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Tower of Terror 13K Archives

November 2, 2008

2008 Tower of Terror 13K Race

As some of you might remember, Lee and I ran the inaugural Tower of Terror 13K last year, and were less than impressed with it. Just not very "Disneyish" by our standards.

This year, since we were going to be there at race time, we decided to run it again (I say "we", but it was Lee's idea!). And I have to say that they made a number of improvements and changes this year, and we enjoyed it much more than last year.

Package pickup was held in the brightly-lit rooms of the Coronado Springs Convention
Center, rather than in the much smaller, and quite dark, Pleasure Island Club like last year. It was very well-organized, with lots of helpful volunteers to point you in the right direction if you couldn't figure things out. I *did* think it was odd to have the pickup there rather than in the Boardwalk, which was one of the event's "official" hotels. Disney provided bus service to Coronado Springs from the official hotels, though we had our own car and didn't use that. (This year there were three Disney hotels where Disney provided transportation to/from the race - unlike last year where runners were told they had to provide their own transportation, which greatly contributed to the traffic problems before the race.)

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While we were at pickup we spoke for a while to a man who is very involved with staging the race. He told us that they had addressed a number of guest comments/complaints this year, like transportation problems and lack of entertainment.

We relaxed that afternoon and picked up a couple of sandwiches at the Boardwalk Bakery that we could eat as an early dinner. We finally left the room about 9:00 (the race started at 10:00), since all we had to do was walk over to the race area from the Boardwalk - no bus or car transportation required!

They had a lot more theming in the pre-race area this year - to enter the area you went through this tent-covered red carpet entry. That was fun.

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There were several large "Guest Register" signs set up where you could sign your name.

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They were giving out some kind of "room key", but we didn't arrive in time to get that - I'm not sure what it was. If anyone out there knows, please let me know!

Another fun thing they had were temporary tattoos of the race logo. I got one on my arm. It's actually held up very well - as I'm writing this it is the following Friday (the race was Saturday) and it still looks good and hasn't peeled off at all. (I had co-workers looking strangely at my arm when I got back to work yesterday, though - you could just see a little bit of the tattoo under my short-sleeved shirt. I was happy to show it off, though. :-) )

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The bag check area was called "Luggage Services". This year Disney Security was actually checking all of the bags that were being checked - something they did not do last year. I think people probably brought alcohol in to the party last year and they were looking for that.

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There was a DJ dressed as a bellhop that was providing entertainment in the pre-race area.

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There was no 6.5K this year - just the 13K, so there were fewer people in the starting area. The race had ~3500 entrants, with 2725 finishers. There were no start corrals, and we were supposed to line up according to pace at the signs provided, but unless you got there early you couldn't actually get to any of the faster paces. We were stuck out by the 15 minute/mile pace group, even though we run a 10-11 minute/mile pace.

Like last year, the starting line entertainment was a couple of bellhops, but even with the big screen we could barely see them, much less hear them. The music was a LOT better this year - last year it was pretty harsh stuff. I couldn't tell you what it was they played this year, but it was better! :-)

The weather conditions were also a huge improvement over last year - the temperature was about 70-72, but there was a bit of a breeze and the humidity was way lower than last year - I think last year it had to be close to 100%, but I'm guessing it was in the 60-70% range this time. Still warmer and more humid than I like it, but at least this year it didn't feel like I was trying to breathe underwater!

There were no race delays this year, and the race started right on time. As usual, we spent the first couple of miles dodging around walkers and slower-paced runners, but after that the congestion eased up.

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Like last year, part of the course was on a dirt road (which we found out was part of the cross-country trail at Wide World of Sports), but unlike last year it was well-lit and dry. They had obviously dumped some gravel/dirt on it recently and that helped with the footing. They also abandoned the "insane asylum escapees" portion that they had there last year. Though they had some other surprises, like these scary-looking "twins" near Mile 3 in the Wide World of Sports complex.

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We got to take most of a lap on the cushy running track, where there were unseen spectators (spectral spectators?) in the stands cheering as we ran by.

There were three water stations - approximately Mile 2, Mile 4, and Mile 6. All were well-staffed with plenty of volunteers.

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We were on a boring section of road after coming out of the Wide World of Sports complex between miles four and five, when we came upon the Disney characters. And even better, Disney Villains!!!! This was one of my main complaints last year, so I was really happy to see that someone had gotten that message!

