Did You Know…

29 Jul

…you can do more at Walt Disney World besides go to the parks?  Shocking, I know.

As I’ve mentioned before, our last trip to Disney had a theme of “things we don’t normally do.”  It was Doug and my first trip there together that did not involve a race or competition, or something that involved an alarm clock.  And it was great!  I already talked about getting to experience the Star Wars Weekend (you can catch up here) and all the (mostly) amazing ADRs we had, but let’s talk about some other stuff we got to experience that we don’t always have time for and/or have never done before.

Mini Golf

Yes, I love mini golf…DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!  Walt Disney World has 2 somewhat conveniently located mini golf courses.  On this trip we went to Fantasia Gardens which is located across the street from the Swan & Dolphin.  This makes it extremely convenient if you’re staying at one of the Epcot resorts, you can just walk on over!  Staying on property but not at an Epcot resort?  Don’t have a car?  No problem!  You can take a bus from your resort to MGM Hollywood Studios and walk there!  OK, that’s kind of a long walk, so basically take whatever mode of transportation you want to whatever park (or Downtown Disney) you want and then take the bus to the Swan & Dolphin from there.

Doesn’t sound easy?  That’s ok, there is another simpler option!  Winter Summerland!  This is actually conveniently located in adjacent to the Blizzard Beach parking lot.  As long as Blizzard Beach is open, you can hop on a bus from your hotel there and get to mini golf!

As I mentioned, we did Fantasia Gardens this trip.  And within Fantasia Gardens there are two options: the Gardens or the Fairways.  The Fairways are essentially miniature putting greens.  If you want to know what it feels like to putt on a golf course, that’s the one you go with.  But if you’re like me, you want to pick the Gardens which is chock full of fun mini golf obstacles and amusements, all set to the theme of the Disney Classic Fantasia! (Duh!)

IMG_4802

No worries if there is a wait for your tee time! There’s an arcade there! …or you can grab an ice cream and/or beer :)

IMG_4803

Every hole has the Mickey indicator to let you know where you can drop your ball (that just sounds wrong!)

IMG_4804

Each hole gives you rhyming clues to try and help you figure out the best way to get the best score…

IMG_4805

No Fantasia themed mini golf course would be complete without a dancing hippo obstacle!

Fantasia not really your thing?  Or it’s too much trouble to get to?  Well Winter Summerland also offers 2 different course to choose from, although both are funny mini golf styles!  One course is summer themed, but with a winter/Christmas twist and the other course is winter themed but with a summer twist (i.e. sandcastles made out of “snow”).   For added fun they play the Beach Boys Christmas Album for that added winter/summer combo feeling…

These pictures are from Wine & Dine weekend 2012 when I still used a real camera (hence having way more pictures). We played the winterland course that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water Activities

So, as I mentioned, on this trip we were trying to do things Doug (and maybe I) had never done before.  Clearly hitting the mini golf course, while tons of fun, was not one of them.  Then we discovered Sammy Duvall’s located at the Contemporary!  Available there is parasailing, wakeboard, water ski and jet skiing, just to name a few.  None of which I’ve ever done before at Disney and which Doug had never done period.  An added bonus was Doug had never been inside the Contemporary at all (other than through it on the monorail) and we took the “secret” pathway from the Magic Kingdom to get there (again something neither of us had done).

IMG_5010

Must resist walking towards the castle…

IMG_5011

oooooooooooooo secret pathway

IMG_4764

can you believe he’s never seen the mural?!?!

We opted for the jet ski tour (although it’s referred to as a personal watercraft).  You could either drive your own, or ride together (2 or 3 people, depending on weight).  Doug and I decided to share one, this way I could take pictures…and the cost of paying for 1 vs. 2 definitely helped lol.  However based on speeds and my need to hold Doug with both hands, my pictures are limited…Sorry!

We would leave from the Contemporary and get a guided tour of Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon.  They only allow 4 PWC (personal watercrafts) per tour, but we lucked out and it was just us and the guide.  Before boarding, we were given a quick safety rundown that included how far behind him we should stay (so we could slow down or stop with ample time if needed given wake zones or other boats crossing).  An important rule given: the faster you go, the more stable you are!

