The Walt Disney World Marathon

Sunday 13th January 2019

On the morning of the marathon I was up at 3am. Luckily, I’d actually slept pretty well that night, unlike most nights I have before races, so it didn’t feel too awful. As I was staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, I had to get the monorail to Epcot – there were no buses on for monorail loop resorts so it wasn’t as busy on the roads – but the building we were in, Moorea, was so close to the Ticket and Transportation Center that it was quicker for me to walk there and just get the direct monorail to Epcot than it was for me to get the monorail from Poly.

Getting the monorail meant I did arrive at Epcot earlier than I was used to and the corrals weren’t even open yet, so after I walked from the station to the RunDisney stage area, I sat down for a little bit so that I wasn’t on my feet for too long, then once the corrals were open I made my way to G and sat back down for the wait. To give you an idea of the scale of this event, by the time I’d got to the start line I’d already done 5,000 steps.

While the race officially started at 5:30am, my corral didn’t actually start until 6:10, by which time I was bursting for the loo having drank a bottle of water while waiting to begin, so I had to stop at the first portaloo on the course, which was about three-quarters of a mile in – although on a full bladder it felt A LOT longer than that!

The course took us straight up to Magic Kingdom, which we entered just after mile 5, and those first 5 miles flew by for me, with the highlight seeing Leah at mile 4 cheering me on. The sun was just rising so the castle looked totally beautiful while we were running down Main Street, and in every RunDisney event I’ve done in WDW, this is the moment I look forward to the most. The Magic Kingdom stretch always goes far too quickly as well – it was actually just about a mile – but just before leaving the park via a backstage area we reached the 10k mark.

For some reason in basically every marathon photo I am holding a banana (and no, they’re not all the same banana)

The next stretch of the route was the part I was looking forward to the least; it was a full 10k again before we’d reach Animal Kingdom. Despite dreading it, however, this part went almost as quickly as the first quarter of the race. It was all road with very little entertainment, and it was starting to get hotter as the sun had properly risen by then, but I was still in my stride and feeling good, so it didn’t seem like too long until the course took me into Animal Kingdom. We came in at the top of the park, running over the tracks for the train that normally runs guests to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, then down through Africa, into Asia and past Expedition Everest before leaving the park through the back of Dinoland USA. The park was open by this point, and some runners were making the dash off the route to ride Expedition Everest, for which the single rider queue was open exclusively for. The half marathon mark was also inside the park, and despite thinking I would have a little cry at that point, I was focusing all my energy on pushing forward – everything from this point onward would be the furthest I’d ever run before.

In my head, the next stretch of the race wouldn’t be so bad – it was less than 10K until we got to the next significant part of the course at ESPN Wide World of Sports. In reality, this was the hardest part for me. Between mile 16 and 17 my wireless headphones ran out of battery, meaning I no longer had the Hamilton soundtrack to distract me from the blazing sun and 25C+ temperature with no shade, or the fact that being back on the roads meant there was absolutely no shade. This was also about the time that my ankle gave out, and suddenly it felt like each mile had trebled in distance. When I finally did get to ESPN, I thought the time would go by a little faster, but my feet felt like they were dying and there were actually almost 3 miles to run around the grounds, and those 3 miles felt like 30.

From ESPN the course took us up towards Hollywood Studios, where we ran in through the top of the Fantasmic theatre, to the bottom of Tower of Terror and then along Sunset Boulevard and out of the park through the main entrance, and from there we ran along the path that links Hollywood Studios to Epcot via the Boardwalk Resort area. By this point I was so ready for the race to be over, but I was still plodding along as best I could, thinking that once the route took me into Epcot at the UK pavilion, I’d only have a short bit of the World Showcase to run before leaving the park for the finish line. I was wrong. Turns out, we were running around the World Showcase the long way..

