Our Comical WDW Family 5K

The WDW Family “Freezing” Run 5K of 2015

When we signed up for the Walt Disney World Marathon of 2015, we thought it would be so much fun for the kids to join the run fun with the Family Fun Run 5K. And in theory, this would have been true. For those that don’t know, the 5K runs through Epcot and they have fun characters out for pictures and greets. On paper, this sounds great, right?

First, our kids HATED getting up at a ridiculous time in the morning. Granted, this is not as early as runners for the other races. But seriously, waking our kids up to get on the monorail at 5:00 in the morning is horrible. Especially for our two youngest who were very, very upset they were awake. And they were already tired from the parks the day before.

Second, a freak cold freeze moved down in Florida that morning. And when I say cold, it was seriously freezing. And I know cold…I like in Colorado. Luckily, we had packed hats and gloves and sweatshirts for all the kids, but no amount of clothing is enough for standing outside in 15 degree wind chills. With all this in mind, we had a funny morning. And it is only funny because it was so bad that you just have to laugh.

Here is our first race picture – we are shivering. Yes people, this is Florida. And even though we are smiling (at least some of us) we are really cold.

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Our two youngest hated the race. My youngest daughter never smiled the entire time.

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Some of us were excited to see Marie! Pretty sad because my youngest daughter loves Marie, but she couldn’t fake a smile at all. Our youngest continued to be held and the moment he was set down, he cried.

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While my oldest two ran quite a bit and it warmed them up, for my youngest daughter I had to just pull her along the whole way. I couldn’t get her to enjoy any of it.

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I finally gave up on walking and just piggybacked her for a mile. It hurt my back and legs so much. But look – she actually smiled. Of course, because she was doing nothing.

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We said “Lets take one more family picture before the finish!” We were faking the smiles, and our youngest just busted into complete cries.

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Oh wait! This picture they are smiling and having fun! That’s because they can literally see the finish line in front of them. I actually got my youngest daughter to run the last tiny bit to the finish.

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Literally, our youngest sobbed across the finish. He was miserable.

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And then all of a sudden, they were so excited to have their medals! It was like they forgot how freezing they were. And our youngest, who was carried the ENTIRE race, told us his medal was for winning the race. Yeah, sure.

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So basically, it was so bad, we had to just laugh and push on. Would I do it again? Not with my age kids. Would the race be freezing again? Probably not, but getting up that early was tough. They all say they want to do the 10K next. I hope they can find other parents to take them because it won’t be us!

Walt Disney World Marathon 2015

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The Best Marathon in the World

It’s taken us awhile to pull together all the photos from our amazing marathon at Walt Disney World, but we are happy to finally be able to share with you all our memories. I will confess that although my husband and I are runners, we did not run this for time and we just wanted to have fun. We took lots and lots of pictures and had so much fun. It was a lot of hard work to finish 26.2 miles but Disney did a wonderful job making it fun and taking care of the runners the entire time.

We are ready for the challenge!

We are ready for the challenge!

The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend includes four races: 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon and the full marathon. We ran the 1/2 marathon two years ago and had so much fun – we couldn’t wait to do it again! For those who haven’t experienced a runDisney event, most event begin very early in the morning so that the parks aren’t overwhelmed with runners for hours. The marathon runs through all four theme parks plus the speedway and EPSN Wide World of Sports.

We started our morning at 2:30 am so that we could get on the monorail to take us to the Epcot parking lot. This is where things start for all runners. If someone wasn’t staying on the monorail loop, there would be buses at each hotel to pick them up or they could drive. It was a pretty chilly morning as the cold snap had rolled down into Florida. They offer bag checks for all runners for we were able to check our belongings before the race. The morning is just filled with excitement though! So much adrenaline!

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Waiting to walk to the run corrals

Goofing around before the race

Goofing around before the race

Once everyone walks the 30 minute walk to the corrals, you simply have to sit and wait for the fireworks and the official start!

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Running in the tunnel toward Magic Kingdom

Running in the tunnel toward Magic Kingdom

The race begins with runners heading to Magic Kingdom but there are lots of stops along the way for fun. There are cheerleaders out and characters, wild music and a giant pirate ship with Captain Jack Sparrow. We took a picture with him but our favorite moments at Magic Kingdom were running through Main Street and through Cinderella’s castle which was still lit up with icicles.

