Archive for March, 2010

Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon: Making The Decision

by on March 23, 2010

I am truly amazed how Disney World motivates me to do things I never would have.  I had no idea when I started the journey to train for the Disney Princess Half Marathon that it would lead me here.  I realize you don’t read this blog to learn my inner thoughts – so I’ll keep it brief. 

As I stated in my earlier post about “the princess” that I was not a runner.  I decided to do the race approximately 6 weeks prior.  I have taught Jazzercise for years.  However, the only kind of running I ever imagined doing was away from a criminal with a gun!  I much preferred to “bust a move”  for exercise.   When I registered for the Princess, I had not run even the mile around my block.  What I did quickly realize about running is — running is a decision.  I read everything Mike Scopa wrote about his marathon experiences.  Len sent me a plan.  I filled my ipod with songs that motivated me and the rest is history.

During training, most days my legs felt like logs.  I rarely felt like a gazelle, but I endured.  I got to the point where I looked forward to the time alone with my thoughts, the cast of “Glee”, “Enchanted”, “Wicked” and the band members from Switchfoot and Bon Jovi.  I would joke, “If my ipod dies.  Just come and pick me up.”  When I was running the 6-10 mile runs, I’d picture myself running at Disney World to stay motivated. It was a mind game and I knew I had to play. 

Len and Mike gave me a plethora of tips.  Here are a few of my favorites: drink at every water stop, use the restroom in Tomorrowland, bring hand-warmers for before the race, wear clothes to donate as you will be stripping as you run, it’s almost over when you get to Epcot, keep moving after the race,  wait as long as possible to take a nap and have a specific location to meet after the race — not the finish line.

The sense of accomplishment that I got from running the Princess was priceless.  I never in a million years thought I could or would ever run any race much less 13.1 miles (and I’m here to tell you the .1 counts.  It’s longer than you think.)  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone made me realize I can do anything I set my mind to.   Now has a running team and who would ever think I’d be on it.  My goal is to run in most, if not all, of the running events at Disney.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Just like Walt says, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”  I’ll see you at the finish line.

Trip Report

by on March 23, 2010

Sorry it took so long to share my thoughts on my latest trip to Disney World, but it takes a while to get back into the swing of things after a trip!  I think I’m back in the saddle again and ready to write some great blogs for the next few weeks.  And now without further ado…

My latest Walt Disney World adventures took to my favorite place during the first weekend of March.  You can read about my preparations for the trip and get some background for my plans here.  It was probably one of my best trips I’ve ever taken!  I’m positive the success of the trip was all in the company I kept.  While I missed some of my Disney friends this time around, I met lots of new ones, and enjoyed my time with the old ones who could make it.  I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in a very, very long time (and I laugh plenty).

So aside from all of the side splitting laughter what was I up to?  I had a smooth flight from Newark to Orlando and arrived at Pop Century just in time for my friends Tom and John to arrive back from the parks.  They texted me to meet them at Petals, the pool bar at this resort, to start the trip off with a drink.  We toasted to John’s birthday and enjoyed a few drinks and waited for our buddy Neil to arrive (it was me and the boys a lot on this trip).  Shortly thereafter we head to Animal Kingdom Lodge to for a great meal at Jiko.  This was my first time here and I’m hoping it won’t be my last.  I will write a full entry about this great eatery in the near future.

The next day it was quite brisk when we woke up, but we braved the elements and headed to the Animal Kingdom for rope drop.  We hit all of our favorite attractions and had some lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue before heading back to Pop to grab my camping gear.  As you may recall a big part of this trip was the Tent Fest activities put on by the guys at wdwtoday.  I was convinced that I should participate in the evening of camping at Fort Wilderness.  However, when I signed up I didn’t know that the low temperature would be about 38 degrees!  Neil camped the night before as well and his shampoo and body wash were partially frozen in the morning!  Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive about the evening with nature.  A little reassurance from my resident camping expert, Neil, and a stolen comforter from Pop (don’t worry I returned it) helped keep me comfortable and I might even do it again some day!  I’m sure I will write more about my experience another time.

