Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day One: Disney Princess Weekend 2014

This will be divided up into several posts, as this event was a HUGE freaking deal! This post will be the information about what I signed up for, our hotel accommodations, and the other random things that aren't actually race specific. We'll see how it goes.

On February 19, 2014, my friend Ali and I boarded a plane and headed to Orlando, Florida. After taking a year and a half off from half marathons due to unfortunate circumstances, I decided that I wanted to see what the hype was about. I decided to spend a lot of money and do my first RunDisney event! And what better way to do it than to go big or go home. $288 later, I found myself registered for The Glass Slipper Challenge. Which included a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles over two days.

Our stay was from 02.19.2014-02.26.2014, and while most people plan their vacation for a week before/after the event, ours was a Wednesday to Wednesday vacation. I can honestly say, I think I preferred it that way, and plan to hopefully do it again next year. With the way our stay fell we were able to do parks before and after the races, and had a day to kind of recover/visit Downtown Disney all over again. I'll touch on that later.

We flew out of the little airport in Delaware via Frontier Airlines and landed at Orlando International around 10 am. After much debate as to whether or not we should get a rental car (and by we I mean me, since Ali was 20 at the time of our trip), I finally decided that I would skip the rental and just spend the money to get private transportation to and from the hotel by Sunstate Limo. Smartest decision ever, our driver, Alfredo, was the most polite and informative person that we could have encountered fresh into Florida. He gave us all the tips and tricks about how to go about our stay in Disney, and the transportation from our hotel to the parks.

We reached our hotel, Shades of Green (SOG), about four hours before check in actually started, upon arrival we left the majority of our luggage with the front desk and explored the hotel. SOG is a government owned and operated facility. What does that mean? Only military members, retired military, and/or dependents with a military ID can stay at SOG. SOG offers a golf course, spa, on site ticket sales to Disney and the other parks in the area, two pools, an arcade, a fitness center, and a couple of restaurants. Oh! And Ali and I's favorite place in SOG, the AAFES. For those of you unfamiliar with AAFES, it's like a mini Wal-Mart/Target feel, but kind of nicer, and tax free. The one in SOG had food, liquor, water, protein shakes, bathing suits, Vera Bradley, some Disney souvenirs, and I can't remember what else. We probably stopped in the AAFES at least once a day for SOMETHING. It got to be ridiculous.

Pond area near the Golf Course, ignore the algae, apparently that's normal in Florida

While we waited for our room to be ready so we could get changed before heading out, we went to the Italian restaurant, Mangino's, for lunch. Best. Pizza. Ever. The girls at the front desk managed to get us checked in about 45 minutes ahead of time, and since we waited, they got us into a room on the fourth floor, garden view, right outside of the elevator. Definitely worth the wait.

Our room, with Ali unpacking in the corner

View from our room

And again, view from our room. 
Once we were settled, we headed to Downtown Disney to shop some and explore. Favorite store in Downtown Disney? Fit 2 Run! So many running things, so little time. I was overwhelmed and can't wait to get back to Orlando to visit this beautiful Narnia like place. We also grabbed a bite to eat at a wonderful place called Earl of Sandwich.
Thanksgiving on a roll. 
But after a while we headed back to the hotel to rest up, because the next day we were hitting the Fit For A Princess Expo!