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2017 Disney Princess Weekend: 5k.

Let’s not even talk about how long it’s been since I last posted. Instead, let’s talk about the 2017 Disney Princess 5k!

The family all got to Disney Thursday morning so we could get to the expo, check in at the hotel, and then head out for an early dinner in Disney Springs. Because we were such a large party, runDisney helped us out with the hotel booking so we were all in a block of rooms and it felt like we had our own little corner of the hotel to ourselves.

After dinner at The Boathouse, I was on a mission to find Bride ears (did I mention I’m getting married? Because yea, I’m getting married. This September, specifically).

Surprise! – Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn

Engagement Dinner – River Cafe, Brooklyn

I found the ears no problem (Justin got groom ears and he’s agreed to take some formal engagement photos in them sooo stay tuned for those).  🙂

Princess 5k

Pre-Princess 5k Family Photo

Once our large group got into the corrals, we split up by pace. We had a few who were running the whole thing, some who were going to run/walk, and others who planned to walk to the finish line. Like last year, Justin and I stayed with my dad for the 5k. The 5k isn’t timed and my father doesn’t have a running watch so I ran alongside him so we had an accurate finish time and pace.

Since my father uses this as a “goal race,” we didn’t stop for any character photos. Last year, he ran a 13:11 pace with no stopping (except for one wardrobe malfunction – he couldn’t get his throwaway pants off lol). When he ran his 3 mile training run the weekend prior, I ran alongside him to check his pace and he finished the 3 miles at a 12:40. He does all his training at a 14+ minute pace so this shocked him – isn’t it amazing what your body can do when you just listen to it?!

We finished in 38:35 (a 12:23 pace!) and a new PR for pops!

We grabbed our medals and our goodies and waited for the rest of the family to cross the finish line.

It was the first 5k for a lot of the family and they all did AMAZING! Everyone finished with a smile (except for lil’ Andrew but he’s 7, has little legs, and omg if someone tried to make me do anything like this at 7, I’d have thrown a complete hissy fit). No worries though – he recovered quickly and then became obsessed with all my medals the rest of the trip 🙂

Hollywood Studios

Once we were all showered and rested (ehhhh slightly rested), we were on our way to Hollywood Studios!

19 Italians take Disney! (#20 came on Saturday)

The weather was amazing and we spent the morning going on rides and enjoying some shows before lunching at Brown Derby. This is always one of my favorite meals at Disney and I cannot recommend it enough (the cobb salad is incredible and I’ve been told the crabcakes are as well).

In addition, they have a special 3-course option that comes with fastpasses to Fantasmic! My brother’s reactions to this show are more fit for an 8 year old than someone who is, ya know, an adult, but it really is so good. I’ve gotten choked up during the finale each and every time I’ve seen it and, in my brother’s words, it “always gets me.” #RightInTheFeels

Hollywood Studios had special magic hours for hotel guests on Friday so we didn’t worry too much about trying to fit in all the rides before the park closed at 8pm. Since we had an extra 2 hours to go on rides, we saved some of the longer line rides (like Rockin’ Rollercoaster) to the end of the night.

Some fairy dust before the 10k!

Once we got back to the hotel, Justin and I were quick to get our stuff out for the morning and go to bed- it was almost Enchanted 10k time!

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Congrats to all Princess 5k finishers! Especially my dad, mom, Justin, John, Nicole, Jim, Uncle Vito, Aunt Marisa, Matt, Uncle Andrew, Aunt Lidia, Amanda, and little Andrew! So proud of you all!

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Halloween at Disney World: Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios.

Halloween at Disney World actually got me in a festive Halloween mood. It probably helps that September in Orlando is 90 degrees with humidity and it still feels like summer, but nevertheless, one of my least favorite holidays (because I legitimately mourn the end of summer) became something I enjoyed this past week.

Wanting to get the most out of my annual pass, Justin and I booked a fall getaway to Disney (my 3rd Disney trip of 2016 – January, February) to attend a Magic Kingdom ticketed event (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party) and enjoy Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. September is a great time to visit Disney as it is considered a low season. Kids have gone back to school, there is a chance of thunderstorms every afternoon (bring a poncho, it ain’t no thang), and the Halloween/Food and Wine crowds are still light.

Last Saturday morning, we sacrificed sleep and got on a plane that left before sunrise. #WorthIt

I don't hate this

I don’t hate this

We landed in Orlando a little after 8, dropped our bags off at the Grand Floridian, and left for Animal Kingdom to get a full day in the park.

Animal Kingdom

Saturday was H-O-T hot. We eased our pain by walking in and out of shops throughout the day and taking in a showing of The Festival of the Lion King.

While on the subject of pain, I had been suffering from an allergic reaction from my knees to my toes (both legs) and Saturday it got so bad that I ended up in First Aid. My doctor called in a couple of prescriptions for me and they were delivered to my hotel Sunday morning. The local pharmacist was extremely helpful; he spoke to me about the claim process with my insurance company and he sent along all the necessary paperwork. Disney made this process super easy and I’m so thankful because I was actually able to enjoy the rest of my trip. #DisneyWinsAgain

animal-kingdom-day

I haven’t been to Animal Kingdom since they began nighttime hours so I was excited to catch a sunset Kilimanjaro Safari (amazing) and experience the Tree of Life show (SO GOOD). The crowd was oohing and aahing before the projection show officially began whenever one of the animals on the tree would move.  Our bus driver back to the hotel told us that there are multiple projections so on any given night or time, you may catch a slightly different one.