Our favorite part

Our favorite part

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Running through the castle!

Getting a boost from Buzz

Getting a boost from Buzz

The crowds running through Magic Kingdom

The crowds running through Magic Kingdom

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The White Rabbit in Fantasyland

Ralph & Vanellope greeted us as we entered Magic Kingdom

Ralph & Vanellope greeted us as we entered Magic Kingdom

After MK, runners head to Animal Kingdom and it is one of the longest stretches of the race, and the second most boring. We stopped for some pics along the way.

Princesses and Princes were out for pictures

Princesses and Princes were out for pictures

Donald & Goofy were taking pictures by a golf course

Donald & Goofy were taking pictures by a golf course

Running through the raceway and lots of race cars were out for pictures

Running through the raceway and lots of race cars were out for pictures

Hit Mile 10 and felt good! Every mile had a different mile marker

Hit Mile 10 and felt good! Every mile had a different mile marker

My favorite movie!

My favorite movie!

Genie and Abu! Its so fun to see such rare characters out!

Genie and Abu! Its was so fun to see such rare characters out!

Photobombing the Villains. Sometimes there just isn't time to stop.

Photobombing the Villains. Sometimes there just isn’t time to stop.

Animal Kingdom was not an exciting run. They had a few animals out for pictures, like a goat and an owl, but it was starting to rain and some of the characters were taken inside. Also, Animal Kingdom has a lot of construction going on so it wasn’t as scenic as we would’ve liked. We did get this picture with Jiminy Cricket and its one of my favorites.

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After Animal Kingdom, runners head to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Remember when I said there was the second most boring part of the run? Well, ESPN was the most boring part for sure. We tried to make it fun, but exhaustion was setting in at about mile 18.

Running around the baseball diamond at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Running around the baseball diamond at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Trying to stay tough!

Mile 19! Trying to stay tough!

Now that the boring parts were done, we got a second wind as runners headed to Hollywood Studios. This part was so much fun!

A picture with our heroes? Yes please!

A picture with our heroes? Yes please!

Running through the costume department at Hollywood Studios was totally cool!

Running through the costume department at Hollywood Studios was totally cool!

We hit mile 23! Almost done!!

We hit mile 23! Almost done!!

One last picture with the hat

One last picture with the hat

Running down Hollywood Boulevard and we are pumped!

Running down Hollywood Boulevard and we are pumped!

Our last stop was back to Epcot and we were energized again! First, we have to run past the Beach and Yacht Club, the Boardwalk and the Swan and Dolphin. It was a peaceful part of the run, but crowded.

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Running past the Beach Club Resort – one of our favorites!

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The walkway to Epcot pst the Swan Resort – it was really crowded.

Finally arrived in Epcot and we were so excited to be near the finish. We were physically tired and soaked from rain and sweat, but we kept smiling and pushing through!

A selfie in Epcot

A selfie in Epcot

Finishing through the World Showcase

Finishing through the World Showcase

Crossing the finish! I had to cry out of total relief.

Crossing the finish! I had to cry out of total relief.

And the best ending, of course, is the bling. Who doesn’t love a big shiny medal?

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The medal picture! It was all worth it!

This was the end of our amazing journey at the WDW Marathon. We had so much fun and worked so hard. I will confess that it is tough to do a runDisney race and then do the parks with your kid in tow, which is what we did. We were mighty sore the next day but we still walked a full day at the park. We could have used a day of rest!

If you are considering a runDisney race yourself, there are only a few more for 2015 that haven’t begun registration. Maybe consider the Marathon weekend for 2016? If was an amazing experience and I would do it again…in a few years.

We will be sharing our stories and pictures from the Family Fun 5K next and it was quite an adventure for our whole family! (Something we will never forget–for good and for bad!)

runDisney 101: Part 1

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runDisney has become hugely popular over the last few years. In fact, Disney has been adding more and more new events as well as adding more challenges to the current weekends. If you are interested in giving a race a try, we have put together some basic information about runDisney events as well as training ideas. The second part of our series will include some frequently asked questions and answers as well as costume and clothing ideas.

