting ready for any race, training!  You must have a plan.  You must follow the plan.  It just has to be done.  But what if you find yourself, say, 2 months from the start line, way behind in training?  I’m not talking about myself.  Noooooooo!  Well, maybe I’m talking about myself.  Whatever you do, DON’T start where the training plan says you should be by now.  For example, this past weekend’s long run was supposed to be 6 miles.  If you are like me and are way behind, don’t do the 6 miles.  It’s better to get to the start line healthy than not get to the start line at all or get to the start line injured.  So, I’m adjusting the plan, and instead of getting up to a long run of 11 miles, like my original plan called for, I’ll back my longest run down to 8.  What does this mean?  It means the race won’t be quite as easy for me as it would have been if I were completely trained, and recovery may be a bit more uncomfortable, but it does not mean I should just throw in the towel and quit.

    Training is important! More importantly, #LetMeTakeASelfie

    Training is important! More importantly, #LetMeTakeASelfie

  • Costumes!  One of the things that makes runDisney events unique is that so many people have fun with dressing up in costume.  It’s not as easy as heading to your local party store and picking out something like you would for a costume party.  It still needs to be running-friendly, meaning made of breathable tech fabrics.  Lots of people like to wear normal running clothes and throw a tutu on over it and call it a day.  I say people because, yes, men do it, too.  Don’t judge!  Some people who are super-crafty go all-out and either have their costumes made or make it themselves.  You’ll see a lot of group costumes, too.  These can be anything from a group that has each person depict a character from a certain movie or even a group that all dresses alike.  To be honest, I’ve never loved a costume I’ve done yet. 
    Does this even count as a costume?

    Does this even count as a costume?

    This time is going to be different!  To start with, I have an EPIC Disney Villain idea. 

    The start of something EPIC!  Any guesses?

    The start of something EPIC! Any guesses?

    I already had all the elements purchased for it when some of my BRFs (best running friends) decided we should do a group thing.  So, now I have 2 costumes and 1 race.  What to do?  Well, at least I have options.  Time will tell which one I’ll be wearing.

  • Reservations!  For most, runDisney races are more than races.  They are racecations.  That means making hotel reservations and sometimes even booking flights.  If you stay at a host resort, runDisney makes transportation to all race events really easy.  Plus, to me you just can’t beat staying on property. 
    Wilderness Lodge: my favorite!

    Wilderness Lodge: my favorite!

    Even if you are on a budget, you can find a competitively priced resort.  The key, though, is to book early for the best selection!  I cannot stress this enough.  Race weekends bring in lots of people, and hotels book very quickly.  The good news, though, is even if you didn’t plan ahead, there are a number of travel agents who have room blocks to sell.  The downside to this is you may not get your first choice and you may not have a ton of flexibility when it comes to arrival or departure dates.  The room blocks are often for the weekend only so if you are planning a long family trip before or after the race, this may not be an option.  I go back to this:  book early!

  • Dining!   For Walt Disney World, dining reservations are accepted 6 months in advance (up to 180 days +10, to be exact, but I’ll have to save that explanation for another day).  Believe it or not, for the most popular restaurants, you really do have to be on the phone or on a computer the second reservations open to even stand a chance of getting in.  Of course, you might get lucky later on if there’s a cancellation but if there’s a place you really want to visit, you better be sitting on ready when the time comes.  Since runners are often concerned with digestive issues leading up to a race, this will be something else to think about 6 months in advance. 
    You probably don't want to eat this Mom's Meatloaf Dinner from Prime Time Cafe the day of or the night before a race.

    You probably don’t want to eat this Mom’s Meatloaf Dinner from Prime Time Cafe the day of or the night before a race.  Just Sayin’.

    I hear you, though.  Many of you have no idea where or what you’ll want to eat in 2 days, much less 6 months.  If this degree of pre-planning isn’t for you, fine!  There are a number of counter service places available, many of which rival some of the sit down restaurants.  There will also be tables available somewhere.  It might not be what you want or convenient to where you are at any given time, but you’ll have options.  

