Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wine & Dine Half Marathon - Week at Walt Disney World

Wow - what a week!  It kicked off with the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, but it was SO eventful and fun that I thought I would do a whole separate post for it. 

First of all, I love Disney World.  I've been over 50 times since it opened and I never get tired of it.  This was my first ever trip without the kids - it was just me and my friend, Chris.  (He's kinda like my boyfriend, but he lives in California so it's complicated.  That story is for another kind of blog!)  This trip was A+ from start to finish!  Here's the breakdown complete with seizure inducing graphics!

Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Chris flew into Raleigh and we drove down to Orlando.  I love a 10 hour road trip!!  Due to some flight mishaps, we didn't end up getting on the road until about 12noon.

We arrived at the lovely Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House at around 10pm.  We stayed in a nice savanna view room.  I've never stayed there and it was pretty luxe.  We got the special MagicBands that were our room key, dining plan, and credit card.  So easy to use!  I definitely like these opposed to the key cards.

Then... I crashed hard and slept and slept.

I woke up to giraffes outside my window!

RACE DAY!!  We got up early Saturday morning and went to the race expo (more about that in my race report).  After that, we headed to Downtown Disney and ate yummy, yummy sushi at Splitsville.  We needed some low impact activities to fill the day, so we watched the movie Thor: A Dark World at the theater.  It was GREAT!!  I officially have a crush on Loki.

We had reservations for lunch at Whispering Canyons at The Wilderness Lodge.  I had heard this place was a hoot due to rowdy/hilarious wait staff.  This was not our experience.  The food was just ok and while the service was polite and prompt, it was not funny or entertaining.  Not sure if we got a dud or if they mainly have fun with larger families, but other than asking for ketchup and getting 20 bottles brought to me, it did not live up to the hype. 

Of course, I was a nervous wreck about the race anyway, so I'm not sure how much fun I was in the first place.  We went back to the AKL and I tried to take a nap.  I would just drift off and then wake back up, so while I didn't really sleep, I rested.  At 6pm, I got up and got ready for the race.  So that the next few days' descriptions will make sense, I should explain that this is a night race and I usually go to bed at 10pm.  I was literally in a walking coma by the end of 13.1 miles at 2am.

I made it til the 8pm parade and then promptly passed out.
If you didn't read the race report, here's the Cliff Notes: OUCH/CRY/YAWN/WHIMPER.

Now then, Sunday was the most refreshingly boring day I've ever had at Magic Kingdom.  We went to every short-line, sitting-down attraction at the park.  Yes, this means Hall Of Presidents and Carousel Of Progress.  I didn't even nap at either of those, but boy-oh-boy, I wanted to.  For dinner, we had reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table.  I had never been there and it was pretty good.  I had the steak and it hit the spot for a "day after" meal.

My FAVORITE thing in all of Walt Disney World is the Electrical Light Parade.  I love it so much that the theme song is my ringtone.  Serious love, right?  So, I HAD TO stay up for that.  It was going on at 8pm and 10pm and I was lucky to make it until 8pm.  We skipped the fireworks and headed back to the AKL.  I iced my knees and was out cold before 9pm.

Martini flight at Le Cellier - so good!
Up and ready to go by 8:30am and onto Epcot.  I can not underscore enough my loathing of Epcot.  I think the attractions are boring and while the World Showcase is nice, I've never done much more than walk around it.  This was the last day of the Food & Wine Festival, so we did some extra eating and drinking.  We had lunch at Coral Reef (I had the lobster pasta, which was pretty yum) and we went souvenir shopping at the United Kingdom pavilion for Doctor Who merchandise.  Our dinner was at Le Cellier and I do not have good enough human words to describe the food.  We had the filet in truffle butter mushroom sauce and it tasted like God's love. 

I was still pretty wiped out and my legs were sore so we made it back to the AKL before the night show started.  Drooly mouthed snoring ensued by 10pm.

mmMMMMmm - Monkey brains drink
I starting feeling more like myself on Tuesday - finally!  We headed to Hollywood Studios, which is my second favorite park after MK.  We rode the Tower Of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Rock-N-Roll Rollercoaster all before noon.  I got sushi at Starring Rolls for lunch and it was pretty standard.  We did some of the slower attractions there that I never took time to ride with the kids and of course I made time for the Beauty & The Beast show, which I love, love, love.  Gaston always steals that show.

We were scheduled for the 5:15pm Spirit Of Aloha luau/dinner show at the Polynesian, so we left the park before dark, intending to make it back some other day to see the Osbourne Festival Of Lights. (We never did see them because HS closed at 4pm on the only day we could have made it over.  A good reason to come back next year!)