We were taken to spots that included the abandoned River Country and Discovery Island.  We stopped right in front of Magic Kingdom and jetted over in front of the Polynesian and Grand Floridian.  Our guide was awesome and at the stops would give us some Disney trivia (all stops we remained on our PWC, we never got that close to land).  Now, I don’t know if it was because it was just us, or if Doug had proven himself to be a competent driver, but our guide would take off with fun turns and figure 8s and donuts, all of which we would follow him for.  At the end of the tour, we got kind of a free ride to do whatever we liked in a buoyed off area of Bay Lake (under our guide’s supervision) until our session was over.  An hour and a half FLEW by!

Can I just say, this may have been one of the most fun things I have ever experienced in Walt Disney World and would gladly do it again!

IMG_1457

A whole different view of the monorail

IMG_1459

That;s right Doug! You keep your eyes on the “road”

IMG_1458

Awwwww do we have to head back?!?!

IMG_1460

So. Much. Fun.

If you’re looking for something different to do while visiting the WDW, this is it!  At $135, it’s not the cheapest option on property, but it is one of the most unique and one of the most fun!

Don’t forget about my Marine Corp Marathon charity donation and Nuun giveway going on through August 13th!  Donate here ANY amount ($25, $10, $5, even $1) and be eligible to win some Nuun swag including 2 fun flavors!

A Good Cause and a Giveaway

23 Jul

Hi everyone!  So this post involved 2 things that I’ve never done here before…ask for money and giveaway a prize!

Was that too blunt?  Sorry.

Anyway, so, if you all may (or may not) recall, I did Goofy (that son of a bitch) in January.  That was my full, and at the time believed to be only marathon.  I had a super great running buddy and except for the mental breakdown and the running for 26.2 miles, it was a lot of fun!  But the training was awful and I had no desire to ever do that again.

IMG_3987

I thought when I crossed the finish line I would have this feeling of accomplishment, of amazement, of “OMG I RAN A MARATHON…AND IT WAS THE DAY AFTER I RAN A HALF MARATHON!”  But I didn’t have that feeling.  I still don’t have that feeling.  To this day, I still don’t feel like I completed a full marathon.  In my head, I still haven’t done it.

Warped logic as that may be, it’s how I was/am feeling.  And so it got me thinking that I wanted to do another marathon.  A “real” marathon (yes, I know, Disney races ARE real races).  I said that if I was ever going to do another marathon again (and that was a big IF) and IF it wasn’t at Disney (again that’s a big IF), I would want to do the Marine Corp Marathon or Big Sur.

Sure enough, it just seemed like the elements were aligning.  This year is the 40th anniversary of the race!  You know how I love me some anniversary races.  Then it seemed as if everyone I knew was doing the race this year…my friend Cat was running her first marathon (she’s the reason I even did my first half marathon), Danielle, and Nicole, the amazing running buddy who carried me through 39.3 miles in January!

And then, somehow, before I knew it, THIS happened…

11134147_10101789031932462_1474939923023292907_n

This is where the “I told you so”s come in

So, not only am I doing another full marathon less than a year after I vowed, never again, but I’m running it for a charity.  I’ve only run for a charity one other time, for the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, and it was such an incredible experience that I am so excited for the opportunity to be doing it again!  (You can read about my previous running for charity experience here.)

One of the perks for running for the AT Children’s Project was that it was a small charity.  I could literally see where the money was going and I was in constant communication with the people responsible.  I was looking for something similar, as well as a worth cause, to run MCM for…and I found it with Giving to Extremes!

At it’s simplest, Giving to Extremes is almost like a Doctors without borders, but specifically dealing with surgeries.  Since I lack the eloquence of doing what they do justice, here’s some information from their website to give you a better idea…

Did you know?

About 11% of worldwide disabling conditions result from conditions requiring surgery. Yet, the poorest 35% of the world’s population receives only 3% of all surgeries. Injuries, pregnancy-related complications, cancers, and birth defects comprise a large part of these tragic illnesses that can be treated with surgery. It is no wonder that, because of this, surgery has been called the “neglected stepchild of public global health”!

Pregnancy-related Illnesses – For every woman who dies some twenty others face long-lasting consequences resulting from pregnancy. These women often face lasting physical, psychological, emotional, and social consequences.