  • Park Planning!  This one kind of gives me a headache as of late.  It used to be so easy.  Back in the good ol’ days (up to about a year ago) your hardest decision was how many days your park hopper needed to be.  Unless you had a dining reservation, you didn’t even have to decide what park you were going to until the day of.  Those days are gone, unless you really don’t care what you see or do once you get to the park.  Now they have these things called Magic Bands and Fast Pass+. 
    Magic Bands CAN be pretty magical, but the planning is anything but.

    Magic Bands CAN be pretty magical, but the planning is anything but.

    Your Magic Band contains your room key, tickets, charging ability, and your attraction fast passes.  So 60 days before the first day of your trip, you’ll log on to My Disney Experience (explanation for another day), and schedule 3 fast passes per day of your trip.  This means, if you don’t have a package, you will already need to have purchased your tickets and loaded them into your My Disney Experience.  The kicker is that you can only schedule them in one park per day. 

    Fast Pass+ in My Disney Experience

    Fast Pass+ in My Disney Experience

    Gasp!  Hold on!  They do allow additional passes to be scheduled in another park but you have to wait until your last pre-scheduled pass expires and you have to use a kiosk in the park where your additional one will be.  Want the Cliff Notes version?  Sorry, there really isn’t one.  It kind of is as complicated as it sounds.  I’ve had 3 trips since this new-fangled way of park planning was launched, and the rules weren’t exactly the same for any of them.  My best tip for this is read, do your research, stay on top of it, and try not to lose your mind.

  • Packing!  This is important. 
    American Tourister

    American Tourister

    First and foremost, it’s a race so do not forget your race essentials!  Shoes, clothes, socks, underthings, and gadgets are all things you don’t want to have to figure out how to replace once you get there so double, triple, quadruple check that they are packed.  Also, pack them in your carryon if you are flying.  Unfortunately, lost baggage happens so don’t tempt fate by leaving these things in the care of the airline.  It’s a vacation, too, so pack all the things you would normally pack for a regular Disney trip, also.

    #PackMoreFun

    #PackMoreFun

Whew!  See what I mean?  Lots to get done and not really a lot of time to do it in.  Training is my top priority at the moment, and then the park planning will begin next week.  I’ve already told my family to expect a lot of crankiness once that process begins.  Once it’s done, though, I’ll be ready to relax and have a great race and a great vacation.

What’s your next runDisney event?

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Throwback Thursday: Walking Down Disney Memory Lane

I don’t always participate in Throwback Thursday but this week I thought it was appropriate.  I’ve been looking at a lot of old photos lately triggering multiple walks down memory lane. 

Currently, there are several fun Disney contests going on with trips up for grabs.  One is Relive the Magic.  Disney is looking for pics from trips to Walt Disney World taken in the 70s and 80s.  From this little exercise, I’ve learned that my parents didn’t take a lot of vacation pictures when we were growing up.  However, I did find a couple of pics that put me right back in the year of our first trip, 1987.

My sister and I at Epcot Center in 1987

My sister and I at Epcot Center in 1987

My sister and I at the France pavilion at Epcot Center (it was still called that then) in 1987

My sister and I at the France pavilion at Epcot Center (it was still called that then) in 1987

Another contest is Disneyland Through the Decades, in preparation for Disneyland’s 60th Birthday celebration next year.  They are looking for Disneyland photos from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.  Sadly, I’ve never been to Disneyland.  My dad, however, went in 1966 after completing his service in the Air Force. 

My dad in front of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1966

My dad in front of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1966

He had been stationed at Nellis Air Base in Las Vegas, and once he was discharged, before heading home to start the rest of his life, he and one of his Air Force buddies headed to Disneyland.  I can almost hear the conversation now.  “Guys, now that you’ve finished your duty in the Air Force what are you going to do next?”  “I’m going to Disneyland!”  Ok, it probably didn’t go exactly like that.  Still, I’ve loved looking at the photos from that trip.