Tree of Life - Animal Kingdom, WDW

Tree of Life – Animal Kingdom, WDW

When we got back to the room, we were hangry, tired, and cranky but all that disappeared when we walked into our room and saw the view from our balcony:

Cinderella's Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Cinderella’s Castle from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

After I stopped freaking out over the view, we grabbed a late dinner at Grand Floridian’s 24-hour dining restaurant, Gasparilla Island Grill. I got something called the “Idaho Dog” after joking with a couple castmembers about how silly it sounded but how good it actually tasted. In case you haven’t guessed it, it’s a hotdog in a baked potato… and it was all sorts of awesome. I kid you not.

Hollywood Studios

Before heading to Hollywood Studios for the day, we brunched at Grand Floridian’s Narcoossee’s. Oh boy is this food delicious. Also, the mimosas are incredible and I dubbed them “the greatest mimosas I have ever had in my life.” Must be those Florida oranges, eh?

With full bellies and light wallets (magic bands?), we got on a bus to Hollywood Studios with just enough time to get to our first FastPass of the day: Toy Story Midway Mania. With the new tracks on the ride, the standby time is significantly reduced. Good to know for future Hollywood Studios adventuring!

hollywood-studios

It felt like our time at Hollywood Studios flew by and before we knew it, we were exiting with thousands of others as they closed the park for the night.

Sunday night was a Halloween Party so we parked ourselves on our balcony to watch the Hallowishes fireworks.

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Fireworks view from Grand Floridian

Watching the finale from this spot was incredible and it got me even more excited for our very own Halloween Party on Tuesday.

Spoiler alert: I was still not prepared for the finale in front of the castle.

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NEXT UP: Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and a morning in the Magic Kingdom. 

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A Family Affair: Princess 5k.

Princess Weekend was FINALLY here! The whole clan (12 of us) got in Thursday morning and took the Magic Bus over to Port Orleans French Quarter to start our magical vacation 🙂

After a trip to the Expo, we spent the afternoon and evening at Disney Springs, where we shopped and then dined at The Boathouse (highly recommend). My annual pass saved us $65 on the meal! #wortheverypenny

princess expo and disney springs

We made it an early night – we had lots of runners who needed fresh legs and eyes in the morning!

Princess 5k

Runners: myself, Justin, my brother, his girlfriend, my dad, and my Uncle Peter.

Although most of us had early corrals (A or C), we opted to all start in corral E where my dad was placed. This was his first real race after his full knee replacement last year (he did run the 1.5M Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving) and he wasn’t sure how fast he’d be able to run so I entered him in for a 16 minute mile.

princess 5k

He’d been training somewhere between an 18 and 20 minute pace so I imagined that we’d be fine there in the second to last corral. Turns out, not so much. Right away it became really clear that my dad was too fast for this corral. We were dodging walkers left and right and when I looked down at my watch, I saw that dad was running around a 13:30. I turned to Justin, “I’m not going to tell him how fast he’s running.”

So much of running is mental and I knew that if I told my father how fast he was running, he’d freak out and slow down, thinking that he wasn’t capable of sustaining that pace.

At mile 2, John got nervous that the course was marked in kilometers and we were only at the 2k mark. This from the guy who demanded we change his pace to 8 minute miles (even though he never runs and this was his first 5k). A potato can dream, can’t he?

pepino the italian mouse

Dad wanted to know when we had 1/2 a mile left so I made sure to give him a heads up. He promptly picked up his pace even more. Negative split for the win!

We crossed the finish line in 41 minutes flat (a 13:11 pace!) much to my father’s surprise. The whole time he had thought that he was running the same pace as he did at home (18-20 minute miles).

It’s always easier to run in a race environment. The adrenaline and excitement of running alongside others, fans, and in Disney’s case, a beautiful 5k course in Epcot, all help to make the running feel easier. But a lot of what happened for my father was him not knowing how fast he was running. Because he couldn’t see the numbers, he ran based on feel, and it was so much faster than his brain was telling him he could do throughout training.

Finishers!

Finishers!

A big congrats to my whole family for finishing!

Hollywood Studios

After some quick showers and breakfast at the hotel, it was off to Hollywood Studios for the day!

4 adults and 8 "kids"

4 adults and 8 “kids”

We enjoyed the following rides/attractions:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania (One of my favorites!)
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (I sat here in awe the entire time. Also, it’s the only place in the park where you can still see Walt Disney’s personal plane.)
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Rock ‘n Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
  • Fantasmic (The tickets were included with our lunch at The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge. I loved every second of this show.)
  • Tower of Terror
  • Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks (Probably the best we saw all weekend!)

hollywood studios

There is never a dull moment with my family and the day was filled with lots of laughs and goofiness. We walked around the movie sets, took lots of photos (included with my annual pass!), and enjoyed our first full day in the sunshine.

hollywood studios 2

Next up: the official start of the Glass Slipper Challenge – the Enchanted 10k 🙂 

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