Cancer – Approximately 7.5 million people die of cancer annually, two-thirds of which are found in developing countries. Without help, another 80 million will die in the next decade. Sadly, these countries often lack the resources to diagnose and treat this increasing problem, which is many times amenable to surgery.

Giving to Extremes’ Mission

Delivering Surgeries

We send doctors and medical volunteers to underserved populations to deliver life-changing surgeries. We are also proud to support partner organizations in their surgical mission work throughout the world. One surgery at a time, we strive to help each of our patients regain the life that all of us deserve.

Delivering Education and Infastructure

Ensuring sustainability is the best way to tackle the enormous lack of surgical care that faces these populations. We give medical equipment to help build local surgical facilities. We provide education to help train local health care professionals so that they can treat people in need throughout the year. We also provide education in preventative care. The best way to truly treat surgical illness is to prevent it.

Delivering the story

True to our founding beliefs, we tell the story of each of our missions. Each trip is documented with its own webpage. Through photos, videos, patient interviews, and blog updates, we invite you on our missions. Come along on our inspirational journey!

As if donating for such a good cause in itself wasn’t worthwhile, we here at Will Run For Ears are offering an extra incentive!  To kick off my fundraising, we’ll be doing a giveaway!  The fabulous Dani has some Nuun swag for you and will send it to you!  Yay!

IMG_7218

For your donation, in any amount, you will be entered into a sweepstakes to win the above-picture Nuun products.  This includes:

A Nuun hat
A Nuun pint glass
2 Bottles of Nuun in flavors Kona Cola and Cherry Limeade (yum!)
Nuun sitckers
Nuun tattoos

I will be running this giveaway until I August 13th! (The winner will be announced August 14th.)  Why so long?  To make sure you all have plenty of time and get a chance to win some swag!

You can donate to my page here.  If you wish to remain anonymous (on the website) about your donation, please just comment or message me so that I can be sure you are entered for the giveaway…as well as give you a big THANK YOU!

Since this is my first giveaway, I THINK I’ve covered all the information and bases.  Donate any amount to my awesome cause charity, automatically be entered to win awesome Nuun products and do it by 8/13/15.

Good luck everyone! :)

Star Wars Weekend Review – One Day

3 Jul

So, I’ve covered all the ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) during our “things we never do at Disney anniversary trip” so I thought it might be fun to recap/review some of the rest of the trip.  I admittedly am going out of order here as this was day 3/4 of our trip, but you guys don’t mind, right?  Good.

This is our first time being at Disney during Star Wars Weekend.  Both Doug and I are HUGE Star Wars Fans because we’re nerds (and nerds are awesome).  Part of our trip was to actually get to enjoy pool time and not feel rushed, so we admittedly were not there at MGM Hollywood Studios when it opened (I believe there were Storm Troopers there as part of the ceremony).  We also missed the parade, but honestly, Doug and I aren’t big parade people anyway…

IMG_4808

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the kind of hydrating they’re talking about when they say to keep hydrated!

After our pool time, we changed and we off to Star Wars Weekend in the afternoon.  We decided to walk to the park from the Beach Club Villas (where we were staying), with a detour to the Boardwalk to grab some margaritas for our “long” journey.

When we arrived at the park, we did something I haven’t done in over a decade, we grabbed a map!  We wanted to make sure we were able to capture all the fun Star Wars additions added for the weekend and didn’t miss anything.

IMG_4810

Come on down for the Jedi is Right!

As we walked in (first time since the complete removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat), we saw a stage show going on.  But it wasn’t a stage show, it was actually a trivia game.  On one side you had evil contestants from the Empire and on the other side was a family (assisted by C3PO and R2-D2).  It was cute and funny and entertaining, and of course being total nerds we were answering whatever questions we could along with the players.  Of course in the end, good conquers evil and the family was victorious over the evil Empire.

After the game show, we continued to walk towards Toy Story Mania as that was our first Fast Pass of the Day.  As we walked along Pixar Place, we saw a bunch of lines for character photos.  Various Jedis and people/things, but no one that we wanted to wait on line for.  Further down the road we saw a line for Darth Vader.  That line was REALLY long, and we didn’t have the patience.  I just figured I would grab a picture with him during a RunDisney race.

