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March 3, 2017

2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1, Expo and 10K

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Princess Half Marathon

This is the 9th year for Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend. It's always a fun one for me. Even though I don't like the 10K and half marathon courses I still have a really good time!

Disney figured out yet another way to capitalize on the upcoming live action "Beauty and the Beast" movie by making it the theme of the race weekend this year. Besides, it really was Belle's turn - Ariel got it last year, and Anna and Elsa the year before that. :-)

As usual, the Expo was held at the Wide World of Sports complex. I went on Friday afternoon - the Expo had opened Thursday morning.

Princess Half Marathon medalPrincess Half Marathon Glass Slipper Challenge medal

Bib pickup was in the HP Field House. There was a nice backdrop just inside the entrance.

Princess Half Marathon

If you have your race waiver already printed (which I did), then bib pickup is almost always an easy process, and this year was no different. There are printers available for those who don't have their waivers. Sometimes there are lines for those, so it's always better to just bring the waiver with you.

Shirt pickup for those of us running the Glass Slipper Challenge was also in the Field House. I really love the blue and purple shirts! But the VERY pink Glass Slipper Challenge shirt? Not so much. I was having flashbacks of the 25th anniversary "Cakestle" nightmare they did for Magic Kingdom. <SHUDDER>

Princess Half Marathon 2017 race shirts

No gray shirt for me this time - yay! But those who ran the 5K ended up with a gray one. :-(

Belle and Rapunzel were posing for photos in the Field House. Belle's line was quite long, but Rapunzel had just come out, so the line was still pretty short.

Princess Half Marathon Rapunzel

The main expo was in the J Center (formerly Jostens Center), but there were plenty of cast members to direct us and some signs to entertain us as we left the Field House.

Princess Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon

I was there about 1:30 in the afternoon. It was busy, but not super crowded.

Princess Half Marathon Expo

Since I already had my shirts I went straight for the Official Merchandise area. I was somewhat surprised that there was no line to get in. Though there were plenty of taped queue lines on the floor to indicate that there had been lines! Once inside, it seemed to me like there was an excellent variety of merchandise still available. Maybe Disney has finally gotten a better idea of the quantity they need to order of certain very popular items.

For example, there were still LOTS of wine glasses - and those are usually gone early on the first day.

2017 Princess Half Marathon wine glasses

The Princess Weekend runDisney shoe ornament was also still available.

2017 Princess Half Marathon shoe ornament

As were all of the mini-medal and race pins.

2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise

Plenty of magnets, too.

2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise

There was some 5K merchandise.

2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise

With something in the neighborhood of 24,000 people registered for the half marathon, there was lots of half marathon merchandise.

Princess Half Marathon

2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise

A number of Glass Slipper Challenge shirts and jackets.

2017 Enchanted 10K

A few items that I'd seen at previous expos.

2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise

More generic runDisney merchandise.

2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise

I think these mugs are probably available around the resort, but I thought they were really cute - and definitely matched the weekend's theme!

2017 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise

The "I Did It" shirts were all very nice - but while the 5K and 10K shirts were unisex, the half marathon and Challenge shirts were women's cut.

2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise
2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise

There were still a lot of Dooney and Bourke bags left. The only thing that I know of that was sold out at that time was the pink Tervis tumblers.

2017 Princess Half Marathon merchandise

I wandered around the Expo a bit - it was most of the usual exhibitors. I must admit that seeing the new medals for Tinker Bell weekend almost makes me wish we were running that this year.

2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon medals

Upstairs, in the area where the speaker series used to be (there did not seem to be any speakers this year!), there was a Beauty and the Beast set up with the rose. Very long line for that.

2017 Princess Half Marathon

Off to the side was the magic mirror, and it displayed various characters.

2017 Princess Half Marathon

A new (to me) exhibitor was Sparkly Soul, which offered a variety of headbands and hair ties themed to different princesses, and I bought a couple of items. I also took a couple of the GoGo SqueeZ applesauce packets that were offered - I like those. So below is my Expo haul:

2017 Princess Half Marathon

We went back to the Expo on Saturday afternoon. I was surprised at how crowded it was - much more than Friday afternoon. But apparently there were about 17,000 people running the half marathon only, and many of them didn't pick up their bibs until Saturday. There was a significant difference in the availability of merchandise by then - the wine glasses and ornaments were gone, and so were a number of other items. We have a friend who is an exhibitor, and a lot of her stock was running low. Which is a good thing! She'd much rather sell it than take it home. :-)

I was much more pleased with the Expo overall this year than in previous years. While I didn't really buy merchandise, it was really nice to see that it was available, and that there was still a very good selection on the second day of the Expo.


Saturday, February 25 - Princess Enchanted 10K

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

Ahh...another race morning, another much-too-early wakeup call. 2:30. I was targeting a 3:15 departure. Though I miscalculated - I thought the buses started running at 3:00, but they didn't start until 3:30. Otherwise I would have said we should leave at 3:45.

We drove our rental car from Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since we were quite early there was no traffic at all, and I think we were parked by 3:30. We were so early that they weren't letting people through the security check yet! But that opened after we'd stood there for a minute or so.

The really nice thing about being there so early is that there were very short lines for the characters! I think there were maybe eight people in front of me for Aurora.

2017 Princess Half Marathon Aurora

But the lines built quickly, and by the time I'd had my photo with Aurora the line for Jasmine was 5 minutes long. As you can see, I wore my Belle costume again. Lee put together his Maurice costume at the last minute, but it turned out well, I think! Jasmine was very good - she was engaging with the runners and doing different poses with them.

2017 Princess Half Marathon Belle Maurice running costume

The character lines were getting very long already. I believe that Cinderella and Snow White were alternating with Jasmine and Aurora but we didn't get back into line...just waited around for friends to arrive. We'd lucked out and had a bench to sit on. So there are some advantages to being early! We had fun watching all of the people and all of the different costumes. Not surprisingly, Belle, either in the blue dress or yellow dress, was a VERY popular choice, but most of the other Disney princesses were well-represented, also. A few people dressed as Mrs. Potts and Chip, or Lumiere and Cogsworth. And quite a few as Gaston.

It was a great temperature for running - about 60 degrees, though it was quite humid. I had a mylar sheet to wrap around me - I was a little chilly just sitting around without it.

I believe this was the largest 10K I've been part of. There were about 14,000 registered, and 11593 finishers. We've learned from previous experience that there are lots of porta-potties with shorter lines once we go into the "runner's only" area near the corral, so we did that, and entered our corral about 5:10. We were in Corral A.

One thing I really enjoy about the 10K is that it isn't a long walk to the corrals and the start. Maybe 10 minutes before the start of the race they walked us to the actual start line. The current Miss America and a representative from Children's Miracle Network Hospital spoke, and then a Disney cast member sang the national anthem. It was nice to see race announcer Rudy Novotny again - we miss him at the Disneyland races. But we're very happy to see him in Florida!

2017 Enchanted 10K

And then it was time for the race to start! I was surprised that they separated the corrals into waves - we were in the second wave of Corral A, which started a minute after the first wave. Maybe it was to introduce even more separation. The race starts on a nice wide road for the first mile, so it really wasn't much of an issue.

2017 Enchanted 10K

I hadn't decided if I was going to run this race for time or take photos, but I started off running for time. So I didn't take a photo of Moana on the overpass, shouting encouragement to "voyagers". I would have stopped for Elena of Avalor at Mile 1, but the line was already long. Tinker Bell and friends were between mile 1 and 2. But I did stop for the Hag just past mile 2. The line didn't look too long (though it took longer than I thought it would), and I've never had my picture with her before! I think it turned out well. The Disney PhotoPass photographers again did an excellent job throughout the weekend. That has been a huge improvement over the previous third party vendor. And since we are AP holders, all PhotoPass photos are included as an AP benefit, which includes race photos!

