Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2014 Pot Pourri

Being someone who is financially dependant on comedy, I have spent a lot of time watching it. I’ve always been that way. I used to watch Saturday Night Live every week, tape it, and then play it back over and over again, studying the sketches (the writing) and the performances. Figuring out why they were, or weren’t funny.

One thing that was always funny to me: Every Jeopardy parody (or game show variant) that I remember seeing on SNL had the set-up joke categories, but it always seemed to involve the category “Pot Pourri” (and “Potent Potables”).

That always cracked me up.

I was a weird kid.

That said, I wanted to write up a “Pot Pourri” post about my Princess Half Marathon Weekend experience, since the races were only part of the trip. (By the way, you can read my race recap of the Enchanted 10K race and my race recap of the Princess Half Marathon by clicking on the links!)

Getting There

Even after our travel fiasco in January, which involved a canceled flight out of Buffalo and a long, long drive down to Orlando, we still had faith in good old Buffalo and Southwest to get us to our destination a month later. I’m not saying I didn’t check the weather reports semi-nervously every time the temperature took a dip, or a snow cloud appeared on the horizon, but I will say I was confident.

We opted to fly in the afternoon, instead of the morning this time, which meant we didn’t need to spring for a hotel in Buffalo. The roads were clear when we left home at noon-ish and we didn’t experience any traffic the whole way. We were kept entertained by listening to the very exciting Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game.

We parked our car at the airport, stashed our big coats, hats and gloves in the back seat and hustled into the airport.

Let me just say, I love the Buffalo airport. Love it. It’s small. The lines move quickly. I have my choice of JetBlue or Southwest to get us to Orlando. And on this trip, when I realized in the security line that my printer at home for some reason printed out two boarding passes for Greg, and none for me, it was a quick jaunt to the Southwest self-help kiosks, and I had my boarding pass in less than 2 minutes. Back into the security line and BOOM – TSA Pre-cleared!

No shoes off. No computer out of bag. Jacket still on.

I had told Greg to go to the gate without me when I went back for my boarding pass, but we were both done at the same time. So fast.

I love Buffalo.

We had a mix of rain and snow (SNAIN) coat our plane before we took off, so we got to enjoy watching the de-ice magic happen.

Good Old Buffalo SNAIN
Good Old Buffalo SNAIN

When I booked the trip, car rental prices were running at about $35 to $40 a day, which totally went against our “let’s do this as cheaply as possible” goal for this race. We opted to take the Magical Express and rely on Disney Buses instead – something we hadn’t done in years.

It's Magical!
It’s Magical!

The Verdict? It was even easier and more convenient than last time we took the Magical Express. From the luggage handling, to the multiple lines going to multiple resorts, we breezed through the whole experience and were able to relax on our way to our resort. We did not miss the drudgery of waiting in line for a rental car and lugging our bags. Hooray for the Magical Express! (Hot TIP: Greg waited by the bus for the bags in the below-bus storage area while I went to the front desk to check in before the rest of the travellers came in! No line = WIN!)

We stayed at POP Century for our first night (I had a little organizational blip when booking our Disney Vacation Club stay, so we needed an extra night somewhere). Again, it had been a long while, but our one night there was nice. We had a great dinner at the Everything POP quick service restaurant (where they were more than happy to take my Tables In Wonderland card) and took a walk across the bridge to the Art of Animation Resort to stroll around and enjoy the theming. It’s a super-cute and well thought out resort. I think my favourite area (despite it not being my favourite movie) is the Cars area. And until WDW builds a CarsLand, this is the closest you can get to the experience.

We passed a comfortable night – had an enormous breakfast (Greg ordered a big platter, I ordered a child’s meal and between the two of us, we had more than enough food). We stowed our bags with luggage services and hit the bus. Next up – Expo!

The Expo

Remember, we were there to do things as cheaply as possible. I had no intention of spending more than $100 total. I wasn’t in the market for the snazzy New Balance runDisney shoes. Even with the new Virtual Queue system, the thought of lining up for those shoes made my head swim.

The Only Shoe I'm After This Weekend.
The Only Shoe I’m After This Weekend.