Despite having very little of the route left and still running, albeit very slowly, I found the World Showcase incredibly irritating. Epcot guests were in full swing by this point, so only half of the width of the path was coned off for the runners, but guests were still cutting into the running course, and a lot of the other runners were walking by this point, so I was having to do a lot of weaving, which was the last thing I wanted to be doing as I was nearing 26 miles. The course continued to be super crowded and blocked up by walkers almost right up to the finish line, so I was having to dart into any available space until it finally opened up at the finish line stretch.

I’m not even sure if I can put into words how I felt crossing the finish line. I expected to burst into tears but it had been so hot I don’t think I had any water left in my body to cry out. The whole thing didn’t feel real, and I’m not sure it even does now, because running a marathon is not something that I ever imagined I would be capable of doing in my lifetime, let alone with the year I had leading up to it. But I did it.

The plan and motivation for this race was wanting to run a marathon before turning 25, which I will be in October. I’ve always said that it would be my only marathon and that I would definitely never put myself through it again, but now its over, I wonder if I’ve caught the bug..

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Walt Disney World Days 5 and 6

I’m combining two days into one post purely because I didn’t do too much myself!

After a lie in as a reward for the 10K the previous day, we headed to Animal Kingdom and went straight to our first fastpass at Dinosaur, and from there we went to meet Chip and Dale in their Dinobash outfits which were super cute!! It was pretty much lunchtime at this point so we went over to Satuli Canteen to eat (because I can’t live without cheeseburger pods).

After lunch, Chelsea and Sammy had a Flights of Passage fastpass so Sarah and I just wandered around Africa taking photos while they were in Pandora, and then we went back to Satuli Canteen to meet up with David, Megan and Leah quickly. I was planning on leaving after that to go back to the hotel, but our little meet took us up until our Expedition Everest fastpass so I figured it would be rude not to ride!

I spent the rest of the afternoon resting at the resort in preparation for the marathon, with the exception of going to Disney Springs for dinner at Blaze, and then got myself an early night for the next morning..

I won’t go into all the hairy details of the marathon just yet, but I DID IT!!!

It was hot, it was hard work, but it is over now and I’m so happy. I went straight back to the resort afterwards for a good soak in the bath and some feet up time, and then we drove over to Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Artist Point. It was the new Storybook Dining experience which is Snow White themed, and although the setting and characters were very cute, the meal itself was a little disappointing – although I hardly had the energy to eat anyway.

Matthew and I went back to Polynesian while the girls spent the rest of the evening in Magic Kingdom, but we did watch Happily Ever After from the beach at the resort, and I think I was asleep before 9.30pm..

My next post will be a more detailed look into the marathon, but we’re about to set sail on the Disney Dream so I don’t know if that will be posted tomorrow or a few days time!

Walt Disney World Day 4

Friday kicked off with the first RunDisney event of our trip: the Walt Disney World 10K. For me this technically counted as a warmup for the marathon, but it was Chelsea and Sammy’s first RunDisney event and it was really great. We stopped to meet Ralph and Vanellope, Chip and Dale as the Rescue Rangers and Jiminy Cricket, and I’m so proud of how they did and happy with how they paced me.

After we’d showered, changed etc, we went back to Epcot in time for our lunch reservation at Teppan Edo. It was my fourth time eating there and it never fails to disappoint! After eating, we went round to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa and then used our fastpass for Frozen Ever After. When we came out from there, we saw that Soarin had a 25 minute wait time so we bombed over there, but actually I don’t think we waited more than 15 minutes to ride. We then hit some Epcot walls, then went to Starbucks and Club Cool for drinks, then went to meet Baymax and Joy and Sadness, and then went back to Mexico to meet Donald.

With our little legs all feeling the long day, we finished up the day in Epcot at Mouse Gear before catching the monorail back to the resort for an early night and the best nights sleep of the trip so far!

Walt Disney World Day 3

So I’m now running a day behind, but hey ho!

Thursday morning we headed into Magic Kingdom around about opening time, and as we walked into the park Chip and Dale were just heading out to meet, so as they had no queue yet, we were basically the first people to meet them, then we walked towards Frontierland and rode Big Thunder Mountain, then picked up some breakfast and hit up Its A Small World.

