It's been two weeks, but I'm still basking in the glow of my adventures in Disney World. And since I only posted the Princess half marathon race review , I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the rest of of what went on that weekend!
So if I've said it once I've said it a million times, I freaking love Disney World. If you haven't been there before, you probably think it's just another theme park geared towards the kids. And you, my friend, would be completely wrong. Disney as a grown up is WAY MORE FUN than it was a kid, and I selfishly admit to this being trip #3 as a parent...without my kids. Before you report me for the worst mom of the year award, rest assured we are taking our first FAMILY trip to Disney for Rowen's 5th birthday in September!
So let's start with hotels: there are a ton ON Disney property to chose from. I've previously stayed in the All-Star resorts, which are very reasonably priced with all of the Disney amenities: pools, cafeteria, store, and shuttles to and from the parks. Never a complaint there! But this weekend, the awesome people at Disney put us up at the Polynesian Resort. It's like being in Hawaii...but in Disney World. A Cast Member (fancy talk for Disney employee) greets you at the door with an "Aloha!" and a lei. Can't beat that! There's a beach, pools with volcanoes in them, authentic Hawaiian decor (well, I've never been to Hawaii, but it looked pretty real to me) THREE separate restaurants, and best of all, straight shot monorail from the lobby to the magic kingdom (and elsewhere, but the castle is obviously the most important destination, haha)
I got checked into the hotel, and met up with the other bloggers from The Blog Roller's "Get Moving!" initiative . We were ushered onto a private shuttle, where the feasting began. Seriously, the Disney people spoiled us ROTTEN, especially in the food department. I ran like a princess but ate like a king. I am a total grazer when it comes to food, so I was in heaven, haha!
We were taken to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex and given a tour. I had been here before only for previous year's race expos, but it was really awesome to see ALL that they can accommodate at this facility.
While there were runners left and right flocking to the expo, there was also a flag football tournament, a cheerleading competition, and what appeared to be some sort of soccer preseason practice going on. It's amazing how much they could fit in there. Next we were ushered over to the Champion Stadium where a welcome party was prepared for us. Continue with the grazing, Heather!
We hung out, got to know each other, met Minnie mouse, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca from Survivor.... ...when what to my wandering eyes should appear but, JEFF GALLOWAY !! I was slightly star struck for a minute, Mr. Galloway's "Marathon" book motivated me through my first few half marathons and my first full. Jeff took the time to answer questions for us, tell us stories of how he became a runner, and even demonstrate various stretching techniques for us.
Any newbies in the house looking to run a marathon? Check out Jeff Galloway& RunDisney's series of training videos .
I gushed that it was such an honor to meet him, and he graciously posed for pictures with us. Look at me and my new BFF Jeff! (I kid, I kid, lol)
We were then ushered back on our shuttle bus and taken over to Disney's Hollywood Studios for dinner at Mama Melrose's Ristorante. RunDisney knows about carbo loading, haha! Again, I was filled to the brim with delicious food, absolutely certain that I was going to walk away from this weekend with a bonus 10 pounds, haha! On the way to dinner , we passed Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater. Instant mom-guilt. Don't worry though, I drowned it with flat-bread pizza.
We returned to our hotel after dinner, where I found...more food in my room waiting for me. Breakfast for the next morning, and a good luck note from Mickey. I was sitting in my room, totally in shock that I was in Disney, but trying to motivate myself to go to bed, when I heard some music coming from outside. It was the Electric water pageant, that's a tradition every night on the Seven Seas Lagoon in Disney. I had INSTANT flashbacks to my childhood. I remember sitting in the same hotel, 24 years earlier, watching this same parade. And I remember dancing around in our basement with my little sister to this song on our Disney tape. I wished more than anything my entire family was there right then to share the fun with me, but I knew there was no sense in getting sentimental, so I ran outside to the beach and enjoyed the show for them. (not my video, borrowed from youtube, to give you an idea)
Finally, I forced my giddiness aside and went to bed. Disney races start EARLY.