Before our time sleeping on the ground the guys at wdwtoday thought it would be fun to have their listeners over to the campsite for a barbecue and to tape a live show.  We hung out here for hours chatting with old and new friends, munching on lots of goodies, and just having a great time.  After several hours at the campsite, most of us headed to Epcot for extra magic hours.  We took in Illuminations: Reflections of Earth from the Canadian Pavilion; its always nice to watch it with people who love it as much as I do.  Most of the group stuck around to ride a few attractions together.  I lasted through several, but as soon as we sat down and took a break in the Land I hit a wall and it was back to the tent for me.

I awoke the next morning in one piece in my sleeping bag.  Since I was moving back to pop I gathered up my stuff before heading to breakfast at Trail’s End at the camp ground.  This buffet eatery is popular among Disney enthusiasts for a cheap and off the beaten path place to grab a meal.  It was a good spot for breakfast and I’ll be sure to write more about it soon.   We made our way to Epcot for the day to hang out with the group and attend a live taping of the wdwtoday podcast.  Later in the evening a big group of us went to Biergarten and then I headed to Kouzzina to meet up with the Unofficial Guide and touringplans crew.  Some of the touringplans group and I met up with some folks for Illuminations and a drink in France and then headed to the Boardwalk for the rest of the evening.  A big group at Atlantic Dance Hall is a lot of fun, even if the general crowd is a bit lacking.  We decided to head to the Bellevue Lounge in the Boardwalk Inn to close the night.

All of this fun had caught up with me on Sunday!  I was feeling a bit worse for wear when Tom and I head headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  We did a few attractions, but then I decided to go back to the room for a nap.   When I woke up and felt a bit better I headed to Epcot to meet with my local friend, Don, and discuss our weekends at WDW a bit before heading to Tent Fest tequila meet at La Cave del Tequila.  Although I wasn’t up doing shots with the gang, it was still fun to hang out and be goofy with everyone.  The party broke up and some people headed for the airport so it was time to say goodbye to them.  My bunch did a few attractions and then went to dinner at Tokyo Dining.  I still wasn’t feeling so hot so I didn’t eat very much, but what I had was good and guys seemed to like their dishes.  We met up with several folks later for extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom.  This was the only time I spent in this park!  It was a lot of fun and it was time to head home before we knew it.

On Monday morning it was time for some more goodbyes since the weekend was really coming to a close now.  A group of us met up for lunch at Canada’s Le Cellier.  It was the first time I had the infamous cheddar cheese soup!  Let me tell you, it lived up to the hype.  At our lunch at Le Cellier started Tom and fellow touringplanners, Henry and Fred, on a drinking around the world mission.  They each had a beer here and then continued around World Showcase stopping for a drink in each country.  I was along for the ride and documented the affair.  We picked up some other folks along the way and had a lot of fun.  When their mission was accomplished we headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and dropped in to the Tower of Terror.  Then, it was time for me to head back to the resort and pack up and head to bed since I was taking the first flight back to Newark in the morning.

Taking the first flight was a terrible idea!  I thought I’d try it to see if I could squeeze out extra time in WDW, but it was a failed experiment.  I slept a little on the plane, but not very much and going right to the office was torture.  I was so exhausted I wound up going home early anyway to take a nap.  I’ll never do that again.

Like I said, this was probably one of my best trips to date.  Although I didn’t ride very many attractions, I had an amazing time.  Thanks so much to all of those who made it so much fun!  I can’t wait to see you all again at WDW soon!

Next week I’ll discuss Disney fan gatherings…

WDW Today Episode 697 – Resort Recommendations

by on March 21, 2010

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Episode 697 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:

WDW Today Episode 696 – Traveling The World Solo

by on March 19, 2010

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Episode 696 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:

WDW Today Episode 695 – Listener Questions

by on March 17, 2010

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Episode 695 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:

Lines For iPhone Updated To 1.0.1

by on March 16, 2010

The iPhone version of our mobile app, Lines, has been updated to version 1.0.1 on the app store. Search for “touringplans” or click here to install/update it! It’s a pretty minor bug fix, but you’ll some nice new twitter integration, as well as links to our full crowd calendar and to information about live entertainment.