Also in Pixar Place, we also saw a sign that said “Annual Passholder Free Gift” with an arrow pointing where to go.  Hey!  We’re annual passholders!  Let’s check it out!

IMG_4811

Something “free” from Disney

Apparently depending on what week you were there, the character on the poster was different.  Our weekend (the final weekend) was Chewbacca.  (Yes our poster is still rolled up from our trip and we haven’t done anything with it…yet)

We took a break from Star Wars things to go on Toy Story Mania…OK, this has nothing to do with Star Wars Weekend, but I just wanted to brag that not only did I kick Doug’s butt, I was also the highest score in the car!  Yay me!

IMG_4814

Victory is mine!

IMG_4815

Victory is even more mine!

Besides the characters that there were lines for, they had a bunch of characters just walking around the park which was pretty cool.  As, like everything in Disney, they stayed in perfect character!

IMG_4816

Doug was happy and excited to get a photo with him! The feeling was not mutual…

Some of the gift shops had added Star Wars touches (and merchandise…)

IMG_4817

Good thing there’s no bounty on my head! …even if he is made out of legos)

IMG_4818

Is the real Chewbacca actually that tall? Or is Doug just that short? Probably a little of both)

We walked over to the Darth Mall (get it, a play on Darth Maul?  Oh those Disney folks) which was basically an area of merchandise and collectibles for the Star Wars Weekend and the movies themselves, as well as a spot to meet some of the guests they had.  Although I liked some of the stuff, I was not excited enough to actually buy anything (fortunately), although admittedly if the Star Wars Weekend tank had a design on it rather than just saying “Star Wars Weekend” on it, I might have had more difficulty resisting.

I did spot something I was almost tempted to buy for my sister for her birthday! …but it was just a tad more pricey than I could do.

IMG_4819

Star Wars picture with an “It’s a Small World” theme, it’s like the artist read my sister’s mind!

IMG_4821

Official movie props just outside Darth Mall

We had some time to kill before our FP for Star Tours (Star Wars weekend is perhaps the only time you need a FP for Star Tours) so we tried to get into the Rebel Hanger.  As soon as they announced the transforming of the Rebel Hagar (Star Wars themed drinks, snacks and desserts) I tried to get an ADR but with no luck.  So, we waited to see if we could just walk it, check out the place and get a drink to go.  Basically they transformed the area by the Backlot Express into Star Wars themed.  They added brand new Star Wars elements (with Disney touches) and then they also added Star Wars touches to what already existed.

IMG_4822

Spot the not so hidden Mickey?

IMG_4823

If you could attach a figurehead to the Death Star, it would probably look something like this!

After that it was a quick ride on Star Tours.  Can someone explain to me how with allegedly over 50 possibilities, I get the same 2 planets 95% of the time?

IMG_4824

Getting us ready to board our flight

All throughout the weekends, they have a number of guest appearances and speakers.  The weekend we were there we really lucked out.  We had Frank Oz there!  The man, the myth, the muppet, the legend!  (I really hope I don’t have to explain who Frank Oz is, but just in case, besides being Yoda, he was also Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Bert of Bert and Ernie, etc…just google him).  In the theater that typically houses the Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage show, there were holding a conversation with Frank Oz that Doug and I really wanted to be able to check out.  You were guaranteed seats if you had purchased the VIP package (which gave you special things for other aspects of the Star Wars weekend), but you could also walk in.  We did not get there nearly as early as I would have liked to try and guarantee us seats.  When we arrived on line, we were informed by a cast member that we might get in, but probably would not.  Oh well, but we figured what the hell, we’ll try and if we don’t get in, we don’t get in.  Well we got in with PLENTY of seats to spare.

IMG_4827 IMG_4828

I must say, Franz Oz is truly amazing.  Listening to him talk, and his humbleness about everything!  I mean, you try and give him a compliment and his immediate response was “thank you, but it was really because of all the other people I worked with”.  Incredible.

Anyway, we quickly rushed (which in hindsight we shouldn’t have) to our ADRs at Hollywood & Vine.  You can read all about that experience here.

After dinner there was more walking around and exploring and seeing random characters and props from the movies!

