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
We continued to wait...and wait...and wait. The only updates we were getting were more of the same. The girls weren't moving and were now sitting on the floor with the rest of the guests in their group. Didn't seem to be a lot of info being circulated other than they were trying their best get things back on track.

Now that we had been sitting around for about 25 minutes (and the girls in line for an hour by now), Mike and I walked over to Sci Fi to check in and explain what was going on. Our reservation was for 730 (park closed at 900) so at least we had some time if things were going to be delayed longer.


We arrived and went to speak with the CMs at the front desk. We told them about the hiccup and they assured us that while they couldn't check us in until the entire party arrived, that they would seat us whenever all four of us were there.

We hoped it wouldn't be too long so we grabbed a quick water and sat down outside near the restaurant doors. Once again, we waited...and waited...and waited. We did get some free popcorn from the Sci Fi staff which was nice and the girls relayed to us that they too were getting some rations, water, chips and a banana to keep them sustained while they waited and made new friends with the people around them.

Eventually, Mike and I decided to go ride Star Tours since we literally had nothing else to do. It was a walk-on so it didn't take us long at all to load onto our cruiser and blast into space. It was the same Rise of Skywalker scene was experienced in the morning but was kind of a cool way to bookend the day.

With the ride done, the latest update was the girls were still stuck. We decided to head back to wait for them at the Rise exit. When we arrived it sounded like they were finally moving so we'd see them in about 18 or so minutes. All in, they spent nearly two hours in the line was obviously a major drag.

At long last, we finally spotted them exiting the ride. They seemed very pleased to be back in the real world. We asked them what they thought and both of them provided a less than stellar review. While they agreed it was very cool the way things were structured, they both felt a little underwhelmed. I chalk this up to the massively disappointing and grueling wait they had to endure but also, I figured Kelly wouldn't be as into it simply because she likely had no clue who or what anything was throughout the ride.

At any rate, we were all starving at this point so it was time to head back to Sci Fi and check-in. We arrived an hour after our reservation but they were quick to seat us and get us ready for our meal. I must say, Sci Fi has one of the coolest dining premises on property and love piling into one of the cars to watch the old films on-screen while eating.


And I'm always a sucker for the Disney details...


We placed our orders and enjoyed the show around us. Only downside to our seating arrangements was that we were in one row of the car and Mike and Kerri were behind us. Made it tough to talk to each other but what can you do I guess? We were all very hungry so food was the only thing on our minds anyway.

Kelly and I started with Milkshakes, she had Oreo and I had chocolate. They were delish!


Kelly ordered the Cheesesteak Sandwich and I went with the Drive-In BBQ burger. I am always taken back when I order a burger in the States and they ask me how I want it cooked. We don't have that option in Canada so it always throws me for a loop. At any rate, I ordered medium well as we never have much, if any, pink in our burgers.

Because it's so dark in the restaurant I didn't take food pics but the food was pretty decent. Kelly wasn't the biggest fan of her sandwich but my burger was good. I'm not the biggest Sci Fi food fan, I think there are far better meals around DHS, but since Mike and Kerri wanted to eat there, we weren't going to say no.

We finished up our meals and it was now around 930. The fireworks were over and the park was closing. It was most definitely time to head home and get some sleep after what was a very long day with the race and going park open to close. We were all pretty impressed we held up so well.

As we walked to the main gates, Kelly took in one last glimpse of a DHS Christmas before saying goodnight.




With the day coming to an end, Kelly and I decided to hail a Lyft instead of waiting for the bus. Mike and Kerri were fine grabbing the bus back to All-Stars so we said good night to them as we all left the park and went our separate ways. The plan was to meet up bright and early the next morning to take advantage of EMH at Magic Kingdom.

Our ride arrived shortly after we requested it and we were back at the Wildy in about 15 minutes. Exhausted, we found our way back to the room and immediately passed out from the long day. That 630 alarm would be upon us shortly but oddly enough it felt like sleeping in when we set it!

Another great day in the books and a full day at MK awaited in the morning.
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
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JANUARY 10 - DAY FOUR: MK ALL DAY

The alarm hit and we woke up feeling relatively relaxed since 630 was the latest we had slept so far on the trip. Throughout the night times, we had been keeping tabs on Ella's blood sugar levels back some which resulted in some late-night texting or phone calls to the grandma taking care of her. It's certainly not out of the ordinary for our sleep to be interrupted multiple times each night depending on her levels and the trip was no exception but for the most part, things were relatively smooth with the exception of the hiccup with her insulin pump the day before.

As we readied ourselves to head over to MK for 8 am EMH, I enjoyed a morning coffee from our balcony. Being so far from the lobby area, our view to one side was not overly ideal but if you looked the opposite way it wasn't so bad.



Once we were both ready to roll, we wanted to take the boat over to MK as opposed to the bus so we made our way to the launch. When we arrived there was a small line of people waiting for the boat but nothing that would make us have to wait for the next vessel. THe morning was shaping up to be a beauty. Very few clouds, the sun was shining and it was already feeling pretty warm. Mike and I were keeping an eye on the temps as they were trending up towards race weekend. Something we'd have to be aware of for the next morning.


As we were sailing over to MK, we got a text from Kerri saying they missed their bus from All-Stars and were going to be a bit late. They told us to head in and they would text us when they arrived. Too bad, but it gave us a little extra time to get a few more photos and maybe hop on a ride or two when we arrived.

