Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Walt Disney World, Part One

It seems like so long ago I took my trip to Florida, but I wanted to make sure that I cover more than just my races! We were in Florida for six days, we went to all four Disney parks, and had lots of adventures in between. I am going to do my best at trying to recall all those things, but I probably should have wrote these posts as they were happening, not weeks later. I also wish I had more pictures to share!

My friend, and running partner, Kathy and I flew down to Orlando very early Thursday morning. After picking out the perfect rental car, we were on our way. We soon discovered that my perfect pick was not so perfect. I was thinking maybe she was having problems adjusting to driving our new ride. Turns out, the rental car had a mind of it's own. It accelerated on it's own and did the same with it's brakes. After a little looping around the Orlando airport we safely made it back and exchanged the car for one that wanted to do things Kathy's way. After that fiasco we headed over to POP to pick up her husband who was already in Florida to start the Dopey Challenge. We drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to try to check in, but we were too early. We did have a quick lunch there. On a side note...I really liked Animal Kingdom Lodge! The lobby is big and open and overlooks the savanna with giraffes, zebras, and lots of other animals. It also has very relaxing African music playing. I was also a little obsessed with the animal tiles, especially the elephant, in the room and the the Lion King picture in the giant bathtub. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Next, we decided to head over to the Expo so Kathy and I could pick up our race packets. We did not spend a ton of time at the Race Expo. After we picked up our race bibs and shirts we did walk around just a little bit to look at different vendors. I'm sure that if you had serious running shopping to do, or Disney shopping, or Disney running shopping to do, this would have been the place to do it. There was a lot of stuff, and I didn't even go to half of it. 

After the Expo, we headed over to the Grand Floridian. The purpose of going to the Grand Floridian was for Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Room. I do not like tea. I wanted nothing to do with tea. Tea tastes like the Earth. I went anyway. It was part of a deal...I would go to tea, Kathy would ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. We were early for tea so we walked around the hotel which is very pretty and we also took a ride on the monorail. At tea, I ordered water in a tea pot with lemons :) 

We ended Thursday at Target collecting things for breakfast and snacks. After setting up my stuff for my race the next morning, I was beyond ready to go to sleep. A few hours later we were up for the 10k buses. You can read my recap of my 10k race {HERE}. 

After our race we headed back to Animal Kingdom Lodge to shower and check out. We decided to go to Animal Kingdom for a few hours in the afternoon. My favorite part of the park was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Our safari ride was awesome. We saw a ton of animals and a lot of them were SO close. We even saw lots of elephants! My favorite!

This giraffe walked right in front of our safari car and then right next to me. 
After our afternoon at Animal Kingdom, we drove to the Boardwalk. This is where we stayed for the remainder of our Disney trip. After checking in and exploring the hotel we had an easy dinner at the Boardwalk Bakery. Like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the BoardWalk Inn was awesome. I liked how you kind of felt like you were at the beach since it's on the water, and of course there is a boardwalk. After staying at Animal Kingdom which has a dark and woodsy theme, the BoardWalk also seemed really light and airy. I also loved how you could walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. 

Saturday's main event was, of course, the half marathon. You can read about it {HERE}. After the half marathon we made our way back to the Boardwalk with plans to go to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. Our time at Hollywood Studios has a lot of highlights for me. 

We had fast passes for Toy Story Mania, which I had never been on, and Tower of Terror, one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had also had a reservation for a late lunch at the Brown Derby. We had some time in between our rides and our lunch reservation so we sat down on a bench. This turned out to be a great choice! After a few minutes I heard some really loud and obnoxious people down the street. They were Disney people dressed as old time movie stars carrying a bottle of 'vodka' and some martini glasses. They sat down on a bench in our view and continued their loud and obnoxious act. These people were so funny. They made fun of people who walked by while acting drunk and sliding off the bench. I could have watched them all day. As that was happening another duo (another movie star person and a police officer) drove up to us and started their own act. They were asking us all kinds of questions and telling us stories. Seriously, so funny!

After a great lunch, it was time for Kathy to hold up her end of our deal. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster! This is another one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had no fast pass for this and the wait was 70 minutes. My Disney expert friend was not pleased, apparently she has NEVER waited that long for something at Disney, but a deal is a deal :) I'm glad to report everyone survived! And maybe even had fun! 

Another great part about Saturday was that our friend Julie came! We met Julie, Sam and Bryan (more Dopey challenge friends) for dinner back at the Boardwalk. I wasn't the hungriest after our late lunch, but I did get a snack from what I fondly referred to as "the drunk food cart" on the Boardwalk. Basically they just have a lot of fried junk food. I was excited to eat it! 

After dinner we made a spectating plan for the marathon the next morning and just hung out. I was so excited to not have a race to worry about the next morning, and to be able to sleep in a few extra hours. In my next post you will read all about our spectating and the second half of my trip! 

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