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1966

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, 1966

 

One thing that has made me really happy is the memorabilia my dad kept from his trip, like this stir stick from the Tiki Gardens and his guide book from the park. 

Disneyland memorabilia from 1966

Disneyland memorabilia from 1966

Walt was alive and well at that time and knowing he had more of a hand in these items than anything I’ve ever experienced at Walt Disney World makes them even more special.  So I think this photo is fitting for the 3rd contest they have going on right now, the Disneyland Get Happier contest.  They are looking for Disneyland photos that make you happy. 

I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than walking down memory lane with the people I love starring in those memories.

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Disney’s Hoop Dee Doo Revue Review

Back in January when I was at Walt Disney World for Marathon Weekend, some of my friends and I shared an evening of fun, food, and laughter at Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. 

Program

Program

Hoop Dee Doo is the nation’s longest running dinner show and is held up to 3 times nightly at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  

This was the second time I’ve gotten to experience this show.  The first time was when I was somewhere around the age of 16 so I was so excited to see it again. 

Getting there takes a little bit of planning.  We spent the day in the Magic Kingdom so when it was time for dinner, we took the boat from the Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness. 

Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness

Once we arrived at Fort Wilderness, the show, held in Pioneer Hall, was a short walk from the boat dock.  If we had not been at the Magic Kingdom already, we likely still would have taken transportation to the Magic Kingdom first anyway.  The other alternative is to take transportation from any other park to Fort Wilderness then take an internal bus to Pioneer Hall. 

Once we arrived, we checked in with the hostess, and pretty soon they called our party to be seated.  One tip about seating, you are assigned your table according to when you make your reservation, not when you check in with the hostess.  There are 3 seating categories, and the earlier you book, the better your table will be within the category you booked.  We booked Category 1, and I highly recommend it, if you can swing the few extra bucks for it.  There’s only about a $5 per person difference between the categories, so, really, it doesn’t add much to the cost.

The menu

The menu

A big silver bucket of salad was already waiting for us at our table once we sat down.  Pretty soon a warm loaf of sweet cornbread with butter made its way to us.  Our server took our drink orders (soda, coffee, tea, wine, beer, and sangria are included in the price of the event) and explained that the meal would be served family style, meaning platters and buckets of food would be brought out for our table to share.  In addition to the salad and cornbread, dinner was barbecue ribs, fried chicken, baked beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. 

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

Plate of food minus the fried chicken

We saw some tables being served mac and cheese so we asked our server about it.  He said that was for the tables with kids but he happily brought us some.  Everything was all-you-care-to-eat so if we wanted more of something, even adult beverages, our server would have brought it.

Beverages were served in mason jars.  How cute!

Beverages were served in mason jars. How cute!

 

By the time we had all our food and began chowing down, it was time for the show to start. 

Hoop Dee Doo

Hoop Dee Doo

The show was seriously hilarious!  They started by picking a few people out of the audience and singing a cute little song about where they were from. 

Great audience interaction!

Great audience interaction!

They also did a little diddy for people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.  Since earlier that day we ran the 10k and still had our medals on, they acknowledged us, too. 

They performed right at our table!

They performed right at our table!

Fun, fun!  I won’t give away any more of the show but we could.  Not.  Stop.  Laughing.  The unlimited sangria had nothing to do with this, either.  I promise.  Towards the end of the show, it was dessert time.  Each table was presented with its own whole strawberry shortcake.  Yum!  I was so full by then that I could barely hold any of it but I did manage a few bites.  I would have been thrilled to take the rest back to our room for breakfast the next day.  Sadly, as with any all-you-care-to-eat meal, that was not an option.

After the show, they directed us to a row of buses waiting to take us back to our resorts, which was so nice since getting there is not super easy.

I highly recommend this experience and would love to do it every trip if it weren’t for the pricy tag.  Tax and all came to just under $75 each, making this a special splurge.

