EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Last week, Amanda and I visited Walt Disney World to wander around at EPCOT’S International Flower and Garden Festival. This yearly festival runs from March 1st until May 29th, and has food, fun, and of course…flowers!

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A few years ago, the festival introduced “outdoor kitchens” taking advantage of the popularity of vacationers loving to try snack sized portions of food, which is a genius idea. There are 15 kitchens spread around the world showcase, two of them being newcomers this spring for the 24th year of the festival. You can use snack credits for many items as part of the Disney dining plan, and you can even pre purchase an adorable gift card that can be used as you eat around the world.

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Don’t forget about the Garden Rocks concert series. These mini concerts will get you movin’ and shakin’ along with the music at the America Gardens Theatre. You can check out the full concert lineup here, as well as information on dining packages.

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There are also tons of adorable topiaries, exhibits, and gardens to see during your visit to EPCOT. With 13 topiaries sprinkled around the park, you are bound to get a few great photos with some of your favorite Disney characters in plant and flower form.

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A favorite of mine were the kid play areas. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees these when we go back in April.

Be sure you don’t miss the bonsai and butterfly exhibits either, they are great for learning and teaching your kids, as well as just plain cool.

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The festival center also has special weekend events for you to check out, and you can also sign up for special tours and events going on during this time, like the like the Royal tea garden tour. It looks super fun! Of course there is also tons of fun merchandise to purchase as well to commemorate this special occasion. You can find several booths selling everything from t-shirts to  mugs to garden essentials.

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Spring time is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, so be sure when you do, that you block off plenty of time to spend in beautiful EPCOT at the International Flower and Garden Festival.

QOTD: Have you ever visited Walt Disney World during this time? What is your favorite thing about the festival?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Disney Days at Princess Half Weekend

I’ve already recapped the runDisney expo as well as the 10k and half marathon, but not what Jen and I did on the other days we were in Walt Disney World.

Jen picked me up from the airport Friday and we went to the expo before checking into Hilton Bonnet Creek.

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Check out the gorgeous view from our room.

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We ate dinner at the hotel, and called it an early night.

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The next day was the 10k, and after the race we went to Celebration and had Chick-fil-A biscuits, and then headed back to the resort to shower and change before going BACK to EPCOT. We headed straight for Via Napoli, craving some pizza for lunch.

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It was a gorgeous day and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere. We may or may not have eaten that entire thing, plus we both had appetizers.

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Wasn’t I just here?

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We walked around world showcase and went to Test Track, the Nemo ride, and Spaceship earth.

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But not before getting some much needed caffeine. We were both delirious! I forgot which direction Spaceship Earth was when we came out of Starbucks. That’s when you KNOW I’m tired!

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Can’t you tell we need sleep?

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We went back to the resort and sat outside by the pool and had dinner at a restaurant called Beech. The temperature was perfect, and the food was really good.

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The day had been very peaceful and relaxing, and we only had one race to go!

The next day we ran the half marathon, then came back to the room, packed up and loaded up the car. Then we headed downstairs to our amazing pool cabana, compliments of the resort, so sweet!

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These cabanas can be rented for a full day for $300 and include lounge chairs, a sofa, television, refrigerator with snacks and drinks, a safe, and a button to press to call over a server if you need food and drinks.

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We spent all afternoon napping, eating, and relaxing at the pool. It was glorious, and an amazing special treat after all the running we had just done!

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By late afternoon it was sadly time to go, so we drove over to our home for the next two nights, Port Orleans Riverside. We got SUPER lucky and have a room in a building very close to the food court. However, that night we had dinner plans at California Grill! Let’s just say I’m so glad I packed my flats, my feet were hurtin’!

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After dinner we were craving something sweet so we walked to the food court and I got a Mickey ice cream sandwich. It hit the spot!

The next morning we ate breakfast in the food court before driving over to the Magic Kingdom. I HAD to get a Mickey Waffle, of course.

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it was more crowded than I expected for a Monday, but there was nothing we “had” to do so it was ok.

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First stop, Starbucks!

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We rode Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, Big Thunder Mountain, the people mover, and I think that’s pretty much it! We had lunch at Cosmic Ray’s, and then just walked around a bit.

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It was starting to get pretty warm and more crowded, so we went to the candy store then said farewell and took the monorail to the Polynesian for an afternoon treat.

