disney 2012: hollywood studios + downtown disney

I have officially been a half marathoner for a week – can you believe it? This week was crazy busy at work so I didn’t have the time to finish out my Disney vacation like I had planned – nothing like a weekend to work on the blog! I already updated my about page and races page and will hopefully continue to recipage my recipes page! And of course finish out the Disney trip and then get on to more new and exciting things ;).

Now back to Sunday. This was our only full day to spend in the parks, but we still didn’t get going incredibly early. It is so nice to have relaxing mornings! My legs were still feeling it from the half marathon, but mostly when I went from sitting to standing/walking… continual walking seemed to be better and helped loosen them up a little bit so it wasn’t a horrible thing to be at Disney! We decided to go to Hollywood Studios again because they have the best rides and the most things we wanted to do.

We got there around 10, and we came across some marathoners still running the course. They were at mile 23 and the only thing I kept thinking about was that during the half marathon, the last three miles were the worst. Pretty sure anyone yelling “you’re almost there!” to the runners was risking getting punched. Although the crazy part in me was looking at these runners and was incredibly jealous of where they were. Mile 23 of a marathon? These people are going to finish and get that incredible Mickey medal – some were even going to get a Goofy! This group was finishing between 5 and 5 1/2 hours, and I just got to thinking that it really doesn’t matter the time you finish in, what matters is that you finished, and I can definitely finish a marathon one day – running, walking, crawling or a combination of all three. And next year just so happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Disney Marathon

Anyways, back to Hollywood Studios. We wanted to head straight to Tower of Terror to get in line, but we had to cross the marathoners. It was still a constant stream of runners and we didn’t know how we would manage to get across. Well, Disney is full of geniuses as well as imagineers so of course they had a spectacular plan in place. The running path was split into two paths with a small median in the middle. A group of the spectators/park-goers would group together, go across the path that runners weren’t going on to the median, and then the runners would switch paths while the walkers kept crossing. It’s hard to explain, but it worked like a charm.

Once to Tower of Terror we saw that there was only a 50 minute wait, but we still grabbed a fast pass first for a second trip. We got in line and it only took us about a half an hour to get to the “hotel” and through the ride. Immediately after we got off, we used our fast passes and went again. And then when we got back from that the line was so short we went a third time. We ended up going on Tower of Terror three times in under an hour – it was fantastic!

After we had enough of the Twilight Zone movie (why can’t there be a fast pass that goes straight to the ride?!) we headed to grab a fast pass to Rock ‘n Rollercoaster. We had some time to spend before coming back on that ride, so we decided to go to the 12:45 showing of Beauty and the Beast – mom’s favorite! It was a really cute show and it was a nice perk to be able to sit down for a bit. But getting back up was painful! I really should have worn my medal so that people knew I had an excuse for walking funny… ;).

Once Beauty and the Beast was over, we headed to grab a bite for lunch. We ended up at Studio Catering Co. near the back of the park and Kinley and I shared a turkey sandwich on an EnerG bun and a greek salad (how have I forgotten how much I love feta cheese?!). Disney was fabulous with dealing with the food – a manager came over, took our order and then saw it through from start to finish. They even offered to grill our sandwich between parchment if we wanted or get it cold – we opted for the grilled and it was devine.

After lunch, Kinley and I went back to Rock ‘n Rollercoaster when mom went to go stake out seats for the afternoon parade. Kinley and I hustled and got right to the ride. I had forgotten how much fun this ride was! I especially like the take off at the beginning!

We then hustled back over to where mom was saving seats (right in front of the American Idol experience on the steps) and ended up grabbing ice cream before the parade started. They parade was okay – it was filled with Pixar characters and even though I love Pixar, the parade was pretty boring. The same tiring tune over and over again, but it was still nice to be off my feet.

The parade pretty much finished us up for the day. We had spent a good 5 or so hours at Hollywood Studios, and in combination with Friday had done everything we wanted to do. We decided to go to Downtown Disney for a little bit to get some souvenirs and our last stop at Babycakes – I am going to miss these doughnuts so much!! I ended up getting a Mickey mug and decided to pass on everything else – I had already gotten the long sleeved t-shirt and track jacket from the race expo as well as the marathon goodies (my XS but still big tech T and race bling!) so I was pretty well set already!

We went to bed early tonight. One more day at the parks tomorrow and then heading back home! Vacations always go by too darn fast.

disney 2012: race expo + hollywood studios

Friday morning started kind of slowly. We sat around the room for a few hours, had breakfast, got ready and then set out for the Run Disney Race Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports. It started at 9am and we got there around 10:30… along with thousands of other runners. We were in a slight traffic jam for a little bit due to a light and a ton of congestion, but we finally made it and found a parking spot! It was a beautiful day again – blue skies and in the 70’s. My idea of perfect weather!