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In addition to the characters, there was other entertainment along the course - a couple of bellhop DJs, go-go dancers, plus Dr. Bones. :-)

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The course was basically the same as last year, so we came back into the Studios at about mile 6.5 and went down Hollywood Boulevard and onto the Streets of America, then back into the Lights, Motors, Action stage, where they had the camera on us so we could see ourselves on the big screen. From there we were on part of the Backlot Tour route, including the section that goes through the costuming "tunnel" - whew, it was really hot and smelled like diesel fumes in there! We were both getting pretty tired and having to push it in this last mile, but we made it down Sunset Boulevard and back behind the Tower of Terror and then on to the finish. We bested last year's time by two minutes - finished in 1:27:27 this year, despite the stop for character photos. We were both glad it was over, though!

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The finish area didn't seem to be quite a congested this year - or maybe it's because there were fewer people (since there was no 6.5K this year). After we got the timing chips cut off our shoes, got our Tower of Terror medals, and got our photo taken, they gave us bottles of PowerAde and water, plus a Halloween-themed cellophane bag containing a banana, an orange slice, a couple of hard candies, and a blueberry muffin.

We claimed our bags and had something to eat. Like last year, this post-race area was backstage behind Rock'n'Roller Coaster, but this year it wasn't such a struggle to get out of there. We'd brought clean clothes to change into, and that felt pretty good. The temperature outside was still quite pleasant for t-shirt and shorts.

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There were a number of attractions open at the Studios during the post-race party, but the only one we really cared about was Toy Story Mania! We had less than 10 minutes to wait the first time, and immediately got in line again, and waited ~15 minutes the second time. After two rides in fairly short order our right arms were really tired (rapidly pulling the string on the gun apparently uses muscles we don't normally use!) and the line was even longer, so we decided to head back to the hotel. It was about 12:45 by then. The post-race party at the Sorcerer's Hat had already wound down, even though the park was open until 2 a.m. They had posted the results there, but we knew we could check them on-line the next morning, so we didn't bother taking a look.

It was kind of a long walk back to the Boardwalk - our legs were pretty tired!

Overall this was a much better experience than last year - much more enjoyable. I appreciated the thought they put into adding some activities and interest to the pre-race area. And I know people enjoyed the tattoos - I saw them on legs, faces, arms, and even on the back of a bald guy's head!

Loved, loved having the villains on the course! That was a very unexpected surprise, and SO appropriate for the theme of the race. The three lady face characters (Evil Queen, Cruella, and Maleficent) were all appropriately haughty and snarly and pleasantly unpleasant. One thing that *was* missing was a Disney Cast Member to take photos, so we don't have any of the two of us with the characters.

Being able to ride Toy Story Mania during the post-race party was a lot of fun, though the lines were longer than I would have liked - probably means they were correspondingly shorter at Rock'n'Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, which we didn't ride during the party.

I would've liked them to do a better job separating the runners from the walkers - the pace group idea didn't work. I thought that last year they asked walkers to stay near the back for the start, but if they did that this year I couldn't hear it - and obviously lots of walkers didn't hear it, either.

Disney made a lot of improvements in the race this year and I think it was a much better event - it had more of the "Disney touch" that was missing last year. And I want to say a huge thank you to the tremendous volunteers - so many came out to hand out water, point us in the right direction, cheer us on, hand out food or medals, cut timing chips off shoes, and a whole myriad of other tasks that were required to make it safe and fun for the participants. Thanks to all of you!

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October 26, 2008

WDW Food and Wine Festival Week - Day 4

Day 4

(I won't be including all of the events of today because the major event is the Tower of Terror 13K, and that's not until tonight - and I can guarantee I won't be blogging about it right after I get back to the room - the stops will be shower and bed - in that order!)

We all agreed last night that we were going to sleep in this morning and get up whenever. So it was quite a leisurely morning - we finally got out of here about 10:30 and went to Coronado Springs, where Lee and I needed to pick up our registration packets for the 13K.

First we had breakfast at the Pepper Market, though. It was almost 10:45 when we arrived and there was a short line to get in, and they stopped serving breakfast at 11:00. So they were trying to finish up breakfast while they were trying to set up for lunch - it was kind of a mess. And there were quite a few other people who were also breakfasting late!