Have you been?  What were your thoughts?  Tell me in the comments.

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Weekly Recap

I missed last week’s recap so today you get a two-for.  It’s been a very busy 2 weeks for me, and not necessarily in a good way.  BUT I have a new mantra!  I read it yesterday, and it really resonated with me.

My new mantra

My new mantra

It makes me feel so much more ready to tackle the world!

Here’s what’s been happening on the blog for the last couple of weeks.

I hope you all have a FABULOUS week!

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That One Time I Went to New York City on a Whim

Do you have a really cool friend?  I think we all do.  You know, the one who lives a pretty awesome life and seems to always be doing really cool things.  I actually have several like that but one in particular goes to NYC every six weeks to get her hair done.  If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!  She would say it’s really no big deal, cheap direct flights, good hotel deals, fly in one day, out the next, etc.  Still, I say it’s pretty cool!

Back in December, I was ogling her pics on Facebook, ooooing and ahhhhing over them.  She told me she was going back in January (about 4 weeks later) and asked if I wanted to tag along.  She was planning on seeing Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, too, and even had an extra ticket.  Of course she did!  Because that’s how she rolls!  So I checked my airline miles balance and with little hesitation, a short while later my flight was booked.  I had never been to New York before.  It was on my top 10 places I wanted to visit so to say I was excited was an understatement.

The time passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was on the plane headed for the bright lights of the Big Apple.  New York in January is cold, people!  It was even snowing when I landed and snowed off and on for the next 2 days.  Did I mind?  Not one bit!  Being in NYC after wanting to go for so long was surreal!  

Arriving at the hotel was so exciting!  We stayed at the Hilton Midtown. 

Hilton Midtown NYC

Hilton Midtown NYC

She had already checked us in and snagged us a great corner room with 2 windows!  We could even see Radio City Music Hall from one of them! 

Room with a view

Room with a view

As soon as I dropped my bags off at the hotel, we headed straight for Rockefeller Center, then to Times Square. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Times Square

Times Square

Doesn’t everyone?  Pretty soon it was time to get ready for dinner and a night out.  We ate at Capital Grille.  I’m still craving the lobster mac and cheese!  Then we had tickets to see Pippin, which was fabulous! 

Pippin

Pippin

We capped the evening off with, what else?  Cheesecake!  We were going to go for Junior’s but it was totally packed, so we opted for Lindy’s instead. 

Strawberry cheesecake from Lindy's

Strawberry cheesecake from Lindy’s

It was so creamy and delicious!  It was also much lighter than I was expecting but the slices were HUGE!

The next day began by meeting some of my Princess Posse friends who live in the area for breakfast at Maison.  

Breakfast with Princess Posse friends at Maison

Breakfast with Princess Posse friends at Maison

I loved being able to introduce some of my BRFs (best running friends) to one of my oldest childhood friends (old as in number of years we’ve known each other, not old in age, obviously).  Then, it was off to the Top of the Rock.  The city was so pretty from way up there! 

View from the Top of the Rock

View from the Top of the Rock

The elevator ride was pretty cool, too. 

The Top of the Rock elevator had a glass top so you could see it going up.

The Top of the Rock elevator had a glass top so you could see it going up.

After that, a shopping trip to Macy’s was in order, followed by a trip to the 9/11 Memorial.

Macy's

Macy’s

 

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

It was so cold that one of the fountains was frozen so it was turned off.  The other fountain looked like it was just before freezing, too.  Being there was a very somber experience.  We then headed to Little Italy for dinner at La Mela. 

Little Italy

Little Italy

I had the largest piece of Chicken Parm I’ve ever seen in my life! 

Chicken Parm from La Mela in Little Italy

Chicken Parm from La Mela in Little Italy

It was one of the best, too!  After that, we really wanted Junior’s Cheesecake still, so we got some to go and headed back to the hotel for an early turn-in.

