runDisney Wine & Dine Half 1/2 Marathon 2016

November 8, 2015

The runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2015 is one race I won’t soon forget. To give you some background, I ran this race the previous year with my oldest son and it was his first half marathon experience. Through the cold rain we splashed and dashed making it to the finish line together. Now since I like a good nightime race I decided to give this one another shot figuring the weather would have to be better the second time around right? Well, not exactly. Mother Nature had other plans it seems. The weekend was gorgeous, hot, sunny and humid, perfect shorts and t-shirt temps. The evening of the race as I arrived at the start area the winds picked up and clouds formed overhead. I thought, OK well it’s breezy but at least it’s not raining. A few minutes later I could feel some rain droplets, then came the lightening. Uh oh. The officials announced we were evacuating the start area due to the weather moving inside to the Wide World of Sports buildings nearby. The hour long wait was dampening my enthusiam for the race but I smiled upon hearing 15,000 runners cheer when they announced we could move out to the pre-race area for a delayed start.

As we got into the corrals we learned the course would be shortened which I actually didn’t mind since it was late and my legs were getting tired already. Although it would have been fun to run through Animal Kingdom in the dark again, I was really looking forward to finishing and going to the after party to eat! Sadly the course was really congested since there wasn’t much open road for spreading out. I took the opportunity to slow down and take some final pictures of the Osborne Lights. This really gave me my much needed second wind to fly through the rest of the course. I finished the 6.72 miles in fine form, feeling great. The 10K is my favorite race distance and I’d love to see a future runDisney 10K night race with an after party. Now that would be epic!

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Disney Park Moms Panel Search 2016

Well it’s that time of the year, summer is drawing to a close and kids are back in school. If you’re a Disney vacation planning guru like me then it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Disney Parks Moms Panel search is on for 2016. If you love planning Disney vacations and enjoy using your written communication skills to help others you may be just who the panel is looking for.

Visit www.momspanelsearch.com between September 8-15 to apply. Applications are being accepted for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line and runDisney panelists.

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4 tips for planning your Walt Disney World trip

4 tips for planning a Walt Disney World vacation

Image credit: Disney Parks

1. When to go

I find almost any time is a great time to visit Walt Disney World because a day at the parks is better than a day at home. There are some typically less crowded times of the year that I recommend for first time visitors. January and late August for instance are usually less busy since they follow the peak holiday and summer seasons, and as an added bonus hotel deals can be found.

For teachers or parents of school-aged children your vacation schedule may likely include summer and winter breaks. Park hours are often extended at these times due to higher crowd levels and with some planning you can get more fun out of these longer days.

The holiday season is also a very popular time to visit, and this is reflected in the peak accommodations pricing. Be sure to plan ahead to make the most of this magical time, and take in many of the special events offered.

2. Where to stay

In deciding where to stay the two major factors will likely be your family size and budget. My family loves staying on Disney property, the convenient transportation, Extra Magic Hours and total immersion in the magic make our Disney experience memorable. The average room capacity is 4 with accommodations ranging from value to deluxe at the Disney resorts, also one child under 3 in a crib is allowed in addition to the room occupancy limit.

For a party of five, look into one of the following options:

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside – Alligator Bayou rooms have a small pull down Murphy bed.
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort have newly renovated rooms adding a small pull down Murphy bed.
  • Most deluxe resorts (except Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) have a pull out couch for a 5th person.

For a party of six:

  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins sleep 6 and have a full kitchen.
  • Disney’s All-Stars Music and Disney’s Art of Animation each have Family suites that sleep 6 with a separate bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette.

For the comforts of home, check out the 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas in the DVC –Disney Vacation Club properties. Villas come equipped with full kitchens, living rooms and washer dryer.

There are countless offsite accomodations in the Orlando area ranging from basic rooms to rental homes with various amenities and price points to suit every budget and family size. You may need to consider a rental car if you’re not driving to Florida since the transportation to the parks is often limited when offered.

3. How long to stay

With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and many shopping and entertainment options deciding how long to stay is not always easy. With so much to see and do, it helps to focus on the main areas you want to see. I would hesitate trying to visit all 4 parks in one day. They are quite spread out and much of the day would be spent travelling between parks. Ideally, plan on spending a day at each park to take in most of the attractions and shows. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom can be shortened to a half-day each if you have less time. My family finds one week is perfect for visiting our favorite parks more than once, shopping and enjoying some downtime at the resorts. After all, it is a vacation.

