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Trip Report Chickie RUNS Wonderland...and goes MAD!!!


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Wow!!! After a long PTR, tons of planning, and several years of wanting to make this happen...it FINALLY happened! I participated in a runDisney race weekend!!! If you didn't follow the PTR, here are some of the basics...

WHEN: January 7-12
WHO: Me (Sandy) and my friend (for part of the time)
WHAT: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon- Participant; Full Marathon- Part time cheerleader; 5 day park hopper

Hopefully, the title will explain itself as the report progresses.

January 7th

As some of you may know, I'm in the Houston area. We had a 7:30am-ish flight out of Intercontinental, so I was up bright and early after a long final day of packing and repacking. Yeah, I weighed my bag the night before and it came in at 58 lbs...before adding in things like hair stuff and makeup. It was a real challenge because I had a lot I needed to take since this wasn't your average Disney trip and the cheap fare I booked prohibited carry ons for the flight to Orlando. I really made the most of my personal item as I possibly could. I would eventually get my checked bag down to 47.5 lbs, so I was feeling good...at least heading to Orlando. I will also tell you that this is when my husband (the one who never understands why I "need" another bag) reminded me that I usually get a bag as a souvenir. I took that as...you need to buy a big bag...as in luggage!

I got a text from my friend that she was on her way in her Lyft. I live fairly close to Intercontinental and the cost to park was cheaper than two Lyfts, so I drove. We were hoping to meet up before security, but she got dropped off at terminal E and I was dropped off at C. United flies out of both and they sort of blend into each other. So, we wouldn't meet up until after security. What's funny...our flight was taking out of E, so you'd think she would have beaten me to the gate, but I got there first.

Yeah, my personal item bag (backpack) was primarily filled with all of my essential run gear. I was able to fit two out of three pairs of running shoes in there, but wore my 5K shoes for travel since those would be the first I'd need.

My friend arrived shortly after and we caught up on the details of the day so far...like all of the Disney folks she saw while going through security.

It wasn't long before it was time to board the plan. Call me a crazy planner and researcher, but I checked out our plane the night before and saw we'd be on a big 767 that had flown in from Rio. The plan was huge and the seats were super comfy. I took my seat and watched the sun start to come up...

Actually, I was in the aisle seat at first, but the flight wasn't even close to full. So, I scooted over. What's funny...a family would come over and initially think I was in their seat, but it was a really odd situation. Their adult kids were behind me and the wife actually was booked for that window seat I'd scooted into, but the husband had been bumped up into the really luxe looking business class, so his seat number was reassigned to me. The wife told me I could have the window, so that was sweet, but she ended up sitting in the middle section with three seats because her husband decided he'd be in hot water with her if he went off to sit in the luxurious seating all by himself. So, now I had both seats to myself to stretch out.

We took off right on time...

Bye Houston!!!

Bye Galveston!!! Ok, I think it's Galveston!

And this...well, I'm guessing it's Louisiana, but it looked neat with the sun!

I'm a big fan of United's entertainment app, so I was a bit delayed in realizing we had crossed into Florida airspace.

My friend had what I've dubbed "the good side of the plane," so no attempts at photographing Disney from the air this time.

Going east, we always have a crazy tailwind (the actual wind, not the exercise fuel-hahahaha), so we arrived super early. With all of our run gear, I wasn't taking any chances with luggage, so we went to baggage to collect our bags. Thankfully, no issues. Then it was off to the Magical Express. Of course, I picked the slowest line, but we'd eventually get where we needed to be.


We got the boring Mears bus on the right. Boooo!!! But hey, it was taking us to Disney and we had a super fun driver. She was crazy excited, which is always nice.

Bye bye, more magical looking MEs! I guess I haven't been through MCO in a while (2014?) because of road trips to FL, so I hadn't seen these in person. At first, I thought they were DCL buses. Nice!

We also didn't have to wait too horribly long for them to fill up the bus.

I was not in a good spot to capture us going under the Maingate, so this was the awful pic I got. LOL

We are never EVER the first (or even second) stop, so it wasn't any shock when we pulled up to Pop.



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Next stop...Coronado!