And if you’re a fan of Lines, we love it if you could head over to iTunes or the Android Marketplace and give us a solid review or rating! We’d really appreciate it.

Disney Reacts To Large Crowds By Increasing Park Hours At The Magic Kingdom

by on March 16, 2010

Yesterday’s (March 15) crowds at the Magic Kingdom were much larger than anticipated. We had projected a crowd level of 7 but the actual crowds were a solid 10. The Magic Kingdom saw peak wait times at the Headliners in the range of 100-120 minutes. Disney was caught off guard as well and have decided to increase the park hours at the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the week. Since park hours are a key factor in our predictions for the crowd level index we will be updating our predictions for the rest of the week as well. Surely, with the increased park hours, the new crowd level index will be 10.

There are some theories that might explain why Disney has underestimated the crowds during this week. One explanation is that last minute bookings are much higher than recent years, due to economic factors. When last minute bookings increase, the time to react is shorter.

If you are in the parks this week you will need to rely on two important tips. Touring plans and park hoppers. Touring plans work best to save you time during large crowds. If you have park hoppers, visit the EMH park in the morning then hop to a recommended park in the afternoon.

If touring plans are still not part of your vacation, use Lines on your mobile phone to check wait times before you visit a park. It will help decide which park is best for your group that day.

What To Do With No Money On The Florida Turnpike

by on March 16, 2010

florida417One of the fastest ways to get to Walt Disney World from Orlando International Airport is via the Florida Turnpike (look for signs at the airport reading “FL-417 South”).  There are two or three toll booths along the way, depending on whether you exit at mile marker 6 (for Epcot) or mile marker 3 (Magic Kingdom).  The first two tollbooths are staffed with Florida Turnpike employees, and cost $1.25 each.  The third tollbooth, near the Magic Kingdom exit, is not staffed and costs $0.75.

If you’re taking these roads, we recommend you bring $4 in dollar bills and $3 in quarters for the round-trip drive.  If you find yourself short of cash, however, it’s easy enough to explain to the toll booth attendants; they’ll give you a form to fill out and send in payment later.  But what happens if you find yourself without enough spare change to pay for that last $0.75 toll?  Reader Dave L wants to know:

What happens when you’re on  the toll road and are supposed to pay a $.75 toll, but only have large  bills or a credit card? We drove through the booth because there were people behind us.  Am I doomed?  We’re out of state and I want to pay it.

The first thing we should point out is that you should never get out of your car to ask someone for change.  Besides the risk of being struck by a car, let’s just say that most Floridians do not welcome unexpected visits from strangers walking along the highway.  Simply drive past the tollbooth as Dave did, and follow these instructions.

If you’re driving a rented a car, contact your rental car company and tell them you missed the toll, and see what their policy is on the missed toll.  Some will simply add it to your bill along with a small “convenience charge.”

If this was your own car, you can mail Florida the payment.  This page from the Florida Turnpike’s website has the details for both situations:

The worst thing you can do is nothing, so definitely send in that payment.  We’d love to hear from readers who’ve gone through this experience, and how it turned out.

WDW Today Episode 694 – To DVC Or Not To DVC

by on March 14, 2010

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Episode 694 of WDW Today is now available for download here.

One-click subscriptions to WDW Today:

Crowd Calendar Updated – March 11, 2010

by on March 12, 2010

After an incorrect upload yesterday, the Crowd Calendar has been updated. Changes you may notice are some slight differences in March due to Disney’s anouncement of new park hours. Also, some dates in September have new park recommendations that fall in line with the changes to Extra Magic Hours.

If you are planning a trip in Fall 2010, be aware that Disney may, as in previous years, announce a promotional program such as free Dining. When that occurs, it may have an impact on park hours, park schedules and our predictions for crowd level. Stay tuned…