Disney at Christmas

Visiting Walt Disney World at Christmastime is probably my favorite time of year to go (well, it barely edges out the food and wine festival!) There is just something extra magical about all the special touches Disney puts into the decorations, parades, parties, and other events that make it very memorable.

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Of course the Magic Kingdom/main street is decked out with beautiful festive decorations.

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But my favorite thing to do is go to the different resorts and see their décor. My favorite is the Grand Floridian because of the beautiful gingerbread house that doubles as a store where you can buy gingerbread! It’s so gorgeous (and smells so good) and must be seen in person to fully appreciate it’s coolness.

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Other resorts do a great job, especially those with nice big lobbies like Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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One thing I am super sad about is that this is the last year for the Osborne lights at Hollywood Studios. It has always been a favorite of mine, and I’m bummed I won’t get to see them again.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a lot of fun, with special fireworks and a parade.

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The best part of the Magic Kingdom decorations is hands down the castle. This is something you have to see in person because pictures just don’t do it justice. I can sit forever and stare at it as it changes colors, it truly is breathtaking.

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Cannot. get. enough.

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There are so many other things like the candlelight processional, and holiday storytellers, it is enough to keep you busy your entire trip! What is your favorite thing about Walt Disney World during the holidays? I would love to hear!

QOTD: What is your favorite thing about WDW during the holidays?

The WINNER of my spread cookie joy giveaway is Rachel Marie! (also displayed on the rafflecoptor widget on the original post). Thanks to all who entered!

runDisney Star Wars Race Comes to Walt Disney World!

Yes, you read that right! After hearing some buzzing and rumors for awhile, the newest runDisney race has been officially announced! a runDisney Stars Wars race comes to Walt Disney World!

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The weekend of April 14-17th, may the force be with you as you run through Walt Disney World meeting some of your favorite characters along the way. The theme for this race weekend is “the dark side”, with the Disneyland race being called “the light side”. There will be kids races, a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and of course a challenge! The course sounds awesome, taking runners through EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and ending at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

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More information can be found in the official press release:

April 14-17 event in Florida joins Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort and features new Kessel Run Challenge and Dark Side Challenge

 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (Aug. 25, 2015) – runDisney is summoning the Force today to announce another Star Wars-inspired intergalactic journey, this time to the dark side.

The “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side” enters the galaxy April 14-17, 2016, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This new race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort, which will return in January as the “Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side”.

“Ever since we launched the Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort, runners have been clamoring for more, so we’re thrilled to bring the Star Wars franchise together with the runDisney brand to Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “If the inaugural Star Wars race at Disneyland Resort is any indication, this new running adventure to the dark side is sure to be the out-of-this-world experience that runners have come to expect at runDisney events.’’

The new Star Wars race at Walt Disney World Resort will be a journey of personal achievement all its own, involving kids’ races, a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half marathon, plus a variety of Star Wars experiences, medals, events and merchandise inspired by a galaxy far, far away. Among its many features will be a unique 13.1-mile course that propels runners through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There will also be a Star Wars Dark Side Challenge — running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days – that offers each finisher a Death Star-themed medal.

Jedi and Sith Lords who dare to experience both Star Wars races will have the chance to take on the Kessel Run Challenge — completing the Star Wars half marathon missions on both coasts. Kessel Run Challenge runners can earn a commemorative “Coast to Coast” medal inspired by the Millennium Falcon starship. Race registration opens Sept. 22 at www.runDisney.com.

 

The addition of this second Star Wars race continues the recent wave of significant growth and popularity of runDisney events domestically and internationally. This is the second new runDisney race announced for 2016, joining the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend (Sept. 23-25 at Disneyland Paris), and the fourth addition to the runDisney series in the last two years (Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Jan. 2015 and Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Nov. 2014).

Each year more than 200,000 runners sign up for runDisney events, which often sell out in record time.