Pepper Market is kind of a food court idea, with different stations serving different foods. Only instead of paying as you exit out towards the seating area, instead you pay as you exit the seating area after you've eaten. To do that they give each party a ticket, and at each station they stamp your ticket to show what you got. Of course a problem with this is when you want to get things from different stations, but you only have the one ticket - we ran into that.

It's an interesting concept...but I don't think it works very well. The permanent signage is all for their regular lunch/dinner menu, and even though they gave us a menu which showed which stations had which breakfast items, we didn't have that with us when we actually went to get food. They had breakfast signs for some items, but not for others. We were milling around trying to figure it out, and so were a lot of other people. Since it was late, they had run out of some breakfast items (like bacon) and had shut down others (like eggs cooked to order). And as I mentioned earlier, they were trying to switch over from breakfast to lunch, and that made things even more chaotic. Though the breakfast/lunch thing worked out well for Jim - instead of breakfast food he was able to order Kung Pao Shrimp! It looked very good - very nicely cooked and presented.

Another thing they do that I don't like is they tack a 10% gratuity onto your bill, even though YOU are the ones doing all the work getting your food - the servers simply take and serve your drink orders. (Though ours had to work a little harder because I spilled a puddle of syrup on the table - she was very nice about it, though.)

As for the breakfast...it was ok, but I was surprised at how expensive it was - we paid more for breakfast this morning than we did for our table service breakfast at Spoodles on Thursday - AND the food was better at Spoodles. AND we got a 20% discount there with the Disney Dining Experience card - or "Tables in Wonderland" as I understand it is now called. (When we were at Spoodles with Paul and Ilene the other morning, Paul, in his very best announcer voice, called it "Tables in WONderland" and I still crack up when I think about that.)

The packet pickup for the race was just down the hall from the restaurant in the convention center - it was a much nicer set-up than they had for it last year when it was at one of the clubs at Pleasure Island. They had plenty of very nice volunteers to help - it really wasn't very busy at all. We spoke to a man who is involved in staging the race, and he said they took at least some of last year's guest comments into consideration this year - though apparently adding character presence to the race wasn't one of them. :-( So sounds like it'll still be a rather boring race. Oh well.

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(Does the carpeting in the Coronado Springs convention center area mess with any one else's eyes like it does mine? That small reddish-orange pattern starts moving if I look at it very long...)

After that we were off to Animal Kingdom - we were planning a short day since we (or I) wanted to rest up this afternoon and NOT be on my feet all day, and we wanted to show Jim and Sherry something different. They had never been to Animal Kingdom before since it wasn't built when they were last here in 1990.

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A Festival of the Lion King show was due to start in about 15 minutes so we went there. Had no problems getting a seat, though the theater was well over 3/4 full. I hadn't seen that in a while, and had forgotten how good it is. The Tumble Monkeys are still my favorites, though Lee and I both thought that the pair of "bird" dancers were the best we'd ever seen. (The guy is the same one we've seen for years, but his partner was either better or they worked better together.)

It had turned into a beautiful sunny day, but had really started to warm up a little too much for my comfort. We wandered around a bit in the shade of the Tree of Life to show Jim and Sherry some of the animals on the tree and some of the (real) animals that live around it.

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Over in Asia we walked the Maharajah Jungle Trek - there were quite a few more people than we usually see, but not too many animals, though we did see three sleeping tigers. And we learned a lot about bats from the CM at the bat exhibit - like the fact that bats have no ankles so they can't stand up. So if they fall on the ground they are quite helpless - they can't just stand up and fly away. Instead they have to use their "elbows" to crawl on the ground until they get to something they can climb up to reach a height where they can fly away.

The park seemed fairly crowded to me - lots of congestion on the walkways and standby for Everest was 50 minutes. We went to Everest and asked for our friend Kenny who works there - he hadn't expected to see us there until tomorrow. :-) We had a short visit with him (he WAS working, after all!) and then took a ride on Everest - Jim and Sherry really enjoyed it. I'd warned Sherry in advance that the backwards-in-the-dark thing really messes with your head, and you think you're going upside-down even when you're not. Unfortunately the Yeti wasn't working - we only saw him with the strobe light effect. :-(

We got some ice cream at Anandapur Ice Cream - I'd told Sherry that I thought it was the best soft-serve in the parks. She thought it was very good. Unfortunately because it was so hot it was melting really fast - I didn't get a chance to eat it slowly and savor it as I like to do. And though I was careful I still got a drip on my (black) shorts - though at least the chocolate ice cream missed the white t-shirt! (Lee had a root beer float, so he didn't have the same drip problems.)

