Trip Report *COMPLETE* Remind Me Again Why We Agreed To Do This...Our runDisney 2020 Trip Report

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
Hello All!

I hope 2020 is starting off well for everyone so far. Kelly and I, along with some friends of ours, just returned from our most recent visit to WDW and I am very excited to share in our different, but amazing, Disney experience.

For those of you who may have been following along with the pre-trip report (feel free to read up on all the planning if you'd like), you will know that this trip was nearly a year in the making and something we had never done before for a couple of different reasons. First, we had never even considered a WDW trip centred around a runDisney event and second, we have never done a WDW trip without the kids since they were born.

So, without further delay, let's get to it!

THE WARM-UP

As I mentioned, the possibility of this type of trip was discussed quite some time ago. I have been running almost obsessively for just over two years now and 2019 was the year in which I finally felt ready to start registering for some races, not just casual runs on my own. With a couple of recent visits to the World in 2017, and a few more in 2018, I really started to take notice of all the dedicated running trails in and around the resorts and learned more and more about the runDisney events and community.

I didn't realize just how big the community really is until I took a deeper dive into a number of blogs, podcasts, websites, and Instagram accounts. I was really intrigued and figured a potential runDisney event would be the perfect way to tie my passion for Disney together with my new found passion for running. Originally, I was thinking maybe 2021 as the point I would commit to my first half marathon but with my progress and after some discussion with Kelly, we decided we might as well see if we could make 2020 work.

With that, in late 2018, we both agreed that we would do everything we could to add the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in 2020 to our travel schedule. I was beyond pumped and while we couldn't really do much of the planning just yet, I was really starting to kick my training into high gear.

We happened to be having dinner with friends of ours, Mike and Kerri, in January 2019 who are also big Disney fans and have kids a few years younger than Ella and Lennon. I've known my best friend Mike since grade 10 when we first started playing hockey together. We served as the best man at each of our weddings and have been very close for nearly 20 years. When the topic of this trip was brought up, we jokingly said that they should join us and to our shocking surprise, they said they would. While Mike has really committed himself to his health over the last five years, never in a million years would I think he'd agree to run a half marathon.

We left dinner thinking how cool it would be if they did in fact travel with us but in the back of our minds, I don't think we actually thought they would come. Days later they committed to coming so long as the timing worked and it was a suggestion from Kerri that the girls run the 5K which Kelly reluctantly agreed to! Once they made that decision, planning was in full swing!

THE ROSTER

Our roster of runners was now set and with all the planning, ADRs and FP+ bookings in the almost 12 months leading up to the trip, this is how things played out...

WHO: Kelly, Matt, Mike and Kerri
WHERE: Boulder Ridge Villas (deluxe studio) - Matt and Kelly
All-Star Music - Mike and Kerri
WHEN: January 7 - 12, 2020
WHY: Because we are idiots to consider running as a vacation

 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Even though we had this trip officially planned and booked for 11 months and it seemed like it was so long away at the time we booked our accommodations, 2019 seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. Normally I'd say that was a bad thing but with the mediocre summer we had, I didn't mind that the months were melting away.

Time did seem to slow down just a little in November but as the holidays approached in December, things were crazy hectic both personally and professionally which once again made days pass by very quickly. The holidays were fun and mostly relaxing time for us as all four of us were off for close to two weeks. Maybe because they were not coming with us on this trip, the girls were spoiled during Christmas but that only seemed to provide a band-aid over the fact that we were going to WDW without them! Even if they did complain or shed a tear here and there, we knew the trip would be very quick and knowing how early some of the race transportation was scheduled to pick up runners, it would have been very difficult to have them there, especially with Ella's diabetes.




The calendar flipped to 2020 and we were just days away from heading to the airport to make the long trek down to Orlando. Our packing was mostly done, but Kelly was having a hard time with some of the last minute things for some odd reason...


I'm pretty sure Kelly was more upset to leave our 9-month old puppy, Lily, than she was the girls. The bond Kelly and Lily have is almost scary! We originally had friends of ours lined up to watch her while we were away but as I'll detail later, it didn't go according to plan. Both my mom and Kelly's mom were going to tag-team watching the girls and we wanted to make it as easy on them as possible by not having to add the dog to the mess, but even the best-laid plans have hiccups!

JANUARY 7 - DAY ONE: Travel and EPCOT

The day had finally arrived and we were all set to make our way to the airport to catch our first of two flights to get to Florida.


Our first flight was set to depart at 630 am so my mom ended up sleeping over at our house so she didn't have to wake up super early and drive over to meet us at 4 in the morning. We got ourselves together, packed up the vehicle, said our goodbyes to Lily and my mom (we let the girls sleep thinking it was the best idea so not to upset them) and made the 40 or so minute drive to the airport from our house.

I'll mention this now because it plays a bigger role on the way home. The temperature at this point was quite mild for Edmonton in January. Somewhere around -5C or so which really is a huge win for us! We made our way through security at the terminal and waited at our gate for a bit.


It's strange not traveling with the girls. Every process is so much quicker and we likely could have got away with a little extra sleep but we're programmed to time everything to include the slower security processes we are just so used to. Eventually, we met up with Mike and Kerri. Not surprisingly, Mike had only packed shorts (as did I) and had no pants to travel to or from (I had sweats for travel days). At the time this was no big deal...at the time.

We grabbed a coffee and a quick snack before boarding our flight to Calgary. A quick 38-minute flight before a two-hour layover which gave us more than enough time to get through US customs and find a bite to eat for breakfast.

Before we knew it, we had boarded our next flight from Calgary to Orlando. The flight was about 4 hours and 15 minutes and had us scheduled to land right around 430 WDW-time.


We learned that apparently Kerri is an awful flyer and traveling anywhere in Canada in the winter months can always be a bit tricky on planes, but thankfully for everyone, both flights were super smooth and we landed right on time. Once those wheels touched down we were pretty quick to put on those Magic Bands and get this trip started!


We met up with Mike and Kerri in the terminal and could immediately feel the temperature difference. Not gonna lie, it felt really good to feel the heat that we just don't get in early January unless you've got the furnace blasting in your house. Kerri survived the flight with no problem and they watched Avatar on the way down so they could prepare for Pandora later in the trip. We made a quick stop at the washroom before making the walk towards our first official ride, the terminal monorail.

Mike and I had been talking about how excited we both were to experience Galaxy's Edge for the first time and it seems like we may not be the only ones. The airport definitely knows had to get the juices flowing with some of the signage that greets guests waiting for the monorail.



Now that we were absolutely fired up and we realized we had truly arrived, we couldn't wait to get down to the Magical Express area and board the bus to our resorts. Since we knew we were taking different buses, the plan was to get to our rooms take a few minutes to get acquainted with the resort, change into some fresh clothes and meet up at EPCOT so we could first verify the Canadian resident park passes we purchased and then enjoy the park for as long as we could before Extra Magic Hours ended at 11 pm.

Lucky for Kelly and I, we were escorted on to our bus immediately while Mike and Kerri had a bit of a long line to wait through to board their bus.


The bus was maybe half full by the time we were ready to head out towards the Magic Kingdom resorts. Wilderness Lodge was the second stop on the loop and we had just been notified by the MDE app that our room was ready and waiting. At this point, we couldn't wait to get through those gates!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Looking forward to hearing all about it. DLP now has two race weekends... (just sayin’). 😊
Thanks for following! After watching the Imagineering Story on Disney+, I'd love to go check out DLP someday. Maybe another runDisney event in the cards!

I followed on Insta but cant wait to get all the nitty gritty details.
😎
I appreciate you following along both on Insta and here! You might recognize some of the photos but I'll have more time for details here.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Traffic seemed to be pretty light as we left the airport and hit the freeway toward Disney. The usual Magical Express video was playing and there was a pretty noticeable buzz from those on board. Like us, many others were excited to be kicking off their visit.

There was a family behind us that were staying at two different resorts, Poly and WL, who were having discussions about seeing if the guests at the Poly could check with the front desk to see if there was any room for the WL guests to switch resorts. I gathered that the WL guests were DVC members and the Poly guests were their older parents. Mom seemed completely confused by the request her daughter had just made and dad, wisely, said nothing.

For about 10 minutes we listened, and quietly laughed to ourselves, as the mom and daughter had this mini argument about asking the front desk. As much as mom kinda came off clueless, daughter was not helping her own cause. Mom asked her to get off the bus at the Poly drop off and inquire herself but the response of "I can't because we have our own resort to go to" didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Bah, at any rate, this finally settled down just as we approached the welcome gate. Everyone tried to get a good look as the bus officially entered the property. Kelly was sitting in the window seat and was tasked with snapping a quick pic.


Not bad but I told her she better get those camera skills straightened out, no more messing around!

As we weaved through the roads towards the Magic Kingdom resorts, our bus was about to drive near Hollywood Studios. With the hopes of potentially catching a glimpse of Galaxy's Edge, I readied my phone just in case. I know we all love the backside of water, but I'm an even bigger fan of the backside of Batuu!


OK, so you can't really get a true picture of what we were eventually going to be walking into in a few days but the sight of the land had me pumped up to see it in person.

With the MK resort area upon us, mom and daughter resumed the world's most confusing discussion which didn't end until the bus pulled into the Poly and dad zoomed off the bus. The second wise decision he made. Not a word said, just off as quick as he could. Mom slowly made her way out with a few other family members and left daughter with no clear understanding of whether they were actually going to fulfill her request or not. Oh well, I'm sure they figured it out eventually!

Soon after we had arrived at the Wilderness Lodge. We were home!









We have stayed here more than a few times but no matter how many visits we make to the WL, I am always in awe of the lobby. Every detail is just so well done.

Even though we had our room number, we made a quick pitstop at the front desk to inquire about keeping our room for the duration of the trip. Because we added on a day, we ended up having two separate reservations, one for the evening of the 7th and another from the 8-12th. The Cast Member was most helpful in letting us know that the room would be the same, we just had to drop by in the morning to do a "check out/check in" and pick up the new MagicBands that we ordered months prior to leaving. With that, we turned out of the amazing lobby and made the walk down the covered canopy towards the Boulder Ridge Villas.




Our room was on the fourth floor and we were about to discover it was almost as far away from the elevators as possible. Not like we were going to be putting on enough steps during this trip already, the room distance made for quite a few more!

The Boulder Ridge area is quite beautiful, just as the rest of the resort is. So many little sitting areas and things to discover.


And, of course, the typical Disney touches you'd come to expect...


We finally made it to our room and were looking forward to checking it out. Last time we stayed here we had a beautiful first floor one bedroom. That was back when the kids needed regular naps and we really needed the extra space to ensure they slept well. Studios are more than fine for us now, whether it's all four of us or just Kelly and me.









The room may not have been as spacious or luxurious as the one-bedroom we once stayed in, but it was absolutely perfect for what we needed. And, I could not have been happier to see my friends waiting for me!




Those little beauties would be stashed away in my luggage as soon as our bags were delivered from the airport!

We made a few quick calls home to let everyone know we arrived safely and got ourselves cleaned up from a long day of sitting in airplanes and buses. Once we felt like we were all set, we made the hike back towards the elevators to head down to the transportation area to hitch a ride over to EPCOT and have a little fun!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Following along while waiting for a flight home to the UK. I ran Dopey so I’m interested in how you got along in your races
Thanks for following along! I hope you had a great visit. Kudos to you on running the Dopey! I'll get into it later but upon completing the half, I couldn't imagine going to run a full the next day! That stance may or may not have changed!

Safe flight home!

Following along as well. Looks like we were there for the same days and for the same reasons 😁
Thanks for following! Very cool to connect with all these amazing runners!
 
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