Landing at the dock a few minutes before 8, our timing was pretty solid. We breezed through security and made our was towards the main gates. There were people around, but it didn't seem like staggering numbers were flowing into the park this early. Made me excited that we might experience a bit of relaxed Main Street when we walked in.




Once inside the gates, there was a very small line for PhotoPass right at the front which we were not going to pass up. Had to make the best use out of our Memory Maker so why not, right?



The famous sign welcomed us to Walt's world of fantasy


It felt so good to be back in the Magic Kingdom. Never before have we waited multiple days before making our first visit to MK and Kelly was beyond excited to see that all the Christmas stuff was still on display. The park looked gorgeous in the morning sun.



Again, there were people around but it seemed like everyone who was in the parks was already heading to rides, not really caring about hanging around Main Street and soaking it in. We were happy to do so and we met yet another chipper PhotoPass photog for a few more shots.


Before heading off to our first attraction, Kelly told me to run up on the train station platform so she could take my picture. Nobody was up there so it would be a quick shot.


After that pic, the PhotoPass photographer ran up to Kelly and said let me try something. He grabbed my phone and positioned Kelly so her arm was held out. He then positioned himself to take a phot with my phone that looked as if Kelly was taking a selfie with me in the background. It turned out really well! He made for a great memory to start our day!


Then he told Kelly to run up and join me so he could snap one of the two of us on the platform.


Kudos to the Disney CastMembers who are always finding ways of creating happiness for their guests!

Our barrage of early morning photos wasn't quite done yet. With Mike and Kerri yet to arrive we had no issue taking our time to enjoy the scenery.

What a babe...Kelly looks good too, but the castle steals the show!






Finally pictured out, we made our way over to Tomorrowland to kick start our day with Space Mountain! I gotta say, the new sign isn't too bad, even if it looks like a giant coffee cup holder or something.
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
We strolled through Tomorrowland on our way over to Space. As we approached the queue we received an update that the others were on the bus, nearly at MK to catch up with us. The posted wait time for Space was 15 minutes which would have worked out to be perfect timing to ride then meet Mike and Kerri.



We were pumped up to ride as we zoomed through the relatively empty queue. In less than 10 minutes we were lining up on the Omega side to hop in our rockets and blast into space.

A classic, and even if it is cramped and a tad rough, what better way to start the day with a little adrenaline kick. I may have been a bit too excited, certainly more excited than our shipmate who barely looks awake...


Meanwhile, as we were on SPace, Mike and Kerri had arrived and were going to meet us over by the ride. Like us, they made sure to take advantage of the Memory Maker before we got together.



As we exited the ride we noticed the big changes in the exit queue from the ride back into Tomorrowland. All of this was under construction when we were last here in 2018. Looks good now that it's all finished and even though it's still a long walk, it's better than the makeshift exit that took you back by the train tracks before.

I also noticed the amazing progress happening on Tron. Looks like things are moving really well so far. After watching the Imagineering Story I seriously can't wait to experience this ride once it's opened. Going to be a great addition to MK. Say what you want about all the construction going on all over the place, Disney is doing a great job in making sure their parks have something new and exciting to offer to guests.

As we met up with Mike and Kerri we decided to jump back into the Space queue. The wait was only 20 minutes and it gave us a chance to hear why they missed the bus. Apparently they both left the bus area to go and get coffee and by the time the returned and got in line again, they were the first two unable to load an had to wait for the next one. SHould have sent one of them for coffee while the other held the line. Oh well, no damage done. Was still EMH and we had all day at MK.

The line moved a little slower this time but the posted time was pretty accurate. This time we lined up for the Alpha side.


Something about Space had us boys on edge by the looks of things.



From Space we zipped across the courtyard to ride Buzz. I have been very vocal in the past about how awful I am on this ride but was feeling much more confident this go around. Listening to the Happiest Podcast on Earth I picked up some tips on how to become a Galactic Hero and I felt like it seemed easy enough based on the secrets that were shared to get this job done.

Alas, as per usual, I was hot garbage on this ride. I think I maxed out at about 43,000 which sadly led the way for our pitiful group. Perhaps I should have been more focused...



Kelly was itching to head over to Fantasyland but before we did we decided to ride the PeopleMover as the line was nonexistent. I've seen many recent photos of the queue line packed with people waiting to board the TTA so instead of risking a return later int eh day we made our way up to the loading level and jumped in the vehicle. No photos on the ride but I definitely think the PeopleMover is an underrated attraction. Such great views of not only Tomorrowland but some of the MK as well.

Happy we took a spin around TL, we now decided it was time to head to Fantasyland. One of the MUST DO's for Mike was the teacups so that was our next target. Along the way, Alice was out greeting guests so we stopped to say hello.





The Teacups were next. Very few people waiting in line meant we were on the next go around. So far we were cruising through some early morning attractions which was great as we had a 1030 Crystal Palace reservation to keep in mind.



Mike was pumped to have taken a spin on the teacups and we figured we had time for one more ride before heading over to check-in for our reservation. Winnie the Pooh had a 25 minutes wait time posted so that was next up for us. Kelly caught a craving for a drink she saw another guest walking by with so I made a quick stop at the Cheshire Cafe to grab a Wonderland Slushie while the others stood in the queue.


Having stolen a few sips before catching up to them in line, it was pretty tasty and Kelly seemed to agree.

