Princess Half Marathon Archives

March 4, 2017

2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, Half Marathon

Princess Half Marathon

Sunday, February 26 - Princess Half Marathon

With almost twice the number of runners there had been in the 10K, we knew we needed to arrive early at the start area. We met our friends Kim and Charlie in the lobby of Kidani Village at 3:15 and drove to Epcot. The buses had started running at 3:00, and already there was a whole lot more traffic than there had been the day before.

Still, we were on the early side and it didn't take too long to drive to Epcot and park. We learned a long time ago that driving ourselves is not an excuse to sleep for an extra hour. We really need to leave about the same time as we would if we were taking a bus. The main advantage to driving is that if the weather is bad, we have a place to stay inside where it's warm for a while!

We had no bags, but bag check really wasn't backed up anyway. I wanted to do character photos again - the choices were Tiana/Belle and Merida/Pocahontas. Both lines were already very long, and it was only 3:50! I chose the Merida/Pocahontas line. The line was so long that it was Merida when we got in line, swapped to Pocahontas, then swapped back to Merida before we reached the front! We were in line for almost an hour...I had no idea it would take that long.

Princess Half Marathon Lady Tremaine Drizella running costume

The weather was just about perfect. It was a little cooler than the day before - about 57. But most importantly, the humidity was way down, so it was really so much more comfortable for running than it had been on Saturday. I had a large trash bag that I wrapped around me - I needed just a little something to block the breeze and help me stay warm.

Lee and I were running with two other people, Eddie and Liz, who were coming from two different resorts. Liz texted us that she had a long wait for a bus, and then the bus was stuck in traffic. And Eddie was driving, and he was also stuck in traffic. We weren't all able to meet up until almost 5:00 - and the race started at 5:30!

And then we had the 1/2 mile walk to the start corrals...which was still very crowded, even with less than half an hour to the start of the race. As we were walking, Eddie got a text that the start had been delayed because of traffic. Given the experience of our other two runners, we were not surprised! Even with the delay we were still walking to our corral when the cast member sang the national anthem. I think we made it into the corral just after Corral A started, so we were barely in time.

Princess Half Marathon

The corrals were further up on World Drive this year, so it was a slightly longer walk. We knew the course had been modified through Magic Kingdom, so assumed that was the reason for it.

We again ran as a Cinderella group this year - but this time there were four of us. Lee and Eddie reprised their Drizella and Anastasia costumes, Liz was our Cinderella, and I was Lady Tremaine. (Most people didn't seem to know who I was, and it occurred to me in the first mile that I should have brought a stuffed gray cat with me.) Not surprisingly, the guys got all of the attention again, and had lots of people who wanted photos of them or photos with them. :-)

Cinderella Anastasia Drizella Lady Tremaine running costume

The corrals again were being sent off in waves. We were in the back of corral D, and went out about 9 minutes after the official start of the race. My understanding is that there was 62 minutes from the start of the race until the final wave of the last corral. Yikes.

Princess Half Marathon

The waves did seem to help - the one-lane sections of road we had around miles 1 and 2 did not seem as bad this year. Still, it's always good to get onto World Drive where there are four lanes to run on!

It was very nice to see my friends Gail and Julian cheering on the overpass about mile 1.4 and stop for a quick hug.

The first character stop was the pirates about mile 2. Loooong line already and we didn't stop. Followed by the heroes a little later with another long line.

The mile markers were very popular photo stops, so I took very few photos of them, but we had to stop at mile 3 since it was Cinderella!

Princess Half Marathon

I think Mrs. Incredible was the next character we saw, near the speedway. The line didn't seem too long, but took longer than I expected. There were villains later, but they always have a huge line and we didn't stop.

Princess Half Marathon Mrs Incredible

With the change in the course, the mile 5 sign wasn't at the corner past the Contemporary Resort where we turn left to go into the Magic Kingdom - I think we were almost backstage before we saw it.

And then we were on Main Street. Lee and Eddie delighted the spectators by having a hand fight as they ran down Main Street. Unfortunately the PhotoPass photographers didn't catch them in action, but it was really funny.

Princess Half Marathon

We did stop for a photo near the castle where Sam and Chuck from Mickey Milers were cheering.

Princess Half Marathon

Buzz Lightyear was in Tomorrowland, and the Queen of Hearts was next to the Mad Tea Party, but we didn't stop.

This year the course went back into the new part of Fantasyland, past the Storybook Circus and Beast's castle. Gaston was posing near his tavern, and we HAD to stop. The line wasn't too long, but when we were about 6 people from the front, Gaston had to go on a break. The cast member told us it would be about 5 minutes, but it was over 10. I get it...since Gaston is a face character they can't just swap in a different one like they do with the others. We were seriously debating moving on when he came back.

He was really an excellent Gaston - I wish I'd taken video of him. So fun to watch him with the ladies - especially those dressed as Belle. But he really wasn't sure what to make of the guys in the stepsister outfits. :-) He shook their hands as we were leaving and said something like: "Good job."

Princess Half Marathon Gaston

We were hoping to meet the stepsisters and stepmother again this year, but with the focus on Beauty and the Beast this year, the next character stop was the Beast. Since we'd already waited about 20 minutes we weren't really interested in another long line.

I was surprised when we ended up running through the castle. The course map seemed to indicate that we would loop around past "it's a small world" and Peter Pan's Flight into Liberty Square. Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff were up on the balcony at the back of the castle. We were able to run through the castle. There were a couple of photographers, but the main photo stop was at the bottom of the ramp and off to the left, where multiple PhotoPass photographers were taking posed photos. Very popular, but we ran on through Liberty Square. Woody was greeting guests in Frontierland not far from the Mile 6 sign.

Princess Half Marathon

We ran backstage next to Splash Mountain, and that's where the princesses were. One line got us two photos - with Cinderella and Prince Charming, and with Snow White and her prince. (But aren't they both named "Prince Charming"?) Another long line...15 minutes, I think. Cinderella didn't quite know what to make of us - she said something like: "I love to see families together", but her prince was more in the spirit of it.

Princess Half Marathon Cinderella

Snow White and her prince got more of a kick out of us.

Princess Half Marathon Snow White

We'd lost a lot of time because of the two very long character stops, and were really dreading "Cone Alley", the one lane stretch from the exit of Magic Kingdom until we were past the Polynesian. It wasn't too bad, though.

We passed character stops with the penguins from Mary Poppins and the Genie, but had to stop with the "bachelors" in front of the wedding pavilion - because they had the glass slipper. The guy on Eddie's left looks very worried! Too funny.

Princess Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon

It was nice to get back on the four-lane part of World Drive again. The sun was up and it was a beautiful morning - but it was clear and sunny, which can mean pretty warm conditions for running. Fortunately it stayed cool and there was a little bit of a breeze. And as I mentioned before the humidity was way down. It was really just about as good as it gets!

There was a long line for the heroes but a short line for the pirates. No PhotoPass photographer there, but there was a cast member to take photos. Jack Sparrow certainly took a long look at the sisters.

Princess Half Marathon pirates

Yay...mile 10!!! Just 5K to go. Sarge was encouraging runners as we took the cloverleaf up onto the overpass above World Drive and back towards Epcot.

Princess Half Marathon

No characters on the return to Epcot, though I saw Gail and Julian again about mile 11. Liz's mom, Molly, was waiting for us outside the entrance to Epcot and took this photo.

Princess Half Marathon

There was a character just backstage at Epcot, but I don't remember who it was...except that it wasn't one we cared about. :-) We popped into Future World with about 3/4 of a mile to go. Princess Daisy was waiting at the turnaround point near World Showcase Plaza with no line, so we got a nice photo.

Princess Half Marathon Daisy

We stopped for a photo in front of the fountain, too.

Princess Half Marathon

The PhotoPass photographers took a couple good ones of us as we ran through Future World towards the finish. The one of Lee is my favorite from the entire race weekend.

Princess Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon

As we approached the finish line, Eddie and Lee were again "fighting" - so engrossed in beating the other to the line that they didn't notice Cinderella blazing by them to finish ahead of them. :-) The race announcers got a big kick out of it.

Princess Half Marathon

We finished in 3 hours, 10 minutes - those two long photo stops really slowed us down. But it was about having fun and not getting a good time. And we had fun!

We got our half marathon medal (sooo pretty!), our Glass Slipper Challenge medal, and our Coast-to-Coast medal. It's the 10th year for Coast-to-Coast, so it received a slight re-design this year. It's larger than in previous years.

Princess Half Marathon medals

We all had finisher photos taken together for the half and the challenge.

Princess Half Marathon

Lee and I had a third photographer to visit because of the Coast-to-Coast medal.

Princess Half Marathon

Once we exited into the finish area we got into yet another line to get beer and champagne. Fortunately that didn't take as long as the character lines!

We munched on some of the contents of our runDisney boxes (sigh) while we were waiting. The boxes were slightly different between the 10K and the half. The open box is the 10K box. The bar and apple berry medley were substituted for the Builder's Protein bar and the dried cranberries in the half marathon box.

Princess Half Marathon snack box

Oh, and that reminds of the things I really like about the Princess and Tinker Bell half marathons is that they give us a bag after we finish to put our drink bottles, food boxes, etc. into. That makes everything so much easier to carry. Why don't they do that for the other race weekends?

Princess Half Marathon bagt

Our friend Charlie finished and met us at the beer line...after the guys finished their beers we went back to the car. But the traffic to get out of the parking lot was awful - it took us about 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. They really needed some cast members directing traffic in that area. That was the only real negative of the day, though.

The next day we went to Epcot - I wanted to get a picture with Belle and my race medals. We were waiting for rope drop at Chefs de France for the 11:00 meet and greet with Belle. There were a number of other people with the same idea - there were more adults than children!

Princess Half Marathon Belle

We saw a couple of people ahead of us who had Belle sign the back of their half marathon medal, and I thought that was a great idea!

Princess Half Marathon

It was another really fun race weekend. While I think the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland is my favorite set of races, Princess Half Marathon Weekend might be the most fun I have at a race weekend. It's such a fun atmosphere, and despite not being a girly girl, I still love the Disney princesses.

Next year will be the 10th Princess Half Marathon and the 5th Glass Slipper Challenge, so it will be interesting to see what the theme is for that. And how much bigger the race is. There were 20,595 finishers this year - 18,499 women and 2096 men. That's about the same total it's been the last few years, though this year there were more men than in any previous year. The biggest year was the 5th anniversary, when there were 22,739 finishers, and it seemed very crowded that year...I hope it won't be that big next year, but I'm afraid it will be since it's an anniversary year.

Thanks for reading!

March 3, 2017

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

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 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

March 9, 2016

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 4 - Dining


Lee was finally able to join me on Thursday night. I had moved to Kidani Village earlier that day. Unfortunately by then the cold had really taken hold of me and my appetite was not every good - for a number of meals I just wanted fruit or yogurt. So there's not going to be quite the dining variety in this part as there was in the earlier part of the trip.

Friday evening we had dinner at The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I just got a Chef Salad out of the Grab and Go area. It was actually a really good salad with nice fresh greens and turkey, ham, hard boiled eggs, two kinds of cheese, onions, tomatoes, olives and lentils. I couldn't eat it all.

Mara Chef Salad

Lee had the BBQ Chicken Flatbread with chicken, BBQ sauce, onions, cilantro, and corn. He's a flatbread aficionado, and he enjoyed it.

Mara BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Saturday morning after the 10K we went into the Studios. Apparently there's no place to get a quick service hot breakfast in the Studios any more. The Starbucks there has some hot sandwiches, and that's where we ended up. We split the egg and bacon sandwich. It was fine, but nothing special.

Starbucks egg and bacon sandwich

That night, before the half marathon, we had an early dinner at Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion. I still wasn't real hungry and I really wanted some soup, so I had the Roasted Tomato Soup, which was topped with goat cheese. It was very good.

Seasons Roasted Tomato Soup

I needed a little more food so I ordered the Kids Salmon - it came with choice of side (mashed potatoes) and beverage (bottle of water). It was just the right size and nicely prepared.

Seasons Kids Salmon

Lee tried the Chicken Corn Chowder soup, which he really liked.

Seasons Chicken Corn Chowder

He also ordered the Mongolian Beef with fried rice. He enjoyed that as well.

Seasons Mongolian Beef

Sunday after we finished the half marathon we had lunch at Sanaa. Our reservation was at 11:30 (when the restaurant opened) and we had one of the window tables with a view of the savanna. We saw giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, Ankole cattle, and birds.

Sanaa view

We started with a couple of specialty cocktails. The one in front is Lee's - I don't remember the name, but it was basically a pina colada with strawberry. I had the Kande Coconut Cooler. The description said it was "a refreshing combination of Starr African Rum, coconut, vanilla ice cream, and orange juice." I got the orange juice and the rum, but I didn't taste coconut or ice cream. Not what I expected, and I was disappointed.

Sanaa cocktails

I don't think you can go to Sanaa and not order the Bread Service! Though with just two of us it was an awful lot of bread. All good, though. We ordered just three of the accompaniments rather than all nine: Mango chutney, roasted red pepper hummus, and tamarind chutney.