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

OK...so now I was apparently running the race for fun and not time. :-) There are a lot more character stops than there were when Disney originally rolled out the first 10K on this course. The course itself is still very boring, since it's on roads and backstage at Epcot for the first 3.5 miles. It's always really nice to finally come into Epcot between Norway and China and see the torches around World Showcase Lagoon and hear the music!

Dopey was out at Germany and Pinocchio at Italy, but the lines were a little long. Marie at France had a short line, but I didn't stop. Lee did, though.

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

We ran out of Epcot and around the Boardwalk. I was very surprised that there was no character in front of ESPN Club, as there usually is. It turned out that I was too early - the Genie was there a couple minutes later when Lee went by. There were lot of PhotoPass photographers on the Boardwalk, though, so they got some shots of us. Lee always looks happier when he's running than I do. :-)

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K
2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

At the International Gateway was Princess Minnie, and the line was fairly short so I stopped.

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

From there it was less than a mile to the finish. PhotoPass got an excellent shot of Lee in front of Spaceship Earth...though I think he forgot which character he was portraying, as that pose is more Gaston than Maurice. :-)

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

I finished in 1:02:28. Not a PR, but since I had a couple of character stops that was still pretty good. 20th in my division and 917 overall, so in the top 10%. I was happy with that.

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

Lee had a good race and finished in 1:06:44.

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

Our friends Eddie McCoy and Phill Vanderpool ran together and finished second and third in their age group, respectively. Congratulations to them!

The medal is very nice - keeping with the Beauty and the Beast theme.

Princess Half Marathon 10K medal

After the race we got in one of the character lines - it was Mulan when we got in line, but Jasmine again when we reached the front of the line. Oh well.

2017 Princess Enchanted 10K

We walked to our car and had no problems getting out of the parking lot - easy drive back to the hotel.

It was a fun race. Even though I don't like this course very much I still enjoy the race. It's a great atmosphere and everyone has a good time. I'm glad that Disney is continuing to change the theme of the 10K each year. Though it would be nice if they would announce the theme BEFORE the race actually went on sale!

Next up: The Disney Princess Half Marathon








February 27, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates - 2/24/17

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 24, 2017.

Prices have gone up at the Disneyland Resort since my last visit. Current parking rates.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

An overview of the Star Wars/Rivers of America construction site from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure.

A building is taking shape in the back corner.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The round lower level portion of the large show building has reached ground level now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The building has spanned the full width and height.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Ticket prices went up since my last visit.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The entrance to Star Tours is being reconfigured.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The walls in the middle of the walkway are down. They removed the planter so now it is just a support column. This creates a little more space for strollers and/or walkway.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

This week the Country Bears are the featured characters for AP Days. Shaker and Big Al were out when I stopped by.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Arts and crafts activities.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

They also had the button from last week available if you did not get one.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Some barges out on the river now as they prepare to bring Fantasmic back this summer.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The Columbia masts are back and rigging is being added.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017"

The concrete riverbed is being poured for the Rivers of America.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Poles near the entrance for the Haunted Mansion are an indication that the rollout or at least testing of maxPass is coming.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The Moana meet and greet has been removed...

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The Red Rose Taverne officially opened today in Fantasyland. This temporary overlay of Beauty and the Beast to the Village Haus.

The line reached the sidewalk when I stopped by at 3:30. This was a little deceiving since they were holding the line inside and guiding people to registers with only one or two groups at each registered vs the normal lines at each. I was told it took about 10 minutes to get to order. The orders were taking a while though so total time was pushing 20-30 minutes from entering the queue till you were eating.

This was good compared to reports I read from over the weekend of wait times up to two hours.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Inside props and new artwork have been added to change it from Pinocchio and his German Village Haus to Belle and France.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Even the window glass was changed out.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

They were sold out of all desserts for the day already. Here is a look at the enchanted cauli-flower sandwich.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Poutine flatbread

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The other side of the restaurant Gaston helped to decorate. So it features antlers and of course a large picture of him.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Antlers added to the chandeliers.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Over at Disney California Adventure, the scaffolding and wrap have returned to fully cover the Guardians of the Galaxy Breakout Attraction with about three months to go until the May 27th opening.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

World of Color is not running for a couple weeks for annual refurbishment work. Two of the three platforms were raised to be worked on.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Class of 2017 mouse ears are available throughout the resort.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

In New Orleans Square Mlle Antoinettes is closed for some work.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

The Red Rose cups are at Maurice's too.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Found a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade to wrap up my visit with the parade then Remember Dreams Come True Fireworks.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 24, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.








February 13, 2017

Disneyland Resort Updates - 2/10/17

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Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, February 10, 2017.

Laura wrote a blog featuring the Beauty and the Beast Preview as well as AP Days 2017, so I am going to focus on some of projects around the resort.

A video clip overview of the Star Wars Construction site (note the second half is really shaky since I was shooting freehand with a telephoto lens...)

The site from the Mickey and Friends parking structure on this cloudy afternoon.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Work continues along the top of the berm as they prepare it for the next step.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The hill between the two entrance tunnels has been sprayed, assuming to help hold the dirt in place with all the rain we have been having.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

On the far north side of the project it appears they are working on footers and the foundation for another building. Even with the looming rain they were pouring concrete today.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Construction has gone vertical for Star Wars. The very large show building nearest the parking structure has steel going up now.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A rock formation taking shape along the Rivers of America.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Trees have been planted on the new berm between where the train will run and Star Wars.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

First park today, Disneyland. Big Thunder has received a new entrance structure, that building we saw near the Rivers of America was moved here once completed. The Stand By Entrance is here and the FastPass on the left side of the building.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Moving over to Critter Country, the rocks along the back of the Rivers of America

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Down in the riverbed they have started to install the footers that will support the track the boats run on.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The former Royal Reception location in Fantasyland is now a Beauty and the Beast shop.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The Matterhorn is closed for annual renovation work and the installation of FastPass.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

"it's a small world" has a new entrance and wait time sign.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A quick video clip of it in action.

Moving over to Disney California Adventure, the new color scheme and exterior for Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! is being unveiled.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A closer look.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

From the Monorail a look at the former House of Blues future Splitsville project.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


The Grand Californain is undergoing a major renovation. In the lobby are some displays taking a look at the new rooms including sample material and pictures.
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The new room look.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

A closer look at the materials used.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The hallway carpet and how it will be laid out.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The Curl Surf Shop in Downtown Disney looks ready to open any day now.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

The rains showed up as the sun set, Main Street USA around 6pm

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Passing by Sleeping Beauty Castle...
Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017


A quick video clip of the Hatbox Ghost.

A final look at Main Street USA before leaving, it was 9:30pm.

Jason @ disneygeek.com image from Friday, February 10, 2017

Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, https://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.







February 12, 2017

AP Days at Disneyland and Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

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A couple of new limited time events started at Disneyland on Friday, February 10. So I decided to make a quick trip to Disneyland to check them out.

A sneak peek of the upcoming "Beauty and the Beast" movie is showing in the Sunset Showcase Theater in Disney California Adventure. The movie opens on March 17, so the preview will probably run through March 19th.

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

Lots of movie artwork along the entrance to the theater.