“We are committed to creating extraordinary experiences and events that appeal to runners of all ages and attract even more fans of our various brands and franchises to the sport of running, creating opportunities for them to live a healthier and more active lifestyle,’’ said Bisienere.

 

QOTD: Do you plan to try to run this new race?

Around Coronado Springs

Last week, I wrote a post about Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, a moderate resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. A lot of people really like this price range, so I thought I would feature some shots from around the grounds of Coronado Springs today.

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Coronado is another moderate, and it’s rooms sleep 4. It is a BIG spread out resort with multiple bus stops, but it is beautiful as you can see from the photos below. There are different themed “villages” that have a very different look from each other. There is a sit down restaurant, lounge, counter service food location, multiple pools, among other features.

There is a playground for the little mouseketeers.

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and an AMAZING pool area with water slide!

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They have an arcade as well near the pool area.

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Who wants to play in the sand?

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The sprawling resort centers around a large lake. Thankfully, there are many bus stops and an internal bus system so you don’t have to walk to the main building to get on a bus.

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There is plenty of space to sit outdoors, too.

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Look who you can find at the main building

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This place is a runner’s dream!

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Want to stay at Coronado Springs or have questions about another Disney resort? I would be happy to help you plan! Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for free help!

QOTD: What is your favorite moderate resort at Disney?

Disney’s Boardwalk Area Resorts

I get asked by many potential clients about the three Disney resorts that are considered the “Boardwalk area resorts.” Which is best? Which is closest to EPCOT? Best pool? Best nightlife? I thought it would be a good idea to dissect these three resorts and give you a taste of each to help you see which would be the best fit for your Disney vacation.

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Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club, and Beach club are all deluxe resorts. They have the same amenities as far as what is in your room, but they all have different themes. All three are within walking distance to EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and all offer some great dining locations.

Let’s start with the Yacht Club. This resort, per the name, has a very nautical feel. Lots of navy blue and browns can be seen throughout the resort. The lobby is very cozy, and it has a quaint feeling to it.

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The rooms have lots of nautical touches as well as hidden Mickeys.

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One of my favorite restaurants, Yachtsman Steakhouse, can also be found at this resort. This is the only resort where I have not stayed club level so I cannot attest to it, but I have heard it is a very small room, similar to the Beach Club’s club level lounge.

One of the biggest draws here is access to the pool (saying pool just doesn’t do it justice, it’s amazing), Stormalong Bay.

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Kids (and adults!) can play here for hours and hours. Back before magic bands, you had to have a special wrist band to get into the pool area because so many people not staying at the resort would try to sneak in. This miniature waterpark is shared with the Yacht Club’s sister resort, Disney’s Beach Club. Here you will find light colors, sand volleyball courts, and Beaches n Cream soda shop. It is also home to Cape May Café which has a character buffet and a clam bake dinner.

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Rooms are light and airy, with seafoam green and light blues.

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I have stayed club level here, and the lounge was very small, cramped, and loud when we were there. The food offerings were, in my opinion, just ok.

Lastly, we have the Boardwalk Inn, on the other side of the lake. This resort attracts the older crowd and the single crowd because well, the scary clown slide just freaks everyone out. (I will spare you a close up!)DSC_0655

The pool is fine, but compared to Stormalong Bay…well, there is no comparison. The room below is not a normal sized room, it is a deluxe room…so don’t go thinking all the rooms are this big. Smile

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The color scheme has a lot of red and yellow for a more Victorian feel. I love all the brightness, and it remind me a lot of the Grand Floridian. The biggest draw for this resort is the sweeping Boardwalk views, and the nightlife. Below is a view from our balcony. Gorgeous.

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At night you can find magicians along the Boardwalk, and you are steps away from the Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls dueling piano bar. My favorite two restaurants on the Boardwalk are Flying Fish café and the ESPN club. If we are staying during football season we always end up there watching a game!