We exited the park the long way, going past Dinoland, because we wanted to show Jim and Sherry most of the park (haven't gotten to Africa yet, though!) And now we're back in the room resting up for tonight.

Jim and Sherry are planning to have dinner at the Brown Derby at the Studios. Lee and I are eating light - we picked up a couple of sandwiches at the Boardwalk Bakery (the multi-grain bread they use in the sandwiches is excellent!) and had part of those, and will have a little more later.

Ack! We're not going to get to Epcot at all today!!! We are waaay down on our Eating Around the World quotient for the week...this is day 4 and we've only done it once!

Added Sunday morning: We finished the Tower of Terror 13K in 1:27:27. I was hoping to finish in less than 90 minutes, so that was good. Weather was MUCH better than last year, and not so humid or warm, though still warmer than I like. And there were characters!!! Between miles 4 and 5 we had lots of villains - Frollo and the Evil Queen, Maleficent and Cruella, Smee, and Captain Hook. That was fun! There was a little more entertainment along the way - it was definitely an improvement over last year. We're glad it's over, though. :-)

October 13, 2008

Tower of Terror 13K: Two Weeks Away!

As I mentioned a while back, Lee and I will be running the Tower of Terror 13K at Walt Disney World on our upcoming trip - and the race is just two weeks away!

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While we have both been doing some running, I haven't run more than 6 miles since the ToT 13K *last* year. So Lee and I went out and ran 8 miles around Mission Bay this morning.

It was just about as opposite the ToT run as can be:

1. It was daytime.
2. It was early in the morning.
3. The temperature was in the low 60s.
4. The humidity was under 30%.
5. There was a strong, cooling breeze.

But it WAS mostly flat, and we DID do 8 miles. :-)

All things considered we were quite pleased with our time (1:22), so hopefully that will carry over to the *real* race in two weeks. My main goal is to finish the race in around 1:30 and then go ride Toy Story Mania over and over at the party afterwards! :-)

Are any of you going to be joining us?

July 28, 2008

Tower of Terror 13K

Walt Disney World is again holding the Tower of Terror 13K race in October this year. Lee and I ran the first one last year, and, well, we were less than impressed. As I wrote in my blog entry, it was a fine race, just not "Disney" at all, and not what we were expecting. So we were disappointed.

But....it turns out we are going to be at WDW this year on October 25 when the race is being held again, and so, gluttons for punishment that we are, we have signed up for this year's race, also. (And signing up for the race also SAVES us from being gluttons at that night's Party for the Senses! :-) )

A few things I noticed about this year's race that are a little bit different...

  • There's no 6.5K this year - only one race, the 13K.
  • The price has increased significantly - $85 this year as opposed to $65 last year.
  • The start time of the race has been pushed back to 10:00 instead of 9:30 - last year the start of the race was delayed until almost 10:00 anyway because they couldn't get the roads clear in time.
  • This year they ARE providing Disney transportation from selected Disney resorts (All Star Sports, Caribbean Beach, and Boardwalk Inn). Last year there was no bus transportation available, and runners were on their own to get themselves to/from the Studios. Not a problem for us, since we walked over from the Boardwalk Villas, but I heard from people who stayed in other Disney hotels and drove over themselves, and they said the traffic was horrible.
  • Last year packet pickup was at one of the clubs at Pleasure Island, but since of course that's closing at the end of September that won't work, and this year it is at Coronado Springs. I would have thought it would be better to have it at one of the event's hotels, (and the Boardwalk has convention space) but no one asked me.
  • There's no mention in any of the race literature about any kind of spooky surprises, so I'm thinking that there will be even fewer Disney touches this year than there were last year, unfortunately.

I'm not really holding out a lot of hope that the event this year will be much of an improvement over last year, but we're going to at least give it another try. Of course that means we need to start running a little more than just 3-4 miles. But hey, it's only the end of July - we still have three months to train! :-)

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About Tower of Terror 13K

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Tower of Terror 13K category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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