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We again enjoyed sitting outside eating our treats (notice a theme of all the JUNK FOOD I ate on this trip?!?) and I was happy to get my Dole whip float.

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We got back to the resort and changed clothes before hopping a boat to Disney Springs. We had dinner at Earl of Sandwich, and for dessert, you guessed it…more ice cream!

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We hit up some of the shops, then decided to take the boat back to the resort. When we were about to head back, I realized New Orleans was going to be having severe weather when I was flying into the airport the next day…as in the schools were closing and they were telling people to stay home! I searched several weather sites, talked to my parents about what the local news was saying, and called Southwest trying to change my flight to an earlier one to beat the weather. They said there was no severe weather (HAHA) and it would be $175 for the new flight. Guess I was taking my chances with the weather, but I was super nervous. (you can see what happened here.)

The next morning was sad. Jen left around 6:30 and I had an hour to wait until the saddest bus ever came to pick me up. I was also super nervous about my flight with the weather. I did not want to be stuck in the Orlando airport all day or be on a flight that couldn’t land, I just wanted to snap my fingers and be home. I sat outside on a rocking chair trying to soak up every last bit of “Disney” that I could before I had to go back to reality. Always such a sad day.

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It was definitely a whirlwind trip but it was also a lot of fun, and I am glad we were able to make it happen last minute. I sadly have zero Disney trips on my calendar right now “officially”, but am hoping to take Emma Kate in the late fall. I just can’t with the heat haha.

QOTD: What “must do” rides are your favorite in WDW?

runDisney Enchanted 10K 2016

The first part of the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge is completing the Enchanted 10k on Saturday morning.

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The alarm went off at 3:00, and we grabbed coffee and food, got dressed and drove to the race start. We were shocked at how little traffic there was, and made it there in plenty of time. Since you don’t have to walk a mile to your corral, we hung out, met up with some friends, etc. Jen was racing this one alone, so we said our goodbyes and I wished her luck as she headed towards her corral.

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I was going to be pacing my friend Darrell, who had never run a 10k before. I have never been a pacer for anyone, and I had SO much fun. He said his goal was to not stop, be conservative in the beginning, but not leave anything left in the tank at the end. Got it.

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We ended up in our corral for about 45 minutes before we got going, and it was cold. When it was finally our turn, we made our way up to the starting line. Finally time to get going, and hopefully get warm when our blood got flowing!

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Very early on we saw Anna and Elsa and it was snowing! Disney magic is pretty cool, right?

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We talked and talked and miles one, two, and three flew by and I finally warmed up. Darrell couldn’t believe we were already halfway done when we crossed the 5k timing mat. We were keeping a steady pace, faster than he thought he could maintain, but still conservative enough that we could chat.

As it got lighter outside, we made our way to the bask stage area of EPCOT, and were about to get to my favorite part of the course.

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I love that they light the flames on the torches for the race, it’s such a nice touch. The sun was just coming up, and the lagoon looked beautiful. When we got halfway around, I told Darrell to keep running and that I would catch up, and that I had to take a selfie with Spaceship Earth.

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We made it around to the other side, and I snapped a shot of the water and sky before turning towards the boardwalk.

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That’s when I noticed the crazy long character photo line! Guys, this isn’t even the whole line. I couldn’t back up enough to get it all in the photo!

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We went up the small hill towards the boardwalk and had another pretty lake to run around! We hit mile four and then five, and only had just over a mile to go!

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When we got back into EPCOT with just over a half mile left, I told Darrell it was time to pick up the pace, that now is the time to give it all you had because we were ALMOST DONE! We pick up the pace and made the final turn towards the finish line.

I have run so many races now that I sometimes forget what it feels like to cross the line after completing a distance for the first time, especially at a place like Walt Disney World. Darrell’s runners high was contagious, and I told him it was time to start training for a half marathon…and I would of course pace him.

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I SO enjoyed pacing and encouraging my running partner along the way, and hope that I have the opportunity to do it again sometime. We finished in 1:17, and Darrell definitely could have run faster in my opinion! Next time maybe?

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Jen had a great race as well and said she had a lot of fun. Big win for all!

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The only downsides to the race for me were people holding hands 3-4 people across blocking the course, people lying about proof of time and being in the wrong corral, (the gun went off and people started walking right out of the gate, and we were not in the last corral), and having to wait in the corrals for so long to start. I understand why they do it, to spread people out, but it’s still pretty boring (and cold!)