If you aren’t familiar with runDisney (and many people aren’t), we will give you the basic information. runDisney is a division of the Walt Disney Company that organizes running races at the major parks throughout the year. It all started with just one event, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, and it has turned into nine events between Disney World and Disneyland throughout the course of a year. Each event is different and offers different running options. Almost every race has KidsRaces as well as a Family Fun Run. Disney wants the whole family involved! To get an idea of the size of some of the races, the Walt Disney World Marathon usually has about 20,000 runners. In comparison, the Boston Marathon has around 36,000 racers. Races take place in the parks and the surrounding areas. Here is a rundown of the races offered throughout the year. Keep in mind that most of the races starting at the beginning of 2015 are already full for registration (see our FAQ in Part 2 to find out why races sell out so fast!)

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**Kids races include a Diaper Dash, 100m dash, 200m dash, 400m dash

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Dates: January 7-11, 2015
Host: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Dopey
Races Offered:

  • Marathon (26.2 mile run through all four parks including surrounding streets)
  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and surrounding streets)
  • Goofy Race & a Half Challenge (running both the 1/2 marathon and the full marathon)
  • 10K (run through Epcot)
  • Family Fun Run 5K (run through Epcot)
  • Dopey Challenge (running all four races)
  • Kids Races
  • Castaway Cay Challenge (new this year – adds a 4-night Bahamian cruise after your races)

The WDW Marathon weekend hosts the most races and challenges. Kids Races are held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and include a Mickey Mile for older kids.

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NEW Star Wars 1/2 Marathon Weekend at Disneyland
Dates: January 15-18, 2015
Races Offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through California Adventure, Disneyland and surrounding streets)
  • Rebel Challenge (running both the 1/2 marathon and the 10K)
  • 10K (run through Disneyland, Downtown Disney and California Adventure)
  • Star Wars 5K (run through California Adventure and Disneyland)
  • Kids Races (held at California Adventure)

This is the newest addition to the runDisney family. Most running is between Disneyland and California Adventure. This race will offer oodles of Star Wars characters and paraphernalia.

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Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World
Dates: February 19-22, 2015
Host: Cinderella & other princesses
Races offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through Epcot, Magic Kingdom and surrounding streets)
  • Enchanted 10K (run through Epcot)
  • Royal Family 5K (run through Epcot)
  • Glass Slipper Challenge (running both the 1/2 marathon and the 10K)
  • Kids Races

This race weekend offers women’s themed races. Typically, registration is limited to women for these races although men can run if they are running with a woman.

Expedition Everest Challenge at Walt Disney World
Dates: May, 2015 (Dates have not been released for 2015)
Races offered:

  • 5K through Animal Kingdom which includes obstacle course and a scavenger hunt
  • Family Edition race with kids ages 4 and up
  • Kids Races (running and obstacle course)

This race weekend is unique with the obstacle and scavenger hunt. You can also sign up as a two-person Trek Team for the race. This is the only race held at Animal Kingdom although the Marathon runs through this park as well.

Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Weekend at Disneyland
Dates: May 7-10, 2015
Host: Tinkerbell and Peter Pan
Races offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through Disneyland and surrounding areas)
  • Tinkerbell 10K (runs through the Disneyland resort)
  • NEW Pixie Dust Challenge (Run both the 1/2 marathon and the 10K)
  • Neverland Family Fun Run 5K (runs through the Disneyland resort)
  • Kids Races

The Pixie Dust Challenge was recently announced and 2015 will be the inaugural year. This race weekend offers women’s themed races. Typically, registration is limited to women for these events but men can run if they are running with a woman. They also offer two-person team registration.

Disneyland 1/2 Marathon Weekend
Dates: August, 2015 (Dates have not been released for 2015)
Host: Mickey & friends
Races offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through California Adventure, Disneyland and surrounding areas)
  • Disneyland 10K (run from Anaheim Convention Center into California Adventure and Disneyland)
  • Dumbo Double Dare (run both the 1/2 marathon and the 10K)
  • Family Fun Run 5K (run through Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Resort)
  • Kids Races (held in California Adventure)

This is Disneyland’s big runDisney weekend with their signature 1/2 Marathon and the new Dumbo Double Dare which was introduced in 2014 as well as the Disneyland 10K.

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Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend at Walt Disney World
Dates: October, 2015 (Dates have not been released for 2015)
Host: Disney villains
Races offered:

  • 10-mile run through Hollywood Studios at night
  • Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run (run at the ESPN Wide World of Sports during the daytime)
  • Kids Races

This is a nighttime race through Hollywood Studios! And it is the only 10-mile run. The theme is more creepy but fun with unique characters and greets.

Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World
Dates: November, 2015 (Dates have not been released for 2015)
Host: Mickey & Friends
Races offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through three Disney parks and surrounding areas)
  • Mickey’s Jingle Jangle 5K (run through Animal Kingdom)
  • Kids Races

This is the only 1/2 marathon run at night! And it runs through THREE parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The race begins at ESPN Wide World of Sports. The 5k is run during the daytime. This run corresponds with the Walt Disney World Food & Wine Festival.

NEW Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland
Dates: November – 2014 was the first year so dates are subject to change for 2015
Host: Avengers Characters and Mickey & Friends
Races offered:

  • 1/2 Marathon (13.1 mile run through the Disneyland Resort including California Adventure, Disneyland and the surrounding resorts)
  • Super Heroes 5K (run through the DIsneyland Resort)
  • Kids Races

This is another new race that begins this year at Disneyland. The race sold out very fast online and a big draw will be the Avengers characters that will be out to greet all the runners this year.

Those are all the current race offerings from runDisney. Most race registrations open about 6-8 months before the race event. The runDisney website has lots of great information for each race including course maps, training info, and weekend details.

Training for a runDisney Race

If this is your first race or your tenth, having a training plan is a must! There are plenty of training plans on the web for free to help you train for whatever length of run you will be doing. We have always had success with the runDisney training plans from Jeff Galloway. Disney actually has training plans for free for every race they offer. You can find them on the runDisney website on the training page.

Keep in mind a few things when you are training:

  • Depending on where in the country you are training, if you are traveling to California or Florida, they weather may be different than what you are used to so plan ahead.
  • Don’t wait to try something new on race day – practice everything well before the big race so that there aren’t snaffoos or surprises during the race. This includes gels, water and gear.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard because an injured runner is no good at all.
  • Follow a plan and don’t skip training runs – every time you skip a run, you lose momentum.
  • Warm ups and cool downs are very important! Don’t forget adequate stretching after a run will help prevent injury. The same is true for a warm up. We like to walk a bit before we run just to warm up the muscles.

Head over to Part 2 where we answer all those burning questions that you might have as well as look at fun ideas for costumes during the race!

Disney Parks Update & News

Here is the latest scoop and news from the Disney Parks!

24 Hours of Disney Fun

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Disney announces another 24-hour event at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom as part of their #DisneySide promotion this year. From 6:00 AM to 6:00 AM, May 23 to May 24, 2014, guests are invited to dress up for the occasion and join a gathering of Disney heroes and villains for 24 hours of fun and follies—along with a selection of beloved attractions, popular shows and classic entertainment only Disney can bring to life. So come as a prince, princess or pirate; a monster, a mermaid or even a Mad Hatter—whatever rocks your Disney Side! Also, enter to win a free trip by tweeting how you will “rock” your Disney Side and use the #DisneySideSweepsEntry.

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Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Debut Announced: The new daytime spectacular, “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade”, will make its debut at Magic Kingdom Park on Sunday, March 9, at 3:00pm. From Frontierland to Main Street, the streets will come alive with music, dance, color and character in this celebration of Fantasyland. The cast of over 100 characters and performers includes such favorites as Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Anna, Elsa and more; plus Maleficent in the form of a colossal clockwork dragon. This daytime parade will feature an original theme song and score by Composer Mark Hammond, who previously worked on “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure and the “Flights of Fantasy” parade at Hong Kong Disneyland.

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Disney Ticket Price Increased on Feb 23 2014: Walt Disney World raised ticket prices by $4. A 1­-day ticket to Magic Kingdom now costs $99 for adults and children 10 and up. A 1­-day ticket for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is now $94. While multi­day tickets also increased, remember that the more days you purchase, the less expensive the per day price becomes.

Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV Begins: The 21st annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opens March 5 and runs through May 18 – that’s 75 days to take it all in. Last year was the first year that food starred alongside the flowers, and this year 11 Outdoor Kitchens debut around World Showcase Lagoon, each with an artful produce and herb­raised garden bed that showcases something that you can taste in the dish they’re offering, say, corn at the Florida marketplace, or pineapples in Japan.