The line that we were hoping would allow us to have one more ride was not moving at all and time started to tick away. We waited as long as we could before deciding to jump out as we were all pretty hungry and we definitely didn't want to delay the amazing spread at Crystal Palace for too long.

We found a place to exit and decided to head behind the castle to roam around the moat to get to CP. Along the way, we did get a little distracted with the amazing setting and had to ensure we captured the moment.




We arrived and checked in just after 1030. We had to wait a few minutes before being escorted to our table which was right at a window with a great view of the castle. A pretty solid setting for what was no doubt going to be an outstanding display of eating from the four of us. Mike specifically requested Crystal Palace for the sole reason that they had an omelet station!
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
Once we sat down and provided our drink orders, we wasted little time in hitting up the buffet. I took a look around to see what was being offered while Mike made the mad dash to the omelet station. I don’t recall the last time we at Crystal Palace but off the top of my head I feel like we had dinner here and I remember some pretty tasty BBQ items.

Looking around at the unreal spread of food set out for diners, it was clear we weren’t going to be disappointed with the meal this morning either. We all filled our first plate and made our way back to the table to enjoy.

I didn’t snap a photo of the mountain of food before us but we all were pretty excited to dig in. I followed Mike’s lead and ended up with an omelet of my own but the thing I was most pleased about was the hot oatmeal. I can never pass that up when it’s offered.

Kelly seemed to take a different route and loaded up her plate with the kids' options. She had a bunch of Pooh’s stuffed French toast on her plate which she absolutely loved.

The first plate of food didn’t last very long for any of us and as we contemplated making the trip for seconds, we were delayed as we had guests joining us for a quick visit. First, Eeyore stopped by to bring down the mood a little.


Piglet followed him.



And then we had a little lull in the action as some of the celebrations started going on throughout the dining area which drew the characters away. Perfect time to head back for more food, which I think we all did. This time I tried the stuffed French toast and was very happy I did. Extremely tasty treat.

We definitely had our fill by the time Tigger bounced by the table.

I was reminded once more how quickly some of these character visits can skip by without kids and autograph books. Not that it was more than enough time for us to get good pics and have a solid experience. Just different is all.

Another small lull in the action between Tigger and Pooh allowed us to pay our bill and get ourselves ready to depart the Crystal Palace once we did meet our furry friend. The CMs around were very helpful in making sure we met all the characters and eventually Pooh Bear made an appearance. We weren’t in any rush so the timing was no issue. We enjoyed the time spent in the restaurant with a really good meal. We are very much considering going back the next time we visit, for the French toast alone!


With our Pooh pics now captured; it was back out into the parks to stroll through Adventureland.


The second MUST DO ride for Mike was Pirates so off we went to set sail. Judging by the line at the Aloha Isle, the park was definitely getting crowded. The day was perfect and with Marathon weekend in full swing, I guess it came as no surprise that MK would be busy on a Friday.

We arrived at Pirates to a 45-minute posted standby wait. Knowing there was no way we were going to pass up a classic, we jumped in line and waited our turn.


Like most rides we had experienced to this point, the line moved rapidly. We took the time we had in line to check-in at home and make sure things were going well. Thankfully we saved about 15 minutes and were getting ready to board within a half-hour of entering the line.

Mike and Kerri’s most recent Pirates experience was at DL the year previous, which we all agree is the better version, so they missed some of the charm of riding through the blue bayou and the multiple drops but they did like, and were surprised by, the ride photo!

Mike was pleased to have experienced one of his favourites. As we exited the ride, we stumbled upon a very small wait to meet Captain Jack himself. Of course, Kelly was quick to jump in line and we all followed. I was impressed with the likeness both looks and the voice of this Jack Sparrow. As Jack would, he seemed pretty fixated on the girls but acknowledged his new mates as well!


With a FastPass for Big Thunder next on the itinerary, we rolled over towards Frontierland. The biggest disappointment both Mike and I had leading into the trip was the fact that our favourite ride, Splash Mountain, was down for refurb. We sulked as we walked by the attraction all boarded up, sitting silent and completely dried up. I would have been in the front row no matter what the weather would have been like had it been opened but on a day a nice as it was today, I’m sure the line would have been jam-packed.



At least we had Big Thunder to lift our spirits. The Standby queue was 55 minutes and the FP line looked relatively busy as well, but we were ready for the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness! The FP line moved pretty quickly, as they tend to do and after about 10 or so minutes we had wandered through the queue, down the ramp and were told to head toward the last few rows of the train to load. Can’t beat the back of the train on Big Thunder!


For whatever reason, this ride seemed even wilder and resulted in a lot of screaming from both Kerri and Kelly! If we were feeling at all lethargic after our big brunch, we were definitely awake now!

Bummed that we had to walk by the shuttered Splash once more, we made our way back towards the rest of Frontierland to continue what was already a very busy MK visit. As we walked by the Country Bear Jamboree building, the sign flashed that the next show was starting in 5 minutes. We looked at each other and decided to head in. Why not, right?


CBJ is not a show we watch during each visit, in fact I cannot even remember the last time we've watched it, but we were looking forward to checking it out again.


Having not seen the show in a while, I forgot how good it actually is! We laughed throughout the whole thing and I was absolutely singing along with Big Al when he got on stage. I left humming the songs and telling Kelly that we have to make sure we take the girls during the next visit.

We left the building only to run into a few stars of the show!