IMG_4852

Doug was excited to show off his brand new Storm Trooper Magic Band! The Storm Trooper was not impressed

IMG_4853

Yes it was mostly children getting on this prop for pictures, but that’s never stopped us before!

We quickly used our Tower of Terror FP (personal recommendation, not that you’re really outside on the line, but this ride is cooler at night/in the dark)

IMG_4988

We had some cool people on the elevator with us…

And then we were off to the part we were so excited about!  The special fireworks show for Star Wars Weekend, Symphony in the Stars!  Star Wars music set to fireworks sounds perfect!  We had seen the Frozen fireworks last year and they were amazing so we had high hopes for this show.  Spoiler alert: these did NOT disappoint!  AMAZING!

IMG_4857

Waiting for the show to begin…with beers in hand of course

Here’s a few videos from the show, but they do not do the fireworks justice…


And here’s some more photos from the finale.  IMG_4865 IMG_4869 IMG_4871 IMG_4872 IMG_4873

I have to say, the fireworks alone are worth making the trip to MGM Hollywood Studios during a Star Wars weekend.  All in all, I would love to come back for this, as a huge Star Wars fan and Disney fan, it’s a really great time!

Be Our Guest – FINALLY!

2 Jul

I’ve had the unfortunate habit of missing the 180 day mark for ADRs and so have had difficulty getting a reservation at Be Our Guest.  However, stalking My Disney Experience every day and I was FINALLY able to score a lunch time reservation for this trip.  All I’ve heard is how amazing it is and you have to eat there!  And you do, but at the same time, you also kind of don’t.

Be Our Guest has tons of cool features.  You can start to order your meal 30 days in advance of your reservation.  Doug and I took advantage of this option because, well, I’m obsessed with planning my Disney trips and this was one more thing to plan.  Should you chose this option, you can edit it right up until the day of the reservation, if you change your mind (like Doug did going back on his work that I could order 4 desserts)

IMG_4882

We’re finally about to go in!

After we check in at the front gate they send you inside where they split you off into pre-ordered (and paying with magic band or credit card) and order then (with the option to pay cash also if you like).

IMG_4883

We’re almost inside inside!

At this time they hand you a rose (sorry, I meant to get a picture of it, but I forgot).  Now, here’s where it gets a little disappointing.  You figure with reservations they take you to your seats, right?  Wrong.  It’s a free for all.  You basically sit down wherever you find seats.  I mean this isn’t a huge deal, but depending on the size of your party, this can be a tad stressful.  Doug and I found seats in the ballroom…which, admittedly, looks like it came right out of the movie!  …you know, except for all the tables and tourists.

IMG_4884

IMG_4887

Found us some seats!

IMG_4886

The cast members are then able to locate us and our table and bring us our food on a cart just by using the rose!  There is no ordering with waiters or waitresses.  You sit and the food comes to you rather quickly.  In fact our food came while I was taking pictures of the other rooms.

Not to critique Disney, but I’m not sure what they were thinking with one of the rooms.  I mean, it’s very pretty and goes with the theme of the restaurant, but I don’t remember seeing a room like this in the movie, perhaps replicating the library might have been better?  I don’t know.  Obviously, Disney’s attention to detail is amazing and it’s still a glorious room.

IMG_4888

One side of the mystery room

IMG_4891

Other side of the mystery room

IMG_4892

Middle of the mystery room!

They of course also had the West Wing in the restaurant and this room was phenomenal!  Which also meant it was the most crowded.  Also appeared to be the smallest, so just be warned you may not get a seat in here.

IMG_4895

Portrait of the beast pre-beast

IMG_4896

Of course the rose!

As I mentioned, their attention to detail is incredible.  They’re Disney.  It’s what they do.

However, all that being said, I’m going to be honest, I was a little disappointed in our meal at Be Our Guest.  The down side to this awesome no real waiters/waitresses is that everything is self serve.  After our food was delivered, we needed utensils and there was no one to ask, so up we got and on a quest for silverware we went!  We also had to go on that same quest for napkins.  Also, Doug had ordered a soda with his meal.  That also is apparently a self serve option, where honestly, it seems like we could have gotten the soda without paying for it (all the cups were right next to the fountains and no one was confirming a purchase…way to go Disney on the honor system).  Now, I’m not trying to sound like a snob, I have no problem with quick service scenarios, I guess just with the hoopla (and cost) of everything I was expecting it to be a little more like a restaurant and little less cafeteria.  I mean, our meal cost us $50 (which is  WAY MORE than we would spend for lunch) and that didn’t even include alcoholic beverages!  The wine and beer is only available at dinner.