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

The entry and lobby area of the theater have been redesigned - all traces of Arendelle have been removed, and now it looks more like a generic theater.

In the lobby are two display cases with props from the movie. This one has Belle's "town" dress and the "Magic Atlas."

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

The other has the rose and the "Enchanted Mirror."

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

The preview is in 3D and is about 10 minutes long. It features the entire opening "Belle" song with the townspeople and Gaston followed by a short trailer. (Josh Gad is excellent as Lefou.) While you're waiting for the preview to start, take a look at the "Enchanted Mirrors" on both sides of the theaters above the entrance and exit doors. You'll see some familiar characters.

I really enjoyed it - I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek

Also at DCA...work on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT continues - part of the facade was visible. I thought it looked better than I was expecting.

Tower of Terror Mission Breakout

In the Paradise Pier area there are construction walls up along the bay in front of the Carousel - this would seem to be the logical location for the new Fastpass kiosks for Toy Story Midway Mania. No word on when those Fastpasses will be available.

Toy Story Mania Fastpass

Over at Disneyland, AP Days, a celebration for Annual Passholders, runs through March 9. This time it has a Main Street Electrical Parade theme.

Disneyland AP Days

The Welcome Center is in the Starcade in Tomorrowland.

Disneyland AP Days

There was a pretty long line to get in when I was there - they had a queue set up in front of Path of the Jedi.

Disneyland AP Days

Each Friday there's a new button. Cast members were scanning passes (one button per pass) outside the Welcome Center, so there was no need to wait in line to get the button.

Disneyland AP Days

There's an AP Adventures brochure that has some additional information. Inside there is information on the Electrical Parade and some trivia questions.

Disneyland AP Days

There's additional information on the back - including an announcement for the next AP event, which will be at DCA during the Food and Wine Festival from March 10-April 16.

Disneyland AP Days

Once inside the Welcome Center, I would recommend that you first find the cast members who are distributing tickets (basically a Fastpass) for the character greeting area. They were not letting people simply line up for the characters - everyone needed a ticket. You can leave the Welcome Center while you're waiting for your return time - once you're inside your window you can show your ticket at the door so you don't need to wait in line again to enter.

Disneyland AP Days

The characters are "retro" characters. For this week there were Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.

Disneyland AP Days

Alternating with the Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John.

Disneyland AP Days

Just inside the entrance is a special photo backdrop with a PhotoPass photographer.

Disneyland AP Days

Also as you enter are the retro video games: Donkey Kong Jr., Missile Command, PacMan, and Asteroids.

Disneyland AP Days

The token machine is next to the - authentic STARCADE tokens. These looked brand new.

Disneyland AP Days

Special AP merchandise is available in the Welcome Center - it's also available in Disney Showcase on Main Street. There were wine glasses, pins, lanyard, hat, and tumbler.

Disneyland AP Days

Also shirts. Here's the back of the men's version (you can see the front logo on the left of the photo above).

Disneyland AP Days

This is the women's shirt.

Disneyland AP Days

There's a lounge area with comfortable-looking sofas and chairs.

Disneyland AP Days

With a charging station.

Disneyland AP Days

Some artwork outside the lounge area.

Disneyland AP Days

There are a couple of different activities in the "Activities and Fun" area.

Disneyland AP Days

You can color your own MSEP pennant:

Disneyland AP Days

Or you can build your own parade - this card has perforations to separate each photo. And then there were pieces of ribbon available to tie them together.

Disneyland AP Days

During AP Days, recipe cards, a new one each week, will be available at several locations in Disneyland. The same card is available at each restaurant. You have to ask for the cards. Participating locations are Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port, Gibson Girl, and Main Street Refreshment Corner.

AP Days Oscar's Potatoes recipe

Another part of AP Days is daily screenings in the Opera House at 5:00, 6:30, and 8:00 p.m. Wristbands are distributed at the Opera House entrance earlier in the day, until they are all gone.

Disneyland AP Days

I didn't see it, but Jason did, and said it was the Disney Channel Backstage Disney show on the Main Street Electrical parade from 1986.

Disneyland AP Days

A special offer for Passholders at the moment is a refillable popcorn bucket. It's $15 for the initial purchase (which includes popcorn), After that, you can get refills for $1 (you also must present your AP) through April 16. There's a DCA version of the popcorn bucket, also. I was required to show both my AP and my id to purchase it.

Disneyland AP Popcorn Bucket

There are also supposed to be special menu items available at a few quick service restaurants, but I was not successful in my attempt to order the Fried Chicken and Waffles that are supposed to be at the Plaza Inn. The cast member seemed to have no idea what I was talking about.

There are many other Main Street Electrical Parade-inspired treats that are not secret and are easier to find. Many of them are at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. I tried the PB&J Eclair. Which yes, was an eclair filled with a soft peanut butter filling and a layer of strawberry jam. I thought it was just ok.

Special Electrical Parade treats

I also tried the Cheshire Cat Shortbread Cookie. Also with a strawberry jam filling. This was better - though I think I would've preferred the shortbread without the filling. The filling made it soft, and I like shortbread to have a little bit of crunch.

Special Electrical Parade treats

Also available at the Bakery are a Pineapple Coconut Parfait and Ladybug Macarons. The Raspberry Drum Cake that I'd seen at the preview is at River Belle Terrace. There's a Hazelnut Tart at the Market House (I'll have to try that one), Fantasia Mousse Cake (shaped like a turtle) at Blue Bayou, and Fantasia Ice Cream at Gibson Girl. I've never understood the attraction of the ice cream - the combination of pistachio, cherry, and banana does not appeal to me at all.

At the Plaza Inn there's a colorful "puzzle" cake.

Disneyland AP Days

With Valentine's Day and Beauty and the Beast coming up, various treats are available around the resort. At Trolley Treats in DCA I saw these Minnie Mouse and Belle cupcakes:

Disneyland Valentine Treats

Also these heart cookies:

Disneyland Valentine cookies

And at the Candy Palace in Disneyland there were rose and pink frosted cake pops as well as pink frosted krispy treats.

Disneyland Valentine treats

The specialty caramel apple of the month is covered with dark chocolate, cherries, and nuts.

February Disneyland Specialty Apple

Special cherry vanilla swirl cotton candy is available at a few locations. I only saw it on Main Street.

Disneyland Valentine Cotton Candy

Jason will have a much more complete construction update, but I took a few photos from the construction wall area near Big Thunder Mountain. There's some rock work visible now.

Disneyland Star Wars Land

Bob Iger announced earlier this week during the Walt Disney Company Q1 FY17 Earnings call that Star Wars Lands at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios will open in 2019. So I guess we still have two years to wait.

Disneyland Star Wars Land

As I mentioned, look for Jason's update in the next couple of days - he has more construction photos, the new entrance to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Grand Californian refurbishment updates, etc.,







February 6, 2017

2017 Annie Awards

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This last weekend the 2017 Annie Awards were held at UCLA. Started in 1972 by voice over legend June Foray, the award ceremony is held by ASIFA-Hollywood ("Association Internationale du Film d'Animation") and celebrates the last year's outstanding achievements in animation.

Noted to be animation's most glamorous yearly event, many luminaries of the field walked the red carpet:

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"Moana's" Auli'i Cravalho

Two of this year's Winsor McCay award recipients...