Once at WWOS we followed the crowds into the building for our race bib pickup. Even though there are thousands of runners, this process went really smoothly. They broke it up into 5,000 increments based off your bib number (my first half marathon bib number is 35637 – will it be my lucky number?). In line I got my bib, a pin to write which Disney marathon number this is for me and the number for my bag if we were to use the bag drop off. After we got our stuff we headed to verify our bib tracking was working – mine went right away so hopefully it stays working! There was a small Run Disney store in that building (the only store there) and we thought it was the only option. They had a long sleeve track jacket that was really cool that Kinley and I both wanted to get. They only had two sizes left, so we got them and headed on our way to the Expo.

Turns out that is not the only Run Disney store! Once getting in the expo (which is HUGE!) we were led to the back to get our shirts. Kinley and I had gotten XS after reading some reviews and were somewhat nervous that they would end up absolutely tiny. We haven’t tried them on yet, but they actually look decently sized! After shirt/bag pickup we ended up in a huge Run Disney store. I found the track jacket in a better size and was able to easily exchange it, and I also picked up a long sleeved cotton shirt (the race shirt is a long sleeved tech shirt). So the combination of the track jacket, tech shirt and t-shirt I should be good! Now I only have to cross the finish line to earn wearing them!!

After we were done with the expo we headed to get lunch at the salad bar Sweet Tomatoes. We have been craving some healthy food since we’ve gotten here so this was the perfect place to go! I got a salad topped with butternut squash, tomatoes, chickpeas and some broccoli salad along with a baked potato and a baked sweet potato (carbo-loading?). For dessert was two bowls of frozen yogurt with homemade butterscotch sauce. So good! After that we headed to Hollywood Studios to spend the afternoon!

I wasn’t much in the mood for rides at Hollywood Studios since we had the race the next day. I also didn’t really want to walk around a whole lot to attempt to save my legs from feeling tired. We got to Hollywood Studios right at the start of a parade, so we found a back pathway to start walking around the back of the park. We ended up on the Backlot Tour ride/experience. At first we were all thinking we’d been on it before but that is definitely not the case. Not sure if it’s new in the last few years, or if they had just changed it a lot?

The line was not very long so that’s why we decided to queue up for it. We picked our line and listened to Michael Bay on the TV talking about the special effects he had in Pearl Harbor and some of the tricks they used. They led us from the line to this stage, that was a small version of one of the water tanks they have used in Titanic and Pearl Harbor. There was a ship on there and other barrels and things in the water. One family got roped into acting the story line, so they were out there and got drenched! There were “bullets” being shot at the ship, torpedos, fire barrels and many other neat special effects. After they were done “acting” they put the footage together with words/music and we got to watch it.

On from there, we were led into a props house. Most of the props were from unidentifiable shows (to us), but I did recognize Tim Allen’s Binford Tools lawnmower with motorcycle handlebars!

From the props house we went in a little trolly that took us around the backlot. We got to see the Mickey ears tower closer up and went through another thrilling stunt show with a semi truck with a bunch of water and more fire. All in all the tour was pretty cool and lasted 35 minutes – and the fact that we only had to wait for it for a few minutes was even better!

After the backlot tour we walked around a little more and decided to hit up the American Idol Experience for the 4:30 show. I have only ever watched a couple shows, but we thought it would be nice to see what it was like and it was more sitting time! The show was great, the stage was much smaller scale than the actual stage, but it was still very impressive. For each show they find three normal people who get to sing their chosen song in front of us, and they also have judges that tell them what they do well and what needs improvement. One of the judges was actually somewhat harsh, but for the experience it was definitely necessary! After the three performances and judging, the audience got to vote for the favorite. The winner then comes back for the 7:30 finale show to compete against the other show winners for a golden ticket to the front line of an actual American Idol audition.

After American Idol, we decided to get on our way back to the hotel to eat dinner and wind down for the night. It was near dark when we left and the lights were gorgeous! We “carbo loaded” on store-bought Udi’s bagels with cream cheese, Snyder’s Gluten Free pretzels and a doughnut from Babycakes. Trying to get to bed was tough – we hadn’t gotten up early enough today to go to bed when we needed to! But I was tired and fell asleep, only to be woken up a few hours later at 2am…

Oh, and we got this little surprise in our bathroom from the Disney cleaning crew!