Then there’s the food.  We ordered the French Onion soup which was admittedly pretty delicious.  Smothered in cheese, no overly salty (as many French Onion soups are), it was definitely top 3 onion soups I’ve ever had.  Doug and I both ordered a Croque Monsieur which is a grilled sandwich with ham, gruyere cheese and bechamel sauce.  Sounds delicious right?  Not so much.  The sandwich was ok.  Nothing spectacular.  And I honestly couldn’t taste (or see) the cheese or sauce.  So that was disappointing.

For dessert we ordered the Master’s Cupcake which of course is topped with grey stuff!  And yes, it was delicious!  BUT, it was also just a plain chocolate cupcake.  Disney kind of missed an opportunity to play with flavors.  The grey stuff, while tasty, was basic and kinda unidentifiable as any flavor.  I mean, you have the famous grey stuff here!  Let’s play around with some yummy DIFFERENT flavors to go with the chocolate cupcake!

IMG_4906

Try the Grey Stuff! It’s…grey stuff.

All in all, considering how long and how much effort it took to get a reservation here, I must say, it’s disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, the details are incredible and it’s still cool to eat here, but I wouldn’t go crazy trying to get in.  I’m hoping that this experience was just because we went for lunch and not for dinner (although, that doesn’t mean it’s ok to charge that much for an “ok” lunch), so I would definitely try and come back to give dinner a go.

IMG_4907 IMG_4909

And there you have it, at least my take on lunch at Be Our Guest.  If you can get in, give it a try, it’s cool, just don’t go in with super high expectations and don’t go crazy.

Hollywood & Vine: Star Wars Character Buffet

1 Jul

Our next stop on our ADR road trip (I’ve previously covered Le Celier, Cape May Cafe Buffet and Citricos) is over at MGM Hollywood Studios.  In all the years I’ve been coming to Disney, this is the first time I’ve been here for Star Wars Weekend and so therefore wanted to take advantage of as much of the Star Wars stuff as possible.

Hollywood and Vine is a buffet all year long and one I’ve never been to, and I must say, probably one I will never go to again (sorry to say that so soon in the post but no point in sugar coating it).  For Star Wars Weekend, they have a character buffet, and not just any characters, Disney characters dressed as Star Wars Characters!  Sounded perfect for my inner nerd.

Similar to the character breakfast buffet at the Aulani (I never wrote a post on that did I?), you get your photo with Mickey before you’re seated.  Mickey being the superstar he is, this is the best way to handle the crowds and make sure everyone gets a photo with him.

IMG_4830

Help me Obi Mickey, you’re my only hope…

We were seated and told we could get up and start grabbing our food right away.  The food choices, were disappointing.  There was nothing really that appealed to me.  The menu they list online contains: Peel n’ Eat Shrimp, Mussels, “Seasonal” Pork, Maple and Grain Mustard Salmon, “Seasonal” Pasta, Carved Turkey Breast, Carved Strip Loin, Lobster and Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese and a Create-Your-Own-Pasta Bar.  Now, I don’t like seafood, but it seemed like between the other options, I would be able to eat plenty.  However, there was no pork, there was no turkey (although I’m not crazy about turkey) and there was no create-your own pasta bar.  There was the carved Strip Loin, which was OK, nothing spectacular and definitely not enough to cover the $60 per person price tag.  If fact I spent most of my dinner eating from the Children’s Buffet which consisted of Chicken Tenders, Mini Corn Dogs and Mac & Cheese.  That was the best tasting food they had.  And that’s kind of sad.

BUT, we did it for the characters and we did get plenty of them…so while we ate our mediocre overpriced food, we got tons of character interactions and pictures!

IMG_4831

Donald appreciated my shirt…

IMG_4834

Selfies!

IMG_4840

“I’d rather kiss a Mickey! …I mean wookie!”