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Mamoru Oshii

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Dale Baer

Head of Animation for "Moana," Hyrum Osmond
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Ernie Hudson
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Paige O'Hara, Glen Keane, and Frank Gladstone
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James Hong
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Producer Osnat Shurer and Directors John Musker and Ron Clements for "Moana"
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Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane
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"Kubo and the Two Strings" director Travis Knight
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Bill Farmer and Sam Kwasman
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Friz Freleng's daughters Sybil and Hope
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"Zootopia" producer Clark Spencer and directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore
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At the award ceremonies, "Zootopia" was the big winner, taking Best Animated Feature over fellow nominees "Moana," "Finding Dory," "Kubo and the Two Strings," and "Kung Fu Panda 3." It also won Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated Feature; Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature; Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature; and Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature. Pixar's "Piper" took Best Animated Short Subject and "Moana" took Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production. In Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated Feature, Auli'i Cravalho and Jason Bateman tied for "Moana" and "Zootopia" respectively.

The Winsor McCay award recipients for contributions to the animation art form were legendary animator Dale Baer; independent animation champion Caroline Leaf; and influential anime director Mamoru Oshii. The Ub Iwerks Award for technical advancement was presented to Google Spotlight’s Virtual Reality Platform; and the Special Achievement Award was presented to "Life, Animated," a documentary about how a young autistic boy's struggle to communicate with the help of classic Disney animated characters.

The long list of quality films, shorts, and TV productions makes the current health and vigor of the animation industry obvious. Full listings of the night's nominees and winners are available at http://annieawards.org/nominees/#23, and are a great source for new titles to put on your viewing queue.

February 5, 2017

The Main Street Electrical Parade Returns to Disneyland - Again

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Main Street Electrical Parade

(Thank you to our contributing photographer Jason, of disneygeek.com, for his parade photos.)

I must admit that when Disney first announced that the Main Street Electrical Parade was returning to Disneyland this year, my reaction was along the lines of "How can I miss you when you won't go away?" After the supposed "final farewell" in 1996, it returned to Disney California Adventure (albeit as Disney's Electrical Parade) from 2001 to 2010, and now it's back on Main Street in Disneyland in 2017.

This time we've been told that it's a limited run, from January 20-June 18. It will give guests something to do in the evening, with so much of the park closed due to Star Wars Land construction and normal off-season refurbishments.

But as Lee pointed out - what's the matter with Paint the Night? Disneyland has a perfectly good modern, 21st century light parade...why bring back the antiquated 1970s-era parade?

But after seeing it during the premiere event on January 19...there's just something totally and ridiculously charming about this parade. That happy, bouncy, synthesized "Baroque Hoedown" always makes me smile. I'd forgotten that. While Paint the Night is a technological marvel, and wows me with the brilliant lights and special effects - it just doesn't make me smile and feel like a kid again the way the Main Street Electrical Parade does.

Here's the video:

This isn't quite the parade as we last saw it, though. More like Main Street Electrical Parade Light (pun intended). A couple of the parade units are missing, or shortened. Instead of the Blue Fairy or Tinker Bell, the parade leads off with the Drum float, which again says "Disneyland Presents Main Street Electrical Parade".

Main Street Electrical Parade

The Alice in Wonderland unit follows, with the spinning bees, snails, and turtles, a centipede, the Caterpillar, Alice on her mushroom.

Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade

Cinderella's unit is next, with Cinderella in her pumpkin coach, the prince with the glass slipper, and the clock tower.

Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade

Captain Hook's Pirate Ship with Peter Pan and Captain Hook aboard, is followed by Mr. Smee in a rowboat.

Main Street Electrical Parade

The Tinker Bell float, which was the new lead float in the DCA version of the parade, now follows the pirate ship. The balloon above the float was removed, and Tink stands on the front of the float rather than riding in the balloon.

Main Street Electrical Parade

Dopey drives the Mine Train float, accompanied by the other six dwarves and followed by the Diamond Mine float.

Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade

The Pleasure Island float is led by Pinocchio and the other boys. According to Show Producer John Addis, they have some new choreography. (I personally find this float rather creepy, and would have been happy if it had been one of those removed!) There was a second float to this parade unit, but it was also removed.

Main Street Electrical Parade

Elliott from Pete's Dragon (accompanied by Pete) is next. Elliott still disappears, though we didn't see him - or not see him, as the case may be. :-)

Main Street Electrical Parade

The final float is still To Honor America, accompanied by dancers in patriotic costumes.

Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade

As I mentioned, I still found it very entertaining and charming. It looked really good - didn't show its age like I expected. There were some enhancements made to the floats like newer LED lighting. John Addis told us that the drum float was re-done, though he didn't elaborate on that.

Main Street Electrical Parade

Dining packages

For the duration of the parade's run, special dining packages are available that will give guests a premium viewing experience. All packages can be reserved up to 60 days in advance either on-line or by calling. Credit card guarantee is required, and a $10/person fee will be charged in the case of no-shows, or cancellation less than 24 hours in advance.

Blue Bayou offers a three-course meal featuring starter, entree and dessert. It is $65 for adults and $25 for kids plus tax and gratuity. The viewing location is on Main Street.

Aladdin's Oasis offers a "grab and go" meal for $25.99 for adults and $14.99 for kids. The viewing location is near "it's a small world". In my experience, this package is often still available same day, and you can go to Aladdin's Oasis to purchase it on the day you wish to see the parade.

Special Parade Menu Items

There are a number of Main Street Electrical Parade-themed menu items available at dining locations around Disneyland.

Jolly Holiday Bakery has a variety of really cute treats! A Peanut Butter and Jelly Eclair

Main Street Electrical Parade PBJ Eclair

Turtle Cream Puffs

Main Street Electrical Parade Turtle Cream Puff

Cheshire Cat Shortbread

Main Street Electrical Parade Cheshire Cat Shortbread

Ladybug Macaron

Main Street Electrical Parade Ladybug Macaron

Pineapple Coconut Parfait

Main Street Electrical Parade

I believe this drum is available at The Plaza Inn.

Main Street Electrical Parade

There are also several treats available at the Candy Palace:

Main Street Electrical Parade

Special menu items are also offered at other locations, like Fantasia Whoopie Pie at Gibson Girl, Firefly Chile and Chips and a Chili Mac Bread Bowl at the Refreshment Corner, and Fried Mozzarella Sticks at Stage Door Cafe.

Merchandise

And of course there's lots of special parade-themed merchandise. T-shirts, ears, pins, and several things that glow.

Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade
Main Street Electrical Parade

Though I think these glowing Turtle Bottle Toppers might be my favorite.

Main Street Electrical Parade

The parade runs every day. One performance on days that Disneyland closes at 9:00, and two performances when the park closes at 11:00 or later. At this point neither Mickey's Soundsational Parade nor the Pixar Play Parade are back on the schedule, so the Electrical Parade is the only parade running at either park.

Disney has placed billboards around Southern California advertising the parade's return (I've seen two in the San Diego area), and I'm sure there are a lot of people who will make a special trip to Disneyland to see it between now and June 18.

Now, if I could only get the music out of my head...Oh well. There are definitely worse things, right? :-)

* I was an invited Media guest to the premiere of the Main Street Electrical Parade. My opinions are my own.







January 23, 2017

2017 Lunar New Year Celebration at Disney California Adventure

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Lunar New Year Celebration

In 2017, Disneyland has expanded the Lunar New Year Celebration to 17 days, from January 20 - February 5. This year celebrates the Year of the Rooster. All events take place at Disney California Adventure. I attended a media preview on January 19.

A map in the area shows the locations of the different events.