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As I mentioned before, all three resorts are within walking distance to two parks. Boardwalk Inn is the closest to Hollywood Studios, and the Beach Club is the closest to EPCOT. The walks to both parks are beautiful and peaceful, we really enjoy this time before the hustle and bustle of the day. Note: there is also a boat if you don’t want to walk!

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The club level lounge at the Boardwalk is bigger than the other two, and has good food in my opinion. The staff is super friendly as well.

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So, in my opinion? If you has small kids, I would most likely pick the Beach Club or Yacht Club. If you are young folk with no kids, or empty nesters, etc. I would go with the Boardwalk Inn. All three are great no matter what you choose though!

QOTD: What is your favorite of these three resorts and why?

I would love to plan your family’s magical vacation to one of these resorts or one of the many other options. 2016 pricing comes out on Monday, so email me today to get on my list of quotes! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

Walt Disney World 2016 Vacations

As I have mentioned many many times here on my blog, Disney vacations are my favorite. I have some amazing memories as a child and an adult with my family and friends thanks to the mouse. In 2010 I went on my first Disney Cruise Line cruise (not just for kids, I promise!) and am hooked.

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In 2012 I ventured to the west coast for my first trip to where the magic all started, Disneyland.

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These three vacation spots mean a lot to me, but Walt Disney World will always hold a special place simply because it was my first and most frequent Disney destination.

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Why am I telling you all of this? Because prices and packages for 2016 are coming out JUNE 22 for Walt Disney World and I cannot wait to start booking clients!!!! I have been a Disney travel planner for over five years now, and this is always a crazy but rewarding time of year for me. If you are interested in vacationing to WDW in 2016, email me at heather@travelwiththemagic.com for a free no obligation quote (my services are FREE!) Pricing for Disney cruise line for 2016 has been out for awhile, so I would love to give you a quote for that as well.

I can book your hotel and tickets

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Help you decide where to eat

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and even help you with those special extra activities while you are there, like spa treatments

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or a round of golf.

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Don’t forget about the waterparks, too!

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There is so much to do in WDW besides just ride rides, and I would love to tell you more about it!

Shoot me an email at heather@travelwiththemagic.com so we can start planning your family vacation.

QOTD: When is your next vacation? Where did you stay the last time you were in WDW?

What I’m Up To Next (With Running)

TGIF! I thought it was high time I got back into vlogging, so here is what I am doing next as far as running goes. Sorry if I ramble, remember I haven’t done this in a long time!

 

QOTD: What are you running next?

Want to win ASICS gear for a year? Enter HERE. (Valued at approx $3k!)

Last Minute Princess Thoughts

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I will be back in Disney World tomorrow after a year away from my happy place! I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to not only be there and run, but to spend a week with my husband, just the two of us. We vacationed a lot before Emma Kate was born, but I totally took our time together for granted. That has definitely changed and I am stoked to fly out first thing tomorrow!

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My mom is on her way up to the house today, she will be watching the baby here for the first half of the trip and Bobby’s mom the second half. We are so thankful they are coming, that way EK will be in her own environment and on her regular routine, go to school, etc.

Ok, so, a few last minute things I am doing today that I wanted to remind the other princesses about. Don’t forget to check in for your flight if you need to, print out your waiver, print out the form to get a free bookmark at the expo, and if you are staying on Disney property, don’t forget to pack your magic bands in your CARRY ON BAG.

I will be staying at Port Orleans Riverside, so if you see me at the resort or parks say hi!

Also, don’t forget I am hosting two meet up’s, very informal, come and go. The first one is SATURDAY EVENING at 6:15 ish in front of Ghirardelli at Downtown Disney. I will try to post a pic prior as to what we are wearing so we can be easily spotted, so be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss anything!

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Did someone say ice cream?

The second meet up is SUNDAY MORNING in front of the Race retreat tent around 4:15 or 4:30. I have another meet up at 4 and will try to scoot away from that one to get to this one between those two time, so if I’m not there yet, I’m coming! Again, I will try to post my updated whereabouts on Twitter so check there if you don’t see me right away I may have posted that I’m on my way etc.