IMG_4835

Chip did make for a good ewok, until…

IMG_4836

IMG_4847

…he did this thing with his finger on his tongue. Chip’s got a little bit of a dirty mind.

IMG_4842

More selfies!

IMG_4846

Doug trying to prove he has bigger biceps than Darth Goofy (that son of a bitch)

IMG_4848

When Darth Goofy (that son of a bitch) offers you his arm, you take it!

IMG_4845

Ewok Dale then came to join the party!

IMG_4849 IMG_4850

After all the characters made their rounds (we were there long enough to get 2 rounds) we decided to get some dessert.  The dessert was the best part of the meal.  It was the best tasting of all the food they offered, plus they were the most creative with desserts fitting the Star Wars theme.  They were also creative in their flavors.  The cupcake flavors were more than your basic chocolate or vanilla, there was a salted caramel, a chocolate peanut butter (that was Darth Vader’s cupcake) and I forgot what Jabba’s was, but it was unique and yummy!

IMG_4851

Dinner is not complete without a Jaba the Hut cupcake!)

And here’s the brutal honesty…I would not recommend this to anyone…unless you are rich and money is no object.  Yes the desserts were tasty and the Disney/Star War characters were cool (unfortunately this was the only place to see them other than the parade), but the rest of the food was awful and not worth the price tag.  There are much better character buffets that are cheaper and/or better value food wise (see my post about the Cape May Cafe Buffet here).  I’m sorry Disney, I love you, but I did not love this meal :(

It’s Official!

30 Jun

For the 3rd year in a row, this is gonna happen!  I will be perfect at one of these damn races if it kills, bankrupts me or both dammit!

IMG_5065

Doug is all set for the 10K too in case you were concerned…

Let the countdown begin!  (Of course we have the countdown to Dumbo first, then Wine & Dine, THEN this).

Run Where I Live – NYC (Kinda)

29 Jun

Greetings all!  This post will start off slightly different than most of my other posts.  The fabulous Danielle over at Live, Run, Grow has organized this “Run Where I Live” Blog Link-Up (which is why this is the title instead of “It’s a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood” because Mr. Rogers is awesome) so some of you reading this may be first timers to my blog, so I figured I would/should do a quick introduction (and by “I figured”, I mean Danielle suggested it and that makes sense).

Hi!  My name is Kellie!  I live in NYC, Queens to be exact (yes, technically Queens is part of NYC).  I started running around 4 years ago in preparation of my first race, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in 2012.  Since then I have become addicted to RunDisney (already addicted to Disney since birth), as well as racing in general.  I’m not a fast runner, but I’ve somehow completed 16 half marathons and 1 marathon (as part of the Goofy Challenge this past January), with my 2nd marathon in October (this is where everyone gets to say I told you so because I swore I wouldn’t do another marathon…at least until Dopey 2018).  Ummmmm, I’m also obsessed with CrossFit (yes, I’m one of those people) and apparently use parentheses a lot when I type – sorry about that!  OK, I think that about covers “me” now on to the topic!

The Odds are if you’re visiting New York, you are not visiting Queens…I mean, we have the Mets here, but that’s a reason to avoid the borough (just kidding Mets fans! …maybe lol).  If you should find yourself in the neighborhood (Flushing to be exact, Queens is rather large), there are a couple of places to which are great for shorter runs.

The most popular is Flushing Meadow Park.

Picture-26-630x368

If there is a race in Queens (NYRR Queens 10K, Micheloeb Ultra NYC 13.1, NYCRuns Queens Half Marathon), this is where the race is.  The course along here is approximately 6-7 miles around the whole park, covering the World’s Fair Unisphere, the Flushing Meadow Zoo (more of a petting zoo), the Queens Museum, you even get to check out the US Open Tennis Stadium (currently under construction – I believe they are adding a dome).  This park is the “Central Park” of Queens and much like Central Park, can and will be very  popular/crowded on weekends.  Soccer games are played here, barbecues/picnics, just a great outdoor place for families to go.