The next morning, I ran one of the most magical races on the planet (read the full recap with plenty of pictures HERE ) After an amazing morning at the race, we showered and relaxed at the hotel, and then we were taken back to the ESPN wide world of sports to watch the spring training season opener between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. The Braves have made ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex their spring training home since 1998, and this was to be my first Major League Baseball game.
But first, they fed us more food, hahaha!
It was a full house at the Champion Stadium , and despite the heat, was a really fun experience.
We left the game a little early, and headed to the Magnolia Golf course, one of Disney's five golf courses . We hopped a ride on the golf carts (not this one, haha)....
and were taken to the training facility where we were given a short lesson with two of Disney's golf pro's. Bless those pro's hearts, they had their hands full with this group of post-half-marathon-loud-mouth-giggly-girls. But we had a blast! I learned that my form was absolutely horrendous, but one of the pro's quickly helped me improve my swing, and I was able to hit the ball...and less grass, as TMB so graciously documented in this photo!
Next up was a nutrition session/cooking lesson at the Grand Floridian Resort with Chef Gary Jones, Disney's Culinary Dietary Specialist (and fellow endurance athlete). He asked us who was horrible in the kitchen (my words, not his), I raised my hand and thus, ended up volunteering myself as an assistant (along with Workoutmommy Lisa !) in making homemade, healthy muesli. Oh it was an adventure, haha! Under Chef Gary's watchful eye, I didn't mess anything up, and we had a delicious snack of muesli followed by a wonderful treat of dark chocolate. Yum-o, and hooray for more grazing!
But wait, there was more food to come! After a quick relaxing break at the hotel, we headed over to Epcot for a feast at Le Bistro De Paris. Excuse the internet slang, but OMG, that was an AMAZING meal! Not only the food and drink, but the atmosphere, the company, and the conversation. Pretty sure I left that meal breaking even on calories, from all of the energy I spent laughing, haha!
We weren't able to stay for desert, as Disney had one more magical surprise left in store for us. We were escorted from France to the United Kingdom , just a short walk away(ha, sounds funny) to a private landing to watch the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks special. And guess what? There was more food! And champagne and shots mixed by our very own bartender and served in chocolate (as in you could EAT them) shot glasses. Disney, are you TRYING to make me run away from home and live with you?!?!
After the show, we were set free, and a bunch of us headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the Extra Magic Hours. We ran like kids to Space Mountain, the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Thunder Mountain. And the castle in the dark, just magical!
And just when I thought Disney couldn't spoil me anymore, I came home to milk and cookies, another note from Mickey....
and an AMAZING gift basket from the Disney Moms Panel The next day, before I got on the plane, I HAD to return to Hollywood studios for a little shopping (look, I found Perry!)
and a ride on my FAVORITE Disney ride...the Aerosmith Rockin Rollercoaster ! Forget a slow start with a climb up the hill, this bad boy uses acceleration to launch from sitting still at the start, then zero to sixty mph in 2.8 seconds, right into it's first loop. AWESOME.
I returned to the hotel and totally sulked that I had to leave, and then headed to the airport which would start the great plane fiasco of 2011. Long story short, there was turbulence, oh so much turbulence, flight rerouting, a landing that reminded me of fishtailing on icy roads in Vermont, a missed connecting flight, and Rich driving 8 hours round trip to rescue me from Charlotte at 4:00 am. *sigh*
So there you have it, inquiring minds who were wondering what I did on my MAGICAL weekend in Disney! As you can see, Disney isn't all about the kids. You can wine, dine, shop, and dance till the cows come home. Don't forget all of the fun rides and attractions for your kid at heart, and the icing on the cake.... running !
I'm counting down the days until our Fall vacation at Walt Disney World resorts ...and scheming up a plan to convince my family to stay a few extra days for the Wine and Dine half marathon (hint hint Holly S!) Whose with me!?!?!
(*note* The Federal Trade Commision says I have to let you know Disney provided me with accommodations, food, and VIP/Media access for the race free of charge, however, the opinions expressed are those solely that of my own. And as I've said before, they are, I freaking LOVE Disney!)