Lunar New Year Celebration

There are special Lunar New Year-inspired food items available at more locations this year. The Paradise Garden Grill has a special seasonal menu during the celebration, with selections like stir-fried vegetables and noodles, grilled short ribs with kimchi, pho, cassava-coconut cake, and almond milk tea.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Three marketplace booths offer items inspired by Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisine. These include sugar cane shrimp skewers, kimchi vegetable fried rice, turnip cake and pork soup dumplings, and sweet items such as sweet rice and dried fruit cake, egg tart, and a sweet potato macaron. Various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

A special glow cube shaped like a lotus blossom is available for $5, either by itself or in a specialty beverage.

Lunar New Year Celebration

During the preview I sampled several of the food items and one of the beverage offerings. My favorite by far was the Vegetable Japchae, which is available at Paradise Garden Grill. Sweet potato noodles with vegetables and tofu, with a sesame oil sauce and toasted sesame seeds. It was really good.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The Banh chung - sticky rice cake with pork - from the Vietnam booth was also really good. It was wrapped in some kind of leaf.

Lunar New Year Celebration

I thought the Yachae Mandu - steamed vegetable dumplings from Korea, had a nice flavor, but they were a little too spicy for me.

Lunar New Year Celebration

I was intrigued by the Xiao Long Bao - pork soup dumplings - from the China booth. They actually have liquid inside! But I thought they were just ok. They needed a sauce, but I didn't care for the black vinegar-ginger sauce that came with them.

Lunar New Year Celebration

There are a couple of places near us that serve Luo Bo Gao - turnip cake - and we really like it. This one, from the China booth, is topped with pork sausage and oyster sauce. When I've had it before it's topped with egg. The oyster sauce made it taste fishy to me, and the turnip cake by itself was a bit bland (not surprisingly).

Lunar New Year Celebration

I also tried the Passion Fruit Green Iced Tea with popping pearls. I don't have a photo of it. I didn't really think it tasted like passion fruit - mostly it just tasted sweet. But I enjoyed it - the pearls are always an interesting sensation.

Other samples that were available that I didn't try were the Beef Pho Noodle Soup:

Lunar New Year Celebration

And the Kalbi Beef Short Ribs. Both available at Paradise Garden Grill.

Lunar New Year Celebration

One of the other entrees available at Paradise Garden Grill is the Whole Fish Served Family Style. It looks a little intimidating: it's a whole tilapia, deep fried and served with soup, vegetables, and rice. Served after 5:00. It's $24.99 and will easily feed two or more people. Very traditional dish, but very non-traditional by Disney standards!

Lunar New Year Celebration

Chef John State was part of a panel discussion we saw later, and spoke about how they developed the Festival food offerings by speaking with cast members and diversity groups, and looking at authentic family recipes. They explored flavors and textures. He was especially proud of how they are serving the whole fish dish out of a counter-service restaurant kitchen, when it's really something expect from a full-service restaurant.

Most Lunar New Year activities take place in the Paradise Pier area. In front of Ariel's Undersea Adventure guests can get their face painted.

Lunar New Year Celebration

They can also decorate a paper lantern.

Lunar New Year Celebration

In Paradise Gardens local artisans will craft a custom Chinese calligraphy for guests. The one on the left is my name, and the one on the right has the symbol for the Year of the Rooster on top, and good wishes for the new year below it.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Next to Goofy's Sky School is the Lucky Wishing Wall, where guests can add their own wish for the coming year.

Lunar New Year Celebration

For Annual Passholders, the AP Corner between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta offers a special photo opportunity, a wishing well, and an AP Adventure.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Lunar New Year merchandise is available at Seaside Souvenirs and carts in the area. I thought the t-shirt was very nicely designed.

Lunar New Year Celebration

A number of entertainment offerings are also available throughout the day.

A special character greeting area is available in Paradise Gardens, where Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Mulan, and Mushu, dressed in Lunar New Year costumes, will pose for photos with guests.

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

The Paradise Garden Bandstand will host performances by several different Asian musicians during the celebration, including classical guitarist Dat Nguyen and Jie Ma, who plays the Chinese pipa instrument.

At the Paradise Bay stage the Acrobats of China perform multiple times each day, engaging in gravity-defying acts of athleticism. They were not performing at the preview.

Mulan's New Year Procession is hosted by Mulan and Mushu who lead a number of performers to the music from the "Mulan" movie. This offering is scheduled twice a day on weekends, once per day on weekdays. I really enjoyed this, but I'm quite surprised that there are so few performances, as compared to Viva Navidad! or Elena's Grand Welcome.

The ideal viewing area for Mulan's New Year Procession is a pretty narrow area between Jumping Jellyfish and the entrance to Paradise Gardens - a very limited number of guests will have a really good view of it.

My favorite part was the dragon dancers.

Lunar New Year Celebration

But the fan, parasol, and ribbon dancers were quite beautiful.

Lunar New Year Celebration

And the martial artists (who performed to "I'll Make a Man Out of You") were fun to watch.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Each night, a special 6-minute pre-show will precede each performance of World of Color. Hurry Home features Mulan, Mushu, and a little lantern who is making its way home to celebrate the new year with family. This is an original story with all new animation in two different styles as well as the water fountains and special lighting effects. The accompanying music was originally created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort by Tan Dun.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Show Producer Jennifer Magill spoke to us about the new production. There are three different sequences, illustrating elements of the Lunar New Year celebration. In the first, the little lantern plays and has fun with Mushu, animated in a paper animation style.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The second part features the food. The lantern dreams of rice, dumplings, and other foods - and is pursued by mischievous chopsticks.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The third sequence focuses on the New Year tradition of reflecting back and looking forward. It features Mulan, and Lea Salonga recorded a new version of "Reflection" for it.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Eventually the lantern makes it home and is welcomed by family.

Lunar New Year Celebration

The end of the show featured actual fireworks - I was surprised to see that. But as Ms. Magill said - you can't have a New Year celebration without fireworks!

Lunar New Year Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration

It was a very sweet story, and I enjoyed it. You can see the video below.

I was very impressed by all of the different offerings available during the celebration. There are quite a few different things to do, and it would be easy to spend a good portion of a park visit enjoying all of the different entertainment and some of the food.

Lunar New Year Celebration

* I was an invited Media guest to a preview of the Lunar New Year Celebration. My opinions are my own.







January 22, 2017

2017 Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 3, Half Marathon

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Sunday - January 15, Star Wars Half Marathon

Star Wars Half Marathon

We'd scheduled a wakeup call for 4:00 - but we never got it. Fortunately Lee is a "belt-and-suspenders" guy and had also set the alarm on his iPhone, so we were still up at 4:00.

Since we knew from the day before that security wasn't going to be an issue we didn't leave the room until 5:00. I was still in my corral my 5:17 - plenty of time. I was in C, Lee was in E, so we again ran separately...I wanted to try to stop for some character photos this time, so wanted to be further forward so the lines maybe wouldn't be quite as long.

Running costumes for us that morning, also - X-wing pilot for Lee, and Rey for me. The arm wraps were quite welcome since it was another cool morning. A little warmer than the day before - 50. I had a mylar sheet to wrap around me while I was waiting, and that was really all I needed. I had gloves, but I never actually put them on - finally just put them in my pocket. Again, it was just about perfect conditions for running a race.

Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon

While we were waiting for this race to start we saw scenes from Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. We saw that in December - good movie.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Again, not much of a "show" from the race announcers while we were waiting. But that's ok. The race started right on time. There were 5 minutes between corral releases, so my corral started 10 minutes after the official start.

Star Wars Half Marathon

The first four+ miles of the course were almost identical to the 10K the day before. But that was ok - since I wasn't running for time I was able to observe my surroundings a little more. I liked this sign backstage at DCA. :-)

Star Wars Half Marathon

The line at R2 and Threepio's character stop was long, but there was a short line for the Rebels at Paradise Pier.