1972370_10101912436748222_3363627686464228301_n

The fountains at the Unisphere in full effect

I admit, in the NYRR Queens 10K last weekend, I actually stopped with .3 miles left to take pictures of the sphere.  Living in Queens I sometimes don’t get to appreciate some of the landmarks it has to offer.  Flushing Meadow Park is actually a great place to run.  It is pretty much flat with the occasional overpass.  The only downside to running here is the beauty of the scenery changes vastly during the time of year you go.  I’ve run here in June and September where the flowers are in bloom and the trees are green and it looks very pretty…I’ve also run this in March when nothing is in bloom and it’s kind of dismal.

Queens Tourism Councilby Dominick Totino Photography 115 07_meadow_lake

As I’ve mentioned, there are races held here, all of which are less than $50.  If you have any interest, you can read my recaps of the NYCRuns Queens Half Marathon here and the Michelob Ultra New York 13.1 here (I’m still working on my Queens 10K recap).  Warning, they are two vastly different recaps as one was a horrible race and one was a temporary PR.  Don’t let the bad race impact your decision to run here…

However, IF I have forever turned you off to Flushing Meadow Park and you’re looking for something different there are two running paths that can be connected/combined with each other as they are only separated by a street (and a partial parking lot).  One you run under the Throgs Neck Bridge and the other you run alongside the Cross Island Parkway.  That path under the bridge is approximately 1 mile and the path next to the highway is 2.4 miles (it’s great except when you’re marathon training and have to run the same path back and forth 4 times to get your 20 miler done).  If you want to add a couple more miles in, in between the two paths (at the end of the aforementioned street) is the entrance to Fort Totten which is a former United States Army installation – U.S. Army reserves are still present there, but it is now owned by the City of New York.  It was also featured in an episode of White Collar, but that is neither here nor there (well, I mean, it’s HERE but that’s obviously not the point).  The two paths are practically flat, but there are not shortage of hills in Fort Totten.  Unlike Flushing Meadow Park, all these courses are almost always scenic, no matter what time of year, as you run past Little Neck Bay, which also houses the Bayside Marina.  Although this is obviously more scenic when the weather and seasons cooperate.

wpid-2013-05-04_09-54-30_41.jpg

My dad, me and my husband Doug have run this path on more than one occasion.

wpid-2013-05-04_09-31-35_417.jpg

Bayside Marina

wpid-2013-05-04_09-58-08_706.jpg wpid-2013-05-04_09-51-22_527.jpg wpid-2013-05-04_09-34-49_72.jpg wpid-2013-05-04_09-10-58_506.jpg wpid-2013-05-04_09-06-21_52.jpg

There are other locations to run in Queens (there’s a path that runs along the Grand Central Parkway that starts near Flushing Meadow Park and ends at LaGuardia Airport and Kissena Park) but I haven’t actually run those so I don’t feel right talking about them.

NYC contains 5 boroughs and I have run in Manhattan and Brooklyn as well (my first run in the Bronx will be in September).  If you find yourself in Manhattan, the most obvious location is Central Park, but be aware of the HILLS OF DOOM.  There’s two of them.  And they never end.  But otherwise, it’s Central Park and I truly recommend everyone run here at least once in their life…DESPITE THE HILLS OF DOOM.  The majority of the races put on by NYRR are here, so it can get tiring having all your races in the same location, but still, it’s Central Park.  You gotta do it.

The races I’ve done in Brooklyn have allowed for me to check out 2 other running locations, should you find yourself in Brooklyn.  One is the path that runs along under the Verrazano Bridge.  This path can be very windy, but it is flat and and scenic along the water .  The other location you can check out is Prospect Park.  Prospect Park is also very scenic and beautiful but I’m a little against it as I don’t know how, but when they include it in the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon, it somehow is entirely uphill.  The downhill never comes.  I supposed when you run it on your own, you could always alter the course so that that won’t be the case, but with my luck, it will always be uphill.  Always.

10403684_10101353532846122_7518717142839651788_n

Not a bad view to run in Brooklyn…

Well, if you actually read this whole post and didn’t give up on me after the first line, you hopefully found this post as informative or helpful or at least let you know that there is more to NYC than just Manhattan and didn’t just get bored for however long it took to read this.

And now off to Chadd to tell you all about running in Philly!  Check him out here!

Also, if you missed the beginning bloggers or would check out all of us participating in this, check out all the links conveniently located at our Visitors Center on Danielle’s post here.  Happy travels everyone! :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers