We set out from Tallahassee around 8am and arrived at Walt Disney World around noon. As has become our custom, we go straight to the expo before doing anything else.
Knowing the expo had been open a few hours already, and anticipating the Black Friday atmosphere that often plagues this area, we made a bee line for the runDisney merchandise booth to grab a few items. We always grab a pin or two and a medal for DisneyBride's Mickey Vinylmation. I got the new shirt that reads "My favorite Disney Princess is my Wife". DisneyBride approves.
With our purchases in hand, we headed to get our packets and race shirts. This year it was a breeze. No lines, and within a few minutes I had managed to get my Glass Slipper and 5K bibs, plus my Glass Slipper Shirts. I did have to return to the Josten's Center building to get my 5K shirt, but this was not a big deal.
DisneyBride also quickly got her bib and shirts for the 5K and 10K. Next, we spent some time checking out the vendors. We made a special stop at Apera Bags and chatted with the CEO. More on this to come in a future post.
If you attended in years 2013 and 2014, you know that the expo was far less crowded this year. The 2013 expo was held at Coronado Springs, you can check out our post from last year to see the difference. Being back in the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex this time made things SO much easier to navigate.
Loaded like a pack mule (if you read my post: How To Survince Princess Weekend: A Guide for Men, then here is proof I was telling the truth), I headed out to get us checked into our hotel. Actually this time it wasn't that bad. But of course, we went back the next day...
This is where our least favorite part of the weekend comes in. We booked the Clarion Inn by Downtown Disney through Priceline. Upon arrival, the hotel claimed that weather issues kept guests from traveling home and that they were still occupying their rooms... OUR room. They sent us to a sister property- more than 10 miles away. We had no choice but to make the long trek to our new hotel. The hotel was very nice, however, the property was entirely too far away from Walt Disney World and our weekend events, including the races.
We ate dinner Thursday night at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. It came highly recommended to me by a colleague. DisneyBride and I both really enjoy Ethiopian food so this is going to be a welcome addition to our dining rotation while in Orlando.
We ended the evening at the Disbroads meet-up. It was really nice getting to meet social media friends that I only know from Facebook and Twitter. The Disbroads had arranged a gathering at The Wave Lounge in the Contemporary Resort. It was already in full swing when we arrived, and we were made to feel welcome right away. They had a pretty impressive array of door prizes, including all sorts of bags and baskets full of stuff runners love. Unfortunately, we did not win anything in the raffle. To quote Patty: #SadTrombone We still had a fun time, there were many sample size items of runner goodies and of course the best part was chatting with other runDisney peeps. Nice way to end the first day and a relaxing event to ease into a super action packed weekend.
Day 2: Friday- Cinderella's Royal Family 5K, Expo Round 2, a Jolly Breakfast with Mary Poppins, and oh yeah... we don't have a hotel room!
I am beginning to notice that it gets easier to wake myself and DisneyBride up early for Disney races. We needed that extra time though, as the drive to the race was entirely too long due to our hotel snafu. People always seem to be concerned with driving to runDisney events, but if you leave when the resort buses do, it's not bad.
Like we usually do with Disney 5Ks, we ran this race together. The theme was Cinderella's Royal Family 5K. The Fairy Godmother and Cinderella did the send off for the runners that morning.
The course did not seem to be as packed as during WDW Marathon Weekend. (The Dopey Factor was noticeably absent.) Even the character stops seemed less crowded to me. Perhaps that was just me, as DisneyBride disagrees. We still managed to grab a couple of great photos. It was really nice to see some characters we don't often see.
To runDisney, a comment: It is cruel to put so many kegs right next to the water stop. Please consider providing beer at the aid stations during the 5K. Better yet, provide beer at all aid stations regardless of the distance.
I am obviously not alone in my thinking - as I saw numerous runners on the course taking photos with the kegs and 'jokingly' trying to tap them. (DisneyBride is rolling her eyes at the thought of beer at 6am.)
And so, the first medal of Princess Half Marathon weekend was earned.
Following the race we headed back to the Expo. Race shirt sizing is always a gamble - and this time we found that the 5K shirts ran far too small. We headed to try and swap shirts at the shirt exchange. People have complained about shirt exchange in the past, but I found the process to be quite quick and painless. Important to note: They will only exchange 5K shirts AFTER the race has occurred.
Walking past the runDisney booth, we spotted Barbara Galloway. We've met her several times at the expos and also in Tallahassee through the Galloway group, and my retreat last March. We took a few minutes to talk and catch up. Mrs. Galloway is a wonderful lady and she always remembers us. She and DisneyBride immediately start chatting away like long lost friends.
Within a few minutes, Jeff arrived and we took a few minutes to catch up with him as well. We also took the opportunity to buy one of Jeff's new books, Trail Running. DisneyBride and I both really enjoy trails and off-road running.
Mrs. Galloway decided to photo-bomb us at the last minute!
(Note: We normally would not still be in our race outfits. But as we are so far from our hotel, we don't have a chance to shower and change until later. At least we now had our 5K race shirts to change into. We hadn't thought to bring anything that morning, and we were so grateful for something clean to wear.)
Following the expo we headed to breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian Resort. Neither of us had eaten here before. The characters were fun and very interactive. We got tons of photos with Alice and Pooh also. But these are our favorite characters at this breakfast.
Mary Poppins even gave me permission to have an extra spoon full of sugar since I was running so much. Special props to the Mad Hatter. He really seemed to take pride in his role as host, and he was very entertaining.
Photos don't lie and we appear dead tired.
The hotel we were moved to was over near Universal Studios. As if runDisney races didn't require an early enough wakeup, we had to leave an extra 30 minutes earlier that morning due to the distance. It was taking its toll and during breakfast, DisneyBride almost took a nosedive into her Mickey waffles. We are both good about not drinking soda and we don't drink coffee. But this time, it was unavoidable. Copious amounts of Diet Coke followed.
Fortunately, I was able to convince our original hotel to honor our reservations this time. (Hanging around the registration desk in sweaty costumes didn't hurt.) This was good news, but it turned into a huge hassle checking out of the hotel we were already in and then moving back to where we should have been in the first place. Due to our breakfast reservation, we had missed checkout. We flew across the city of Orlando in record time, and had about 12 minutes to shower, pack up the room and check out late.
There would be no napping that afternoon though, as we couldn't check into our original hotel until after 4:30pm. And that's IF they had a room open up. We were on vacation, but exhausted and homeless. (At least temporarily.)
Getting to the 5K Friday morning took far too long and that was just the first of three race days. Dealing with this hotel snafu may have sealed the deal that during race weekends we will try to stay on property. After all the back and forth and headaches, and lack of a room, it really wasn't worth saving a few bucks. Back to your regularly scheduled recap.
That afternoon we attended the #runnerslove meetup hosted by Kristy of Kristy Runs Kato and Meg of Runaway Royalty. Everyone got prizes in duplicate and triplicate and we made many new runner friends. The meetup took place at the beach at the Polynesian Resort. This is actually one of our favorite places on property. I don't use this phrase often - but I can honestly say it here: a good time was had by all. It kept threatening to rain, and it did at the end, but we were very glad we went.
DisneyBride wants to especially apologize to everyone she met that day, particularly at the meet-up for her zombie-like state. We were without a hotel room at this point and also nap-deprived.
Our day ended with a light dinner from the nearby Whole Foods and a brief stop at Downtown Disney to pick up a last minute costume accessory. We finally got to bed after being up for 21 hours straight. Whew!
Next up... my Glass Slipper Challenge!
(If you like the light up vest DisneyBride was wearing for the 5K, check out her review and giveaway here.)