Sanaa bread service

Lee ordered the "slow cooked in gravy" selection, which they call "Potjie Inspired" now. He chose the Goan Seafood Curry and Braised Beef with rice. He said the beef was really excellent - melted in the mouth. He enjoyed the curry, also.

Sanaa Potjie Inspired

I tried the Kenya Coffee BBQ Sandwich - pulled pork with warm root vegetable slaw served with housemade chips. The pork was very good - I could definitely taste the coffee flavor, but it wasn't overwhelming. The vegetable slaw was nicely vinegary. It was very good.

Sanaa Kenya Coffee BBQ Sandwich

That evening we joined a group of friends for dinner atThe Boathouse in Disney Springs. We'd never been there before. On the expensive side, but a very nice experience.

I started with the Chopped Salad - romaine & iceberg, poached bay shrimp, peppered salami, hearts of palm, red onions, olives, pepperoncini, and smoked mozzarella topped with an herb vinaigrette. I ordered the small salad, but it was a lot bigger than I expected. Lee had some of it, too.

The Boathouse Chopped Salad

For an entree I tried Grilled Fish Tacos - jerk spiced, with vegetable slaw, avocado, and serrano-chili cream. I can't remember what type of fish it was -it varies depending on what's fresh that day. They were very good - the jerk spice wasn't too strong.

The Boathouse Fish Tacos

Our friend Phill highly recommended the steaks at The Boathouse, so that's what most of the table ordered. Lee had the 8 oz Filet Mignon. The server scared him a bit with his descriptions of "medium" vs "medium well", and Lee ended up ordering it medium well - in hindsight medium would have been better. He still really enjoyed the steak.

The Boathouse Filet Mignon

The steaks (most of the entrees for that matter) don't come with any accompaniments, so Lee ordered a side of Roasted New Potatoes to go with it. They were very good - a nice crisp on the outside, but still fluffy inside.

The Boathouse New Potatoes

He also shared some of the Mac N' Cheese side that Anna ordered. All of the sides are plenty large for sharing between at least three people.

The Boathouse Mac N Cheese

I've heard about The Boathouse desserts, and wish we'd had the opportunity to try one of them, but we were just too full.

The next day we were in Animal Kingdom at lunch time. I wasn't very hungry, and just got a fruit and cheese plate from the Harambe Fruit Market. This hit the spot nicely.

Harambe Fruit Market Fruit and Cheese Plate

Lee wanted something more substantial, and we went to the Harambe Market. I really like the looks of this area - very well-themed. And there's quite a variety of foods available at the individual stands, a nice change from normal theme park offerings. But it's very popular and I couldn't find a table for a while, until I saw a couple of girls who were getting ready to leave.

Harambe Market

Lee tried the Boerewors Sausage fried in curry batter. A more interesting variant of a corn dog. :-)

Harambe Market Boerewors Sausage

He also got an African Milk Tart for us to share. This was coconut custard in a chocolate tart shell dusted with sugar and five spice powder. It was pretty good, though I would've preferred a much strong coconut flavor - it was pretty light.

Harambe Market African Milk Tart

That was our final meal on Disney property. After that we spent some time at Universal Studios. We stayed two nights in the Cabana Bay Resort, and ate one dinner and one breakfast in their food court. I thought it was decent, and the food prices were about the same as Disney. The one morning I enjoyed their "Make-your-own Yogurt Parfait" bar. I was impressed at the variety of fresh fruit - four kinds of berries as well as mango and other toppings. It was sold by weight. Lee had a steak with chimichurri sauce the one night that was very good.

We ate our other meals in the parks or in CityWalk. The only meal I took photos of was our lunch at The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) on our final day. I ordered the Ploughman's Lunch, which came with several kinds of cheese, Scotch Egg, cornichons, a pickled beet salad, mixed green salad, grilled tomatoes, and bread. I also ordered a cup of split pea soup with it. The soup was very good. The rest of it was ok - the salad, bread, and cheese was good, but the rest - definitely not to my taste. :-) I LOVE tomatoes, but grilled tomatoes - ick. It was interesting to try something different, though.

Harry Potter Leaky Cauldron Ploughman's Lunch

Lee had the Mini Pie Combination - I think it was shepherd's pie and a seafood pie - served with salad. He said they were both very good.

Harry Potter Leaky Cauldron Mini Pie Combination

The day before we had gone to Schwab's in Universal Studios and had ice cream. Lee had a chocolate shake that was very good - made the old-fashioned way, and not just out of a machine.

Universal Schwab's Chocolate Shake

And of course it's not a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without some butterbeer! :-) Lee likes it, but I think it's too sweet. My favorite is the pumpkin juice. If you go into the Hogs Head Bar adjoining The Three Broomsticks, you can get a pumpkin fizz - pumpkin juice with soda water. That's my favorite.

Harry Potter Butterbeer

I also tried a Cauldron Cake from Honeydukes. It was not bad - but the Triple Chocolate Cupcake I had at Be Our Guest was better.

Harry Potter Cauldron Cake
Harry Potter Cauldron Cake

We'll be back at WDW in April for the Stars Wars - The Dark Side half marathon weekend - I'm looking forward to being in better health then and enjoying my food a lot more than I did on this trip.

Thanks for reading!

March 8, 2016

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 3 - Dining


I was able to dine at a number of new (to me) places on this trip and had some really good experiences.

I started off my trip staying at the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. On the first night there I went to Captain Cook's. I wasn't very hungry but I thought the Pho Noodle Bowl with Shrimp (it also comes with beef) looked good. Rice noodles and seasonal vegetables in Bui broth. It was tasty and really hit the spot, though I would've liked to have gyoza sauce or something like that to add to it to kick up the flavor a little. All that was available was soy sauce. Still, I liked it so much that I had it again later in the week.

Captain Cook's Pho Noodle Bowl

The following afternoon Deb and I went to Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Lounge at the Grand Floridian. Sigh. It was just lovely.

Grand Floridian Tea

We both had the Derbyshire Tea, which was three courses: sandwich plate, scone and tart, and choice of dessert. We also received a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne and our choice of tea, each with our own individual pot.

Grand Floridian Derbyshire Tea

The sandwich plate was four tea sandwiches: egg salad, golden beet and goat cheese, curried chicken salad, and cucumber. It also had generous slices of Tillamook and sage cheddar cheese with lavosh, grapes, and a small caramelized onion tart. I thought the presentation was very attractive. And it was really quite a bit of food.

Grand Floridian Tea sandwiches

The currant scone was served with apricot jam (which was wonderful!), clotted cream, and lemon curd, accompanied by a strawberry jam tart. The scone was very good, but the tart was disappointing - the jam seemed gummy and the texture was unappealing.

Grand Floridian Tea scone and jam tart

For dessert we had our choice of strawberries and cream, pastries, or banana creme brulee trifle. I chose the strawberries and cream. A little too much whipped cream, but the berries were excellent.

Grand Floridian Tea berries and cream

Deb tried the trifle - she said it was too sweet. The pieces of banana in it were good, but there weren't enough of them. (This photo is from my tea with Lee later in the week - he ordered the trifle and I tried the housemade pastries, which I really enjoyed.)

Grand Floridian Tea trifle and pastries

I chose the Mad Hatter's Tea Party as my tea selection. I really enjoyed it - black tea, a bit fruity with some vanilla.

It was really a lovely way to spend almost two hours. We were not rushed at all and were able to relax and enjoy our food, as well as our tea and champagne. We were both pleasantly full when we left.

Grand Floridian Tea

The Derbyshire Tea was $45/person, plus tax and gratuity. (The Lounge does not accept Tables in Wonderland.) I thought it was well worth it for the experience that we had. In addition to being tasty the food was very satisfying - we weren't hungry again for hours.

Tea is served from 2:00-5:00. It's not a very big place, and most of the tables are only seated once. I made reservations six months in advance - you need to plan ahead for this one.

Grand Floridian Tea Garden View Lounge

I recently tried the new Classic Afternoon Tea at Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland - and while that was very nice, I have to say that I enjoyed this one more. It was also significantly cheaper - our Derbyshire Tea was almost equivalent to the Premium Tea Party we enjoyed at Steakhouse 55 (it also included a salad), but that one was $65/person.

That night we had a late dinner at Captain Cook's. I tried the Aloha Pork Sandwich - pulled pork on pineapple-coconut bun with cheddar, cucumbers, and tomatoes. It came with fries, but I opted for steamed vegetables instead. Unfortunately that included lots of red peppers - yuck. The pork itself was good and the pineapple-coconut bun was really good - very soft and tender.

Captain Cook's Aloha Pork Sandwich

Deb tried the Hot Beef and Cheddar Sandwich - Roast beef, cheddar, caramelized onions with sweet chili mayo on house-made bread. It was also topped with yellow peppers, which were not mentioned anywhere in the description. She likes peppers about as well as I do, so was not too happy about that. The sandwich was served with a small side "Asian slaw" - it was mostly red peppers and onions! Deb commented that it wasn't like any "slaw" she'd ever had before. Pretty inedible.

Captain Cook's Hot Beef and Cheddar Sandwich

The next afternoon we went to "Be Our Guest" restaurant at the Magic Kingdom. I'd also made this reservation six months in advance. The restaurant gives you the option of pre-ordering your food - you can do that several days in advance, but we just did it that morning. When we arrived at the podium outside we were given a large plastic rose (tracking device), then we went inside to the registers. The cashier asked if we had any changes to what we had pre-ordered, we said no, and she rang us up.

The restaurant is "seat yourself" at lunch. While it was busy, we were still able to quickly find a table in the main room. Our food was delivered to us about 10 minutes later, and the server took the rose away. That worked pretty well.

I ordered the Tuna Nicoise Salad - Warm seared tuna steak with chilled green beans, potatoes, olives, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs. Bell peppers again - ugh. (Ordering on-line gave me limited options for modifying the dish.) Fortunately there weren't very many and they were pretty easy to pick out. I was able to order the dressing on the side - it was some kind of a light fruit vinaigrette. The tuna was very good, and it was nice to see the roasted potato wedges. The egg wasn't hard boiled - it was more like a poached egg over medium. It was a very good salad and I would order it again, though maybe for $15.99 they could have added some more greens to it.

Be Our Guest Tuna Nicoise Salad

Deb ordered the Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich - served warm on a baguette with horseradish sour cream and Pomme Frites. She said it was good. I tried a couple of the fries and they were decent.

Be Our Guest Roast Beef Sandwich

Our friend Jack joined us (they were able to add him to our party as a walk-up), and ordered the Carved Turkey Sandwich - served on a warm baguette with Dijon mayonnaise and Pomme Frites. REAL carved turkey - it looked very good.

Be Our Guest Turkey Sandwich

I had ordered dessert: The Triple Chocolate Cupcake. They had me at "chocolate". :-) Chocolate sponge cake, chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate ganache. It was a pretty small cupcake for $4.59, but it was really good. The cake was moist and delicious, and the mousse filling and ganache icing were chocolaty goodness. My sweet tooth was happy. (I did offer to share!)

Be Our Guest Triple Chocolate Cupcake
Be Our Guest Triple Chocolate Cupcake

That evening four of us dined at Liberty Tree Tavern. Let's just say I will not be returning there anytime soon. The seating process was chaotic. They don't use pagers there - instead the hostesses stand in the restaurant waiting area and announce: "Hear ye, hear ye, now seating the Wills family from the colony of Florida". Which is different, but the waiting area is SO loud that we couldn't hear them - especially since most of them didn't project very well. We had a reservation but we still waited about 20 minutes before we were seated.

Once we made it to our table, our server quickly took our drink orders and explained the menu. It's a series of items served family style - and if you want more of anything the server will bring it to you. We started with the Declaration Salad. It was your average green salad - nothing remarkable about it. Also served with rolls and cornbread, which you will see in the next photo.

Liberty Tree Tavern Declaration Salad

The entree and side dishes were all served at the same time. The Patriot's Platter included roast turkey breast, carved ham, and pot roast, with stuffing and cranberry relish. For side dishes we had green beans and mashed potatoes, gravy, and macaroni and cheese. It was all - OK. Filling, but not exceptional. None of us cared for the cranberry relish - all we could taste was orange rind. The turkey was pretty good, and the ham was fine. I didn't try the pot roast but the others didn't like it at all.

Liberty Tree Tavern Meat Platter

For dessert we had pieces of Johnny Appleseed's Cake - Tavern made white cake filled with apples and dried cranberries, topped with ice cream, according to the menu. I think I was the only one who liked this. But the menu description is not correct - it was not cakey at all - it was more like a bar topped with apples and cranberries. I don't think this is a very appealing dessert to most people - it didn't look very appetizing, and I think they would have been better off with apple pie or apple crisp. (I make an oatmeal apple crisp that is way better than what I was served.)

Liberty Tree Tavern Johnny Appleseed Cake

It was a disappointing meal. Not that anything was really BAD, but for the price ($34/person) I expected more. If you have a hungry family and want to fill them up this might be a good option...but I won't be returning any time soon.

The next morning we went to breakfast at The Garden Grill in The Land Pavilion in Epcot. It's an "All-you-care-to eat Harvest Feast" served family style, and I enjoyed this one a whole lot more than our meal the night before.