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Star Wars Weekend Changes Announced: Star Wars Weekends continues to be a popular annual event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with special entertainment offerings and appearances by “Star Wars” characters and celebrities throughout the park. This year, Disney has introduced several new experiences during “Star Wars” Weekends, including a nightly event featuring “Star Wars” characters and a “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks spectacular. The widely popular Hyperspace Hoopla will not be returning this year. In order to allow more guests to join the fun, a 5th weekend is now being added to “Star Wars” Weekends 2014. The new event dates are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 16–June 15, 2014. James Arnold Taylor will return as the event’s official celebrity host. Taylor, a Star Wars Weekends fan favorite, is the voice of hundreds of animated characters, including Obi­Wan Kenobi on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to Be Extended in 2014: This week, Disney announced that the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will run a record 53 days, from September 19 – November 10. That’s a whole extra week to take in the marketplaces, cool concerts and some very special dinners.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort to See Changes During Construction: Upon arrival to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, guests will notice Disney is working on refurbishing areas of the Resort, including the Great Ceremonial Hall, Sunset Pointe, The Never Land Club, portions of the beach and Capt. Cook’s. Sunset Pointe and portions of the beach have already been closed for several months. The Never Land Club has been closed since Jan 28 and will reopen on April 28. Beginning March 28, Capt. Cook’s will be temporarily relocated. The newly refurbished location is expected to reopen this summer. In the interim, Guests will be able to visit Capt. Cook’s as a temporary quick­service dining location in the Great Ceremonial House. Capt. Cook’s will have modified operating hours and menu items in its temporary location (6:30am – 4am). Dole Whip will not be available at the temporary location. As for the Great Ceremonial House, rumored plans involve the removal of the water feature in the lobby to provide more expansive views.

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Celebrate Mardi Gras at Downtown Disney: House of Blues Orlando at Downtown Disney West Side will celebrate Mardi Gras March 1­4, 2014. Stop By and Join the Festivities including food and drink specials, free live music on The Front Porch, beads and masks, daily Happy Hour 11:30am – 5:00pm & 10:00pm – Close and free live music in the restaurant Saturday, March 1 at 10:30pm.

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Disney’s Port Orleans ­Riverside and French Quarter Resorts: The annual Mardi Gras Celebration takes place on March 4 at Disney’s Port Orleans resorts. Each year, Cast Members decorate carts and conduct a parade starting backstage and continuing through the guest areas. This year, the pargo parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and will proceed through Riverside to French Quarter and back to the Cast Service Building with Princess Tiana leading the parade! And, you may even get to see a Disney character out and about during the Cast event. Guests are invited to watch and cheer for the Mardi Gras parade as it passes through the resort. This year’s parade is themed to the holidays, and each Cast department has picked a special holiday to represent.

Valet Parking Test at Downtown Disney: Downtown Disney valet service opens early at 2:30 p.m. (closing at 2 a.m.) as part of a temporary test of Guest demand, Feb. 22–­March 23. Guests wishing to valet park their vehicles should enter through Downtown Disney Entrance 4. The cost is $15, collected at the time of vehicle pick­up. Gratuity is accepted. As a courtesy, a text message indication service is offered as an option for Guest vehicle pickup. Guests can also call or visit the valet parking booth outside of Cirque du Soleil.

Changes to Pathways at Magic Kingdom: Starting Sunday, Feb. 23, the waterways around Cinderella Castle will be temporarily drained so routine maintenance and other planned work requiring equipment in the moat area can be performed. Some areas around the Hub are currently blocked for pathway changes and maintenance including a large area near Casey’s corner.

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Boat Rentals Discontinued at Certain Resorts: Beginning March 2, Guests will no longer be able to rent watercraft from the marinas at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, or Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The operating hours for bike rentals at Port Orleans Resort ­Riverside will now be 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The operating hours for bike rentals at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will now be noon­–5 p.m. All other recreation offerings, including the Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise will continue to operate as normal.