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Also, I will be at the race expo Thursday afternoon (maybe around 2ish?) It will depend on how long magical express and check in take. IF YOU SEE ME AT THE EXPO, say the password “Looking Glass” and I may have a special prize for you! Please don’t be shy, I love love love meeting new friends, I promise I won’t bite.

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I can’t believe it’s been a year, and as I think back to last year’s race and trip I am glad I get a “redo”. Last year at Princess, I was 9 weeks pregnant and at the height of my morning sickness. I felt awful and nauseated and have never experienced that level of exhaustion. I had not told anyone yet but my parents, so I had to pretend to smile and be happy even though I felt so bad! It was my first time running a runDisney race alone, too so that was hard with how bad I was feeling. I remember being so upset because I felt like I ruined the trip for everyone (my parents were with us) and I knew it would be a long time until I got to come back to Disney again. Oh how a year can make a huge difference! Definitely not pregnant this year, although some days I still feel I look it trying to get rid of these last few pounds! Anyway, I am so thankful I get to go back and race again, and I won’t take it for granted!

PS: Don’t forget to check out my runDisney Princess Half marathon tips!

QOTD: Are you running princess? What day will you be at the expo?

runDisney Dopey Challenge Tips

As a Dopey finisher, I wanted to impart some wisdom from my personal experience last year that may help you get through the four races as best as possible. Here are my best runDisney dopey challenge tips:

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1.) Sleep: I know it can be so tempting to close down the parks and stay up late watching fireworks, but trust me on this one. By the 3rd and 4th day the early wake up calls were REALLY getting to me. I was IN bed at 8:00 every night. I didn’t always fall asleep right away but I made it my goal to have the lights out by then. The week or two before Dopey I went to bed early every night and woke up earlier than normal to prepare myself for the races.

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2.) Hydrate: Last years races were HOT and HUMID. In an effort to not be dehydrated, I drank at least one Gatorade every day and guzzled water non stop. Remember, you CAN bring water into the parks, as long as it isn’t in a glass container.

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3.) Stretch/ice/foam roll: I left room in my suitcase for my foam roller and ziploc bags for ice. I foam rolled every day, and got ice from the hotel for sore spots. I also stretched in my hotel room. I knew if I wanted to stay as injury free as possible these things were a must.

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4.) Relax: This was the toughest one for me. I was really excited about being in Walt Disney World and wanted to go go go. Luckily we made the smart decision to hit EPCOT after the 5k for a couple of hours, then took a nap and hung out at the resort the rest of the evening. After the 10k the next day, we went to Hollywood Studios for about two hours then took another nap, and after the half marathon we didn’t go to any parks, just rested and relaxed. It was tough the first two days as I wanted to go go go, but I was so tired after the half, I was glad I took it easy in the afternoons.

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5.) Stay informed: Make sure you read the official race program you will get at the expo to check times for buses, race start, and information for spectators. Keep an eye on the runDisney Twitter account and Facebook page for emergency information should it occur about different procedures due to inclement weather, etc.

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6.) Stay organized: I put each costume in a giant ziploc bag, and had a separate carry on bag for all of them in case my luggage got lost. I also carried on my running shoes. Every night before the race I would lay out my entire outfit, plus breakfast, fuel, etc. so all I had to do was change the next morning and not rummage through my suitcase looking for things!

My husband and I chose to not take character photos during the 5k as lines were super long, but we still ran at an easy pace. We followed the same guidelines for the 10k, but did stop for pictures during the half and full marathons.

Make sure you check out my packing list vlog before you go, and don’t forget to have lots of fun and take plenty of pictures, it is an amazing experience! If you have any questions about my approach to Dopey, feel free to leave them in the comments. Finally, you can read my closing thoughts on Dopey in a post I wrote after coming back from the race weekend.

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What are you most looking forward to about marathon weekend? Do you have more dopey challenge tips?