We started with Chip's Sticky Bun Bake - a large cinnamon bun served in a skillet. It separated into pieces pretty easily. I loved this...I could've filled up just on this - it was hard not to go back for seconds or thirds (I did have a second piece after I'd finished most of the rest of my breakfast.)

Garden Grill Chip's Sticky Bun

We also had a dish of fresh fruit. It was good - it would have been nice to have more strawberries.

Garden Grill Fresh Fruit

And then there was a plate of sausage gravy with biscuits. I didn't try this, but my companions seemed to enjoy it.

Garden Grill Biscuits and Gravy

The main platter included Mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon (and it was CRISP! Yay!), ham, and tater tots. There was chocolate-hazelnut sauce to go on the Mickey waffles...heavenly! (Though the rest of the table requested plain old maple syrup. I'm not sure they are really my friends. :-) )

Garden Grill Breakfast Platter

The scrambled eggs were freshly prepared but they were a little salty. We requested a second serving later and they were fine.

The tater tots were surprisingly good - I'm not sure why. But several of us had a hard time stopping and kept returning to the plate to have "just one more".

Garden Grill Breakfast Plate

This was a character meal, with Farmer Mickey, Chip, Dale, and Pluto. They all came by at least twice. The chipmunks were a hoot. Chip tried to convince us that he had layed the eggs (eww!), and Dale had a sign telling us to "look for the hidden Dale in the flowers" - the mural on the wall. But there wasn't one - he was just messing with us.

Garden Grill Pluto

Farmer Mickey was having a hard time keeping the chipmunks under control. And they were taking all of the credit for his hard work in growing the food, too. :-)

Garden Grill Farmer Mickey

The Garden Grill restaurant rotates above the "Living with the Land" attraction. We were there a little over an hour and made one revolution. Afterward we walked around the restaurant to have a better view (we were on the upper level, so couldn't see down into it very well when we went around.)

The price for breakfast was $29.99, and it also included juice, and coffee/tea. For a character meal I didn't think that was too bad, and I really enjoyed the food. I'd seriously consider returning again when I want a big breakfast - like after running a half marathon or even a 10K. With so much of The Land pavilion closed right now (Living with the Land is the only attraction open) the restaurant was relatively quiet - when it's very busy and loud I might feel differently.

Even though we were still pretty full from breakfast, in the interests of research Deb and I headed over to the Magic Kingdom for a late lunch at the new Skipper Canteen in Adventureland. You can watch our episode of AllEarsTV below, or keep reading...

It was much larger than I expected - three different rooms. All decorated in that sort of Jungle Cruise motif.

Skipper Canteen

This is one of the back rooms - more of a library or study.

Skipper Canteen

The room we were in was a large, richly decorated dining room - this is one of the lights.

Skipper Canteen light

Our server told us that the menu would take us all over the world. And yes, it included selections from China, southeast Asia, and India. There were also more traditional dishes like mac and cheese and lamb, but they incorporated spices from Africa and Asia.

Deb and I both started with one of the specialty (non-alcoholic, since this is the Magic Kingdom) beverages. I had the Schweitzer Slush (trying saying that fast even twice!) - frozen apple juice and passion fruit with bursting green apple boba balls. I liked it because it wasn't too sweet - very refreshing, and the boba balls are fun, though I had to be careful not to inhale them through the straw.

Skipper Canteen Schweitzer Slush

Deb tried the Punch Line Punch- tropical fruit juices and mango puree. She enjoyed that - said it was like a mango smoothie.

Skipper Canteen Punch Line Punch

The bread service was an Ethiopian bread served with honey that was spiced with fenugreek. The bread had coriander in it. It was a fairly assertive spice flavor - I really didn't like it at all.

Skipper Canteen bread service

As an appetizer we ordered the S.E.A. SHU MAI - steamed dumplings filled with pork, shrimp, and mung beans. It was served with tamari sauce - sort of a soy sauce with some additional flavor. I thought it was a pretty generous serving for $10.

Skipper Canteen shu mai dumpling

For an entree I tried Char Siu Pork - marinated grilled pork tenderloin medallions served with Chinese broccoli and white rice. It was the right color, and nicely grilled, but it was dry. While it had a good flavor it didn't have the sweetness I associate with Char Siu pork. The Chinese broccoli was pretty fibrous - it needed a sauce or some additional flavors.

Skipper Canteen Char Siu Pork

Deb tried Skip's Mac and Cheese - an Egyptian take on the dish with spiced ground beef, pasta, and Bechamel sauce. Also served with Chinese broccoli. She enjoyed it, and in fact said the mac and cheese part was among the best she's had. I tried just the mac and cheese part and it was very good.

Skipper Canteen Mac and Cheese

For dessert we tried a Kungaloosh. Those of you who remember the Adventurer's Club at Pleasure Island will be familiar with this name. In this case it's a chocolate cake served with cashew caramel ice cream and caramelized bananas. We were pretty full - all I tried was the ice cream. Which was excellent - like a butter pecan, but with cashews.

Skipper Canteen Kungaloosh

As Deb and I said in the AllEarsNet TV episode - we really liked the idea of this restaurant, but don't think the menu is going to go over very well in Magic Kingdom. The spices and flavors are more appropriate for Animal Kingdom or a resort restaurant. I thought a lot of the appetizers looked good, so on a return visit I'd be tempted just to order several of those to share rather than ordering entrees.

That night a group of us went to Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. This was my first time visiting Disney Springs since before the name changed. So there was a lot of it that was new to me. The restaurant is really gorgeous, and quite large. Unfortunately it's also extremely loud.

Morimoto Asia

The menu had all kinds of offerings that looked really good. To start I ordered a glass of Sake Sangria - asian pears, apple plum, tangerine juice, sake, light white wine, plum wine. It was refreshing - the sake gave it a different flavor that I'm a little on the fence about.

Morimoto Asia Sake Sangria

For an appetizer I tried Vegetable Sushi with spicy mayo, asparagus, carrot, and cucumber. I liked it.

Morimoto Asia Tuna Pizza

Deb ordered Shrimp Tempura Sushi with asparagus, spicy mayo, and avocado, and I tried a piece of that. It was also very good, though the panko crumbs on top weren't very attractive.

Morimoto Asia Shrimp Tempura sushi

Several of us also shared a Tuna Pizza - crispy tortilla, tuna sashimi, tomato, jalapeno, and anchovy aioli. It was a little messy to eat, but very tasty.

Morimoto Asia Tuna Pizza

For an entree I ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp - it also comes with chicken. Stir-fried flat rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, fried tofu, pickled turnip, and sweet tamarind sauce. Our server advised me that it was not a traditional pad thai with peanut sauce - and that was fine with me, since I don't really like peanut sauce. It was very good - I especially liked the fried tofu. The sauce was very good.

Morimoto Asia Pad Thai with Shrimp

For dessert we all shared an Mm Parfait. This is a dessert for two: chocolate cream puffs, vanilla gelato, hazelnut chocolate crunchies, and sesame mochi. I thought the mochi was a little odd, but I really enjoyed all of the rest of it, especially the hazelnut crunchies. It will definitely serve more than two people.

Morimoto Asia Mm Parfait

Other than the noise I really enjoyed our meal at Morimoto Asia. We had a terrific server and the food was great. I'm looking forward to trying it again, and being able to take Lee this time.

More dining still to come!

March 2, 2016

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2


Sunday, February 21 - Disney Princess Half Marathon

Up at 2:45, left the room about 3:30. No problem getting to the Epcot parking lot - we were actually parked one row closer than we were the day before. This time we had bags (our running belts) that needed to be checked, but that was very quick. There were plenty of lanes open.

There were over 20,000 runners in the half marathon, as opposed to about 11,000 for the 10K. The pre-race area was much more crowded.

It was another great morning for a race. About 55 degrees, so a little warmer than the day before, and it was more humid. I was comfortable in trash bag and gloves again.

It's always fun to run a Disney race in costume - and even more fun to run with friends who are also in costume. Several months ago I had an idea for a group...Cinderella and her stepsisters. I already had a Cinderella costume, and I talked Lee and our friend Eddie into running as my stepsisters. To be honest, they were all for it, and it really didn't take any fast-talking on my part. :-) Though Eddie did request the "pink one" (Anastasia).

For their costumes, I made a couple of skirts in the appropriate colors for Anastasia and Drizella out of sequined fabric. It was easier to work with than I expected. It doesn't ravel so I didn't need to hem.

Stepsister Drizella Anastasia running costumes

For the tops, I purchased sleeveless running tops and then added puffy sleeves to them.

Stepsister Drizella Anastasia running costumes
Stepsister Drizella Anastasia running costumes

For Drizella's costume I made a puffy bow out of the sequin fabric and attached it to a headband. For Anastasia, Lee covered a visor with pink sequin fabric and I made the "crown" piece out of metallic gold craft foam. The guys said that it was all very comfortable to run in. And they looked great, if I do say so myself.

Stepsister Drizella Anastasia running costumes

We met up with the Mickey Milers again.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Mickey Milers

About 4:45 we headed to the corrals. The porta-pottie lines were VERY long, but Eddie reminded us that there were some once we went into the "Runners Only" area. The lines were much shorter there. And then it was the 1/2 mile walk to the corrals. It wasn't too crowded for us this time. We met Lisa again and had time for a short chat and to wish each other a good race before going to our different corrals. (She's faster than we are! :-) )

We were in Corral C for this one. The race started at 5:30 with a burst of fireworks - they had them for each corral, which is always very nice.

2016 Princess Half Marathon fireworks

As we got closer to the start line we could see the stage and the Fairy Godmother, plus the race announcers.

2016 Princess Half Marathon

We started about 4 minutes after the official start, so we didn't have to wait too long.

2016 Princess Half Marathon start line

The course heads straight to Magic Kingdom. This is the first time I've been this far forward in a WDW race and it made a big difference when we were on the single lane sections - it really didn't feel crowded at all.

2016 Princess Half Marathon

One thing that was disappointing: the pirate ship that's normally placed about mile 2 wasn't there this year. The Heroes were out for photos not far from there, but had a long line - and we knew we'd see them on the way back. We also bypassed Aladdin and Sally/Jack Skellington - lines were long and it was still pretty dark for photos with the iPhone.

After mile 5 we entered Magic Kingdom. And the photo fun really began. :-) The "sisters" fought over Buzz Lightyear.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Buzz Lightyear

When we left the Alice group, the cast member said: "You're in for a surprise up ahead."

2016 Princess Half Marathon White Rabbit Queen of Hearts

And there they were - the stepmother and both of the stepsisters! I knew that I had to get video of this - and their meeting did not disappoint. They were so excited. :-) (It's very funny to view in slow motion and watch their reactions when they first see the guys.)

2016 Princess Half Marathon Cinderella stepsisters

We stopped in Frontierland to use the restroom there. There were cast members on the Adventureland side to make sure runners didn't go through there, and Lee cracked them up when he said: "Which side should I use?"

I was really hoping that Cinderella would be at the traditional princess photo stop backstage after Splash Mountain, but she wasn't there. We did get a two-fer, though - both Belle and the Beast and Aurora and Prince Phillip. Aurora almost lost it when she saw "the sisters", but recovered and told me: "Don't they look wonderful!" This was the longest line that we waited in, and it was only about 5 minutes long.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Aurora Phillip

Just after that was the 10K mark and we made the turn to head back towards Epcot. The one lane "Cone Alley" section near the Grand Floridian wasn't too bad this time. Near the entrance to the Grand Floridian we found Bert and the penguins from "Mary Poppins". I guess Mary was taking a break.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Bert penguins

Outside the Wedding Pavilion were the guys with the glass slipper. It didn't fit. :-)

2016 Princess Half Marathon glass slipper

Anastasia: "Genie, grant my wish and make HER disappear."

2016 Princess Half Marathon Genie

My cold was taking its toll on me and I was really starting to drag by mile 8. The guys did a great job in keeping my spirits up and making me laugh. And we got lots of nice comments from other runners on how good we looked. I say "we", but in all honesty it was the sisters who received most of the comments. They were pretty unique - I was just one of hundreds of Cinderellas. :-) This woman ran up to us and wanted her photo taken with them. "Sister - we've found our prince!"

2016 Princess Half Marathon

Around mile 9.5 we came back to the Heroes again. They seemed a little alarmed. :-)

2016 Princess Half Marathon Heroes

Finally we passed mile 12 and were backstage at Epcot. I think this is my favorite photo of the three of us from the race.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Cinderella carriage

The sisters were very put out with the Fairy Godmother.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Fairy Godmother

We crossed the finish line with a time of 2:49. It was a LOT of fun. The guys were really good sports - and they had a blast, too. They made a lot of people smile - many times when we ran by groups of spectators I'd see their faces light up when they saw the sisters. And I still laugh when I look at the photos and think about all of the funny moments we shared during the race. Thanks guys - you are both princes in my book!

2016 Princess Half Marathon finish line

I collected three medals - the half marathon medal, Glass Slipper Challenge medal, and Coast-to-Coast medal.

2016 Princess Half Marathon medals

And then it was time to celebrate with the beverage of our choice! It had turned into a lovely warm day - very comfortable to sit around the finish area and visit for a while.