It seemed moderately busy heading into the Wide World of Sports. Between the Expo and the softball games happening that day, the place was hopping.

WWOS

There was an Oikos Greek Yogurt truck giving away yogurt (they were giving away whole flats of it during the last hour of the last day of the expo) so we grabbed a snack and headed in for my bib. Pickup, as always, was a breeze. The expo had been open for a few hours, after all.

Look at all that elbow room!
Look at all that elbow room!

Judging by how bare the shelves were at the official runDisney merchandise area, I had a feeling it hadn’t always been this quiet. We braced ourselves and headed over to where the mayhem takes place…

Honestly, I've seen worse.
Honestly, I’ve seen worse.

It seemed pretty busy, and I didn’t want to dally around dragging Greg in my wake, so we made some strategic stops. The runDisney merchandise area, first where I got my Glass Slipper Challenge magnet and pin – with an Annual Passholder Discount, thank you very much! I looked at the “I did it!” shirt, but, “Meh”.

On the way out, I got my new favourite thing: a Handana. If you don’t have one, and you run in the heat… get one, and you’re welcome.

That was it, done for the day and I spent about $50. Not too shabby.

Hockey and Golf

After our Expo expedition, we headed back to POP Century where we spent some time at Petals. We don’t normally hang out at the pool bar and drink in the middle of the afternoon, but it was a special occasion. Canada was playing USA to see who would go to the Gold Medal game.

Go Canada, Go!
Go Canada, Go!

With the Canadian Team on their way to the Gold Medal game, it was time for us to hit the links.

Waiting for our cab
Waiting for our cab

Did you know that if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, and you’re going to go play golf at one of the Disney Golf Courses, your cab is covered? It’s true! They give you a cab chit to give to the cab driver, and BOOM – free cab! Apparently the cab drivers don’t particularly like this program, because of the four times we used it, we had three rude/bad/passive-aggressive cab drivers, but we got there. Most drivers got a tip good tip, because we’re not monsters, and the other one didn’t get a tip because he was a HUGE DOUCHE.

We had some leftover “Magic and More” passes which included 9 holes at Oak Trail so that’s where we started since it was “free”. It was a lovely late afternoon round of golf, we got hit with a little bit of rain, but overall we had a splendid time and met some new friends. Like these fellows:

Who you callin' "Turkey"?
Who you callin’ “Turkey”?

And this friendly guy:

Bambi!
Bambi!

We will not discuss how many balls were lost, nor will we mention my score.

After golf, we went to our new “Home”, Old Key West Resort, and checked in, had a nice dinner at Olivia’s Cafe and tucked in for an early night so I’d be rested for the 10K the next day.

We made note of this information, which was of NO help to Greg on Sunday:

bus schedule

 

He was joking about the #RuinedMyVacay, but still…

 

 

Be Our Guest for Lunch!

Before we left home, I got an email from Disney about the new FastPass+ they were testing for Be Our Guest at lunch.

Well, merci!
Well, merci!

I set our FastPass window for 12:45 because I knew I’d want a nap after the 10K, and Greg and I pre-selected our meals happily. We love food. Thinking about what we wanted to eat a couple weeks in advance was not a stretch for us. I mean, we’re probably thinking about food at any given moment, anyway…

The only thing I didn’t love about this program was that my FastPass+ did not show up anywhere on my itinerary. It left me wondering if we really had a FastPass or not – I couldn’t even go back into my account and alter it – it just didn’t show up anywhere.

When we arrived to check in, there was a long, long standby line. We went to the check-in desk, gave our name, scanned our wristband and were ushered to the front of the line. in the doors, double-checked our name on another list and were ushered to the front of the cashier line.

From check-in to standing at the cashier, it took us less than 5 minutes.

Our meals didn’t show up with our FastPass info (glitch) but we were able to order at the cashier’s desk and were handed our “rose” and sent on our way to find an empty table in the madness. That was the trickiest part. The Beast’s Study was full, so we opted to sit by the window. We stood by a table waiting for it to be wiped down and the bus-girl tried to shoo us away to find another table because “your food comes out fast”. About 90 seconds later, she was done with the table and we sat down, and proceeded to wait another 10 minutes for our food.