Junior's Red Velvet cheesecake

Junior’s Red Velvet cheesecake

We had a really early wake up the next day because we were heading to the Today show. 

Us at the Today Show

Us at the Today Show

It was still pretty cold so there weren’t that many people on the Plaza.  We were part of the opening shot of the show and one of her friends was able to get a pic of her TV with us on it! 

Us on TV

Us on TV

How fun is that?  Two other highlights were Matt Lauer waving to me and Al Roker posing for a pic just for me. 

Al Roker!  I know him!

Al Roker! I know him!

After a few hours of standing in the Plaza, we found a tiny diner for breakfast.  Then it was time for her hair appointment so we said our goodbyes for a few hours.  I headed back to Times Square to do some shopping at, where else?  The Disney Store! 

Times Square Disney Store

Times Square Disney Store

My people!  Then I set out to find the famous Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate. 

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

Serendipity 3 Frozen Hot Chocolate

On the way, I got a little lost and walked by Bryant Park, which I totally didn’t mind at all. 

Bryant Park, getting ready for Fashion Week

Bryant Park, getting ready for Fashion Week

I also stopped in Dylan’s Candy Bar and tried to find Bloomingdale’s. 

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy Bar

I know I was in the area but I never saw it.  Strange!  I also meandered through Central Park for quite a while.  

I heart Central Park

I heart Central Park

Ahhhh, I heart Central Park!  There was still snow covering the ground and it was so gorgeous!  I headed toward 5th Avenue and saw the famous Plaza Hotel. 

Plaza Hotel

Plaza Hotel

Afternoon tea there or maybe even just a cocktail is definitely in order next time!  Then I found Trump Tower and walked around there a bit. 

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

It was then time to meet up with my friend again.  I must say she looked fabulous!  We were both starving, so she suggested we go get burgers.  I kid you not, this girl knows all the cool places!  She led us to Le Parker Meridien Hotel where there’s this red curtain in the lobby.  It looks pretty non-descript, and you would never know unless you know, which she did, that there’s a burger joint behind the red curtain.  Who knew?!  After that, we went back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner and Billy Joel.  Dinner was at Max Brenner, a restaurant famous for all the chocolate.  All.  The.  Chocolate. 

Max Brenner

Max Brenner

Dinner turned into more like a shared appetizer and desserts.  Yes, plural.  I had a chocolate martini, hot chocolate, and a plate full of chocolate desserts. 

All the Chocolate

All the chocolate

Then it was off to Madison Square Garden. 

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

Her excited face

Her excited face

Billy Joel was fabulous!  The man’s voice is amazing, and he sang for about 3 hours straight. 

The next morning we headed out to Battery Park.  Since we weren’t doing a harbor tour to the Statue of Liberty, this was the only way I was going to get close enough to her to see her at all.  

Lady Liberty from Battery Park

Lady Liberty from Battery Park

There was so much ice in the harbor, I really don’t think they were doing tours out there anyway.  Then we went to the Empire State Building. 

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

It was intensely cold that far up!  I actually liked the Empire State Building better than the Top of the Rock.  I liked being higher than anything else around me. 

View from the top of the Empire State Building

View from the top of the Empire State Building

It wasn’t too terribly crowded, either.  After that, we headed back to Rockefeller Center for lunch at Rock Center Cafe.  There was one, lone, ice skater out on the rink. 

Ice skater, Tara Lapinski, maybe?

Ice skater, Tara Lapinski, maybe?

It was obvious that she was someone who knew what she was doing.  She was being photographed, too.  Another one of my friends later identified her as former Olympic Gold Medalist, Tara Lapinsky.  He said she was rehearsing for her Jimmy Kimmel appearance being filmed later that day.  He showed me video evidence that she was, in fact, on Jimmy Kimmel, so we’ll go with that.  We had just a little bit of time for some shopping in Rockefeller Center before I had to collect my belongings from the hotel and head back to the airport to come home.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree marker

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree marker

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  It was a trip I will never forget!

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