2016 Princess Half Marathon champagne

Final Thoughts

I find this particular race weekend to be a lot of fun - one of my favorites. The secret is to avoid the Expo on the first day. :-) This weekend has the most consistently good weather of any of the WDW race weekends and it's generally good - not too hot, not too cold. The theme is very appealing - it's hard not to love a race that features the Disney princesses! And it's wonderful to see so many women come out to share it together: mothers and daughters, sisters, friends... There are always lots of creative and beautiful costumes, too. The medals are also lovely, and are some of my favorites.

2016 Princess Half Marathon medals

I thought it was interesting that the number of men in this race has been increasing every year: 1454 finished in 2014, 1720 in 2015, and 2037 this year. (18099 women finished this year.) For the most part the men who participate get into the spirit of the event and dress in costume and have a lot of fun with it.

Thank you to all of the cast members and the wonderful volunteers who make it all possible. They work hard and have to get up even earlier than the runners!

2016 Princess Half Marathon water station

We are planning to return next year!

Coming up - Princess Weekend Dining

March 1, 2016

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1


Time to head back to Walt Disney World for the 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This is the 8th year for this event, and the third year for the Glass Slipper Challenge. My fifth time running the half marathon, and third year for the GSC.

2016 Princess Half Marathon

I really enjoy this event, even though I don't care much for either the 10K or the half marathon courses, LOL! I find that there are advantages and disadvantages to it being a women-focused event. I think the character and other photo ops are a lot more fun for this one - there seem to be more of them, and a wider variety of characters than during the other weekends.

Without so many men in the race, my proof of time gets me a much better corral here than for any of the other WDW races, too. :-)

But the Expo and the merchandise...not so good. There have been several disasters associated with Princess weekend - and this year had its challenges, too. But I'll get to all of that.

Given previous Expo "issues" in the past I intentionally did not go to the Expo on Thursday, the day it opened. This turned out to be an excellent idea. Reports from people who were there early in the day were that the lines for packet pickup (which is usually pretty efficient) stretched out the door of the Field House! It was taking close to an hour just to pick up bibs. And over in the Official Merchandise area, there were some actual blows exchanged as people fought over merchandise. Wow. Unbelievable. I do not understand why Disney does not impose quantity limits. Or offer additional merchandise for pre-order.

Friday, February 19 - Expo

Lee and I ended up going to the Expo, held at Wide World of Sports, on Friday afternoon around 4:30. I was disappointed that the banners for the various races weren't at the entrance to Wide World of Sports as they usually are. Just a couple of generic weekend banners. No lines to speak of for packet pickup - it was as easy as it should be.

2016 Princess Half Marathon bib pickup

The main Expo floor was still plenty busy, but not horrible.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Expo floor

There was no line to get into the official merchandise area.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise area

There was still a fair amount of merchandise available, but it was obvious that some items had sold out, and a number of the merchandise bays featured generic runDisney items. For the "I Did It" shirts, they were already down to limited sizes for the 10K and Challenge shirts.

2016 Princess Half Marathon shirt
2016 Princess Half Marathon Bondi Bands
2016 Princess Half Marathon
2016 Princess 10K I Did It shirt

In protest for the poor way that I believe merchandise is handled, I did not purchase ANYTHING. Though to be honest all I really would have purchased would have been a magnet and maybe one of the mini medal pins.

2016 Princess Half Marathon magnets
2016 Princess Half Marathon mini medal

There was this cute runDisney shirt - but I have waaaaay too many running shirts already.

2016 Princess Half Marathon runDisney shirt

And of course, I got three more for this race weekend! I'm very happy that they all have short sleeves.

2016 Princess Half Marathon shirts

Lee was unimpressed with the color of the half marathon shirt. :-) (I was, too.)

2016 Princess Half Marathon

There were a few of the coveted wine glasses left - it sounded like this was the last of them, though.

2016 Princess Half Marathon wine glasses

The rest of the Expo was pretty much the same as it always is. If we'd been looking for some last-minute costume pieces, or race gear that we'd forgotten, there were opportunities to purchase those sorts of items. But we've found lately that all of the Disney race expos look the same to us.

Saturday, February 20 - 10K

We'd decided to drive ourselves to the 10K instead of taking the bus. And since it's a smaller race than the half marathon (about half the number of runners), we allowed ourselves to sleep in until 3:00, and left the room about 3:45. We still had very little traffic, and were parked by 4:10. It was a coolish morning (52 degrees) - great for running, and not too bad for standing around. I had a trash bag and gloves for warmth while I waited, and that was fine. Really, I couldn't have asked for better weather. Very comfortable for running.

There was a security checkpoint, but we didn't have any bags, so were able to go through the "No bags" line. Though I think that was actually longer than the line for people who had bags! They had plenty of people checking us to make sure we didn't have bags, and it moved quickly.

We met up with the Mickey Milers prior to the race - nice to see some familiar faces!

2016 Princess Half Marathon Mickey Milers

The race started at 5:30, and they sent us to our corrals around 5:00. One very nice thing about the 5K and 10K races is that, because there are fewer runners, the corrals are in the Epcot parking lot just next to the pre-race area. No 1/2 mile walk to get to the start area.

We were in Corral A, and it's always nice to be up front. We didn't have a very good view of the stage, though. Not much of a show - though the Fairy Godmother started us off.

2016 Enchanted 10K start line

I unfortunately had come down with a bad head cold the week before the race, and I was not 100%. I knew I wasn't going to get a personal record this year. I hadn't run in a week, and wasn't even sure how I would feel. Though we started together, Lee quickly outpaced me. He was also coming off a cold, and didn't PR either, though he finished in under an hour.

While this course isn't my favorite, it's still a pretty fast course, and fairly easy to run. The first three+ miles are not very interesting: all on roads outside Epcot. I didn't stop to take any photos, but there were a number of photo opportunities. Elsa and Anna were on the overpass, talking to the runners, and it was snowing. Tinker Bell and several of the other pixies were near mile 1, and Pocahontas and Meeko were near mile two or three.

Finally, about mile 3.5, we entered Epcot. Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio were posing for photos in Italy, and Lumiere and Cogsworth were posing at France. I was dressed as Belle, so I wish I would've stopped for that one...since I was early in the race the line was pretty short, and I was trying to take it easy.

After we went out the International Gateway, the Genie was posing outside ESPN Club. We ran all the way around Crescent Lake and turned left at the International Gateway to head backstage. Sophia the First was there. Once we came back into the park next to the Imagination Pavilion we went left and ran in front of The Land and The Living Seas, then through the Innoventions breezeway. Across the park, under Spaceship Earth, and backstage again, where it was only .2 miles to the finish line.

2016 Enchanted 10K finish line

I finished in 1:01:51. All things considered, I was happy with that. Lee came in at 58:15.

2016 Princess Half Marathon

Since the 10K was added, each race weekend has featured a different princess - this year it was Ariel, so all of the medals and neck ribbons had an ocean theme. That's been nice to see.

2016 Princess Enchanted 10K medal

We got our usual runDisney MRE boxes. Not a bad variety, though I miss the Almond Roca!

2016 Princess Half Marathon food box

We didn't hang around the post-race area very long. While walking back to the car we met Lisa, a long-time reader of this blog. We've corresponded a bit, and it was great to finally meet her in person! Hi Lisa - and congratulations on your excellent race (she placed in her age group!).

2016 Enchanted 10K

We tried to mostly rest and relax for the rest of the day, since the half marathon was the next day.

Coming up: The Disney Princess Half Marathon

April 13, 2015

Trip Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend


In response to one of my recent half marathon blogs, Kristyn sent this comment:

Enjoy your RunDisney posts. I am looking for recommendations on two topics if you can help me, Laura. I am doing my first event this fall at Wine and Dine. Can you do a blog on how you prepare for a nighttime race as most of us are used to the early morning runs. Also, not sure if it has ever been covered, but how to plan on where to stay and how to get to to packet pickup and the event if you don't have a rental car. Would love some advice on how to plan for a RunDisney trip. Thanks.

I'm hoping there are others of you that are interested in this information, too. So here are some of my thoughts on how to plan a trip for a runDisney race.

7-9 months in advance

Choose a race weekend and a race or races.

The first decision you have to make is which race weekend you're going to attend, and which events are you going to participate in. This could be influenced by a number of factors, including work/school schedules, potential weather conditions, and race theme.

As I write this, runDisney offers seven different race weekends in Florida and California, with most race weekends including 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. (There's no 10K for Wine and Dine Weekend; and WDW Marathon Weekend also features the WDW Marathon, which is the granddaddy of them all!)

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

So, what's it going to be? Decisions, decisions. WDW Marathon Weekend in early January offers all four race distances, in addition to the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. This is also the largest runDisney race weekend and has the most participants.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Is The Force with you? Then you might want to choose Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, which is also in January, a week after Marathon Weekend. There are 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as the Rebel Challenge, where runners do both the 10K and the half marathon. Races at Disneyland have smaller fields since the resort is smaller - this tends to make for a more pleasant race experience, but it also means they often sell out faster.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Are you looking for a "Girls' Getaway"? Then you might be interested in Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World or Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Both of these race weekends are women-focused. That doesn't mean that men are not allowed, but in the last few years women have outnumbered men by about 11:1 in the half marathons. Both race weekends offer 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, as well as a 10K/half marathon challenge. Princess Half Marathon Weekend takes place at the end of February.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

This year Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend has been moved from January to Mother's Day Weekend in May. We'll see how that works out - many of us (myself included) think that's a poor choice for a race weekend, especially one focused on women. Getting up really early to run a half marathon is not the kind of pampering that most moms are looking for on Mother's Day!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is held over Labor Day weekend, and also offers 5K, 10K, and half marathon races, and includes the Dumbo Double Dare 10K/half marathon challenge. It's pretty warm in Anaheim at this time of year, but a race weekend is a great excuse to visit Disneyland, if you haven't been out here before. The City of Anaheim really comes out in support of this one, with lots of high school bands, cheerleaders, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community dance groups. And then there's the classic cars!

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Do you want to run a race and party afterward? Then the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon might be for you. This is my favorite WDW race: it's at night, it's a different course that goes through three theme parks, and there's an after-race party in Epcot until 4:00 a.m. The Food and Wine Festival food booths are open, as well as some attractions, and there's also special entertainment. The race weekend takes place in early November. There's no 10K for this one, just the 5K (which takes place the same day as the half marathon - but early in the morning), and the half marathon. But the 5K is also slightly different, since it's held at Animal Kingdom and not at Epcot like the others. This half is also a smaller field than the other WDW races.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

If you want to bring out your inner super hero, then how about the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland? In addition to having the longest name, this is the last runDisney event of the year, and takes place the week after Wine and Dine. There are 5K, 10K (new this year), and half marathon races. With the introduction of the 10K, there's the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. Weather-wise, this is a terrific time for a race in California.* In addition, the parks are fully decorated for the holidays. making it a special time of year for a visit to the Disneyland Resort.

*Last year's wind event during the half marathon was an anomaly.

Now that you've decided on a race...

Race registration opens 7-9 months in advance, (you can visit the runDisney web site to sign up for a reminder email) and many of the races sell out quickly (sometimes in under 30 minutes!). I highly recommend that you be prepared to register the minute that race registration opens (typically at 12:00 eastern time) so that you don't get shut out. The 10Ks and race challenges are usually the earliest to sell out, because they allow fewer participants. If you are an Annual Pass Holder or DVC member, there will be a pre-registration opportunity about two weeks before regular registration opens. A limited number of registrations are available during this time, and they also tend to go quickly. The good news is that if you qualify for this you get two shots at registering, and if you don't get in via pre-registration, you can try again during open registration. (In the past pre-registration was also available to Disney Visa card holders, but I do not know if this is still the case.)

RunDisney uses as their registration site. If you don't already have an account, then it's a good idea to set one up in advance. It doesn't help with pre-registration, but during open registration it will speed the process if you have an account you can log into.

So you're registered...what's next?

Time to make some additional decisions about the race weekend. Are you going to turn it into a vacation, and add on some days before and/or after the race? Where are you going to stay? How are you going to get around? Some of these considerations are slightly different depending on whether the race is at Walt Disney World or Disneyland, so I'll address them separately.

Since most of us travel to WDW or Disneyland we want to spend some extra time there apart from the races to give some added value to the trip. I personally recommend adding more of the time on after the race and not before. You'll still want to arrive at least a day or two before the race so that you have time to visit the Race Expo and pick up your race bib and shirt, etc., but once the race is over it's nice to have some time to relax and enjoy the parks.

At Walt Disney World, if you are staying on-site at a WDW resort, then race transportation and where to stay are kind of all rolled together. For each race weekend, there are multiple Walt Disney World resorts that are designated "host resorts". Race transportation is provided for runners staying at these hotels - this includes free transportation to/from the Expo in addition to transportation to/from the races. So, between using Disney's Magical Express for airport transportation and normal Disney transportation to the parks, then if you're staying at a host resort you probably don't need a rental car. For Marathon and Princess weekends, all WDW resorts are considered host resorts and offer race transportation. For Wine and Dine, the resort choices are more limited. You can visit the runDisney web site and go to Travel->Walt Disney World and then select the race weekend you are interested in for more information on the host resorts.