From there, we went back to Main Street so Chelsea could get a Starbucks and Sarah could get a balloon, and then visited the purple wall for some quick pics for the ‘gram. Chelsea and Sammy had fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so they went off to do that and Sarah and I just hung out at the castle which is where they met us and we went over to Space Mountain for another fastpass.

A quick snack and some shops later, Sarah left to nip back to the hotel for a jacket and the rest of us had a quick wander through Fantasyland and then rode Big Thunder one more time, this time with a fastpass, and then left the park, meeting Sarah on the way out, and got the bus to Art of Animation.

The bus to AoA broke down, so we ended up having to be transferred onto a new bus, but it didn’t take too long for that to be sorted! We had some food at the resort and an explore, and then we got an Uber to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the RunDisney expo where we picked up our race bibs and shopped the merch for the race weekend, then grabbed another Uber to Hollywood Studios, which is where we finished up the night watching Fantasmic before going back to get a good nights sleep in before the 10k!

Walt Disney World Day 2

This morning we got up bright and early so that we could get to Animal Kingdom. Due to not booking our fastpasses at the 60 day mark, we didn’t have a Flights of Passage fastpass, so we were attempting to rope drop it, and it was actually a success! Although the queue looked scary as we walked all the way down to Harambe Theater, we hardly stopped moving and actually did the ride in under an hour – plus as I’ve only ever done fastpass for it before, it meant I got to see the cool inside queue for the first time.

Once that was done, we could relax a little and got breakfast at Creature Comforts, then we took some photos at the Tree of Life before going to meet Russell and Dug. It was possibly the cutest meet I’ve ever had, and as it was my first time meeting Dug I was really excited, especially as they loved our Wilderness Explorer outfits. After that, we went over to Expedition Everest and rode it twice, once as single riders and the second time using our fastpasses, then we wandered around for a bit before settling on having lunch at Yak and Yeti (QS).

We ended up sitting at Yak and Yeti for quite a while, just enjoying some shade and time off our feet, and then from there we went over to Africa for Festival of the Lion King, then went back to Dinoland and practically walked onto Primeval Whirl, then met Donald in his Dinobash outfit, before going to meet Micky and Minnie, which we had fastpasses for.

After that, we happened across Pocahontas meeting near the Tree of Life while we were heading back to Africa, so we stopped to meet her, and then went on to our final fastpass of the day at Kilimanjaro Safaris – although our ride was somewhat delayed due to the animals blocking vehicles on the roads – but we did get to see the lions really clearly and hear them roar!

Once we were off the ride, we had a mad dash back to the hotel to meet Chelsea who had arrived while we were being held up by rhinos or whatever was delaying the safari! We headed into Magic Kingdom for some dinner, a quick spin on the Peoplemover and a look through some shops, and then got the monorail back to the resort ready for some rest and recovery!

Tomorrow we’ll be hitting the RunDisney Health and Fitness Expo as well as the parks, so stay tuned!

Walt Disney World Day 1

Well gang, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged a Disney trip, but would you believe in the last few months I’ve done two trips that I haven’t blogged? So unlike me, right?

Well, I’m now back in Walt Disney World for some magic and some running, and I’ll be back blogging the whole thing, starting with today..

So we’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, our DVC home, which meant that this morning was far more chilled out as we only had to hop on the monorail to get to Magic Kingdom, and did security at the resort so didn’t have to queue at the park. There had been an early morning magic event on so the park was already a little busy, but we went down to the castle for the welcome show, and then Sammy wanted some breakfast so she grabbed a Mickey waffle at Sleepy Hollow, took a trip to the Tangled toilets and then went for our first ride of the day: Pirates of the Caribbean.

On our way from there to Fantasyland, we met Mary Poppins and the ugly stepsisters, and then met Rapunzel and Tiana in Princess Fairytale Hall, and then headed for Haunted Mansion for our first fastpass of the day. By that time it was pretty much lunch time – Sarah and I hadn’t eaten breakfast either – and we ended up going to Pinocchio Village Haus so that we knew there would be vegetarian options for Sammy.

