Monday, March 24, 2014

Conquering Disney World

I think I have managed to skip over the fact that this was my first trip to Disney! As to be expected, I was beyond excited. I'm a Disney Addict in terms of the movies, I have my favorite princesses (Belle and Ariel, and now Merida), I have my favorite movies, and I'm that person that will use Disney quotes and puns in inappropriate situations. I'm sorry, most people hate when I do it, I find it hilarious.

Instead of breaking up my posts about the different days spent in the parks, I'm just going to tackle the Disney Parks in one big post. So, if you are on this blog specifically for running, product reviews, or things like that, this is your warning. A twenty-six year old is about to get in touch with her Disney Geek side.

Day 1 In The Parks: Disney's Hollywood Studios

Rockin' Roller Coaster!
After we did the Expo on Thursday the 20th, we headed to Hollywood Studios. I absolutely loved the backdrops designed to look like you were in different cities. As you can see, I was geeking about being in my first park. The plan for Hollywood Studios was simple: ride as many rides and see as many attractions as possible before we had our dinner reservations at the Sci-Fi dine in theater. We got to HS around 2 in the afternoon, our dinner reservations were at 7, five ish hours would totally be enough time to get things done in the park, right? Right. We had a plan, and Ali a list of attractions that we needed to see and get done in our short span of time that we had in HS. But first things first, snacks. Can I just say that Disney food is amazing? Like, everything from the pretzels, to the ice cream, to the hummus, it is all amazing. Maybe it was because I was in the park and excited about everything.

Let the record show, never, ever, underestimate the power of two girls that are excited about everything around them and feeling the Disney Magic. Because they will find a way to fit in almost everything that the park has to offer in an absurdly timely manner. During our short stay in HS we managed to accomplish: The Great Movie Ride, Muppetvision 3D, Rockin' Roller Coaster, Star Tours (where I got yelled at because a girl could tell that I contemplated hopping a divider, oops), Tower Of Terror (my favorite!). Honestly, we lucked out with our wait times in HS. By the time we got there the Fast Pass+ for the day were all accounted for, so we used the Disney Experience Apps to try and plan out the best order to take on our attraction wish list.

We waited in line for about 40 minutes to get on Rockin' Roller Coaster, which gave us time to talk over the plan for the rest of the day. Want to know something exciting? As soon as we got off Rockin' Roller Coaster we headed over to Tower of Terror, where there was only a TEN MINUTE WAIT. you heard me right. Ten minutes. We waited TEN MINUTES. I can't lie, those two attractions were my favorite. The Muppets3D was cute, but I have been waiting to ride on Tower of Terror most of my life. As luck would have it, not only was our wait short, but we got to ride in the front row.

Sci-Fi Diner, photo taken from Disney's Website
After our attractions we headed over to the Sci-Fi diner. Would I recommend it to other people? Yes, especially if you are there with family and kids. You are seated in little cars that have counter space for your plates and drinks. During dinner they show cute short films from the 1950's. It is dark, and the waitresses have flashlights, I helped ours out with my phone flashlight. For my first "Disney" meal Ali and I shared Spinach and Artichoke dip as an appetizer, and for my main course I went with a Bacon Cheeseburger. I know, really exciting. I did, however, get a delicious Habanero Lime Margarita. By the time we finished dinner, the park was closed. It was eerie but interesting to see the park completely empty with the exception of a few lingering people that were also finishing up their dinner reservations. But, with an empty park and perfect lighting I did manage to score this beautiful picture of the Sorcerer Mickey hat. For a first day in the parks, we got a lot accomplished, and I was ready for a night of sleep before our second day in the parks.

Day Two In The Parks: Disney's Animal Kingdom and part of Epcot
Africa in the Animal Kingdom
Mickey Pretzel. 
Friday brought us on two separate missions: Animal Kingdom to start, and Epcot to finish. We mainly were headed to Epcot for Pasta in the Park. Remember how I said food in Disney just tastes better? Well, Ali's more convinced that Mickey shaped food tastes better. I figured I'd see if she was right. Taste tests conclude she might be on to something. I also may be craving a Mickey Pretzel as I type this. And I mean, isn't it adorable? While in the Animal Kingdom, we actually got to use Fast Pass+ for the first time! The attractions we hit in AK were: Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. We also got to see some of the bands that were playing throughout the park. Our stay in Animal Kingdom was short, and thankfully we managed to get out of the park before it started to rain. I know we didn't accomplish much in the park, but those were the three things that we wanted to do. And I ate hummus with veggies. DELICIOUS. Let's just take a minute to talk about how excited I was to be this close to a giraffe. I love giraffes. They're my favorite. EVER.
Dressed for Pasta in the Park
Giraffe, because, Giraffe. 
 As we got ourselves situated and ready to get on our bus, we started to get excited. The main reason we were going to Epcot on Friday night was to go to the Pasta in the Park event that is associated with many Run Disney Events. We also took this as a sign to get a little glammed up. Also: If you never thought about doing it, the best thing you can do when you are wearing a dress in an amusement park/anywhere you are walking a lot is wearing compression shorts under your dress. It can seriously be a life saver. You don't have to worry about an accidental flashing, it can also prevent any sort of chafing if you aren't use to the climate and are hiking around an amusement park with what would otherwise be exposed thighs.