At Disneyland everything is much more compact, so from any of the Disney hotels and from many of the hotels in the surrounding area you simply walk to/from any race weekend events. The Expos are held in the convention center at the Disneyland Hotel, and the races all start/end near either the Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier Hotel. (This makes the race morning logistics a WHOLE lot easier than at WDW - no bus ride required!). There are some designated host hotels that are further away which do offer Expo and race transportation, so that's also an option.

One thing to keep in mind is that there's no "Magical Express" equivalent at Disneyland, though there are a number of reputable shuttle services that provide airport transportation to all area hotels. You'll have to pay for it, but balance that off against the price of a car rental. Also, most hotels (including the Disney hotels) charge a fee for parking, so that's another thing to keep in mind. The two most popular airports to fly into are John Wayne (SNA) and Los Angeles International (LAX). SNA is a whole lot closer to Disneyland, but doesn't have as many flights. Long Beach (LGB) is another airport option, but it's very small, and few airlines fly there.

There are only three Disney-owned hotels at Disneyland, and they are all high-end, so Disney depends on their "Good Neighbor" hotels to provide the more moderate and budget-priced options. You won't get the Disney theming, but the accommodations are just fine, especially if your biggest requirement is a place to sleep and shower.

And did I mention that a lot of them are walking distance to the race events and the parks? :-) i can not stress enough what a huge benefit that is when running a race at Disneyland. You can find some additional information, including links to the hotel web sites, on our Good Neighbor Hotel FAQ

2-7 months in advance

Train for your race(s). I'm not going to say too much about this, since everyone has their own strategy, and what works best for them. But I will address Kristyn's question about Wine and Dine, and how to prepare for a nighttime race: I personally don't do anything differently in my training. I typically run one evening a week, but the first time I ran Wine and Dine I wasn't doing that, and it didn't make a difference in my performance. I think that if you've done your training, then your body knows what it needs to do, and time of day doesn't matter. If anything, I find it a little easier to run at night because it's dark and I don't have the sun beating down on me.

This is also the time period where you'll be able to submit your "Proof of Time". This is a race result from some other race you've participated in during the past couple of years, which runDisney will use in determining your placement in a start corral. This is done via a web page. You can use another runDisney race, but most of us don't have our best times in a runDisney race. :-) You'll need to have the race information, including the name of the race, date, location, distance, your time, AND a URL where runDisney can find the race results. If you run a different race and get a better time, you can go in and modify it. But you will not be able to modify your proof of time within about 3 months of the Disney race date - the cutoff date will be posted on the page. You are not required to submit a proof of time, but if you don't have one runDisney will assign you to one of the later corrals.

For WDW races, starting 6 months in advance you can make your Priority Seating arrangements for dining. So if it's important to you to eat a particular kind of food - or at a particular place - before a race, it's something to consider far in advance. And of course there's probably other restaurants you'd like to enjoy after the race - we often have a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on Sunday night of race weekend.

60 days in advance

At Disneyland it's time to make your Priority Seating, though this isn't nearly as critical as it is at WDW. The exceptions would be for a special dining package, such as Fantasmic! viewing, or if you're booking for a large party.

For WDW you can make your Fastpass+ selections, if you are staying at a WDW resort.

1-4 weeks in advance

Race waivers will be available on the runDisney web site. You must complete a race waiver and present photo id to pick up your bib at the race Expo. While there are print stations at the Expo, it's a lot easier and faster if you print the waiver in advance and bring it with you. This is also how you find out your bib number, and you can determine your corral placement from that - otherwise you'll have to wait until you pick up your bib, as the corral will be printed on that.

Make a packing list. Don't forget things like gels, running belts, and throwaway clothes. If you use a particular nutrition product bring it with you - don't count on being able to purchase it at the Expo. If you're planning to run in costume, make sure you list all of the pieces. If you can do a test run in the costume to make sure it's going to work that's great, but I'm sure most of us (myself included) don't do that.

The week before

Obsessively stalk the weather channel. Ok, maybe that's just me. :-) But honestly, you want to know what to expect so that you can bring the appropriate clothing, both for running and park touring. And be aware that the weather can change drastically, even a day or two before the race (though this is more often an issue in Florida than California). Predicted starting temps in the 60s can suddenly turn into the 40s (or 30s!), or 50s can turn into high 60s, with finishing temps in the 80s. And rain is always a possibility. I've had experience with all of those, and they all have their own challenges. If it's chilly, the worst part is all the waiting around before the race. In that case, those little chemical hand warmer packets and some cheap throwaway gloves will go a long way to keeping you more comfortable. I ALWAYS pack a LARGE trash bag in my suitcase - it comes down past my knees and really helps me retain body heat while waiting.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Race Weekend

Yay! You've made it to your destination, with your running gear and waiver in hand. Next up is the race Expo. If you want first chance at the race merchandise, then you need to arrive EARLY on the day the Expo opens and be prepared to wait in line. This is the one situation where it's easier if you have a car since the buses don't start running until 30 minutes or so before the Expo starts. Also, remember that bib pickup and merchandise are in separate areas - you can choose to go to merchandise first and later pick up your bib or vice versa. If you don't want to wait in a lot of lines and are willing to take your chances on merchandise, then I would suggest visiting the Expo sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon. I've never encountered much in the way of lines at that point in time.
Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

Be a little cautious about trying the samples that are available at the Expo. That energy bar might contain some ingredient that doesn't agree with you - and stomach issues are not something you want to deal with on race day.

The day before the race

It's really difficult to stay off your feet when you're at Disney, but it's a good idea the day before a race, especially if you're running the marathon. Even with a half marathon, being on your feet for hours the day before will tire you out to some extent. We try to do some limited touring in the morning, and then take an extended break back in our room in the afternoon, before venturing out in the early evening for dinner. And you should be drinking water throughout the day - not drowning yourself, but if you're running a half or the marathon then you want to be well-hydrated.

When you're out and about, pick up whatever it is you're going to want to eat in the few hours before the race. This might be a bagel or a banana, or yogurt - or maybe it's an energy bar that you brought with you. Your choices the morning of the race will be very limited, so if you already have what you need that's one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend

When it comes to dinner the night before, just about everyone has their own idea of what works best for them. Some want pasta, others pizza, and some swear by Chinese food. At this point, you should have done enough long training runs to know what you need to fuel yourself for the next day. You definitely do NOT want to gorge yourself the night before, but you should eat a good dinner, with some carbs and protein. I like chicken and rice, with some vegetables or a salad, though my go-to meal the night before a Disneyland half marathon is four cheese ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.

For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, since it's a night race, we do things slightly differently. We still do some touring in the morning, and then we'll try to have our big meal of the day around 1:00-2:00 in the afternoon. And by "big meal", I don't mean gorging on an all-you-can-eat buffet - I mean your largest meal of that particular day. I recommend something similar to what you would eat for dinner the night before a morning race. Then around 6:00 have a light (and I do mean light) meal or snack.

In the couple of hours before the race, whether it's in the morning or the evening, you'll want to have something to eat. Again, from your training, you should be familiar with what works for you. You may want to eat in your room, or you may want to take something with you to the start area.

The Disney resorts usually have some kind of quick service option that's open very early on race mornings where you can get coffee and light fare such as fruit and bagels. At Disneyland several locations in Downtown Disney are open early on half marathon mornings, like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.

Race Day

Planning for a runDisney Race Weekend've made it to race day! Get out to the start line and have a great time on the course!

What about the rest of you? What are your suggestion on planning for a runDisney trip?

Learn more about runDisney from Laura on this episode of AllEarsNet TV

March 3, 2015

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 2, Half Marathon

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I think I got even less sleep on Saturday night than I did on Friday night. Frustrating, but not unusual for me. Maybe I perform better when I'm sleep deprived...

I was awake before the wakeup call, and I canceled it so that it wouldn't wake Deb up. Did the usual routine of having something to eat (yogurt, though I also had a bagel and almond butter available - and I should've had at least half of the bagel because I was hungry an hour later), and getting ready to go, with last-minute checks to make sure I had essentials like my bib, hydration belt, Magic Band, car keys, phone, driver's license, and throwaway clothes. I was wearing my favorite Cinderella running outfit again. But that's the third time for it this year...I may need to change it up a little bit. :-)

I went to pick up Jill and Hilary before going to Epcot. I arrived in the Epcot area a little later than the day before, and with twice as many runners as for the 10K there was more traffic headed to Epcot, but it still didn't take long to drive there. Once past the parking booths I Chose Wisely (stay left) and ended up parking closer to the Family Reunion area (aka the start/finish area) than I had the day before.

The temperature was 57 outside - balmy compared to Saturday. It really was significantly warmer. I had a trash bag and a throwaway t-shirt, but probably would've been fine with just the trash bag. It was one of the big ones and came down to my knees.

There's a security bag check outside the Reunion area and we all had to go through that, but it was pretty efficient - lots of lanes open.

With twice as many runners the Reunion area was much more crowded than it was on Saturday. And people also weren't huddled together for warmth near heat lamps, either. No heat lamps this time!

I said goodbye to Jill and Hilary, who were in an earlier start corral, and went to find the Mickey Milers - even made it in time for the pre-race photo! It was nice to see quite a few running friends from all over the country. Most of them were really enjoying the warmer weather in Florida.

The 1/2-mile walk to the start corral wasn't bad at all - it hasn't been bad the last several times I've done it, but the memories of the times when it was an agonizingly slow shuffle still linger. I have to say that Disney has done a much better job of supplying lots of porta-potties. In addition to those in the Reunion area there are more in the "runner's only" area, and then there are also several sets of them near the start corrals. That's really made the lines much shorter. (During the half marathon I also thought that there were more along the course as well.)

I was in Corral E. Close enough that I could actually see the stage and the start line, unlike marathon weekend when I was in Corral J and couldn't see it at all. I had the same proof of time for both, but there's so many more faster (male) runners at Marathon weekend that there were a lot more people ahead of me. In this race the ratio of men to women was about 1:11, which improved my corral position a lot. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Before the race started a runDisney spokeswoman came on stage to play a video and make an announcement. I wasn't close enough to a video screen to see much, but as soon as I heard the music, which was recognizably French, I knew that they were going to (finally) be announcing the long-awaited Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend. And sure enough, the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend is scheduled for September 23-25, 2016. Disneyland Paris is the only Disney resort that I haven't yet visited...and of course this race will have that "I" word, too! :-)

There's not much real information available yet, but you can visit this web site to be added to a mailing list.

I think that because of the announcement the race started about 5 minutes late - a bit unusual for a Disney event. There was a nice burst of fireworks at the start, and again for each corral.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The earlier corrals are smaller than the later ones, and they were sending us off about 2 minutes apart. I started just about 10 minutes after the official race start. That was nice - it made it much easier when I was at the mile markers - I just subtracted 10 minutes and that was pretty close to what my net time was.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Over the last year or so Disney has gotten much stricter about proof of time submissions, and I think that has really improved the course congestion in the early part of the races. I know that my experience has been that when I start I'm with people that are going approximately my same pace. Yes, some are a little faster, some a little slower, but overall we've been able to have room to spread out enough that the single lane parts of the course that we encounter in the first two miles are much less crowded and frustrating than they have been in the past.

In the first mile I could tell that my legs were a little tired after the PR the day before. Not a surprise, and I was planning to take it easy for this one anyway. But this is why you don't PR two days in a row! :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This is the same half marathon course I've run a number of times, and which you may have read about a number of times. But just in case this is new to you: the 13.1-mile half marathon course leaves Epcot and heads to the Magic Kingdom, then back to Epcot.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There are several character stops between miles 2-4, but they are always the most crowded, so I rarely stop. One of them is the villains - this had a huge line so I just stopped long enough to take a quick photo. There's also the pirates and the heroes, but those we also hit on the way back, and I wait until then when the lines are much shorter. People seem to be much less willing to stop for photos at mile 9 than they are at mile 2. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

We arrive at Magic Kingdom about mile 5 and run down Main Street towards the Castle. It doesn't matter how many times I've done it - it's always a thrill for me.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The course takes us through quite a bit of Magic Kingdom: Main Street, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Liberty Square, and Frontierland. I was surprised not to see any characters in the new Fantasyland part - I've seen Gaston and Belle/Beast there in the past. But Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff were on the balcony behind the castle, cheering on the runners as we prepared to run through the castle.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There weren't any characters in Liberty Square, either. Another surprise. Woody was in Frontierland. Just after we went backstage near Splash Mountain there were Snow White and her prince, but a very long line so I didn't stop. I was kind of glad it was Snow White, because if it had been Cinderella I would've had to think about stopping...