One race down, one to go to complete the Glass Slipper Challenge. In 24 hours I would have two shiny new medals to add to my collection.

QOTD: Have you ever paced someone? Did you enjoy it?

Birthday Bash Day 3

Even though we didn’t get to bed until well after midnight after the Halloween party, there was no rest for the weary, because Debbie had to leave that next afternoon and we had to see as much of EPCOT as possible in a few short hours. We ate breakfast and walked over to the transportation and ticket center where we hopped on the monorail to EPCOT.

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We had fastpasses for Spaceship Earth and Soarin’, and at 11:00 we headed to the World Showcase for lunch.

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We ran into this lady on the way and she had a very short line so we jumped in for a photo opp. I told her all about how I wore her yellow dress with lights in it to the Halloween party, and she didn’t seem all that impressed. I must have not explained the lights and the tutus correctly, because clearly it was an awesome costume.

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By the way, anyone else think her eyebrows are a bit much? Something just didn’t look right? (In my own little world I am convinced I would play the best Belle, so maybe that’s why.) We hit up a couple of food booths and headed back towards France because I really wanted my favorite drink and they don’t open until noon.

Hello Grand Marnier Slush, we meet again.

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I didn’t eat lunch with the others because I had plans with this fellow. Haven’t seen him since February and it was great to catch up!

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My mom and Debbie had already headed back to the resort to catch Debbie’s magical express bus, and judging by the time I figured I could make it back to see her off, so I hustled to the monorail and made it back to the Polynesian just in time to say farewell.

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Now it was just me and mom for a day and a half. Mom wanted to organize her things and shower before our dinner at Citrico’s, so I spent some time with another favorite family of mine at the pool.

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After catching up, I got ready for dinner and mom and I hopped on the monorail once again. No way she looks 60, right? (This hopefully means I won’t look 60 when I am 60!)

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Dinner was just “ok”. We have ebbs and flows with Disney signature restaurants, and there were a lot of screaming small children running circles around the tables this time around. (Note this is a white tablecloth restaurant, we were just a little surprised at the Chef Mickey’s level of chaos.)

It was here that I told my mom I had another SURPRISE for her after dinner, but we weren’t leaving until 8:30. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling great and was SO tired, and kind of wishing I HADN’T planned said surprise, but I would later end up being SO GLAD I didn’t bail because it was one of the highlights of the trip, and it deserves it’s own blog post!

QOTD: Favorite food and wine festival food? Favorite signature restaurant in WDW? Favorite menu item at a fancy restaurant?

Disney Girls Trip: Part 4

On Monday, our last full day in Walt Disney World, we got up and headed to the Magic Kingdom, my favorite! We again had beautiful weather, and I was excited to see some of the new areas of the hub were finished. I love the way it turned out!

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Of course, we had to properly caffeinate before we started the day.

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We had a fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion, and we also rode the people mover and Pirates of the Caribbean.

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We had lunch reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern, and we hit up the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before heading out of the park.

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Oh, after lunch I also had a dole whip float. However, I was very disappointed to find out you can no longer get the vanilla soft serve with the pineapple juice, only pineapple ice cream. They said the vanilla soft serve was “not popular enough”, but based on everyone’s sad messages on my instagram photo, I do not believe this is true at all. The good news is you can apparently still get the vanilla ice cream at the Polynesian.

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We got back to the resort mid afternoon so Jen could do some work, and I decided to go for an easy 3 mile run. I love running in new places, it keeps me occupied to have new surroundings to look at.

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It had definitely warmed up and I got hot quickly, and considered hitting the pool but decided to just hang out in the shade outside instead.

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That night we headed to EPCOT to have dinner at San Angel Inn. It was May 4th, so we were being Cinco de Mayo festive a day early.

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The next morning we had one last breakfast in the food court and one last Mickey waffle before Magical Express came and picked us up to go back to the airport.

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I had a great time and am so sad it’s already over, we have been talking about this trip forever! It was just the little break I needed in my favorite place.

QOTD: Have you ever been on a girls only or boys only trip?

Disney Girls Trip Part 2: Before the Race

I left off with our packet pickup at the Animal Kingdom Parking lot. From there, we hopped a bus to EPCOT. We had some fastpasses and then dinner reservations at Via Napoli. We were there during the Flower and Garden festival, so it was fun to see all the topiaries.

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Hi Epcot!