Photo courtesy of PixieDustDaily.com

Photo courtesy of PixieDustDaily.com

Atlanta Braves Spring Training Returns to ESPN Wide World of Sports (Feb 26–­Mar 26): The Atlanta Braves are having their 17th straight spring training at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The team opens its spring home game schedule on February 26 against the Detroit Tigers. Braves spring training games at Walt Disney World Resort are, of course, unlike any other spring games. There are fireworks during the singing of the National Anthem at various games, Disney character appearances, and kids are invited down onto the field to run the bases after each game. That’s why we call it America’s most magical pastime. Fans can get more information and purchase tickets at www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves or at the ballpark box office. Annual Passholders can get access to the Passholder suite on “Passholder Suite Days” which are Sunday, March 2, 2014 vs. the Detroit Tigers and Saturday, March 8, 2014 vs. the Miami Marlins.

Reminder! 2014 Pro Soccer Classic from Feb. 19 to March 1: The MLS and Orlando City Soccer Club return to the Walt Disney World Resort for the 2014 Pro Soccer Classic from Feb. 19 to March 1. This action­packed event gives fans an up close and personal look at their favorite hometown club as they square off against their future MLS rivals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, home to Orlando City Soccer in 2014. Single and multiple session passes are on sale and parking is free!

Closures and Refurbishments*

Magic Kingdom

  • Splash Mountain Jan. 6–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Splashdown Photos Jan. 6–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Liberty Square Riverboat Jan. 21-30, 2014
  • Monorail ­ MK Express Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Pinocchio’s Village Haus Feb. 17–Mar. 30, 2014
  • The Plaza Restaurant Feb. 17–Mar. 15, 2014
  • Tip Board Merchandise Cart ­ Closing Permanently Feb. 26, 2014
  • Big Thunder Mountain April 7-9, 2014
  • Pirates of the Caribbean April 28–May 1, 2014

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Backlot Tour Jan. 5–Mar. 1, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

  • Festival of the Lion King Jan. 6, 2014–summer
  • Camp Minnie­Mickey Jan. 6, 2014 – permanent closure

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

  • Closed for annual refurbishment Dec. 22, 2013–Mar. 17, 2014

Disney’s All Star Sports Resort

  • Sports ­ Resort Lobby Construction Feb. 17–March 8, 2014
  • Game Point Arcade ­closed due to Lobby/Corridor work – Feb. 17–March 8, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

  • Lobby Decorative Shield Rehab ­Construction between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Mar. 10-14, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas ­ Kidani Village

  • Uwanja Camp ­ Kiddie Pool Wet Deck ­- Only wet deck is closed, pool will remain open Jan. 21–Feb. 28, 2014

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

  • Villas Quiet Pool & Spa Feb. 10–Mar. 14, 2014

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

  • Bay Lake Tower Kiddie Pool Wet Deck ­ Only wet deck is closed, pool will remain open Feb. 10–28, 2014
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort Restricted Service – Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available.Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Guest rooms and buildings throughout Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will be refurbished starting in early January and scheduled to complete in August. Guest buildings will be taken out of inventory and will not be occupied by Guests while work is being performed.
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort Restricted Service ­– Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available. Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Old Key West

  • Gurging Suitcase Feb. 5-28, 2014

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

  • General Construction Dec. 2013–Mar. 2015
  • The Never Land Club Jan. 28–Apr. 27, 2014
  • Great Ceremonial House Lobby March–December 2014
  • Beach & Sunset Point Access to the east portion of the beach, near the Transportation and Ticket Center, and Sunset Point will be unavailable due to a scheduled refurbishment.
  • Some rooms in certain room categories in impacted buildings have been taken off the market during the renovation period.
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort ­Restricted Service ­– Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available. Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ French Quarter

  • Doubloon Lagoon Pool transportation will be provided for Guests to swim at Ol’ Man Island Pool at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside Jan. 13–Feb. 28, 2014

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­Riverside will be undergoing roof construction on building 90 starting Jan. 13. The construction is estimated to continue through the end of February.

Downtown Disney® Area

  • Cap’n Jack’s Marina ­ Closed
  • Parking Lots H,I,J,K Closed
  • Fuego – closed
  • Wetzels Pretzels ­closed 10/20/13
  • Team Mickey Athletic Club Jan. 27–Jun. 13, 2014
  • Reopening as Marketplace CoOp Late Spring
  • Bridge between the West Side and Pleasure Island is temporarily closed through this fall as work on The Landing continues. Additional temporary closures include the “top of the hill” on Pleasure Island and the nearby restrooms
  • Beginning Feb. 22, the Downtown Disney Marketplace boat dock will temporarily close. During this time, the Sassagoula River Cruise docking location will relocate to the Pleasure Island boat dock. In addition, internal boat transportation (Water Taxi) service for Downtown Disney Guests will only be available between the Downtown Disney Pleasure Island and West Side docks. We expect to reopen the Downtown Disney Marketplace dock this fall.

* All closures and refurbishments are subject to change. Please check with Disney to confirm dates if these occur during your vacation.

Disneyland

runDisney Announces a New Avengers ­themed Half Marathon: runDisney is expanding its portfolio of race weekends, adding a new Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, to debut Nov. 14­-16, 2014. The new three­-day race weekend will involve kids’ races, a 5K and a half marathon, plus several family­-friendly events such as a Health & Fitness Expo and a pre­race Pasta in the Park Party. Registration opens March 25 at www.runDisney.com.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Refurb Progress: Hold on to your hats and glasses! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been closed for a refurbishment since early January. Soon Cast Members and Imagineers will begin testing the attraction before it reopens to guests with an upgraded track, updates to the ride vehicles and restoration of the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town.

Alice in Wonderland and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disneyland Resort to Close Temporarily Beginning in March: Alice in Wonderland at Disneyland park will close at the end of the operating day on March 9 for an extended refurbishment. In addition to routine maintenance, minor changes will be made to the exterior of the attraction. Alice in Wonderland is scheduled to reopen summer 2014. At Disney California Adventure park, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will close at the end of the operating day on March 19 for maintenance, and is scheduled to reopen in late spring.

Triple Chocolate Gourmet Candy Apple Debuts in March: Each apple has been dipped in creamy caramel and enrobed in sweet milk chocolate. They’ve added a mixture of white and semi­sweet dark chocolate chips all around it and then topped it off with drizzles of white, milk and dark chocolate. Look for it at Candy Palace on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park; Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure park; and Marceline’s Confectionery in the Downtown Disney District.

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‘Countdown to the Oscars’ Special Airs Feb. 27 Featuring Military Heroes at Disneyland Resort: Earlier this month, Disneyland Resort cast members cheered the arrival of dozens of military heroes — accompanied by film star Gary Sinise — to the Disneyland Resort as part of a week of surprises arranged by the actor’s foundation in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film, “Forrest Gump.” The servicemen and women, who arrived from Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir and Naval Medical Center San Diego, visited several Southern California landmarks. They were honored at the Disneyland Resort during a special flag retreat ceremony. Parts of their trip will be aired on ABC during a “Countdown to the Oscars” special Feb. 27. The special will offer viewers a backstage pass to this year’s 86th annual Academy Awards celebrating movie heroes and include interviews with this year’s nominees. Tune in to see what other surprises were in store for this group of heroic Americans!

Closures and Refurbishments*

Disneyland

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed January 7, 2013–March 31, 2014
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – closed January 6–September 26, 3024
  • it’s a small world – closed January 21–April 9, 2014
  • Splash Mountain – closed January 21–February 28, 2014
  • Tomorrowland Terrace – closed February 18–March 6, 2014
  • Disneyland Railroad – closed February 24–March 7, 2014
  • Mark Twain Riverboat – closed February 24-28, 2014
  • Alice in Wonderland – closed March 10–July 3, 2014
  • Indiana Jones Adventure – closed March 17–May 8, 2014

California Adventure

  • bluesky Cellar – closed November 25, 2013–June 30, 2014
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – closed January 6–February 27, 2014
  • Hyperion Theater – closed January 21–February 20, 2014
  • Soarin’ over California – closed February 24-27, 2014
  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train – closed Mar 3-6, 2014
  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel – closed Mar 3-6, 2014
  • Ariel’s Underwater Adventure – closed March 20–May 9, 2014

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

I’m so excited to share with you my photos and experiences at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, where my husband and I ran the half marathon on January 12th. It was truly an amazing experience and achievement! Disney did an amazing job with the entire event and really took good care of all the athletes. We understand now why there were 65,000 registrants for the weekend races. The weather did get unseasonable warm but it wasn’t unpleasant for the run or the rest of the weekend.