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

My least favorite part of the course is the section after leaving the Magic Kingdom: about mile 6.4 through mile 8. A lot of it is single lane and we call it "Cone Alley" because of the wall of cones in the center to keep the runners out of the traffic lane. It can get very congested for the runners. This time it wasn't bad for me, since I was still among the top 20% of runners, even though I'd stopped for quite a few character photos. Those later in the race probably had a different experience.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In the mile 7-8 section Luna Bar had some fun inspirational signs posted - things like: "My other shoes are glass slippers" and "Run like a beast, sleep like a Beauty". It was nice to see the signs because there aren't too many spectators in that area, and I know that's often when I start to get tired and need a distraction.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Just past mile 9 were the Heroes again. Aladdin, Prince Eric, Flynn Rider, Phoebus (that was a surprise) and Hercules. The line was a lot shorter than it was earlier - I only waited about two minutes before it was my turn. This is one of my favorite photo ops in the Princess Half Marathon.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There was an even shorter line for the pirates. This is a terrible photo of me, but he was a really excellent Jack Sparrow.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Mile 10 is always a milestone for me in a half marathon, since it means there's only 5K left in the race. And I know I can do a 5K. I was still feeling pretty good. Though I was getting pretty warm and sweaty - it was a lot warmer than the day before. The sun had come out and even though it was only about 60, that's warm when you're running.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The next two miles went pretty quickly, and I was soon backstage at Epcot less than a mile from the finish. I stopped for a photo with Princess Sophia - no line!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I managed to pick up the pace in that last mile to make the final kick to the finish line. My time was 2:28:20, and that included lots of photo stops. I was very happy with that, especially on top of the PR the day before. I felt really good - my legs weren't sore at all. Tired, yes, but not sore.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

After I got my half marathon medal there was a Fairy Godmother to sprinkle pixie dust if I wanted it. :-) Oh, and they were handing out mylar sheets, too, but it was warm enough that I didn't need one.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I went to the Glass Slipper Challenge tent where they quickly verified that yes, I had finished the 10K, and that yes, my photo matched the runDisney mug shot taken at the Expo, and I received my Glass Slipper Challenge medal. Ah...that familiar "clank clank" sound of multiple medals as I walk! :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I guess because of the Frozen theme the medals are silver this year instead of gold, and they all have snowflakes on the ribbons.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There was the usual runDisney MRE box...though it seemed like it had a lot more items in it this time than in the January races. Almond Roca...yum. One of my boxes had a chocolate coconut Luna bar that was really good.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I wanted to celebrate with a glass of champagne but the line was long...and I really needed to get back to the room since I still had to pack because I was checking out and headed home later in the day. (Fire the travel agent who set that up! Oh, yes, that would be me...)

There were 20215 finishers this year: 18498 women and 1717 men. Or "1717 of the smartest guys on the planet", as race announcer Rudy Novotny puts it. :-) It's really fun to see the guys get into the Princess theme - I saw quite a few running as princes alongside their princesses, as well as some dressed as princesses themselves. I saw a couple of men dressed in Belle's yellow ball gown, and others as Cinderella or Snow White.

It didn't seem as though I saw as many runners in costume this year as previous years. But there were lots of sparkle skirts and tutus. And while I expected LOTS of Elsas (and there were quite a few) the most popular princess by far was Cinderella! (Another reason to re-think my costume.) I think the most unique costumes I saw were a couple who finished just ahead of me in the 10K - he was dressed as Quasimodo, and she wore a really detailed Esmeralda costume.

As they did for the Marathon in January, Disney live-streamed the start and the finish. You can see the finish HERE It was fun to go back and see myself run across the finish line! (You can see me at 1:56:28.)

I want to say "Thank you!" to all of the wonderful volunteers and cast members who work so hard and get up so early to make it possible for us to run. And to all the bands and groups and individuals who come out on the course to cheer us on - we love your signs and your enthusiasm!

I really enjoy this race weekend. The Princess theme is a lot of fun, and I think it's great that it's an event that encourages friends to share it together. This year was extra special for me, not just because of my 10K PR, but because I was able to spend some quality time with some very dear friends. I'm hoping we can do it again next year - but next year I'm not leaving until Monday! :-)

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

March 2, 2015

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1, Expo and 10K

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

February 19-22 was Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. Last year introduced a new 10K race to this event, in addition to the 5K and half marathon. And running both the 10K and half was a new "challenge": The Glass Slipper Challenge. I ran the challenge last year, and had so much fun that I wanted to do it this year, too. Lee decided not to go, so I invited my friend Deb to come so that we could spend some time together.

As usual, I kept my eye on the weather starting about a week out to see what I should expect. It was looking like 55-58 for lows, which is perfect running weather for me, until two days before I left home, when suddenly the forecast was for 41 for the 10K and 55 for the half - and 29 for the 5K, which I wasn't running.

Oh, did I mention that the theme for this year's 5K, and for the 10K medal, was "Frozen?" That's taking theming a little too seriously!!!

So at the last minute I had to pack extra throwaway clothes and gloves and hand warmers - and hope those would be sufficient for Saturday's 10K. And I also had to pack a heavy jacket and scarf and jeans because it was going to be cold just for wandering around the parks the first couple of days.

It was 45 when I arrived Thursday evening. And 34 on Friday morning for those running the 5K. I saw a lot of chilly-looking people getting back to the hotel as I left to go to the Expo - it was 40 by then. But the sun was out so it didn't feel quite so cold.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There were the usual race banners in front of the Wide World of Sports, where the Expo was held. I met up with Jill and Hilary, two members from my running club in San Diego, and we had our picture taken.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was quickly able to do everything I needed to do at the Expo. Picked up my bib, took a few photos, shopped, and wandered in the show. It was early enough that it wasn't crowded yet. I think the worst time to be there is between 11:00 and 2:00 - before or after that there are fewer people.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was pleased to see that there still seemed to be plenty of merchandise, and cast members were constantly restocking. I was able to get my Glass Slipper Challenge magnet and the mini 10K medal.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

While in line to have my photo taken with Princess Minnie I chatted with AllEars reader Michelle and her daughter Molly, who were planning to run the half marathon. Thank you for introducing yourselves, and I hope you had a good race!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

RunDisney finally unveiled the medals for the upcoming Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend races and had them in their booth at the Expo. The 10K and half marathon medals are the same with some added embellishment, but we've all been curious about the new "Pixie Dust Challenge" medal. I'd seen photos of it on-line and wasn't too impressed. And unfortunately it's no better in person. But it does have the "I" word on it. That's the only thing I like about it.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I picked up my three new race shirts - one for the 10K, one for the half, and one for the Glass Slipper Challenge. I'm really glad that they are short-sleeve. I really love the purple color of the 10K shirt, but I don't like pink at all, and the gray of the Glass Slipper Challenge shirt is kind of drab. I was disappointed that, given the "Frozen" theme, they didn't go with shades of blue, or even white or silver.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Deb and I enjoyed some park time later that day, and dinner at Trattoria al Forno (food blog to come). And then it was time to try to go to bed. The three-hour time difference between San Diego and Orlando always makes it hard for me to get a good night's sleep, but I dutifully tried to go to bed at 9:00 and sleep.

The wake-up call came much too early, and Baymax advised me that a fist bump was a form of expression. I dressed in my new Belle running costume - due to the cooler temps I had a long sleeve shirt rather than the short-sleeve v-neck, which would have looked better. Oh well.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

At least it was a little warmer than predicted: 45 and not 41. :-) I had rented a car so that I could drive myself to all of the race events rather than relying on Disney transportation. One very nice thing about that this year was I could sit in my nice warm car after I parked instead of going out in the cold!

The 10K is a much smaller race than the half marathon - 12,500 as opposed to 25,000. It's a lot more pleasant in the pre-race area - I could actually get close to the stage and see what was going on. Though one reason it may have seemed less crowded is that there were lots of heat lamps set up, and people were huddled around those for warmth!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The race started at 5:30, but they didn't send us to our corrals until 4:45. It's a much shorter walk to the corrals, which are in the Epcot parking lot rather than out on World Drive. I found Jill and Hilary in corral A and we all started together. It's so nice being in Corral A! Makes for a much less congested race.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

My plan was to run this race and try for a Personal Record - I was hoping to finish in an hour or less. So I wasn't planning to stop for photos this time - not even to show off my new Belle costume. :-) Most of it was covered for almost half the race anyway, until I shed my final outer layer.

I'm not really a fan of this 10K course. The first 3+ miles are in the parking lot and on roads, and then it goes backstage at Epcot, before entering World Showcase about mile 4. From then on I like it: it goes around about half of World Showcase, then out the International Gateway and around the Boardwalk area and past the Yacht and Beach Clubs before going back to Epcot again, through Future World and out to the finish line in the parking lot. But it is a fast course, mostly flat with just one overpass at the beginning and a few small hills where it goes over bridges in the park and around the Boardwalk.

Early in the race we went under an overpass. Elsa and Anna were on the overpass talking to the runners, "Let it Go" was playing, and it was "snowing." That was kind of fun. I managed to keep up with Jill for the first mile and a half, but then she sped up. But I was still on what was a fast pace for me, as I could see when I passed the mile markers. And I was feeling strong, and didn't need to stop for any walk breaks as I usually do. I didn't use any of the three water stops, either. It seemed to me like there were more characters out than last year, and most had short lines, but I had that PR in mind, and knew that I was on pace to achieve it!

Deb had gotten up early to come down to the boardwalk to cheer me on. I stopped for a quick hug, so she only got a photo as I ran away. :-)

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

At mile 5 I knew I was going to get my "under-an-hour" finish - the question was how much under an hour. I was still feeling good, and managed to run the last 1.2 miles a little faster, and crossed the finish line with a time of 57:19!!! I was SO happy! Jill and Hilary also PR'd. So it was a great day for the West Coast Roadrunners!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This is my new favorite race medal because of what it represents. :-) 10K seems to be "my" distance - long enough, but not too long. I don't have to carry a hydration belt with me like I do for a half marathon, and that's very nice. I've really enjoyed the five different Disney 10Ks that I've done (some of them multiple times). I prefer the 10K courses at Disneyland in California, but I think that this one, used for both the Walt Disney World 10K and the Enchanted 10K, is probably a faster course.

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Snow White and Tiana were available in the finish area for photos, and since Jill, Hilary, and I all finished early the lines weren't too bad. It was still only about 46 degrees, and all I had for warmth was the mylar blanket I'd gotten at the finish (at least they were handing them out this time, unlike in January!) so after getting our photo with Snow White we all headed back to the car where I had a jacket. It was quite easy getting out of the parking lot. I dropped them off at their resort and went back to the Boardwalk for some hot tea and a warm shower!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I'm still so happy about the PR - I don't remember ever being this excited about a race result! I've had a good training season, and it was great to see all of the hard work pay off.

But this is an example of "do as I say, not as I do". :-) When asked about running a race challenge series I always advise people not to run the first race hard, so that you have something left for the second race. But it's a matter of knowing yourself and what you can do - I knew that I could run the 10K fast and still be ok for the half marathon the next day. And one thing I did NOT do was sprint at the end of the 10K, because I knew that would really use up a lot of energy and cost me the next day. I did push my pace a bit over the last mile, but it was not an all-out sprint at the end.

I spent much of the rest of the day doing what you're NOT supposed to do before a half marathon: wandering around theme parks. :-). It's really hard to be at a Disney race and not do that. And it was a beautiful day for being outside - it warmed up to about 75. I felt really good, too - my legs weren't tired at all.

It was another night of trying to get to bed early and sleep. I was hoping that after not getting much sleep the night before I'd sleep better, but that didn't work. Race weekends are exercises in sleep deprivation.

Next up: The Princess Half Marathon

Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33:

February 27, 2014

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge Part 2 - the Princess Half Marathon


For half marathon morning on Sunday I scheduled the wake up call for 2:15, and I was on my way to Epcot around 3:10. There was more traffic this morning but I was still early enough that I didn't get slowed down until I was in the parking lot. I'd rather get up and get there early and not stress about transportation!

I didn't mention this in the 10k blog, but they again had a big security perimeter set up and all bags had to be checked. I had no bag for the 10k, but had my running belt for the half. There was a queue, but they had lots of security folks and the line moved quickly - I think the people in the "no bags" line had a longer wait!

I was in the pre-race area by 3:40, and I was very surprised at how many people were already there! One new thing this year: they had put out a number of chaise lounges, and those were very popular. They took up a lot of room, though...I'll be interested in seeing whether they return in the future, since they also became obstacles in trying to move around. At various times during the weekend I heard both 24,000 and 25,000 given as the number of runners in the half marathon, which is about as large as the January races, and it was pretty crowded. Though there were fewer people in the half marathon than last year. (This year there were 20,750 finishers, last year there were 22,739.)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I thought they started sending people to the corrals a little late (about 4:45 for a 5:30 start!). I was running with my friend Holly, and we were on our way to the corrals even before they made the first announcement - we heard them call for those in A and B to start heading out. The walk to the corrals was not bad at all - I've commented (complained) about it in the past, but I have to say that in my last three WDW races (half and full marathons in January and now Princess) the walk to the corrals has been no problem at all. I'm not quite sure how they did that, because it's still just as many people moving on the same narrow roads, but it hasn't been the slow cattle car shuffle that it has been in the past.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

In the January races they started a new corral system to help ease the race course congestion: more corrals with fewer people in them. I think this really has helped, though it means that the people in the later corrals start even later and have even longer to wait around before the race. Holly and I were in corral E, but we were closer to the start line than I have ever been in a big WDW race, and we started just 10 minutes after the gun.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

At the start line were our race announcers, and the Fairy Godmother, who said the magic words and counted down to the start of the race.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge
2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I haven't mentioned the was cooler than the day before, about 65, but the humidity was 100% and it was foggy and misty. There was a little more breeze than the previous day when it was almost dead calm. I found it slightly more comfortable than Saturday, but it was still far from optimal conditions. You can see the fog really obscured the fireworks they shot off when each corral started.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

The Princess half marathon course is the same as the WDW half marathon course - I won't bore you again with all the reasons I don't care for it. :-) Though as I said before, the new corral system did help with the congestion in the narrow places. I think we only found it really unpleasantly crowded in one spot. But, although we were by no means going fast, we still finished in the top 40%, and there were a lot of people behind us who experienced more crowding than we did.