It was at least cool to see the new tower. Something else I also noticed...no resort Christmas decorations (well, at least from what we could see outside). I knew the parks would be still be decorated, but everyone said it was really iffy on the resorts by Marathon week.

We passed Blizzard Beach along the way to the next stop...

And WinterSummerland...that's kind of Christmasy!

And then, it was time to say JAMBO! It's about as much fun as going to the Poly and saying ALOHA!

Not sure if you see it in that pic above, but I spy with my little eye...A WREATH!!!

And as we pulled up, it became abundantly clear that AKL was still in Christmas mode!!!

We had our bags and it was time to head in...

And there it is, the gloriously beautiful AKL tree and other decor too!

It was about 11am, and I'd only gotten the text saying our room wasn't ready, but I know Disney well enough to know that you always go up and try. In fact, I prefer this and it's a preference that's about to pay a dividend. The CM checking me in gets a very bothered look on her face, but it turns out that our room was ready...and she didn't like it. She saw other rooms that were open and in the standard category that met more of my room requests, so she changed us. It would be a ways from the lobby, but she said it was a 4th floor room with a lovely savanna view that's considered obstructed simply because it doesn't face a main savanna. WIN! So, we made our way home...aka room 4576! See...it really does pay to go up to speak to a CM rather than just waiting on the text!

It was a hike, but the room was lovely. I really like the updates since our last AKL stay (the car accident trip of 2013).

But enough about the inside, what about the view?!?!?

Well, it's gorgeous!

And if the photos aren't looking like my norm, it's because I wasn't able to bring the DSLRs. I had to make room for the vital run gear, which was more important than pictures for this trip. So, I bought in to Memory Maker. I still didn't use it a ton, but it's a MUST if you're doing a Disney race.


That's it for now. Coming up- we head to MK and have a night of food and fireworks! Thanks for following along!!!


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Original Poster
I'm excited to see your running adventures!
Yay!!! It was a lot of fun!

Can’t wait to read all about it!
Thanks for following along...through all of this! :)

I'm in, too! Can't wait to hear all the rest of the deets! (Nice photos you shared, by the way. AKL is such a gorgeous property.)
Trying to type as much now while all of the little things are still fairly fresh in my mind. Thanks! I think AKL is stunning! I'm so glad that the discounts made it possible for us to stay here.

Yay! Can't wait to follow along on your running adventure! Love the view from your AK room!
The CM really did a great job placing us. I would have been fine with a parking lot view. It's a risk you take with a standard room, but I'm always happy when standard just means "non-Arusha view."

This TR sounds like it's going to be so much fun!!
I hope so! The trip was so much fun :D

I can't wait to see all of your costumes!!
That was definitely one of the more fun and interesting parts of this trip. Already thinking about what I want to do next :)

Can't wait to hear more !
Thanks! :)


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Before I get into more TR, I had the craziest trip related thing happen to me tonight. I was waiting at the Culver's drive through (they were doing a fundraiser night for my younger one's elementary school) when some guy rolled up next to me and waved for me to roll my window down. He had seen a certain race weekend something I had on my vehicle and wanted to congratulate me on my run(s)!!! Apparently, he ran Wine & Dine in November and plans on Dopey for next year. We had a fun little chat, but it was so cool to be stopped at a local drive through and congratulated!

OK, on to this TR installment!


So, after checking out our room and stunning view, it was back to the lobby. I wasn't sure how long we'd have our tree, so I decided to take pics of it each time I passed (when I remembered), just to appreciate it while we had it.

Then it was off to wait on a bus to MK.

I can't recall exactly how long it took, but I'd say 10-15 minutes for this one.

So, we get to MK and I take some video...and stupid me forgets that my phone doesn't handle video rotation well and I'm too much of a video moron to get it to rotate. So, let's just say we didn't actually hit up MK sideways.

Time to make sure those Magic Bands do more than open resort room doors!

They worked!

Not a bad arrival time for a travel day involving air.

Now, if you've seen my TRs of the past, you know it's like pulling teeth to get me to stop at a Photopass photographer, but this was supposed to be a no pressure trip, plus I already paid for it, so we actually stopped for a picture before entering the park!

Now, I was well aware that MK (and really all of the parks) would still be in full blown Christmas mode for Marathon week, but it's still always such a treat to enter MK and see this...

