All 11 RunDisney medals I have earned from November 2013-now. Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Dopey Challenge and now Dumbo Double Dare. This was what the last year and a half has been all about. Disney was and still is such an important place for my family. Running is such an important part of my life. Being able to mesh them both together in memory of my dad has been the best therapy ever. I love you dad.
I have visited the Walt Disney Resort on 14 vacations – 6 of these vacations have been with my parents, 3 of them were with my high school dance team, 3 of them were just my mom and I together, and 2 of them have been with one of my best friends, Maureen. On August 1st, her and I will be heading on our third trip to WDW, but this time we aren’t messing around—we are going for 16 days!
We knew about a year and a half ago we were going to be heading on a WDW trip together in August 2013, and originally we thought maybe a week. We are great travel partners and most importantly, the way we both want to tour the ‘world’ is the same—–early morning alarms, be first at every gate to enjoy a rope drop, cry tears of happiness at every possible moment, eat tons of food, and overall do every possible thing we can.
So why are we going for 16 days? Simple answer—because we can. But, it really isn’t all that simple. Maureen and I are both teachers, her back in Wisconsin and myself up in Alberta. Summer trips work best for both of us. And historically, the WDW Resort has value rate pricing in mid August, so it makes hotels more affordable. The last two trips together, we stayed at Pop Century—we like to refer to it as Pop Century Resort & Spa…..but it’s anything but. I’m not going to knock it—it serves its purpose. It’s a Disney value resort on property, with a solid location and good bus service. You can get pretty low rates during value season, and if you get a AAA rate like we did the last two times, it makes it even better. Add on to it that we split the room cost and it makes it really affordable. We swore the last trip, though, we were staying moderate the next time. Maybe even a non-monorail deluxe resort! We just couldn’t handle the craziness of this resort again….
…flash forward to our planning for this trip. Maureen has a friend who works part time at WDW and he offered to use one of his family and friend rates for us for our stay. Well, lets just say the discount is ridiculous. So, it was either we stay at a moderate for 7 days OR we go back to the Pop Century Resort & Spa for 16 days for basically the same price….
We chose to go back to the “spa.”
So from August 1-16th, Maureen & I are moving in to Pop. We joke we need to do a change of address with the post office….we are going to be gone for a about 1/24 of a year….but this is a time in our life where we both still don’t have kids, so we can manage and afford to go away for this long. And since we are both Disney fanatics, there is no discussion ever of going anywhere else together.
Expect random updates and entries the next few weeks, but they will probably all be Disney related. So if you read this just for running, you will have to wait until my Spartan Race 5km on August 18th in Calgary. Actually, there may be running segments in my posts, as I run after getting a fast pass after rope drop to meet Maureen across the park at a different ride! This trip is the first step to my RunDisney experiences, however. I have been so pumped for this trip, and then it gets me equally excited for my trip in November for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon and my January trip-of-a-lifetime when I compete in the Dopey Challenge during Disney Marathon Weekend.
I am registered for a second RunDisney event! On November 9, 2013, I will be running in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in Walt Disney World! My friend Teresa and I are going to be running it together! Her and I worked at Badgerette, went to the same university, and coached a JV Pom Pon Squad together. This will be her first ever half marathon. The timing worked well since we have a Friday-Monday off of work that weekend for Remembrance Day. All it took was a couple late-night discussions, a check of AirMiles flights available for myself, and we registered and never looked back!
In the spirit of this race, my entry today is talking about my family’s history of Disney ‘wining and dining.’ Now, I have never been to the official Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT yet, so this will be a Disney first for myself. But since our first trip in 1991, we have wined and dined our way through WDW, and I think it is safe to say that our level of dining has possibly increased over the years….
Now, this is more like it! October 1993. Here my dad and I are at Rose and Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavillion at EPCOT. Me running in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon is perfect since EPCOT has always been our favorite of the parks. While my dad is clutching his beer, I am clutching my EPCOT passport, which I still have! I already loved this park, but it was a way to encourage a kid to go into each country (for their parents’ sake). At each country, one of the workers would sign and stamp the corresponding page in the passport, usually writing something in the country’s language. They now have tons of other activities like this at EPCOT but this was one of the first ways Disney attempted to get children more interest in World Showcase. Love it!
Also in 1993, we trekked over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground for the Hoop De Do Musical Revue! Sangria and beer was the beverage provided to adults, and washboards were used for audience participation. And the second photo was at Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom. Back in the 90s, you had to book a reservation for this show at guest services in the morning. Lunch was also served during the show. The show does not operate anymore and the building space is occasionally used during high-traffic seasons for a quick service dining location. We were fortunate enough to experience this attraction while still in full operation!
1995 brought us to Sci-Fi Dine In!. We had been to this dining location the trip previous, and while it is slightly corny, we still enjoy it. My friend Maureen and I have been here once together, and my mom and I went here again during our most recent trip (see below)
It was in the year 2000 that we started to kick it up a notch.. Here are my parents at California Grill on the top floor of the Contemporary. We were celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary. This was our first Disney meal of this caliber. And we got hooked. It was a great dining experience, and being able to view the fireworks from the rooftop deck was the best way to watch. We plan on going back to California Grill this January after the marathon weekend. They are closed right now for refurbishments so I can’t wait to see what it is like!
During our last family trip to WDW in 2003, we revisited a tried and true favorite-Teppan Edo.. In the Japan Pavillion in World Showcase, this dining experience features the teppan chefs preparing your meal on the grill in front of you. It is always a fun time and the meal is also awesome. We went to a lot of great restaurants this final family trip, including Brown Derby. But one of the most memorable experiences food and wine related from this last family trip was the complimentary upgrade to concierge level at Yacht Club. It was a fantastic surprise and I know my dad definitely enjoyed the complimentary food and beverages all day the most!
On our most recent trip together, my mom and I indulged in the best of World Showcase, by partaking in the little advertised Wine Walk.. We sampled two wines in three countries, starting with Germany. We had a great time in Germany talking with the cast member Isabel. France and Italy were the other two stops on the Wine Walk. It was a small fee and totally worth doing if you go to World Showcase at a time that is not Food & Wine Festival time.
The most amazing dining experience of my life has been at Victoria & Alberts.. It is a five star restaurant at Grand Floridian, and I am lucky (and spoiled enough) to have been here twice—once with Maureen and once with my mom. The seven course meal was paired with wine and is an absolute must for any “foodie.” It is safe to say that my mom and I have come a long way with our Disney “Wining & Dining!” Cheers!