Star Wars Half Marathon

One thing that I don't think I've mentioned in my blogs, which I should, is restroom stops in the parks. I always try to have some idea of what the race course is inside the parks so that I know where there restrooms next to the course. I only need to find one, but it's really nice to be able to use a REAL restroom instead of a porta-potty. This time I went to the large one between Ariel's and Grizzly River Run, but I would have had a lot of other options.

There was a set of Jedi performing a light saber training exercise in Hollywood Land.

Star Wars Half Marathon

And the speeder bikes were placed outside the Tower of Terror just before mile 2. Lengthy line for that, too.

Star Wars Half Marathon

When we ran through the tunnel under the bus area I noticed some new special effects - in addition to the Star Wars music that was playing there was the sound of lasers firing, and on the walls were red and green laser trace fire lines. Hard to see in this photo, but I thought it was a really neat effect!

Star Wars Half Marathon

We passed the mile 3 sign backstage at Disneyland, and then entered the park back at Toon Town, then ran by "it's a small world". It's nice that Disney leaves it in holiday mode through this race weekend. It's decorated for Avengers weekend in November and for Star Wars weekend in January.

Star Wars Half Marathon

There was a Storm Troopers character stop along "small world way" before we turned left to go around the Matterhorn.

Star Wars Half Marathon

There were more Storm Troopers on the ramp of the Launch Bay. The BB-8 photo stop was near Star Tours. The line wasn't too long so I stopped.

Star Wars Half Marathon

We again ran back towards Fantasyland. Kylo Ren was engaged in a light saber battle with some Jedi near Pixie Hollow. (Five against one doesn't seem exactly fair, though, does it? There should be at least ten Jedi.)

Star Wars Half Marathon

From Fantasyland we ran through the castle, but instead of taking the loop out through Frontierland and Adventureland like we did for the 10K we went straight down Main Street.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Two of the horses were out and posing for photos. They seemed to like the runners - the one on my left nuzzled me lightly on the shoulder. Such beautiful gentle giants!

Star Wars Half Marathon

The Mile 4 sign was along Main Street, and Chewbacca's photo stop was in the same location as the 10K - next to the Disney Showcase store. Longish line, so I didn't stop. While this was "The Light Side" half marathon, there were a few Dark Siders who showed up to spoil the party. I already mentioned the Storm Troopers and Kylo Ren, but Captain Phasma was also there, on the bridge next to the train station.

Star Wars Half Marathon

After we ran out through Disneyland's main entrance we went through the east tram area and out to Harbor Blvd - the rest of the course was outside the parks. But about 4.5 miles in the parks is a pretty good - better than some of the other race courses.

On the other side of Harbor I could see some of the early runners who were already returning. The winner had already gone by, but I saw some of the higher finishing men as well as the female winner.

Star Wars Half Marathon

By mile six it was starting to get more light out as the sun came out. There were a few clouds with color, but it was a fairly clear morning.

Star Wars Half Marathon

The course took us down Harbor Blvd into the city of Garden Grove, where we turned right on Garden Grove Blvd. There were a number of bands and cheerleaders who had come out to cheer us on. And we even had a feline cheerleader! This cat was not at all bothered about being in a harness and watching all of these crazy runners go by him. I'm guessing he has some Dark Side leanings. :-)

Star Wars Half Marathon

One of my favorite things about this course is that it crosses Newhope Street. How appropriate for a Star Wars-themed race! That's after the halfway point - about mile 7.5, and just before we turn north to go back towards the finish.

Star Wars Half Marathon

But my favorite thing about this course is around mile 8 and mile 9 - the two areas where there are Cosplayers who come dressed in their Star Wars costumes to cheer us on. They are so amazing! They love having their photo taken with runners, and there's usually no line to do that. I can't say enough about their wonderful enthusiasm and support. Their placement on the course is really good, because it's when runners are getting tired, but still have a ways to go to the finish. They really help give us an extra boost to keep us going as we get a lift out of all of their energy.

Star Wars Half Marathon

There are lots of heroes:

Star Wars Half Marathon

And villains:

Star Wars Half Marathon

And even cars and droids!

Star Wars Half Marathon

Lee found his fellow X-wing squadron pilots.

Star Wars Half Marathon

This video shows most of both sets - as you can see there was really an extensive variety of costumes from all of the different movies.

After the excitement of the cosplayers, mile 9-10 of the course is pretty quiet. It's largely in a residential neighborhood, so in the interest of keeping the noise down early on a Sunday morning there are no bands or other entertainment. Though there are residents and groups, like my friends Colin and Richard, who come out to cheer on the runners in that area, and it is greatly appreciated.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Just before mile 10 the course goes right on Chapman Avenue for about a mile. There's a lovely pond there, and it always has nice reflections in the morning. Thanks to all of the recent rain the water level was higher than normal, and on this race morning there were lots of ducks enjoying the pond.

Star Wars Half Marathon

My legs were a little tired after my hard run the day before, but I'd managed to mostly stick to my usual run/walk pace. But by about mile 10.5 I started to feel it and had to slow down a little more. I was very happy when we turned left onto Harbor Blvd since I knew I had just about 2 miles left. I could see runners at the back of the pack still coming towards us. It was just before mile 12 that I saw the balloon ladies.

Star Wars Half Marathon

The last mile of the course took us down Katella to Disneyland Drive, and then around the Paradise Pier Hotel to the finish line at the Disneyland Hotel. I finished in JUST under 2:22 - 2:21:59 to be exact. :-) Considering photo stops, a restroom stop, and tired legs I was VERY happy with that.

Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon

I got my race medal - it's a spinner with Han and Leia (awwww) on one side and the Medal of Yavin on the other. And my Rebel Challenge medal. That's a new design this year. I'm not really sure I like it.

Star Wars Half Marathon

I didn't talk about the runDisney snack box after the 10K...we received the same assortment after the half. It had a slightly different variety than what I've seen before. The best part is that it has a small container of Nutella!!!! Yum. I guess I'm resigned to the fact that it's what we're going to get after any Disney race from now on. Most of it is stuff I'll eat except the Builder Bar - yuck.

Star Wars Half Marathon

In the finish area there was a Nesquik van, and they were handing out chocolate milk! Yay!!! Or "Protein Enhanced Milk Beverage", as they called it. There was a choice of chocolate or vanilla. I didn't hear anyone ask for vanilla.

Star Wars Half Marathon

The "trash compactor" photo backdrop had a short line, so I had my photo taken there.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Lee was still somewhere behind me (though it turned out he was closer than I thought - apparently he was flying down the course!), so I walked back to the room before I started to get cold. The sun was out, and it was slightly warmer than it had been for the 10K, but still. I was ready to get back and take a hot shower! Lee also had a good race - took it easy and stopped for some photos.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Final Thoughts

I still really love this race weekend - it's definitely my favorite of the Disney race weekends. And I think this half marathon course has now overtaken the Tinker Bell course as my favorite half marathon course. The roads are nice and wide so it doesn't feel crowded. The course is mostly flat, also. A few slight inclines - the only hill is the tunnel under the tram area. No overpasses!

The race medals are always a highlight. The BB-8 medal is really cute, and I really liked the re-design of the half marathon medal.

Star Wars Half Marathon

I still wish there were more characters on the course...or in the finish area.

I was surprised that the half marathon and 10K didn't sell out this year. There were about 15,000-16,000 entered in the half, and 12,434 finishers. This is a PERFECT time for running in southern California. I don't want to jinx it, but in the five years that runDisney has held a race weekend at Disneyland in January, we've always had great weather for running.

We will be back for this race weekend next year.

Good luck to all of you running Dark Side in April to complete the Kessel Run Challenge! We will not be there this year.

Thanks for reading.







January 21, 2017

2017 Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, 10K

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Saturday - January 14, Star Wars 10K

I know I've mentioned this before, but it's so much easier to run races at Disneyland! The start area and all of the hotels are all walking distance, so we don't have to get up really early to catch a bus to the start.

The race started at 5:30, and we set a wakeup call for 4:00. That's pretty much sleeping in by runDisney standards. :-) We left our room about 4:45.

Both of us were in costume. Lee wore his black Luke Skywalker Jedi outfit - complete with one black glove. :-) I didn't go with a Star Wars costume this time, and just wore my trusty Cinderella costume. Though really, I think she's a Jedi at heart.

Star Wars 10K

This year the new variable was Disneyland's new security perimeter. Since Downtown Disney is within a "secure zone" now, we were pretty sure we would have to go through security from our hotel into Downtown Disney, but weren't sure how long that would take. As it turned out it was very fast. It was quite easy for the security personnel to see that most runners weren't carrying anything. We did not have to go through a secondary screening at what was the race checkpoint in the past. But there were still security people patrolling, some with dogs.

By the time we arrived in the pre-race area a lot of people had already gone to their corrals. So we couldn't tell if it seemed more crowded this year now that there were 12,000-13,000 runners in the 10K as opposed to under 10,000 as in previous years.

Star Wars 10K

Both Lee and I were planning to run the 10K for time and not stopping to take photos. We were in different corrals, so I went to B and he went to C. Most of the photos below were taken by the PhotoPass photographers. As Annual Passholders we can download them for free. Disney started using their own photographers rather than MarathonFoto at the Dark Side weekend at WDW last April. The information on how to turn your bib nunber into a PhotoPass ID is on the back of the race bibs. It's really been a MUCH better service than MarathonFoto ever was. The photographers seem to get a lot more photos, AND some of the photos are available on race day - usually by the next day they are all there.

It was really a perfect morning for running. It was 48 degrees at the race start, with little or no wind. I had gloves, arm sleeves, and a throwaway sweatshirt, and I was actually pretty comfortable while waiting for the race to start.

There really wasn't much of a pre-show with the race announcers in the 15-20 minutes before the race started. No Storm Troopers or Darth Vader on stage. We saw a couple of different sets of scenes from The Force Awakens.

Star Wars 10K

At 5:29 the wheelchairs started.

Corral A was a minute after that, and Corral B was five minutes later.

Star Wars 10K

There were new courses for the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathons this year. The biggest change was that from the starting line the race courses went south on Disneyland Drive rather than north as they have the previous two years. All three courses went through both parks - DCA first and then Disneyland - with varying routes in the parks depending on the race distance.

I really liked the new 10K course. The designers absolutely maximized the park time. Unlike previous 10K courses that have been outside the parks for the first mile or so, this one was all on property - if you consider the first .3 miles on Disneyland Drive to be on property, which I do.

After that first .3 miles we turned left in front of the Paradise Pier Hotel and went backstage at DCA. This part of the course was a little too dark, and could have used some additional light. Fortunately the pavement was smooth, so there wasn't really much danger of tripping, but it still made me a little more cautious. There were projections on some of the buildings, like the Rebel Alliance symbol, the Millennium Falcon, or an X-wing fighter.

Star Wars 10K

We went into the park near the Pacific Wharf where we ran through Radiator Springs past Radiator Springs Racers (so pretty at night with all of the light on the Cadillac Range) and Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters.

Star Wars 10K

We ran through Flik's Fun Fair past the Mile 1 sign and out to the parade route. The first character stop was Threepio and R2-D2 by the Cars Land sign - I was surprised at how long it was that early in the race. I wasn't planning to stop anyway, though.

We ran clockwise around Paradise Bay. As I mentioned I was wearing my Cinderella costume, and I heard a cast member say something like "Go Cindy! Oh, it's ok, she still has both her shoes." I cracked up at that - which was when the PhotoPass photographer snapped the picture below. :-)

Star Wars 10K

At Ariel's we turned left towards Grizzly River Run, past Soarin' and into Hollywood Land to the Tower of Terror. There were Jedi and Storm Troopers next to the Tower. We went backstage behind the Tower and passed the Mile 2 sign.

We took the tunnel down and up under the east tram area over to Disneyland. This was really the only significant hill on the course. That took us backstage at Disneyland for quite a while - past the Mile 3 sign. The BB-8 photo stop was back there, but I completely missed seeing it. This was another area where it was a little dark in places. We'd had great Star Wars music playing most of the time, but once we reached this point it got a little quiet until we emerged into Toon Town.

We ran past "it's a small world", which was still lit up with all of the holiday lights.

Star Wars 10K

We turned left at the Matterhorn and ran towards Tomorrowland. Kylo Ren was somewhere in there - between the Matterhorn and the Tomorrowland Terrace, as I recall. The course took us past the Launch Bay, where there were Storm Troopers above us. We ran past Star Tours and out to the hub.

Star Wars 10K

Once we reached the hub we did a 180 onto Matterhorn Way past Alice in Wonderland, then made a left at the tea cups and passed the Mile 4 sign. I was happy to see that I was on pace - maybe slightly ahead of pace. This year the Star Wars 10K course went through the castle to the hub, which it's never done before.

Star Wars 10K

We went through Frontierland and New Orleans Square, then the course did a hard 180 just in front of the Haunted Mansion and went back to the hub via Adventureland. We had quite an extensive tour of Disneyland and visited all of the lands except Critter Country.

We ran down Main Street. Chewbacca's photo op was at the end of the street by the Disney Showcase shop.

Star Wars 10K

After we went out the park entrance we ran into the Esplanade and to the left to go backstage at DCA again. We passed the Mile 5 sign on a perimeter road that took us around the back of Radiator Springs Racers and Paradise Pier. For about a tenth of a mile we could see some of those in the last corral coming towards us - only about .4 miles into their race whereas we were 5.8 miles into ours! I saw the balloon ladies at the very end of the race.

After we crossed Disneyland Drive we went around the back of the Paradise Pier Hotel (and the Mile 6 sign), and then it was just .2 miles to the traditional finish line near the Disneyland Hotel. It was still dark!

Star Wars 10K

I finished in 56:41, which is a new personal best 10K time for me. I was very happy with that. I was hoping to crack the top ten in my division, and I finished 8th! 10K is definitely my favorite distance.

Star Wars 10K

The BB-8 medal is really cute. It spins!

Star Wars 10K BB-8 Medal

I exited into the finish area and talked to Lisa (Hi Lisa!) for a while I waited for Lee to finish. Fortunately the volunteers had handed out mylar sheets at the finish (they sometimes don't do that for 10Ks), because it was still only 48 degrees and I was starting to get a little chilled.

Star Wars 10K

There was a vendor selling Death Star balloons (that's what the balloon ladies had been carrying, too).

Star Wars 10K

Once Lee finished we went over to the Annual Passholder tent. We showed our passes and they gave us an Annual Passholder string bag - it was nice for carrying our snack boxes and water bottles back to our room. There was a photo backdrop and a photographer there, too.