Funny observation...AKL was playing Christmas music (fun stuff, like O Holy Night in one of the African languages)...but MK was back to normal non-holiday music. I was a little bummed because the MK playlist is usually pretty heavy on the Ray Conniff Singers stuff. Oh well.

My friend had heard about the barber shop pixie dusting people, so she wanted to head over there first...

Unfortunately, this is now done at Sir Mickey's...so it would have to wait until later.

Now before I show you a better picture, I'd like to share this...

I got a new iPhone back in November and I have this nasty habit of getting my index finger into the longer range shots. So, we'll just call it the fickle finger of Disney...not that it's really fickle or really anything beyond a finger in the way.

Here's a better shot! No finger!

We were already in our FP window for our first one of the day and we were getting closer to the end, so I suggested we head over there first.

Watch out, they spit! Actually, no puddle today...so, no spitting. Or did someone get cranky and convince Disney to stop the camel?

Still walking...

And we have arrived!

It would also be my first time seeing the modified redhead scene. Not a huge fan, but nothing I can do. Still, other parts are still awesome! Although, the mist screen wasn't working...which seems to be hit or miss with our visits. It was also my first time smelling Disney attraction water this trip. Hopefully, I wasn't freaking anyone out by taking huge whiffs of Disney water scented air.

Love the person behind us covering their face with the hat!

We were in the window for our next FP, but we had plenty of time to get it done. My friend isn't in to thrill rides and I'm not into pushing people into doing things that make them uncomfortable...unless it's my children and the Haunted Mansion is involved -HA! So, we started walking...



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The streets were loaded with people waiting for FOF, but I was more interested in seeing some wildlife...

I think my friend said she hasn't seen this since she was a kid. The same can't be said for me, but I did enjoy that it was a bear loving crowd that clapped and sang along, without being obnoxious.

I still wasn't quite ready for our next ride and after getting my cool Doombuggy toy (see PTR), I wanted to see if there was anything else neat in Memento Mori that needed to be mine.

Nothing really appealed, so it was time to go play with some ghosts.

This is one my friend can't do with her kids (she's not cruel like me!), so it was nice for her to get to ride it.

We wound up with Ezra as our hitchhiking ghost, which is my favorite, so that made me pretty happy. Although, I'm thinking that's the Hatbox ghost they're using for the ride shot...which is funny, since that's a DL thing.

Oh well, time to leave the ghosties...

We had some time until our next FP. We were hoping to ride IASW, but the standby was showing something like 50 or 55 minutes. WAAAAAAY too long, so we popped in for some shopping...

I was really hoping they'd have these IASW leggings I'd seen online, but no such luck. So, we headed towards Sir Mickey's to get a dusting.

If you ever saw any of my early TRs, I used to travel with fine grade glitter to dust my kids. I meant to bring some for us for this trip since I thought we could use pixie dust for race days. Yeah, I forgot. So, we left the dusting to Disney!

I'd like to note that my hair really holds glitter. I think I had visible glitter from this for several days. I tried to photograph it, but if you zoom in, I think it just looks like dandruff...MAGICAL dandruff! HA!

We thought about heading deeper into Fantasyland...

...but we decided to check out the castle and wound up getting a nice view of FOF.

It's also a nice spot for castle pics...



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And really happy to be on this side of these crowds...

Oh yeah...I took a little video from our spot as well.

After this, it was FP time. Of course, IASW was down to 25 min at this point, but we had dinner plans, so we just hopped on Peter Pan. And no, I didn't start crying over London this time. No...I started crying over Nana!

And I am soooooooooooooooo glad we rode when we did. The FP line was fairly short when we went to ride. I'm guessing everyone and their mother went from FOF to use their Peter Pan FPs, because the FP line was out to the carousel and required an end of the line sign.

So, it was time to head out of MK...

...but first, my friend wanted to get some pics in front of the castle. OK

Normal enough, but that wasn't good enough for the photographer. So, he had us get all posey...

I am not a touchy feely person- with anyone but immediate family, so this was just uncomfortable for me in general. My friend later realized that he probably thought we were a couple. Nothing wrong with that, but we're not...so, just an interesting observation. The bigger thing is I really just should have told the photographer that I'm not comfy with the poses.