When we arrived at our hotel (we were staying at the Port Orleans, French Quarter), we took an event bus straight to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pick up our race packet, bibs, t-shirt and get our official RunDisney merchandise.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

runDisney race check-in and expo

runDisney race check-in and expo

There were great vendors and the runDisney merchandise was running out quickly. It was somewhat overwhelming to see the scope of the event as well as how many people were actually there for the race. One of the things each athlete receives is a race shirt, and each race is a different color. Each race also has a different character that is the host. For the half marathon, Donald is the host and yellow was the official color. Here is a picture of the shirt we were given – unfortunately it was long sleeved and much too warm to wear for the race.

WDW 1/2 Marathon Shirt

WDW 1/2 Marathon Shirt

The race start time was on Saturday at 5:30 am, but event buses only ran from 3:00-4:00 am. We left our hotel at 3:15 am and headed to the holding area. It was pretty dark out!

We are just arriving at the holding area, where the race will end in a few hours.

We are just arriving at the holding area, where the race will end in a few hours.

This is a picture of the crowds for the race.

Crowds

At about 4:45 am, they let everyone begin a 20-25 minute walk to the corrals for the race. Each corral started about 15 minutes apart, and Donald did the countdown for each corral, along with fireworks. It was so exciting!

Donald, Mickey and Goofy at the start line.

Donald, Mickey and Goofy at the start line.

It was dark for quite awhile on the run. We started heading toward Magic Kingdom and along the way there were DJ’s playing music and high school bands playing and cheering. We were so excited when we reached the Magic Kingdom, which was close to 4 miles. Along the way, we passed a few fun characters including Jack Skellington and Sally, Chip & Dale, and Jack Sparrow.

Running through the driving entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

Running through the driving entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

Running past Space Mountain

Running past Space Mountain

One of the biggest surprises was running down Main Street with all the lights on and the staff were all lined up cheering us on. The castle was lit up with the Christmas lights, and it was fantastic! That was probably my favorite part of the race.

Running through Main Street

Running through Main Street

Taking a picture with the beautiful castle

Taking a picture with the beautiful castle

There were lots of characters and surprises within Magic Kingdom which we ran all throughout. We saw Buzz in tomorroland and a few princesses and princes were out for pictures.

Belle

As we ran through the castle, they had trumpeters playing music for us.

Running through Cinderella's castle

Running through Cinderella’s castle

Each mile they had a sign as well as a running clock on the race time. We took a few fun pictures to mark where we were in the race.

Finally made it to Mile 6!

Finally made it to Mile 6!

Running through Frontierland, heading toward Splash Mountain

Running through Frontierland, heading toward Splash Mountain

Probably the hardest part of the race was navigating the crowds. There were about 25,000 people running the half, so some spots got a big crowded.

Just a picture of the crowds

Just a picture of the crowds

But they had great picture opportunities along the way! We couldn’t stop for them all, but this one was lots of fun.

Pictures with Mary, Burt and a penguin!

Pictures with Mary, Burt and a penguin!

Disney also had plenty of water and Powerade along the way for everyone, along with a medical station and a food station (which just had energy gels). It was very organized and well executed. And there were always fun surprises as we run.

Reached Mile 11! Almost there!

Reached Mile 11! Almost there!

The race ended in Epcot as we passed Spaceship Earth and circled around the International Gateway, and then headed back past Spaceship Earth. There were tons of people cheering and clapping and holding signs – it was amazing!

Running through Epcot

Running through Epcot

Finally reaching the finish line...it's just ahead!

Finally reaching the finish line…it’s just ahead!

And then of course, the amazing finish with my hubby! Just finishing was triumphant!

Finishing the WDW Half Marathon!

Finishing the WDW Half Marathon!

And then we got our race bling!

The WDW 1/2 Marathon Medal

The WDW 1/2 Marathon Medal

It was so much fun and even though we were exhausted as we crossed the finish line, we wanted to do it all again! The whole weekend was fun and a great experience. We talked with so many different people there for the race, and even got to meet one of the Perfect 20’s – a group of about 90 people who have run all 20 marathons from the first one. This year was the 20th anniversary of the marathon. The Perfect 20 were awarded rings and pins and jackets…very special!

My husband and I are so glad we pushed ourselves to try this and experience something amazing. I hope you have enjoyed the pictures. Sorry some were blurry, but we were running! Maybe this will inspire you to give a runDisney race a try! We loved it!

If your interested in training for something like this, Jeff Galloway, the spokesperson for runDisney and marathon runner, has free training plans on the runDisney website. We used it to help us get ready for this run.

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