4. What to do

You’ll find each park offers a wide variety of rides and shows to please everyone in your family. When planning your day, have each person choose their top ‘must do’ attractions and use FastPass+ for those selections when possible. If you’re looking for something special, there are several guided tours that offer a glimpse into the backstage magic. Food lovers will find a wide variety of dining options including character meals and dinner shows.

Beyond the theme parks, golfers can spend some time on the greens with 5 courses and 2 mini golf courses to choose from. Water lovers can make a splash at Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, rent boats at the marinas or just take it easy fishing at the lakes. Shopping for the perfect souvenir is simple with the many stores in each park and the huge selection of merchandise available at Downtown Disney.

Have more questions about your Walt Disney World vacation? Post your question in the comment below, I’ll be glad to help. Also, check out the Disney Parks Moms Panel for great planning advice.

Disney Parks Moms Panel

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Day 5 – Walt Disney World with Breakfast Television and WestJet

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Our last day at the parks started with a 5:30 am meeting in the resort lobby to board the coach to Epcot for the live broadcast of Breakfast Television. It was pretty neat entering the empty park in the early morning darkness to watch the sunrise. Spaceship Earth was looking awesome!

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We walked to the World Showcase Plaza where the stage was set for the show. It was amazing to witness all the work that goes into a live production. The broadcast ran till 10 am with frequent breaks while they threw to commercials and the studio in Toronto. We kept up our energy with a yummy breakfast, fun DJ and visits with Disney characters between sets.

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Day 4 – Walt Disney World with Breakfast Television and WestJet

Day 4: Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach and private Safari

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Our sunny morning started with breakfast at The Mara before a quick ride to the Animal Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours. After Dad conquered Expedition Everest we rode Triceratops Spin five times in a row without leaving and the boys loved this. There was hardly anyone around Dinoland USA during that early hour so something to consider if your little one loves those Dumbo style rides. Next Alex encountered Dinosaur and while he says he enjoyed it he wasn’t ready to ride it again. I think all the darkness and noisy roars may have been too overwhelming for a 4 year old. It was getting hot so we visited Flik and friends at the It’s a Bugs Life show and enjoyed the air conditioning. Our last run was the Kali River Rapids which Alex loved, so many great first experiences for him during this trip. 
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Day 3 – Walt Disney World with Breakfast Television and WestJet

Day 3: Jedi training and IllumiNations Dessert Party
We got a head start on the day by taking advantage of the Extra Magic Hour offered to resort Guests this morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Our first stop was signing up Alex for Jedi Training Academy and we chose an 11:00 AM show. With that taken care of Alex and Daddy rode Star Tours together for the first time. As you may guess, Toy Story Midway Mania was our next stop but sadly there was an emergency evacuation just as we approached the loading area. The exit went quickly and we enjoyed sharing some Mickey Bars before the Disney Junior Live on Stage show which the boys loved. I think the bubbles and gold doubloons were their favourite parts. I liked that there was a bathroom on the right side of the building, so convenient when the littles just gotta go. I was hoping my Big Hero 6 fan would get to meet Hero and Baymax but the queue was just too long for my preschoolers to manage so we went outside and played in the sunshine instead. At 10:30 AM Alex and I made our way towards the Jedi Training Academy to get ready for the show while Daddy and Chris got a spot to watch near the stage. The force was strong and so was the sun, it was a scorcher. It was so cute watching all the young Padawans battling Darth Vader on stage. Alex received his certificate and we headed back to the resort for some lunch, nap time and a swim in the pool.

 

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After our splashtastic fun we got ready and headed to Epcot for our Harvest Feast with Chip and Dale at the Garden Grill. This delicious character meal is served family style which means no buffet lines and is our family tradition we look forward to. With our bellies full we all rode the Living with the Land and Finding Nemo. Alex took his first spin on Test Track while Chris and I hung out at one of the cool Flower & Garden festival play grounds. I wish they had these year round at Epcot because they give kids a place to burn off some energy safely away from the crowds while the parents can sit and relax. We had two group events on the itinerary this evening. Jon Secada was performing at the Garden Rocks theatre and I really wanted to see this show but the kids weren’t into it and the WorldShowcase was so jammed it took forever navigating the thick crowds with a double stroller. Luckily we made it just in time to the IllumiNations Dessert Party and enjoyed some Mickey Bars before the spectacular show, what a way to cap off an exciting fun filled day!

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