After lunch, we had to spend a little bit of time at guest services sorting out our annual pass magic bands, and then headed back to the castle to watch Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and from there grabbed a parade spot. Once the parade was over, we grabbed a quick Starbucks, and then did our second fastpass of the day, Buzz, and also did a lap of the TTA Peoplemover.

The My Disney Experience app was telling us that Big Thunder Mountain had a 35 minute wait time, so we headed over there, but unfortunately so did everyone else in the park.. The cast member said the queue was at least 70 minutes when we got there, so that was a no, and instead Matthew and I got in the queue for Splash Mountain, but after a while we realised that the queue was going to be too long and we would miss our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fastpass, so instead we grabbed a Mickey waffle and headed over to Fantasyland.

I’ve never done Mine Train in the dark before and it was so good!! Because most people were camping out for Happily Ever After by this point, the queue for Big Thunder had dropped to only 20 minutes, so we practically ran back to Frontierland, and had the best time riding the back of the wildest ride in the wilderness. With a little bit of time before HEA, we got some food at Cosmic Ray’s, and then got our spot to watch the show – despite showing up just as it was starting, we got a decent view!

On our way out of the park we hit the shops and Main Street Confectionary, and then we decided to forgo the monorail in favour of the ferry back to Poly, and the Electrical Water Pageant was going so we got to see a lot of that while we were waiting which was really cool because I never stop to watch it when I’m leaving Magic Kingdom.

We’ve got day 1 feet right now, so we got back into quickly and are just spending the evening chilling in the room ready for Animal Kingdom tomorrow!

Preparing for A Disney Cruise

Today is a very big day, Pascal!

No, I’m not leaving for a Disney cruise today, but I will be this time next week, and I can’t wait to be back on the sea, sailing on the Disney Dream.

This will be my second Disney cruise, and having had the experience from my cruise last year, I feel somewhat more prepared than I did last time. I know what to expect now, I know what I wish I’d done differently on my last cruise, and I’m ready to have the best time at sea feeling fully ready for it! If you’ve never done a Disney cruise before and need a little guidance, or are just interested in seeing how I do it, here are a few of the things I’ve done to get ready for this sailing:

Deciding how to decorate the stateroom door

The stateroom doors on Disney cruise ships are metal, so anything magnetic sticks to them and people really take advantage of this by decorating their doors to the max! We didn’t decorate our door last time, so I really wanted to get involved this year, and ordered some personalised decorations for our group so that we have even just a little something! It also makes things so much easier when you can’t remember what number room you’re in and all the floors and doors look them same..

Researching ports

For our Mediterranean cruise last year, I didn’t do ANY research on our ports or excursions, and relied purely on the rest of my group to decide what to do. Sure, I still had a great time and I was pretty happy doing whatever, but this time I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of Castaway Cay in preparation!

Packing important things

As well as the usual holiday essentials, and the cruise booklet that you are sent in advance of your trip, there are a couple of things that I would highly recommend packing for a smoother cruise experience. Pack a lanyard or passholder for your room key if you don’t want to carry a bag all the time, I like to bring a travel cup (like the refillable ones you get at the parks, or a travel mug type) to fill up with drinks on deck so you don’t have to use a paper cup every time, and if you are going to decorate your door, don’t forget the decs!

Download the Disney Cruise app

Although it doesn’t do much before your cruise, once you’re onboard the ship and connected to the wifi, the Disney Cruise app becomes your guide to the boat, with daily schedules and timings, plus it has a cute messenger feature where you can chat to your group on the boat!

Plan your outfits

Even if you don’t meticulously plan your holiday wardrobe like I do, there are a couple of things you should prepare for. Every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night, where dressing up is highly recommended – seriously, everyone does it! – so you won’t want to miss out on that, and some sailings also have optional formal or semi-formal nights so plan accordingly. I’ve also planned a special outfit for the sailaway party as ours was cancelled on the last cruise so I want this one to be more special!

Have you ever done a Disney cruise before?

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