Our lunch was rolled out in a cart by a friendly server, and it all came out at once – appetizer, entree, dessert. We were instructed where we could get our drinks and our silverware, and then we were left to eat in peace, watching the digital snow fall.

Braised Pork (Coq au Vin Style, Croque Monsieur Sandwich, Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake, French Onion Soup, The Master's Cupcake
Braised Pork (Coq au Vin Style, Croque Monsieur Sandwich, Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake, French Onion Soup, The Master’s Cupcake

The pork was the clear winner. It was really, really yummy. The Croque Monsieur was more of a grilled cheese sandwich than a traditional Croque, but the fries were tasty. The French Onion soup was pretty good – there was a LOT of Gruyere to get through.

The cupcakes were equal.

You don’t get much prettier than Be Our Guest, though:

be our guest ceiling Be Our Guest

We left the park as quickly as we could because a) it was raining a little bit and b) it was INSANE.

We do other things!

We met up with my mom, who had stopped in Orlando to see me finish the Half Marathon, and she took us to Target for a grocery shopping spree before we made our way back to the Expo so I could get taped up for the race the next day.

Greg and I stayed at Wide World of Sports to watch the New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact and Toronto FC v.s Orlando City Soccer Club. (What can I say, he came all this way to support me, the least I could do was sit through some football for him). We watched the first match, and then left at the intermission of the second game so I could get a) warmed up and b) a good night’s sleep. I may have been grouchy. (I was grouchy. I don’t hate soccer, but when I’m cold and wet, I hate everything).

Toronto FC in the House!
Toronto FC in the House!

After the Half Marathon (and a nap) the plan was to go to Raglan’s Road for brunch, but Downtown Disney’s parking lot was a zoo, so we took the road to sanity out of the area and went to Cracker Barrel instead. You really can’t beat those pancakes. (In retrospect, I don’t know why we didn’t take the boat from Old Key West to Downtown Disney – we are OKW rookies! Noobs! We got pwned!)

Later, we met up with a friend who we’d worked with on ships and who now lives in Orlando – we started at Splitsville with beer and nachos (because there was room at the bar) and then used my DVC membership to get into the Top of the World Lounge at the Bay Lake Towers for nightcap cocktails. Greg and I hit the Magic Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours and hit all our “must-do” rides in a blissfully empty park.

And The Rest!

We did more things. Exciting things like:

  • Laundry
  • Visit to Downtown Disney
  • Eating at Earl of Sandwich
  • Almost shopping at an outlet
  • Greg bought a new set of golf clubs
  • We went to the driving range
  • We played 18 holes of golf
  • We had to move rooms on our last night at Old Key West because our kitchenette sink sprang a leak which left the carpet in front of the bathroom sopping wet
  • We contemplated staying another couple of days
  • We ate at Spice Road at Epcot (hint: It’s pricy)
Well, thanks!
Well, thanks!

In the end, we flew back home as scheduled. We figured our “as cheaply as possible” plan wasn’t going to work if we suddenly added 2 more days… I will say this, though. Since we were flying back to Buffalo on Southwest, we could participate in the best part of the Magical Express. We could check in for our flight right at the luggage area at our resort – we checked our bags and didn’t worry about them again until we got back to Buffalo.

Brilliant.

This was very much a “go with the flow” trip. We only had 2 dining reservations, one of which we ended up skipping (Raglan Road brunch), we didn’t make any FastPass bookings before we left home. We barely spent any time in the parks (and never even made it to Animal Kingdom this time), but we still had a wonderful time. I was happy that we spent more time enjoying the amenities at the resort than we usually do. That’s something I’d like to do more of – on the boat to Downtown Disney one night, we saw that they were playing “Cool Runnings” at the movie screen on the beach… that was cute.

Maybe more of that next time.

How do you spend your time at Walt Disney World? Are you a “Mega-Planner”, or a “Go with the Flow” type? How does having family with you affect your approach?

Life runDisney

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