The on course entertainment was pretty good, though it didn't seem to me as though there were as many high school bands and cheerleaders as we see during marathon weekend. The pirates and the princes (~miles 2-3) had huge lines so we didn't stop - we knew we would pass them again on the way back when the lines would be shorter. :-) The longest line we waited in was for the villains. That took a little over 8 minutes, but we were glad we did it. They had this villains chair, and runners were having fun with that. (Unfortunately the mist and fog in the air reflected in the flash, so the photo didn't turn out well at all.)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Near the Contemporary they had some really nice lighting on the water bridge.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

It's always great running down Main Street towards the castle, with all of the people cheering. Holly's husband Dave was waiting for us at the hub, along with Stan and Mike, who had also come out to cheer on their wives who were running.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

There were quite a few character stops in the Magic Kingdom but we didn't stop for any of them. The line for Mickey and Minnie was huge, but otherwise the lines weren't too bad. Snow White and Prince Charming also had a good-sized line.

The photo we did stop for...our friends Eddie and Dave had started several corrals in front of us and were running with a few other women. They'd obviously been enjoying themselves and taking their time because we caught up with them when they were posing for a picture in front of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Holly said, "Let's photo bomb them!", so we ran in front of them and got in their photo. :-) They got into the line for Mickey and Minnie (which Eddie later told us took 20 minutes), so we didn't see them again in the race.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

"Cone Alley", the one lane section from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, wasn't too bad - we could still make our way past slower runners and walkers without too much trouble. I still don't like that part of the course, though.

At about the mile 7 mark they always play a selected song to inspire us, and they usually let us choose it by voting on Facebook. This year the winner was "Let it Go" from Frozen - I think it won by an avalanche. :-)

I was happy to see Mary Poppins and Bert outside the Grand Floridian - they weren't out at all in January.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

In front of the Wedding Pavilion there was a wedding singer! (I recognized him as one of the lead singers from the old Tarzan Rocks show.) On the side of the road, also in tuxes, were several other men gathered around a glass slipper. That was a popular photo op, but we didn't stop for it.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

About mile 9 we got to the princes again and the line was much shorter than it had been earlier, though we still waited 4-5 minutes. But it was worth it. :-)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

My legs were starting to get tired, so I was glad that we were almost done. Still, the last couple of miles went pretty fast, and we headed back into Epcot. Princess Sophia was backstage - I'd never seen her before, and there was no line.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

As we started our short loop around Future World I saw this vision in pink - I'd seen her near the end of the 2013 marathon but had no idea who she was, so this time I asked. :-) She is Ivana Dream, and she's a wannabe Fairy Godmother. She had a microphone, and was talking to runners as they went by. Sort of a stream of consciousness thing - did you know the trees with the yellow flowers in Epcot are yellow tabebuia trees? Fun, and I'm glad to finally know who she is!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We finished strong, and I got a high 5 from Jester Goofy as I crossed the finish line. (Sir Donald was on the other side.)

Just after we crossed some of the wonderful volunteers were handing out packets containing moist, COOL towels. Those felt SO good! After we passed the water and PowerAde tables there were volunteers handing out the nice mesh stringbags. We usually get these in our goodie bags, but I thought it was MUCH better to get them after the race, since that's when we can really use them to carry the bottles and food boxes, etc.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We got our half marathon medals (new design this year) and went to the Glass Slipper Challenge area where they checked to make sure we had our 10K wristbands and then gave us our medals. Yay! Another race challenge successfully completed!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Holly and I celebrated with our adult beverages of choice: beer for her and champagne for me. (In the concession area there were six different registers where you could buy champagne so the lines weren't long at all - in this case Disney definitely understood their target audience!)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

The finish area was pretty crowded - I heard that there were princesses available for photos but I didn't to see them - and I'm sure the lines were long. I needed to leave since I had to get back to my room, shower, pack, and check out by 11:00. I made it - but not by much!

It was a short trip, but still a very successful weekend. But I'm a little concerned that running races two days in a row is starting to seem normal to me! :-)

I thought that the Glass Slipper Challenge went very smoothly and the Enchanted 10K didn't have any typical "first year" issues. The 10K was an improvement over the one in January, though I think it could still use another couple of characters on the course. I think my main suggestion for improvement is the merchandise - as usual, there wasn't enough of it. Hard to believe that Disney is missing out on a money-making opportunity like that.

I really enjoyed the theming of the races and the weekend - "Enchanted", "Glass Slipper" and "Princess" all go so well together!

The medals, as usual, are just beautiful - Disney knows how to do bling. :-)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I had a wonderful time, and am already considering doing this race challenge again next year. With the bevy of princesses Disney has available I am hoping they will change up the challenge every year - perhaps an enchanted rose challenge next year, a magic mirror the next?

February 25, 2014

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge Part 1 - Expo and 10K

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

This past weekend featured the sixth Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. This year there was a new race, The Enchanted 10K. And along with the new race came a new race challenge: The Glass Slipper Challenge. Those running both the 10K and the half marathon received the Glass Slipper Challenge medal in addition to their 10k and half marathon medals.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I made a quick trip to Florida to check it out. Oh, who am I kidding - I just couldn't resist the opportunity to come home with two new pieces of bling bearing my favorite word: Inaugural. :-)

If you read my blog on last year's Princess weekend, then you know what a fiasco the Expo was. This year was a whole lot better since the Expo took place at Wide World of Sports, where there was plenty of room and parking. I didn't arrive at the Expo until Friday evening, and there were still a lot of people there, though it wasn't overcrowded like last year when we could barely move through the aisles. They were running low on some official merchandise already, and I again missed out on my "challenge" magnet (like I did for the Dumbo Double Dare). Disney does pre-orders of other small items like pins and necklaces - I wish they would offer it for the magnets, too.

The merchandise area in the Field House, where packet pickup was held, didn't have much of a selection of merchandise left at all - lots of bare walls!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

There was still a decent selection available at the main Expo in the Josten's Center, though I didn't think there was much of a variety...on the other hand, I don't know what might have sold out already since it was the end of the second day by then.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I thought it was interesting that those doing the Challenge could pick up their packet and their goodie bag (with the shirts) all in the Field House, and didn't have to visit the Josten's Center at all (but where's the fun in that?).

At the entrance to the Josten's Center there was a fun photo opportunity - two of Cinderella's very handsome footmen.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Most of the usual Expo vendors were there. Those selling running apparel were doing great business helping runners put together last-minute princess costumes for the races. There were some really clever ideas.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Except for the Glass Slipper Challenge participants, shirt and goodie bag pickup was in the Josten's Center. This year's shirts are made of a nice lightweight tech fabric - it's very soft and silky and I really love it! They are also short-sleeve. The grey is just ok but I really like the other two. They were also true to size, which I appreciated. There were men's sizes available as well. I'm so glad that Disney has finally seemed to start offering men's and women's shirts for all of their races. It's also very nice that women who would rather have the unisex cut have that option. There is a shirt exchange area at the Expo, and it's also good to see that process has been made easy.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Speaking of shirts, this year there were a couple of race shirts in unisex sizes and non-girlie colors. That has been one of Lee's complaints, so it was nice to see that. Most of the guys who run the race are very supportive and really get into the spirit of it, and have no problems wearing a tutu or skirt! So they deserve some recognition, too.

I re-visited the Expo on Saturday morning, this time using the buses. They were efficient and the wait times were short - they did a great job with the buses this year. (I heard that the buses to the races were pretty trouble-free also.)

I didn't run the 5K, which was held on Friday morning before I arrived. It was the regular Epcot 5K course, and it sounded like those who ran it had a good time. The Kids races were held on Saturday.

The Enchanted 10k started at Epcot at 5:30 a.m. I was staying at All Star Music and decided to drive rather than take the bus. Because I knew the 10k had a lot fewer runners than the half marathon (10,000 vs 24,000) I let myself sleep in a little and set the wake up call for 3:00 instead of 2:00. Still way too early...yawn. But at that time I had no traffic, though there were still a lot of people who had arrived ahead of me!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

With the princess theme it was almost a requirement that you run in some kind of costume, be it as simple as a tutu, wings, or a tiara - or all of the above. It was very interesting to see the creative things that people did to represent a particular character - just with the right colors you knew someone was dressed as Rapunzel or Ariel, yellow tank top and a rose was obviously Belle. Given the huge success of Frozen, Anna and Elsa were very popular this year, and I saw a fair number of Olafs, too.

I wore a new Cinderella costume that I had put together with various pieces of running attire - in the past I've worn a purchased costume with the skirt cut shorter. It worked out pretty well for me, though it was still a little too warm given the weather. As usual, it was a Disney race weekend, so Florida was having unseasonably warm temperatures. Sigh. It had rained the day before and it was a warm and humid morning - I think it was 70 when the race started and the humidity was close to 100%. Ugh.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

They had start corrals for this one, and I was in A. I ended up very near the start line, and that was great! When I got to the mile markers the time displayed was almost exactly my time! It also meant the course was much less crowded for me. (And this is not Lee - it's his "twin", fellow Team AllEars member Dave!)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We ran the same 10k course that was used for the WDW 10k in January. I still don't like the course very much, though. The first 3 miles is all on roads looping around the perimeter of Epcot, and it's pretty boring. Though there were a couple more characters in that section this time. The coolest thing (literally) was seeing Elsa on an overpass - and it was snowing! She was talking to runners below - asking if we liked snow, and if we wanted to build a snowman - she was great!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

The first character stop was the White Rabbit about mile 1. Even though I had started at the front a lot of people had passed me and there was a long line so I went on, and not too much further were Pocahontas and Meeko, with a fairly short line.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Just after mile 3 where we went backstage into Epcot were the toy soldiers.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We ran into Epcot just between Norway and China. In January Daisy was there, but I think that created problems with line backing up onto the race course, and this time there were no characters until we got to Jiminy Cricket in Italy. Short line there, but long line for Tiana, Naveen, and Louis at the American Adventure so I passed them. They were just past the mile 4 sign.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Marie was in front of France, also with a short line. Another character stop in World Showcase would have been nice, but they did have three within a fairly short distance.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

The course exits Epcot at the International Gateway and loops clockwise around the Boardwalk area. Goofy was in front of ESPN Club, same as January, but also had a long line.

Just before we went backstage at Epcot again we saw the Genie and Lumiere puppets, which I had first seen at Disney California Adventure when World of Color opened.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We came back into Epcot by the Imagination Pavilion. Donald was in the breezeway - I was very surprised that there was no line! But we were less than 1/2 mile to the finish, so I guess people just wanted to get done?

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

Anna and Elsa were featured on the mile 6 sign. Only .2 left!

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I finished in a little over 1:04, including multiple photo stops, and I was VERY happy with that, especially given the heat and humidity. I really like the 10K distance. Since I don't have to wear a fuel belt I feel a lot lighter and more free.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I got my (Inaugural) 10k medal and my Glass Slipper Challenge wristband.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

I was very thankful for volunteers handing out bottles of water at the finish line - there had been three water stations on the course, but I'd lost a lot of water along the way. (In other words i was a hot, sweaty mess!)

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

We had the usual silly runDisney refreshment box. I did enjoy the Almond Roca and the chocolate covered blueberries, but it's not REAL food.

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge

For the most part I thought the 10k went very well. I wish it were a more interesting course, but at least they improved that first three miles a little bit by adding a couple of additional characters. Elsa and the snow were really fun.

Coming up - the Princess Half Marathon.

March 4, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

February 22-24, 2013, was the fifth annual Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. It featured the usual weekend events - the Expo on Friday and Saturday, the Royal Family 5K and Kids' Races on Saturday, and the half marathon on Sunday.

As they usually do on the 5-year marks, Disney rolled out a re-designed medal for this one. I had run the Inaugural event with my friend Pam, and I really wanted to do this one, too. I tried to talk Pam into running it with me, and she agreed on one condition: that Lee would run the race in a tutu. That actually was not very difficult - it was the only Disney half marathon/marathon medal that he didn't have, so he was already somewhat motivated to run it. And he's also run the Tinker Bell Half twice (another women's race) so he knows that the scenery is quite good for the male runners - this year it was a 15:1 female/male ratio. :-)

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

We had to make it a short trip, so we left home Thursday afternoon, and flew home Monday afternoon.