Before we carried on, it was time for a quick restroom break before we made our way back to Fantasyland for a Mine Train FastPass. I swear it had nothing to do with the significance of where we were standing (I really hope others are familiar with this reference)...
 

Tuvalu

Premium Member
my mistake
A common one. :happy: Before I tried it, I read lots of reports about this amazing “stuffed” French Toast. I couldn’t wait to find out what the filling was. Then I noticed the sign, “Pooh’s Puffed Toast.” It’s chewy fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar....AND THE MOST DELICIOUS PASTRY EVER!!!!

I wonder if the confusion stemmed from another dish, Breakfast Lasagna, which is filled with pudding, strawberries, bananas, etc. and also unique to Crystal Palace.

Absolutely agree with your review of it!
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
How can the woman behind you and Kelly on BTMRR not be happy??? That’s just wrong; she’s about to ride BTMRR!
Right?! Honestly I didn’t even notice her until you just posted that but now that’s all I see! My only explanation is she’s a first time rider and doesn’t know what’s up.

A common one. :happy: Before I tried it, I read lots of reports about this amazing “stuffed” French Toast. I couldn’t wait to find out what the filling was. Then I noticed the sign, “Pooh’s Puffed Toast.” It’s chewy fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar....AND THE MOST DELICIOUS PASTRY EVER!!!!

I wonder if the confusion stemmed from another dish, Breakfast Lasagna, which is filled with pudding, strawberries, bananas, etc. and also unique to Crystal Palace.

Absolutely agree with your review of it!
it was really good, stuffed, puffed or whatever! I’d definitely get it again if we go back. I don’t even care that it’s in the kids corner!
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
As we walked back towards Fantasyland, I was telling Mike and Kerri why the road through Liberty Square had the brown streak through the middle. They seemed creeped out to learn why yet quite impressed that Disney would include those types of detail. And oddly fascinated that I even knew to point this out to them to which I thanked the amazing detail of the WDW Radio Show and the hours I've spent listening to Lou Mongello while training for the run.

We passed the queue for Haunted Mansion to see a posted wait time of 120 minutes for the standby line. We couldn't believe that at that point in time, HM was the highest wait in MK. We did not make an FP for HM thinking it would not be needed but this was clearly making us second guess our tactics.

At any rate, we continued over towards the Mine Train and our current FP selection. A surprise to nobody, the standby line for Mine Train was in the triple digits. This is one ride that FP pays off massively!


With the use of FPs and being able to secure disability return times when we travel with Ella, Kelly has yet to actually see the standby queue of this ride. I did experience it at rope drop when I was solo for the Disney Institute trip in 2018 and it's definitely worth checking out, maybe just not when the wait is 100 minutes.

Thanks to the FP line, we were loading into the mine cars pretty quickly after scanning our bands. Mike and Kerri weren't exactly sure what to expect from the ride as first timers but were excited to check it out. Kelly and Kerri rode together while Mike and I jumped in behind them. Judging by the looks on their faces, they seemed to enjoy themselves!


Funny how one picture can essentially ask "this is a kids ride?" in such different ways based on the expressions on Mike and Kerri's faces...


They both agreed that this is a ride their kids would love if/when they returned to the World. They really enjoyed the show scenes within the mine and the unexpected thrills.

With a few minutes before our next FP window opened up for Peter Pan, we decided to head back towards Story Book Circus to check out the gift shop. As we walked behind the Seven Dwarfs, we made our way into the 20 minute line for Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Not sure why I didn't snap any photos but I am a big fan of this queue. Tons of detail throughout and a lot to look at as you wind your way towards the ride.

For any other Canadians that may also be CFL fans, the running joke around the cFL community is you can't go anywhere in the world (not WDW!) without seeing a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan in their team gear. As someone who hates the Riders, I had to laugh when low and behold a guest wearing a Rider Jersey was just a few families behind us in line. It was nice to get a small reminder of home. Which then led to us taking a closer look at what we were missing back in the great white north, namely the weather and what we would be returning to on the Sunday...


Those temps are in C and did not include the windchill which pushed things between -40-50. Made us appreciate that we still had a few more days of sun and fun!

After Ariel, we continued to walk to the Circus. Kelly loves this gift shop primarily for the baked goods but there always seems to be some cool Dumbo merchandise as well. Lennon is obsessed with Dumbo so we figured we'd take a look around. We all split up for a few moments to browse around and while Mike and Kerri were successful in grabbing a few items to take back to their kids, Kelly and I left empty handed. We did find something but weren't sure how we'd end up getting this back home in one piece or uneaten...


With our shopping break done, we strolled back to Peter Pan for our next FP. The plan would be to fly through Neverland then set sail on the happiest cruise on earth before finding our way back towards Liberty Square for the parade.

Pan, of course, was jammed but the FP line had us boarding in about 10 minutes.


This is another ride that I can never pass up. Not only is it a classic but once more the upgrades and details showcased on the Imagineering Story makes me appreciate it that much more.

After Pan, we weaved our way directly across the walkway into the line for Small World. 15 minutes was the posted wait time and that was about right as we loaded into our boat to set sail. Mike and Kerri missed the incorporation of some classic Disney characters that are on display in Disneyland but still enjoyed the ride. For as gruff as he may look, Mike is a big fan of the Small World music which was a surprise to me!