Star Wars 10K

Another change in the course this year: in previous years the 10K has finished by going all the way through Downtown Disney. While it's been kind of thrilling to run by all of the cheering crowds, it's been a nightmare after the race when trying to get back to the hotels, because you have to cross the race course at least once, and usually more than once. This year we didn't have to do that, and it was much easier to get back to our hotel.

I really enjoyed this course - I think it's now my favorite of the Disney 10K courses. And not just because I ran it for a personal best. :-) With all of the Star Wars Land construction in Disneyland I expected that we might have less park time this year, but instead I'm not sure how they could have given us any more! While yes, we had a fair bit of time that was in not-so-exciting backstage areas, I still enjoyed being on property for the entire race.

There were 11,606 finishers this year as opposed to 8,994 last year, so quite a few more runners out there. Since I was at the front it was not congested for me, but I can't speak to how it might have been further back. Certainly the first mile of this course was narrower than the first mile of the former course, which was all on wide city streets, and that might have been an issue. If you ran the race and experienced congestion, please leave a comment and let me know how it was for you.

The characters...still not a strong point, especially compared to our experience at Disneyland Paris last year. (Over 10 character stops in a 5K!) For this 10K there were four character stops, plus a couple of unattended backdrops and "run bys" like the Storm Troopers and Jedi. I would still so LOVE to see the Disney characters in their Star Wars attire out on the course! In Florida there are character meet and greets in the pre/post-race area, and I'd like to see them do that in California, also. Though there were a couple of photo backdrops (with photographers) in that area - the Wampa cave and the trash compactor.

Star Wars 10K

Coming next: The Star Wars Half Marathon








January 20, 2017

2017 Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1, Expo

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Star Wars Half Marathon

For the third year Lee and I participated in the 10K and half marathon races at Disneyland's Star Wars Half Marathon. Or Star Wars Half Marathon - the Light Side as they now call it, to distinguish it from the Star Wars Half Marathon - the Dark Side at Walt Disney World. :-)

Unlike previous years, the 10K and half marathon races did not sell out, and runDisney was still selling race registrations at the Expo. That was a surprise. Of course part of the reason is that they raised the race capacities: the 10K had almost 13,000 spots, as opposed to 10,000 last year, while the half had 16,000 instead of 14,000. Of those numbers, about 6,000 were those running the Rebel Challenge. There were 5,000 entered in the 5K, and 1,500 in the Kids Races.

We arrived at the Expo on Friday afternoon - it had opened on Thursday. As usual, bib pickup was downstairs in the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center. This is the first time I remember that there wasn't a specially designed rug on the ramp going down to the pickup area. But we've had a lot of rain recently (and it rained on Thursday) so the rug would have been soaking wet. This photo is from last year.

Star Wars Half Marathon

We had printed out our race waivers in advance, so all we had to do was go to the correct counter to pick up our Rebel Challenge bibs. There are computers and printers available for those who don't bring waivers with them. I think this was the most people that I've ever seen in bib pick-up, but it still was a fast process for us.

Star Wars Half Marathon

As Rebel Challenge runners we had to get our photo taken with our bib number - that's how they verify after the half marathon that we 1: completed the 10K, and 2: are the same person who picked up the bib. They used to give us wristbands at the end of the 10K - this is a nice alternative to not having to wear the wristband.

Star Wars Half Marathon

The race brochure was again condensed down to a "Final Race Instructions" pamphlet. It has all of the essential information like course maps, road closures, times, transportation, and viewing, but without all of the ads. I prefer this format - "just the facts, ma'am." (Am I showing my age there or what?) What I *don't* prefer is the new "on-line magazine" format for the official race guide - I can no longer download it as a PDF like I used to. And I find it very cumbersome and slow - really useless.

Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon

Once we picked up the bibs we went back upstairs to the main expo in the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center. I always enjoy seeing how they have decorated the entrance. The different banners are nice photo ops!

Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon

We picked up our race shirts. I liked this year's designs, but a gray shirt AGAIN????? I wish they would do more white shirts. These are long sleeve shirts - typical for January races. This particular weekend they felt pretty good since the weather was cooler than usual - highs in the low 60s, lows in the upper 40s.

2017 Star Wars Half Marathon shirts

There was a shirt exchange available, but neither of us needed to get a different size. It's very nice to have that option, though. I've found Disney sizing to be consistent in recent years, but that wasn't always the case.

Star Wars Half Marathon

Usually when we arrive on Friday afternoons there is either a short line or no line to get into the Official Merchandise area. This time the line extended out into the foyer, and it took 15-20 minutes to get into the area. The line moved pretty consistently so it wasn't too bad. But still, I was surprised to see it that long.

Once we went inside, it seemed like there was still plenty of merchandise left. A few things were sold out, like the special edition runDisney Star Wars Weekend Christmas tree ornament, and the Star Wars Weekend wine glasses. I believe the Dooney & Bourke bags were sold out by then, also.

Star Wars Half Marathon

There were already only limited sizes available on a few of the shirts. Lee bought this one. They were out of size large, so he had to get an XL, which is a little big.

Star Wars Half Marathon Rebel shirt

Race weekend logo:

Star Wars Half Marathon

All of the pins, mini medal pins, magnets, water bottles, mugs, etc. seemed to be available.

Star Wars Half Marathon magnet
Star Wars Half Marathon water bottle
Star Wars Half Marathon pins
Star Wars Half Marathon hat

I thought there was a very nice selection of shirts available for the Rebel Challenge and the Half Marathon.

Star Wars Half Marathon shirt
Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon shirt
Star Wars Half Marathon shirt
Star Wars Half Marathon tank
Star Wars Half Marathon shirt

The Han/Leia graphic on this one is especially poignant right now.

Star Wars Half Marathon Han/Leia shirt

But for the 5K and 10K, there seemed to be only one shirt plus the "I Did It" shirts. With BB-8 as the theme for the 10K, I was surprised that there wasn't more merchandise available for the 10K.

Star Wars 5K shirt
Star Wars 5K I Did It
Star Wars Half 10K shirt

Star Wars 10K I Did It

There were some other fun Star Wars items that weren't themed to any specific race.

Star Wars Half Marathon
Star Wars Half Marathon shirt
Star Wars Half Marathon Yoda hat

There's a new design for the Coast-to-Coast merchandise this year. The shirts are available in men's and women's cuts. I bought one of these.

2017 Coast to Coast shirt
2017 Coast to Coast hat

The rest of the Expo seemed about the same. Honda was a major sponsor and they had a special pace car. We weren't sure how a pace car would be used in a half marathon, but I guess there was one.

Star Wars Half Marathon

There were Star Wars-themed Stance socks.

Star Wars Stance socks

The latest versions of New Balance Disney running shoes were available. This time they represent Disney attractions rather than characters. The women's shoes are Haunted Mansion and Mad Tea Party.

Star Wars Half Marathon
2017 New Balance Mad Tea Party shoe

The men's shoes are Star Tours and Toy Story Mania.

2017 New Balance Toy Story shoe
2017 New Balance Star Tours shoe

I don't know if I'm mentioned this before...Runner Tracking is available for the races. You can track runners of your choice, or you can provide the information for others to track you. My parents always like to know how we're doing, so I set up tracking to send them an email or text message. And if Lee and I aren't running together we track each other.There's typically a link on the event page under the "Spectators" tab. Sometimes you need a log in to set it up, sometimes not. There's usually options to have your times sent via text message or email, or to have it automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

As we wandered through Downtown Disney we saw several signs advising guests that various businesses would be open at 4:00 a.m. on race mornings, like Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Haagen Daz. That's a nice service for runners and spectators!

Downtown Disney Early Openings

Coming next: The Star Wars 10K








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