AH! Spaceship Earth!! I don't know, maybe it's because it was such a long wait for me to be in the Disney Parks, but every little thing excited me. I was hyped to be on the Monorail, I was ecstatic to be in Epcot, even though we were only there for dinner, I really was just overly excited about EVERYTHING that was happening. I may have gotten a little teary eyed seeing what I had previously known as the "Epcot Sphere". I was feeling a bit emotional, and everything was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. So, with a little time to kill, Ali and I decided to walk around part of Epcot a bit before eventually settling in and waiting for the doors to open for Pasta in the Park. PitP will be a post all of it's own, because I have nothing but good things to say about it, but, afterwards we were able to go have a special viewing area of Illuminations. But again, more on that later!

 Day Three in The Parks: Epcot Part 2
Saturday after the 10k we went back to the hotel, got shower, got changed, and headed to Epcot. We had lunch reservations at Biergarten in Germany, I LOVED it! Biergarten is a buffet style restaurant that has live German entertainment. And to live up to the "Small World Feel", you are seated family style. Somehow, we ended up with people that had family from the same town that Ali and I are from. Cute, right? Anyway, the food was delicious, especially the bread and the cheesecake.

After lunch we headed back out into the park. I think out of all the parks Epcot might have been my favorite, or it is tied with Magic Kingdom. I loved the ability to see the different countries and cultures, and the fact that there were so many food options. Our attraction list in Epcot included: Maelstrom, Soarin', Spaceship Earth, and Mission Space. We wrapped our night up fairly early at Epcot, but made time to head to Downtown Disney before settling in our hotel with room service for the night.

Day Four in The Parks: Magic Kingdom!
Main Street USA
So, remember how I told you never underestimate the power of two girls who want to get things done? How about I top that with the fact that on Monday, Ali and I spent twelve hours in the Magic Kingdom. Yep, Twelve. Talk about getting stuff done.

"It's a Small World"
Once we got in the Magic Kingdom, we found somewhere to get Fast Passes for the day. We pretty much knew that we would be there for the entire day, we got there early and wanted to see not only the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle, but the Electric Parade. But, in the mean time, we had food to eat, places to see, and rides to ride. Our attraction list for MK consisted of: Astro Orbiter, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, Monsters INC Laugh Floor, Peter Pan's Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Stitch's Great Escape, Swiss Family Tree House, and Under The Sea.

Unimpressive Dole Whip
Yeah, we were busy! For lunch in MK we went to Colombia Harbour House, which offered counter service. The food was reasonably priced, and pretty tasty too, I would definitely recommend Columbia Harbour House if you are looking for a quick lunch or dinner in the Magic Kingdom. For dinner we went to another counter service restaurant, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. I really was impressed with TTR, I had chicken alfredo and it was surprisingly delicious, and I can be a hard critic of alfredo. For snacks we ended up getting waffles at one point and Dole Whip.

Maybe we did it wrong. Maybe I should have gone with the original and gotten Pineapple on Pineapple, but I felt adventurous, I got the pineapple juice with orange sherbet, ice cream, whatever it is.  I just wasn't impressed. Maybe when I go back in October I'll try it again the "real" way, but it just wasn't doing it for me. Anyway, back to the good stuff. We did get to see the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle, and the Electrical Parade. By hanging out for the later parade and watching it in Sleepy Hollow we were able to get front row seating for the event!

 After the parade was over, the crowds cleared out and we were able to ride on several of the rides without much of a wait at all. It also gave us the opportunity to ride Space Mountain a second time for the night. Filled with Disney Magic and luster, Ali and I started to make our way out of the park for the evening and back to the Monorail. As we were leaving I started to get that feeling inside, I knew it was our last night in the parks, and that the magic would be ending soon. But, so far it had been an amazing time. The best part about leaving the park so late? No one to get in the way when you snap one last late night picture of the castle on your way out.

Cinderella's Castle at Night
Sorry for the length of this post, this was more of a "for me" post than a "for you", but I hope someone found this at least the slightest bit useful! Recap on Pasta in the Park, Enchanted 10k, and Princess Half Marathon coming soon!