By the time we exited the ride, the parade was going to start in about 15 minutes. We decided to head back to Liberty Square to find a space to watch. The line for HM had not budged. Still sitting right around two hours. We really wanted to ride but weren't prepared to wait for that long just yet. We'd hold off an hope it went down later in the day.

We ended up finding a pretty good spot to watch right across from the Golden Horseshoe. Just as we settled into our spaces, the music fired up and the parade was beginning down by Splash Mountain. Before long, the floats had arrived and the show was right in front of us.














Festival of Fantasy is a terrific parade. We were really pleased to have made time to watch it. Now that it was over and some of the crowd was beginning to clear out, all the breakfast/brunch we had consumed was being burnt off by all the walking and rides. Everyone was in the mood for a snack but only I was in the mood to head over to Adventureland for a Dole Whip. The rest of the crew was going to try and seek out churros or something else so I set off on my own to find my favourite treat.
 

Matt and Kelly

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We split up and went our separate ways to find some nourishment to push us through the rest of the afternoon before our dinner at the Plaza later in the evening.

Kelly, Mike and Kerri went in search of churros and I rolled over to Adventureland as the parade was clearing into the hub to head down Main Street. A steady stream of people entering and exiting the land as I made my way through the sign.


I stopped to fantasize about maybe one day getting to see inside one of these setups. I know I'll never be a member but it would be super cool to check out one of the Club 33 locations. I have yet to see the other Club 33 locations at the other parks but I'll have to make a point to do that next time we are in the World.


It was clear that Adventureland was packed, which made me a little nervous about how long the line for Dole Whip might be. People were jammed in everywhere and it was pretty tough to maneuver through a sea of people, many with strollers. Ahhh, I don't miss those days! Slowly, I finally made my way to Aloha Isle and was greeted by a MASSIVE queue line of people waiting for a sweet treat.


With my phone already out, I thought I could beat the line by mobile ordering. Sadly I found out that they had shut down mobile ordering, assuming that the line was just way too big and it would be impossible to serve both inline and online guests. I knew I wasn't going to wait in a 30 plus minute line for a Dole Whip so I turned around and found my way back towards the Sunshine Tree Terrace instead.


There was still a line, but nothing like the Aloha Isle. There may have been 10 or so people in front of me which seemed more than manageable. Plus it gave me time to look at the menu on the app and figure out what to order. I knew it wasn't going to be as good as the classic Dole Whip, but I decided on the I Lava You Float.


Not only does it take a pretty picture, but the treat itself was VERY good! I was eagerly enjoying it was I was walking back towards Frontierland to find the gang. Kelly texted me to let me know they were sitting down at Pecos Bills eating their snacks. I arrived to find them enjoying some tortilla chips with a bunch of fixin's from the Pecos Bill bar. Kelly had stopped at the sweet shop near Country Bears for some baking, Mike grabbed his churro, but everyone was still hungry so chips and salsa worked for everyone.

I shared a few tastes of my float and stole a chip or two as we planned what to do next. HM was still 120 minutes and Jungle Cruise was sitting ay 75. We figured we'd head back over to Tomorrowland for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and I wanted to introduce the group to the Carousel of Progress. We were also able to secure another FP for Winnie the Pooh just before our dinner reservation so we'd be able to circle back to the ride we had to bail on before breakfast.

Before we left Pecos, everyone used the restrooms and I was able to admire an old piece of tech that you just don't see very often anymore. I know these aren't payphones, potentially they were back in the day, but so rare to see this type of phone set up anywhere these days.


Once we were ready to go we decided to head through Adventureland towards the hub to cross into Tomorrowland. It was wild to see how quickly the sun set once it started. Reminded me of home, except when the sun goes down in early January the temperatures at WDW don't drop to 20 below. Adventureland was still packed, as was the Dole Whip line! We noticed that Jungle Cruise had bumped up to 90 minutes as we walked by. While we had accomplished a lot so far in the day, it was looking like we would miss out on two major attractions in JC and HM unless something changed before park close.

We weaved through the hub and into Tomorrowland. The wait for Mosnters Inc was 15 minutes, no big deal in comparison to what we were seeing. As we waited to enter the theatre, Kerri texted a couple of jokes to the number they provide and hoped they might make it into the show. After a short wait, we entered the theatre and found some seats almost right in the middle. No pictures, but I think Monsters Inc is highly underrated. Such a fun show, and how they incorporate the guests into the show is too funny. The dancing guy was brutal and "that guy" was just the perfect "that guy". When the Monsters improvise when they pan to the crowd is just so well done. We had a great laugh, mostly at the expense of That Guy. As we filled out, I was pumping the tires of the Carousel of Progress.

Having only experienced it for the first time during my DI trip in 2018, I felt like I had been missing out all these years. Yes, it's dated but the fact that Walt had his hands all over this attraction makes me really appreciate it that much more. Plus, Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is fantastic!


We walked in line and waited for the theatre to open up. I was trying to explain to the others what the ride was about and was pretty sure Kelly was not going to be a fan. The doors opened, we found our seats and waited for ol' John to walk us through decades of progress. John is definitely a dude I would enjoy having a cold sasparilla or two with. Right away I noticed people singing along to Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow and by the end of the show the whole theatre was at least humming along. Plus, nothing wrong with an extended sit down after walking around all day.

I was happy to hear that everyone quite enjoyed the show and the song was definitely stuck in our heads as we left the theatre. As we exited, we got our first glance at the holiday lighting on the castle. Even from where we were, it was looking beautiful!


At this point, we had enough time to head over to Pooh before checking in for dinner at the Plaza. We figured with an FP in hand, there was no way we would be late this time. The Standby line at Pooh was 35 minutes. We scanned our bands and entered the FP queue. The family in front of us had two of the cutest little girls talking to everyone and entertaining the line as we slowly made our way closer to the loading area. Even with FP, the line was inching along. Pooh was not on our side today!

We might have been in line for about 20 minutes before loading on and touring through the hundred acre wood. Another ride I am a big fan of and was happy we were finally able to experience it even if the smoke ring effect in the Heffalumps and Woozle room was not working properly. Oh well, seemed to be somewhat the norm for us this trip.

By now, it was pitch dark and the park was really coming to life with the holiday lighting. We had to make our way to the Plaza but before we did, we wanted to ensure we took some photos of how amazing the castle was looking.




We were all really happy that all the holiday garb was still up as how can you beat those castle lights and how amazing Main Street looks once the sun goes down.

We made it over to the Plaza to check in for our dinner reservation and the chance for me and Mike to carb up for the big race in the morning!
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
For anyone who has dined at the Plaza before, you know the restaurant is relatively small so not surprisingly we had to wait a little before we were called in to be seated. This was really no big deal as it gave us time to enjoy the ambiance of Main Street and the winter lights on the castle. Kelly made a call home to check on the girls while Mike and Kerri found a PhotoPass photographer to capture the moment.



Kerri was pumped to get these pics as she wanted to make her mother-in-law and sister-in-law jealous. They spent Christmas at Disneyland and were bragging about having their pictures in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle all decked out for Christmas. She felt this would top their cherished Christmas moment! Ah, one-upmanship at its finest!

I was happy to steal a pic of one of Walt's windows while we waited. The one above the Plaza Ice Cream Shop always overlooking Cinderella Castle.


We probably waited a good 15 minutes before I received a text letting us know our table was ready. Good timing as we were all starving at this point. With the day coming to a close, both Mike and I were starting to get a few butterflies about the race in the morning. A good meal would help. We were seated at the very first table inside the doors, which made for a cool view of the castle but also made for a pretty breezy dinner with the door opening and closing nonstop.


We placed our drink orders as we browsed the menu. Mike and I stuck with water knowing we wanted to be as hydrated as possible but Kelly and Kerri went with the bottomless milkshakes. I don't recall which flavour Kerri had but Kelly ordered Peanut Butter. I won't lie, I was jealous...very jealous. And, of course, Kelly knew this!


We made up our minds on what to order and waited for our server to return. As we waited we also checked the app to see the line time for HM. It had dwindled significantly and there was some thought that we might be able to jump on after dinner just before the park closed. We tossed around the idea of either doing HM or watching the fireworks before heading home to get some sleep.

Kelly and Kerri ordered the delicious brisket mac and cheese, Mike went with the bangers and mash and I tried the loaded fries, knowing that I would steal a few bites of Kelly's macaroni.



Everyone seemed very pleased with their meals though I was a little disappointed to have skipped on the mac and cheese. The Fries were quite good, though a little too crisp for my liking. Mike raved about the bangers and mash and the girls loved the Mac and Cheese. Luckily I was able to finish what kelly couldn't so I did get some extra carbs. That Brisket is ridiculously good. Mike was excited to take Kerri's leftovers home for a post-race snack in the morning.

Before we settled up on our bill, both ladies ordered another milkshake to take with us. Admittedly, I couldn't resist and this refill was for me to enjoy. I don't think it's on the menu but I highly recommend a peanut butter milkshake!

With 10 minutes until park close, and the start of the fireworks, the debate turned to whether we race to HM, down to 15 minutes, or we find a spot to watch the show. Mike really wanted to head to HM, Kelly really wanted fireworks. I was happy to stay with her and watch and encouraged Mike and Kerri to go to HM but after seeing the sea of people surrounding Main Street upon leaving the Plaza, they didn't think they would make it. We decided to find a space to watch the show instead.

MS was jammed so that was going to be tough to find any space. We ended up just beyond the Plaza restaurant, sort of across from the Purple Wall. We were going to be able to see only some fo the projection on the castle but we had a full view of the fireworks at least. We didn't have to wait long before the lights dimmed and the show began.

This was all of our first time seeing Happily Ever After and even though we didn't get the full effect with the projections, what we did see was excellent!







The show ended to huge applause and the thousands of people who stayed to watch started to flood down Main Street towards the exit. We decided to head into the shops to browse around and let the crowd thin out. It was crazy busy in the Emporium side shops but it did allow us to all grab a few things before we left for the evening, mostly stuff to take home to our kids.

After about 30 minutes of shopping, we wandered through the front gates and over towards the bus stop. Knowing our wake up call was really just hours away, Mike and I were definitely ready to get off our feet. We planned to meet in the runners area around 4 the next morning to get some stretching in before finding our corral. We said goodnight and found our resort bus stops to head home for the evening.

The WL bus was already there waiting for guests so we got pretty lucky to head out quite quickly after arriving. I was definitely starting to feel nervous but I was VERY excited for the morning. Traffic out of MK was moving quite slow so it took us about 20 minutes to get home. When we did arrive back at the resort, Kelly went to the room and I make a quick trip into the main lobby to head to Roaring Fork to confirm if there would be runners packs for sale in the morning.

The lobby was pretty quiet as I confirmed what time the buses would be picking up runners in the morning.


Roaring Fork was set to open at 330 for runners who wanted to purchase anything before the race so I knew I would be able to grab a little fuel before heading to the bus. I decided to walk through the courtyard back to the Boulder Ridge building and grab a few quick photos of the grounds at night.




I was ready to relax as best I could before hearing that 300 am alarm go off. We slipped into bed a little after 1030 and I was hoping I might be able to log at least 3 hours of sleep. The adrenaline was already starting to flow which made it tough to shut off my brain but thankfully I was able to get a little shut-eye!
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
January 11 - Day Five: Seriously, remind me why we agreed to do this. RACE DAY, AK and Disney Springs

I know I did get some sleep before being woken up by an alarm for Ella's blood sugar around 2 am. At that point, I knew there was no way I'd be getting back to sleep before my 3 am alarm went off. As I sat there in bed I tried to imagine what we were in for and the closer the time ticked to 3 am, the more awake, nervous, excited and somewhat ready I felt.

As soon as the alarm went off, I was outta bed and getting myself ready. Kelly and Kerri had decided that instead of trying to figure out how to get a glimpse of us at some point during the race, that they would head over to Animal Kingdom for an early breakfast and to enjoy the park without us. I suppose we couldn't feel too bad about them not watching us since we bailed on them to get on Rise a few mornings earlier. They found a Tusker House reservation and both were excited about some extra sleep with the guys gone.

I had laid out all my running stuff the night before to try and get ready as quickly and quietly as possible. I was super pumped to wear the new runDisney shirt I had bought from the expo a few days before. Once I was ready I went to kiss Kelly goodbye. She crawled out of bed to wish me luck and was nice enough to take an awkward looking "what do I do with my hands?"-like picture.


I was fired up as I left the room and made the long walk to the elevator. It was about 325 and the plan was to head to Roaring Fork to grab a runners pack and eat while I rode the bus to EPCOT. I made it to the elevator feeling pretty good for 330 am.



I walked into the lobby to see a number of other runners getting themselves ready to go. Some had runners packs in hand and others had wrapped themselves in Mylar blankets to keep their bodies warm. It was easy to notice from the short walk from Bolder Ridge to the main lobby that the humidity was already going to be a factor. Temperature-wise, it was going to be the warmest day of the trip so far which also kinda made me nervous.

I was one of about 10 people at Roaring Fork grabbing some fuel for the race. Pre-packaged runners boxes were set out at a table right beside the pay counter. For $6.99 I thought this was pretty good value, especially at Disney. I made sure to grab a coffee as well as I knew a caffeine fix would be needed.



I had my runners box, my coffee and my Nuun water ready to go so I made my way out to catch one of the buses. I had sent Mike a text to let him know I was on my way. He, too, was getting ready to catch the bus and head over. I walked out to find a row of about 4 buses ready to transport runners to the EPCOT parking lot. I was able to jump on the first bus, find a seat near the front and dig into my food. The bus filled up but it was eerily quiet as we pulled out from Wilderness Lodge.

It stayed that way the entire ride over, which was made longer because of the road closures so we had to take alternate routes. It was wild to see the number of other buses and cars already on the road. From what I had read leading up to the race, I knew this was going to be one of the races with the most participants and it was clear even before we arrived at the parking lot that there were a ton of people making their way to the starting corrals.

We arrived after about 20 minutes and made the short-ish walk from the drop-off area to the security checkpoint. Mike had arrived a few minutes earlier and had just passed security. I followed the sea of people to meet up with him.


Wisely we both decided not to bring bags to check so it made getting through security a little quicker. I was able to make my way into the runners' area and was blown away by the number of people jammed all over the place. We thought it was busy when we arrived at the 5k but this was insane. Mike had found himself a quiet space near a fence by a first aid tent which is where I met up with him to start a stretching routine. It was about 415 at this point and we knew we had time to get a good stretch before heading to the corrals. As soon as I saw him, Mike looked nervous! We had trained a long time for this day but now that it was finally here we were both kinda unsure how things would go.

We stretched and talked and strategized about how we were going to make this work for about 25 minutes or so before we both felt pretty good about our warmup. Not really knowing where to go or what to do next we figured it would be wise to make it over to the corrals just to be there on time. Little did we know we would have to walk about 4k from where we were to get to said corrals. I guess it turned out to be a good thing we decided to find our way there early as we just kept walking and walking before eventually finding the corral placement area. Even that set up was wild to see just how much space was occupied by corral gates and port-a-potty's.

Having submitted an official race time leading up to the half, I was supposed to be in corral C while Mike, having never run an official race, was placed in F. Since we wanted to run together I was happy to drop back and hang out in F. We walked into the corral area around 5 am and waited to get this thing started. People were flooding in and, in true Disney fashion, filling in all available space.


We made sure to do a final check to ensure we had what we were going to listen to all downloaded and ready. Mike has a recent episode of the Howard Stern Show and I was going to listen to a Disney World attractions countdown episode of the Happiest Podcast on Earth. We were all set!


As time ticked away, it was getting warmer and warmer which was making us nervous! Mike was sweating pretty good already, which is typical, so the plan shifted a little to make sure that we stopped at every water station to hydrate and take a bit of a walking break. Sounded like every mile marker would have water and powerade for the runners and I was happy to roll with that plan.