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First things first, we needed some caffeine. I tried the new S’mores Frap at Starbucks. It was delicious!

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Then it was time to laugh at our funny pictures on Spaceship earth They did not disappoint.

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We rode Soarin, then headed over to the World Showcase to make our way to Italy for dinner. We really worked up an appetite with the long walk.

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I rewarded myself for a job well done on the long walk with some yummy food.

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PIZZA! We may or may not have eaten the whole thing…

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After being sufficiently filled with carbs and lots of cheese, we waddled towards the exit and called it a night.

The next morning started off the way every day should start, with a Mickey waffle!

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Hello Caribbean Beach resort!

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We got on a bus for Hollywood Studios, ready for our first full day.

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it was so strange with the hat completely gone.

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Once again, we caffeinated, then we hit up Toy Story Mania.

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For some reason I thought the coach was being taken away in April, and was bummed I forgot to go get a photo during Princess. However, it was still there, so we stood in line of course.

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We had lunch at Mama Melrose. I have note eaten there in about 7 years, and it was surprisingly better than I remember. I had some pasta to get me fueled up for the big race, and then we headed back t the hotel to nap. It was such a gorgeous day outside that I decided to nap outside our room in a hammock. Ever have one of those naps where you aren’t really sure if you fell asleep or not? That was me. Oh well.

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We grabbed some dinner at the food court and then just hung out in the room. It was so odd waiting around for a night race, we didn’t need to be on the bus until about 8:15, which, let’s be honest, it normally when I am about to start heading for bed!

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Next up will be my race recap, stay tuned!

QOTD: Have you ever run a night race? Do you prefer it? Favorite ride at Hollywood Studios?

#DisneySportsFestival runDisney Fun Run

This past week while I was in Walt Disney World for the #DisneySportsFestival, I had the opportunity to participate in the runDisney fun run that was held one morning.

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Me, Jen, and Carissa before the run

We got up bright and early (although not as early as a runDisney race!) and met up at Sea Breeze Point on the Boardwalk between our hotel and EPCOT. Darrell Fry, sports media director, welcomed us and gave introductions.

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We also heard from our friends at New Balance who were joining us that morning. After our .8 mile loop if we wanted to we had the chance to keep running along the path that they are calling the “New Balance trails”.  Mention of the new runDisney shoes for next year also came up, and I can’t wait to see what they came up with this time! They also said they will start rolling out teasers during Wine and Dine weekend. cannot. wait.

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We started up on the bridge before going into EPCOT. We spotted a friend before we started, and took a group picture. She promised we could take pictures with her after the run, it was a good incentive to hurry and get back.

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We made it into EPCOT and weaved our way around the World Showcase. It’s so much fun running through the empty park listening to the music and enjoying the surroundings. An amazing way to start the day.

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I can’t remember what was so funny but there are several pictures of us looking at each other and laughing!

We made a pit stop in Germany for some water, and some of my favorite pals came out to cheer us on. Of course, picture taking was in order.

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I spoke to Dopey, and told him that I would soon start training for his race in January. I asked him if he could tell me about the finishers medal, but he just acted well…Dopey and pretended like he didn’t understand. Oh well, I tried.

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I wanted to stay and chat, Rapunzel was just getting to the good stuff, but sadly we had to continue on our run.

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We made it back to the exit of EPCOT, and as promised Princess Minnie was there waiting for a photo op.

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I hadn’t seen Minnie since the Princess half marathon, so we had a lot to discuss. But first, we worked on my posing.

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Some people decided to go back to Sea Breeze Point for refreshments like bananas and Powerade, and some continued on the New Balance trails to get in some more mileage.

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As a runDisney runner, it was a great reminder of why I love this brand and their races so much. The fun run was just what it was named: fun. I smiled the whole time! It was a great behind the scenes look at the spirit of runDisney. I got to speak with several folks after who have never participated in a runDisney event before, and they all said they couldn’t wait to try one out after experiencing the fun run!

QOTD: If you could have a photo with any Disney character on a race course who would it be?

You can runDisney too! Spots are still open for the Happy Haunted 5k trail run, Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k, The Disney marathon, Goofy’s Challenge, and The Tinkerbell 5k and 10k! (as of 7/22/2013)

*Disclosure: I was a guest of Disney sports for this event. They provided me with accommodations, flight, meals, and park tickets. However, all opinions are my own.