This year for some reason Disney moved the race Expo from Wide World of Sports to Coronado Springs. It's especially perplexing because this year there were a record number of participants - 23,000-26,000 for the half marathon (depending on which number you heard) and over 30,000 for all of the events. (There were less than 8,000 runners when we ran it the first year.) Because of this NO ONE attending the Expo was allowed to park at Coronado Springs - everyone had to be bused in from their resort hotel or Downtown Disney. We weren't able to get into Kidani Village on Thursday night, so for this reason I made a reservation at Coronado Springs instead - and was very happy that I did. It made things a lot easier on Friday morning.

The Expo opened at 9:00. We slept in, packed, had breakfast, and made it there a little before 10:00.

Packet pick-up was efficient - the lines were a little longer than usual, but not bad. But the bag and shirt pick-up was a disaster. They apparently didn't have enough bags pre-packed, so everyone was jammed into a relatively small area, shoulder-to-shoulder, waiting. Volunteers brought out bins of bags as fast as they could stuff them in the back, but weren't keeping up with the demand. We waited 25 minutes to get our bags/shirts, and by that time there was a line that snaked back almost to the packet pick-up area. They had at least gotten the shirt pick-up area unclogged enough so that once you picked up your shirt you could get out of the area.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This situation wasn't helped by the huge line to get into the Official Merchandise area, which was right next to the shirt pick-up. That line was over an hour to get through. Or so we were told, since we didn't stand in it (but I believe it!).

I didn't understand the issue with the bag pick-up and merchandise at all. It's not like Disney hasn't done this before, but for whatever reason, they were not prepared on Friday morning. They did get things under better control as the day went on.

I thought the Expo itself was much smaller, with fewer vendors than I've seen at other Disney Expos. The aisles were pretty crowded, though. We did a little bit of shopping, but it was a relief to get out of there.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Out in the hallways there were a couple of fun photo-ops - they had a castle display with two costumed and be-wigged footmen to pose with us. I asked which one was Gus and which was Jacques. The taller one claimed to be Jacques. :-) (I was surprised that they actually knew that those were the names of Cinderella's mice-turned-footmen.)

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

We didn't have to deal with the Expo buses that day, but we heard there were long waits at some of the resorts, and long waits at the Expo to return.

There are several hundred people who are "Perfect Princesses" - they have run all five races. When they picked up their bib numbers they also received a pink "Perfect Princess" sash and a sparkly tiara. Not all of them are women - we saw a few men proudly wearing their sashes during the weekend, too! Good for them.

We went back to the Expo on Saturday morning - Pam needed to pick up her registration and I wanted to try to get into the merchandise area. At Kidani Village we had no bus issues. Just a short wait and we were on our way on a bus with maybe 25 people on board. Pam was at All Star Sports where there was a much longer line, but they had buses available and loaded them as quickly as possible. At the Expo they had things better organized, but there were lines to get IN to the Expo for the first 40 minutes or so - we went to Pepper Market for breakfast, so we avoided that.

There was still a long line for shirt/bag pick-up, but it moved quickly. The line to get into the Merchandise area had been organized into a long winding queue. It was steadily moving so I got into that while Lee and Pam went shopping in the Expo. I was in line for maybe 20 minutes. Once inside I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't wall-to-wall people - I could move around easily. The store was not very big, though. Merchandise was quickly disappearing - I got the last small shirt in one style, though there were other designs that still had plenty of sizes available. Of course, who knows what had sold out the day before that I never even saw!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I thought there was a nice selection of shirts - if you were female. They had NOTHING for men, except a generic runDisney shirt. Now, I know this is a "women's race", but still...they couldn't do one design on a unisex shirt? After all, there are women who prefer unisex shirts, too.

I liked this year's race shirt - it was purple, short-sleeve, and a light-weight tech material. The race shirt WAS available in a unisex cut as well as the women's cut. I wish they would offer a women's cut for the race shirts in the other Disney events (the Tinker Bell Half already does this).

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Skipping ahead to Race Day...

Stitch called at 2:30 a.m. "Good morning, no sleeping!" Ain't that the truth...We had gone to Mara the evening before and purchased bagels and yogurt (and a banana for Lee) to eat so we dressed, ate, and left the room about 3:30. We decided to drive instead of taking the bus, since we thought we might be staying at Epcot after the race and that gave us more flexibility - as well as a place to leave our sweaty running clothes.

You never know what traffic is going to be like on race morning, but we were early enough that it was no problem, and we even got a parking space that was fairly close to the pre-race area. Pam didn't get up as early, and she was getting in the bus line at All Star Sports (which was quite long) about the time we arrived at Epcot. She made it in time though not until almost 5:00.

Lee was running the race in his wings and his blue tutu. He couldn't drive while wearing those so he pulled the tutu on and I helped him attach the wings after we arrived - lots of people who were walking by commented (favorably) on his attire. He already knew from his previous experiences at the Tinker Bell races that the ladies love the guys who get into the spirit of the thing and dress up. It's a great way to get lots of attention!

I was dressed as Cinderella - I bought a Cinderella costume and cut most of the skirt off, and wore it over a tank top and shorts. You'd think that would be fairly cool, but unfortunately, just like marathon weekend in January, it was unseasonably warm in Florida. 66 at 4:00 a.m. doesn't sound bad at all, but when you're running that's about 10 degrees warmer than you'd like. And it was quite humid - approaching 100%. I'd brought a throwaway shirt to wear for warmth but I left it in the car - didn't need it at all.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

A number of members of Team AllEars were running the Princess Half Marathon, and we met for a photo. Several of the guys had also dressed up - Eddie was wearing a hot pink skirt, pink wings, and hot pink arm and calf sleeves. His neon green running shoes kind of clashed, though. :-) Alex was dressed as Merida, with a long curly red wig and a green tunic - he also carried a small bow. Mike made his costume - Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph. He had the hoodie, striped leggings, skirt, and brown wig. Remember how I said it was unseasonably warm? He ran the entire race in his costume! I don't know how he did it.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

From the pre-race area it's about a half mile to the start corrals. In January for the half marathon this was a tortuous shuffle, but it wasn't bad this time. Like they did for the marathon Disney started sending runners out by corral about 90 minutes before the start, instead of everyone at once, and that seemed to really help.

Disney groups runners into corrals based on estimated finish time, with faster runners in the earlier corrals. They send the corrals off about 7 minutes apart to try to spread the runners out a little. For the Tinker Bell and Princess races they won't let a man start before Corral C, because they want to make sure that a woman wins the race. Pam and I were in Corral B, and the four guys, who were planning to run the race together, were in Corral C.

The race started at 5:30 with the wheelchair athletes, and five minutes later Corral A started. The Fairy Godmother was on-stage at the start with the race announcers - she said the magic words and counted down for each corral, and we all got a burst of fireworks, too.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Pam and I were near the back of Corral B. We crossed the start line about 9-1/2 minutes after the race started.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The first few miles of the WDW half marathon course can be quite frustrating because there are so many people and it gets crowded, especially because the course narrows down to one lane in places. Even with the staggered start it takes a long time for people to get spread out, and the bottlenecks at the one-lane sections don't help - they get us clumped together again. The half marathon in January was pretty bad in terms of crowding on the course, but I thought this one was better. I couldn't always run the pace I wanted, but at least I wasn't having to drop to almost a walk like I had to at times in January. I heard mixed opinions, though - about half the people on Team AllEars thought it was better than January and the other half thought it was worse.

On our way to Magic Kingdom the first three character photo-ops were Jack Sparrow and the pirates, a group of Disney heroes, and a collection of villains. The lines for all of those were VERY long - easily 10 minutes or more - so we didn't stop.

Just after mile 5 we arrived on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. The sky was starting to brighten, but we could still see the castle was nicely lit - it matched Pam's magenta wings. :-)

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There were lots of character photo ops in the Magic Kingdom, and some of them did not have very long lines so we stopped for several - Buzz Lightyear, Gaston, Belle, Tiana/Naveen/Louis. Gaston was SO into it - he was such a ham, and was making Gaston-esque comments to the ladies going by. It was funny to see how many saw who the line was for and then made a u-turn to get into line.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Just after we ran backstage next to Splash Mountain we saw Cinderella and Prince Charming posing next to the Castle float from the parade. The line was 25-30 deep, but I had to stop anyway. And Cinderella told me she liked my dress. :-)

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

After leaving Magic Kingdom the course goes down to one lane on Grand Floridian Way and was unpleasantly narrow and congested for about 1-1/2 miles until we came almost to the car care center (mile 8'ish). From then on it was ok. We stopped for photos with Mary Poppins, Bert, and the chimney sweeps, Lilo and Stitch, Genie, and Pocahontas along the way. At that point in the race the lines are usually pretty short because people just want to get finished and don't feel like stopping.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

At mile 9'ish were the heroes again - with a shorter line than there had been earlier. While we were in line I was looking back down the race course and I saw a familiar blue tutu and wings - the guys had finally caught up to us. They were having a blast, though with the heat they'd been taking walk breaks to try to cool off a little, which was one reason it had taken so long to catch us. And they'd also stopped for photos, been interviewed by runDisney, and had a number of ladies ask to have their photo taken with them. No question - they were quite a hit. We made them have their photo taken with us and the heroes - Aladdin, Li Shang, Flynn Rider, Prince Eric, and John Smith.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

They ran the rest of the race with us (which was nice of them since they could easily have finished ahead of us), and we had a great time. Sarge the Green Army Man was on the ramp near Epcot at mile 10, and Eddie and Lee (in their wings) dropped down and did push-ups. So funny.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In Future World we saw the same fairy-godmother-type person that I had seen at the end of the marathon - this time I've been told that her name is Ivanna Dream.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

And then it was on to the finish line! Pam and I finished in 3:03, the guys finished in 2:57. Not a fast time at all, but we stopped for quite a few photos, and we really had a wonderful time. We were all sweaty messes when we finished thanks to the warm and humid conditions - thank goodness it was overcast the whole time - that helped a lot.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

We got our lovely anniversary medals and wore them proudly. And picked up the silly runDisney pre-packed food box. Though this time I ate some of it after the race because I was hungry. It had a small (shelf-stable) tube of hummus, small bag of crackers, small bags of nut and fruit mix, a small energy bar and a small piece of chocolate. I still don't really like this trend, though it's easier to carry the box than to juggle the usual fruit and bagels. They also had bananas and small packages of gummy candies available, but this time they did not have small bags available for us to carry it in like they did in January.

While I had a lot of fun during the race, there's a few comments I'd like to make.

This was my 20th Disney race, but maybe my worst overall experience thanks to the Expo disaster. (The half marathon in January was my worst race experience.) The number of participants in the races keeps growing, but the course hasn't really changed. With that many people, there are far too many narrow sections to the course. It's not only not fun, but dangerous, especially when faster runners are trying to pass.

How many runners is too many? The prices of Disney races keep going up every year and so do the number of participants. But despite the price increase the races still sell out. I enjoyed the WDW races a lot more when there were more like 15,000-18,000 runners. 25,000+? I think that's too many.

I've already talked a lot about the Expo, but I'll say it again - I was shocked at how poorly they handled the crowd on Friday morning. They have plenty of previous experience with expos, and that was simply inexcusable. Particularly the bag issue.

Our experience with the buses was that were plenty of them, and they were loading and unloading as fast as they could. I did not hear of any problems on race morning where runners had long waits for buses to arrive at their resorts. Long lines to board, yes, but not huge gaps in bus availability.

The pre-race area in the Epcot parking lot was big enough, though there was a bottleneck getting into it. There was a red carpet with "stained glass" panels along the edge, each representing a different princess. Not surprisingly, those were popular for photos, and that slowed the entry into the area.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

There seemed to be enough porta-potties both in the pre-race area and the "runners only" waiting area next to it. There were lines, but they weren't that bad. There were NOT enough porta-potties near the corrals, and the lines were very long - they were blocking the path to the corrals.

There were eight start corrals, and really, if you're not in the first corral, you do not have much of a view of the race start. I think Disney does a very nice job of putting up large screens alongside all the corrals so that runners can see what's going on at the start line. It's also very nice for each corral to get their own start, complete with fireworks.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The course of it are great (running through Magic Kingdom and Epcot), and parts of it are too crowded: the single lane exit ramp from Epcot, the single lane from the TTC past the Contemporary, and the single lane from Magic Kingdom past the Grand Floridian. In a race with less than 15,000 runners that's not so bad, in a race with over 20,000 it's a problem.

The volunteers were terrific. There were plenty of volunteers on the race course at the water stations, medical tents, and Clif shot station, and plenty at the finish handing out medals, beverages, and food. Bag check and bag claim were also very efficient. Thank you volunteers - we love you!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

But despite everything, I would love to run this race again - but with fewer people. We really had a lot of fun with it. It has a great atmosphere, and I think most runners are there to have a good time and not to be competitive. Though I suppose that can be said of most of the Disney races. :-)

It's a women-focused race, but I have to give a shout-out to all you guys out there who came out to support the women in your lives - either by running with them, dressing in costume, or taking care of the kids so they could run. There were only about 1,500 of you in the race but you were a visible presence, and it was so much fun for me to watch you having so much fun. Thank you for your support and your sense of humor.

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About Princess Half Marathon

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Princess Half Marathon category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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