I popped into the Emporium on the way out, but restrained myself.

On the way out, we caught a bit of the Dapper Dan's. We had passed them earlier, but even better to catch them when we have a few minutes to spare.

The family of the girl towards the end of the video had me airdrop the video to them, since I guess I was the only one who got any of this. See, my constant camera work...even if mediocre at best...is helping others get their vacation memories as well!

After that, it was out of MK for a bit and off to the boat launch area...

These ducks weren't moving!

And we're finally on the boat...

So, we arrive at WL and it occurs to me that I haven't been here since 2011, and haven't been here by boat since 2010. Crazy!!!

And as you can see from this pic, WL is not in Christmas mode. So, no big pretty tree here...


Coming up...dinner at Storybook and Dessert and Fireworks in MK


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Original Poster
Which model do you have? Your pictures are so clear & crisp. The colors are very vibrant. Honestly, yours are better than the PP ones!!
Awwww thanks!!! It's the 11...the cheaper base model, not the one that's over $1K. I still can't play with the light like I can on my DSLR, but I've been pretty happy with the pictures and video so far.



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Getting today's update in a bit early so I have more time to sit down and relax tonight. Getting back to this adulting stuff (i.e. work and kids) is kind of exhausting too! Then add in that yesterday was my first gym day after getting back and today was my first run since the races, and I'm ready for nap time. Oh well, getting back to the 7th...

Story Book was our reason for heading to WL. I have never met any of the dwarfs or the Evil Queen and my friend was also really interested in this meal, so it seemed like a good choice. We were seated almost immediately. The host asked if we wanted to sit on the same side together, and I think this was what got my friend thinking about the photographer couple notion. We declined and sat across from each other. I don't even sit side by side at restaurants with my husband.

First observation was the red napkin and apple holder...that turned out so clearly in this picture!

I did like the whole tree/enchanted forest feel...

And the dwarfs...definitely liked the dwarfs...

It was our first meal of the trip, so drinks were definitely in order. My friend's was much more fun than mine.

And no, I have no idea what we decided it was like. LOL

I missed getting a pic of my friend's version, but this was the gluten free/dairy free version of the appetizer. I hadn't eaten all day and it's now nearly 5pm ET, so I pretty much inhaled my food. I think I even drank the broth directly from the cauldron.

It wasn't our turn yet, but the queen was right next to us, so we got a bit of a show throughout the meal.

We both wound up getting the prime rib for our entree, but they had to modify mine, since I couldn't have the potato puree or the popover.

Mine was very good, but they really didn't have any good alternatives for the popover or the potato. So, it wasn't overly filling. And trust me, it was really tempting to snag that popover from her plate...even though I knew it would be a disaster.

Soon, it was character time. I've only done this whole character meal thing with family, so we weren't really sure how to handle these things, but we started off trying selfies.

I'm usually pretty good about talking to characters...something my friend is trying to learn. Of course, that right there made me draw a blank, so I had to think fast and ask Snow about Happy, since he's my favorite. We were really lost with Dopey. Ha! And then it was Grumpy's turn, and I came back into my normal form. We worked sort of a good cop/bad cop approach, where my friend said things that were very Grumpy and I was all happy and cheerful ... so, I was the anti-Grumpy.

There's that fickle finger again!

And it was my turn, and as you can kind of see...he totally disapproves of me and all of the happiness I'm standing for at this moment.

Shortly after this, we were summoned to meet the Evil Queen. I know I tried to butter her up about her still being the fairest...

Although, my kids have said she's more of a crazy eyes kind of thing...

This is probably her best look. Don't get me wrong...I like them all, but I feel like she's at her most evil in this one. I think she liked my friend better, since she was wearing her villains backpack that has an image of the queen.

So, we were done with our little brush with royalty and headed back for dessert. This was mine...

It was sort of a chia seed pudding, a gooseberry crumble and a brownie truffle. It was all really good, but the chia was my fave.

This was the non-allergy option...



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She also got this lovely presentation...

They did come up with some kind of allergy friendly heart for me too, but no cool presentation and caramel corn with that.

All in all, it was a decent meal and we had great service, but when you're paying OOP, it's a bit pricey. Still, I'd probably go with the kids if they were interested.

My friend was initially interested in a cupcake at Roaring Fork, but dinner was filling for her and we had more food ahead of us. So, we headed out into the setting sun to catch a boat back to MK.

I wasn't expecting one of the little ones, but a boat is a boat.

The quality of the night pics are mixed at best, even though it has a night setting, but MK with the holiday decorations is always magical at night.

And there she is in all of her dreamlight glory...

My friend has never seen the parks in holiday mode and had to cancel their November trip, so I know it was a treat getting to see everything still decked out.

Now, if you read my PTR, you will know that I booked the Dessert Party as an effort to save my feet for running...and to save some sanity, since we know how people get at fireworks time. I was hoping to make this a surprise for my friend and I came soooooooo close! It wasn't until the day before we left that she noticed the reservation. Oh well, she still appreciated it and we made our way to Tomorrowland Terrace.

I haven't done the MK dessert party since November 2012, so a lot has changed. As you might imagine, a person with dairy and gluten issues won't have a lot they can eat from the main choices, but I still took some pics.

The guy that seated us said he'd be bringing me a plate of everything allergy friendly they had. So, I grabbed some drinks and sat down at our table. Nothing goes with dessert like POG juice, sparkling cider, and Nuun hydration from your Camelbak!

So, this is what came for me...

It wasn't bad and it certainly was plenty of food. It also helped fill me up, since I wasn't particularly full from dinner.

There's the darn finger again!

During our desserts, we also chatted with a really sweet lady traveling solo from Australia. Always love getting to strike up fun conversations with totally random strangers. It's part of the magic of Disney!

After we got our fill, we were shown over to the garden, but I wanted to check out some shops first. So, we did that...bought nothing...and came back. We found a seat and parked our butts on the ground. I tell ya, it was pretty nice to just have a calm place to settle in before the show.

And since we had Memory Maker, we opted for a couple of official pics as well.

I was wondering if people would stay seated for the fireworks...because that would have been nice! As you can see, everyone stood up as they were about to start...which I kind of expected.

I was really missing my DSLR at this point, but I was stuck seeing what my phone could do. We didn't get to see HEA last trip (Dec 2017), unless you count the little I could see and hear from outside PotC. In fact, neither one of us had ever seen it. So, I was curious to see how I'd respond. But before I give any opinions, I'm just going to give you picture overload. Hey...it's what I do...even when they're just OK.



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Tired of seeing HEA pictures yet? Good...because that's all I'm sharing (yes, there are more...A LOT more). It's also the ONLY time we'd be seeing any kind of fireworks this trip...well, unless you count the ones they use to send off each race corral.

As for opinions on HEA...I really liked it, but I had to do a little mental comparison with Wishes. Overall, I think the projections make it a better show for me, but I think I still prefer the music from Wishes...well, until the end. I think I prefer the ending music of HEA, but prefer the ending fireworks sequence of Wishes. Either way, it was a really nice show and I can be pretty happy with it.


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Crowds were pretty thick, so they routed us behind MSUSA. Funny...we were talking to a guy on our way to baggage about this being the slowest time of year. He was nice enough, but in my mind, I kept thinking...have you met the new definition of "slow?"

We eventually made our way out of MK. Me...the one who really needed to save her feet/legs...was secretly hoping her friend would be good with trying to get to Epcot for the end of EMH. MK was closing at 8 (well, after HEA), but Epcot was open until 11. Turns out, I am a night owl and she's a morning person, so she was ready to go back. I didn't have a problem with this and it's probably a good thing she wasn't on board with it. I just get there and I want to go into Disney touring commando mode...yeah, a term I taught her...because she thought I meant something else. LOL

When we got back to AKL, we made a quick stop into Zawadi...

And I had to stop again to appreciate the tree, for fear it would be gone by morning.

I also, ever so briefly, relaxed by the indoor fire...

After that, it was back to the room to move in (because this time, I was moving in...no living out of bags for this trip), and then off to bed.


Coming up... runDisney Expo Day, Disney Springs, unexpected resort exploration, and all kinds of food!
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