Disney Princess Weekend: Saturday

 

If you missed my previous recap on Disney Princess weekend (non race) be sure to check it out first. Saturday morning, me, Karen, and her mom ran the Royal Family 5k. After the race, we went back to the hotel for breakfast, and then we headed back to EPCOT for some fun in the park.

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Some of the topiaries were already up for the flower and garden festival, I love this time of year in WDW!

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Because of my magical fastpass, we were able to quickly ride soarin and Test Track. I was actually able to get my mom to ride test track….and she still hated it. Oh well!

We walked around the world showcase and decided to eat lunch at Liberty Inn.

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My mom and I split a burger…and yes she got ketchup even though I told her we were getting grapes NOT fries. Poor lady.

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When we were heading out, this group was out front and we sang “God Bless America” and then said the pledge of allegiance. It made me tear up a little, we are so blessed to live in a country where we can still openly do these things!

We realized the voices of liberty were about to sing, so we stayed and watched.

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We finished our walk around World Showcase, and it was time to leave. We had to get back to the hotel for the blogger meet up I was hosting!

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After the meet up, we got ready for dinner. I was heading to Via Napoli with the Blogger group I was with for runDisney, and everyone else was headed to Garden Grill. We had a bbiigggg table. Some of the Disney marketing people joined our blogger group for dinner.

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Picture of Theodora taking a picture. ha.

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Can I just say the Risoto balls were amazing. Theodora and I both got them and raved about these amazing balls. (amaze-balls. bahaha.)

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I was stuffed by time my pizza came and barely made a dent in it.

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I did have great conversation though because I was also sitting next to the lovely Kelly Olexa.

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We had to wait a LONG time for our table and our food. We had not even ordered dessert yet and I had to go, my mom and friends were waiting for me, plus we had to get up so early for the half the next day, so I told everyone I would see them in the morning and took off walking at a lightning pace towards Future World. My phone battery had died, so I had borrowed Kelly’s phone to tell them I was on my way. But it took me a lot longer than anticipated to walk, so I was going pretty fast! This was my fourth time running through EPCOT that weekend! (Jeff Galloway meet up, running to pasta party since I was so late, and the 5k.)

We made it back to the hotel in time for desserts in the concierge lounge.

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and then went to sleep. 2:45 was going to come really early, and we didn’t get to sleep until almost 11:00!

QOTD: What is your favorite thin to do in EPCOT? Never been? What would be your favorite “country” to visit in EPCOT?

Jeff Galloway meet up

 

Friday morning came very early, but I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off. I was so excited to get to be a part of the Jeff Galloway meet up/tweet up. We had to meet the vans at 6:00 to drive over, and it was still dark when we got to EPCOT.

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We waited in line, and had to sign a waiver. We were given our shirts (I was bummed I was given a large in my bag when I had ordered a medium, but oh well!) and I changed shirts on the spot. Who cares, right?

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me and Callie.

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me and Meghann

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I didn’t care that it was chilly out, I was about to run through EPOCT with no one in it, with some amazing people.

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Bob chatted to us for a bit and introduced us to Jeff as well as Rachel, the winner of the Disneyland half, Betty from Fitness magazine, and Suzy Favor Hamilton, Olympian. We split up into two groups to run. One of course being Jeff’s run/walk group, and the other group was led by Bob and Rachel, a straight running group. The plan was 2 miles around EPCOT, and we took off at a VERY quick pace. I am a warm up kind of girl so it was tough keeping up!

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We made it around the world showcase 1.5 times and then stopped in Germany for a great buffet breakfast. We each also got a princess tiara! I also took the opportunity to get a pic with Rachel. She currently lives in my hometown of Mandeville, LA, so of course we became instant BFF’s.

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I also got to chat with the super friendly Jeff Galloway.

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Rachel, Betty, Jeff, Suzy, and Bob all gave a short speech.

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aannddd then we had a dance party.

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To wrap things up, Minnie Mouse came to tell us hello and we all got a free 1 day park hopper pass!

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We were then sent outside to our own private character photo session. Minnie was very excited I was wearing her signature polka dots.

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I felt like a giant next to Rapunzel.

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The lovely Kelly Olexa. Love this lady so much!

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We had a great time at the meet up, I got to meet some great other bloggers and readers of my blog (hi guys!) The weather was great, company was awesome,  and I feel so blessed to have gotten to be a part of it. runDisney are some great folks, and I cannot thank them enough!