The luau has gotten some pretty bad reviews, but I really liked it.  Yeah, it was a little cheesy but it was still fun.  The food was chicken, ribs, and pulled pork.  It was just ok - nothing to write home about.  I didn't eat much because I was drinking a super yummy rum drink that came in a monkey/coconut. 

After the luau, we went to Magic Kingdom to check out this interactive card game that some people behind us in line told us about.  It's called Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom (SOTMK for future reference) and you get a free pack of cards each day which you use to activate special portals around MK.  It's basically a scavenger hunt/spell casting game and it was really fun!  We watched the fireworks and left at 10pm before the second Electrical Light Parade began.  I was tired, but making it a little later each day!

Breakfast with Stitch!! 
Ohana is my favorite character breakfast and we made last minute reservations to go there before
heading to <groan> Epcot.  Although, I did have high hopes for the day since we were going to attempt to "Drink Around The World".   This basically means you drink something alcoholic at every country!!

But first (mad Chenbot love for Big Brother fans!), we had to go to MK to get a new pack of cards and play a little SOTMK.  (You get a new pack of cards every day!)

We had the car at the Poly so by the time we made it back from MK on the monorail, it was lunchtime.  I got sushi from the counter service cooler that was made at the Poly's onsite sushi bar.  Chris ate nothing because he was still full from breakfast. (This will later be important when we start drinking...)  We heard about this Phineas and Ferb scavenger hunt game from those same SOTMK people that you play at the World Showcase, so we signed up to do that as we did our drinking.  It was totally fun, but I won't spoil it for anyone wanting to play in the future.  It's not just for kids, though!!

We started in Mexico, where I had a lime & pomegranate mojito on the recommendation of the cast member taking our order, and Chris had a margarita on the rocks.  Mine tasted like cough medicine.  I drank half and tossed the rest.  Chris finished his and got a jalapeno margarita that tasted divine.

This is the only photo I have from Epcot because
Next, was Norway where all they had besides beer was potato-based liquor shots called Aquavit.  It tasted like a spicy potato with licorice... weird.  I drank half my shot and gave the rest to Chris.

Onto China, where I had a delicious cantaloupe and vodka drink, I think called a Cantaloopy.  It was serious yummy.  I stopped keeping track of Chris' drinking at this point.  I wasn't very buzzed but he was starting to be!  After China was Germany, where I had an Apple Cider.  I drank most of it and Chris finished the rest.  Sensing a pattern yet?

Italy only had wine, which I do not drink, so I skipped that country.  In America, I had a tea/vodka/frozen lemonade drink that was only slightly gross.  I drank about 80% of that and tossed the rest.  The sun was going down and it was unseasonably cold that night.  I think the fact that I was freezing kept me sober because I was starting to not have so much fun just as Chris was really starting to enjoy his night.  You know how being around drunk people is not so fun when you are sober as a judge.  Yeah, THAT.

I didn't drink in Morocco or Japan, and I actually ate some sushi in Japan.  (Chris had miso soup which didn't exact absorb any of the alcohol in his system) and we headed to France.  I had a Grand Marnier orange slushie that was quite tasty.  I didn't drink in the UK and we finished with a Torontopolitan in Canada.  It was quite disappointing to not even get a buzz from all of that.  It happened over about 4 hours, plus I ate lunch and dinner.  Dear Chris was pretty drunk though.  He didn't skip any countries and in some countries, he had two drinks.  I herded him out of Epcot and back to the hotel by 9pm.

Chris woke up early and went to get breakfast while I slept in.  We still made it to Animal Kingdom
by opening time.  We did all the must-see attractions by 1pm and went over to MK to play SOTMK.  As we walked in, we noticed that the park was closing at 7pm for the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party that required a separate ticket.  Chris immediately decided we needed to go to this event and bought tickets.  I was super excited because this was something else I had never done at WDW and it had wonderful reviews from other Disney fans. 

It really lived up to expectations!!  The park was practically empty and we walked onto Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain as many times as we wanted.  There were great character photo ops everywhere, free cocoa and cookies, plus a special fireworks display.  And BEST OF ALL, the Christmas Parade was outstanding!!  It was my favorite thing about the whole trip.  Definitely worth the added ticket price.

We were supposed to get up and drive home first thing Friday, but we decided to stop by MK one more time to get another pack of SOTMK cards and play a few more rounds.  We also did some more souvenir shopping and left by 12noon.  It was hard to leave, but it must be done I guess.  The trip back went quickly and I was home by a little after 10pm.

In all, it was such a fun trip.  I missed my kids tremendously, but it was nice to have a little "me" time.  I definitely can't wait to show them the new things I learned during this trip!

I highly recommend the Wine & Dine Half Marathon if you are a runner (or just thinking about being one) and Chris loved the Food & Wine Festival.  The MVMCP was out of this world, as was the food at Le Cellier.  I can't wait to go back to WDW again!!

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