The anticipation grew as 530 approached. Every corral was jam-packed and people were ready to get this thing going. Since Donald Duck was the half marathon character, who better to send people off than the man himself. Donald was introduced, wished us all luck and led everyone in a countdown to send off the first corral. 530 on the nose was marked by fireworks and the first wave of runners sent off onto the course. We knew we had to wait a little before it was our turn but to our surprise, they moved through the waves quickly.

Every few minutes we would inch a bit closer to the starting line.



Until it was just about our turn. Right around 6 am we were the next wave to be let loose! I was jacked. Mike was sweaty. Let's get this going!


Donald counted us down and off we went! 18 months of training and the day had finally come! We hit the course and started to slowly run alongside our fellow runners. We must have been a minute in and I had to make a mad dash to the bush on the side of the road for a quick bathroom break before getting back on track. Not an ideal start but only put us behind a minute or so.

The first half mile was pretty smooth, at least I thought so. I was running at Mike's pace which I found out as we went along was about 2 minutes off my regular per/km (we're Canadian remember) but I didn't care. I wanted to do this together. I looked at Mike who was essentially covered in sweat at this point and while he gave me the thumbs up, his face was already saying "remind me again why we agreed to do this?!"
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
It was amazing just how many people were out on the course and the first mile and a bit was pretty tricky to find your pace without having to maneuver around people. What was very cool was starting to get a look at all of the on-course entertainment that was scattered throughout the route. A school marching band was rocking out shortly after the starting line, giant video boards playing classic Disney cartoons were set up at a few different places and, of course, there were tons of character photo opportunities that you could participate in if you wanted.

Because this was our first race and we weren't overly sure how our bodies would hold up throughout, we had decided that unless there was something we couldn't pass up, we didn't want to stop running to stand in line for photos. We figured it would be better for us to keep moving and not give our legs a chance to cramp or shut down. Our walk breaks would coincide with each water station and we'd walk until Mike was ready to start back up again.

The first mile marker hit and we had to keep trucking a bit before we got to the water area. I was amazed at the number of volunteers all over the place helping out with water and powerade, cheering on the runners and really adding to the experience. Our first break was pretty quick. We hydrated as we walked for a couple of minutes then started to run again. This would be the routine we would take throughout the race.

As we continued to knock off miles I was feeling pretty great. This is no slight against Mike, he was absolutely holding his own, but running at a much slower pace made me feel like I had energy to burn. The first five miles, while much slower than I would normally run, felt like a breeze. It helped that we knew we were running towards Magic Kingdom and things like this definitely provided a bit of a power boost!


Once we had gotten into a bit of a groove, things around us kinda felt like a blur. We knew that there was a lot of really cool stuff happening with all of the great entertainment going on, but we seemed so focused on the road and the route that we almost ignored some of the extracurricular things going on. At least I know I felt that way, I'm sure Mike would agree. The only things we were truly tuned into were scouting for the mile markers and the subsequent water stations!

One thing I remember absolutely vividly was running through the TTC to get towards MK. The track was super tight in places which made for some congestion but what really stood out was the number of people cheering on the runners as we jogged by. There were hundreds of spectators with signs, clearly looking for family, but also providing needed support to everyone else. It was a real pick me up for a lot of us and made me smile to see such dedicated folks out cheering. It did make me wonder what Kelly was up to until I realized she was still asleep in bed!

I also recall running through the tunnel underneath Seven Seas Lagoon and climbing the hill to see the Contemporary on one side and MK on the other. What a sight to see, especially getting a glimpse of Cinderella castle all lit up. Before long we had run ourselves through the MK security area, through the turnstiles and into the park!


Again, people lined up all over the place cheering but man was it ever cool to turn onto Main Street, see the castle in front of you and have hoards of people on the Emporium side of the street rooting you on as you ran towards to the park icon. I did take video that I'll upload a little later on.


I know we didn't want to stop but this was one of the times I felt we couldn't pass it up.


This was the first time we spotter photopass photographers on the course and did they ever get some cool shots while you were in the parks. From the castle, we ran into Tomorrowland, to Fantayland and back through the castle. It was surreal running through the park, especially through the castle and seeing everything lit up as it normally would be but nothing actually going on other than the running taking place. So cool to have the park to ourselves in a way.





I had that goofy face as I had to make a quick move to avoid hitting the runner in front of me who happened to stop without warning. Can't blame her, it was easy to get caught up looking around at everything.

From the castle, we ran into Liberty Square down towards Frontierland


We ended up running through the area where the parades typically start, the gate near Splash Mountain. It was super interesting to see some of the backstage area, which is starkly different than what you see on stage! They had a few floats out for people to stop and take pictures with but we were more interested in the water station that was set up back there. The trail leads back onto the road that would lead to the Grand/Poly as we crossed the 6-mile mark. Nearing the halfway point and still going strong. The run was definitely starting to take its toll on Mike who was toughing it out the best he could.
 

Matt and Kelly

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Original Poster
wait. you're not even HALF WAY YET?!! I thought you were almost done... I'd have been sitting on a bench enjoying my Powerade after about 1.5 miles, I fear.

Good for you guys!!! I'm excited to read about the second half!! :geek:
HAHAHA! Trust me, given the option I think Mike would have sat down right beside you!

When we did hit the half way point we were both excited and terrified that we were still only half way done.
 
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