Halloween at Walt Disney World 2020

The witching hour is among us, and I plan to milk it for all it’s worth! We have visited Disney World during Halloween season since 2014, and we weren’t planning to miss this year. Obviously, there have been some major changes. The main change being no Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but I wanted to share all the fun ways you can still celebrate Halloween while at Walt Disney World this year. The park with the most/main Halloween offerings is Magic Kingdom, so let’s start there.

Magic Kingdom:

The first noticeable change is the Mickey Pumpkin wreaths adorning Main Street – it wouldn’t be Halloween without the classic cuties on Main Street. Two pro tips – one – you can get great pictures with the pumpkin wreaths in the hub area without any crowd around you. Two – book a dining reservation before park close or even after at places such as Liberty Tree Tavern or Be Our Guest. By eating there later in the evening, you may be able to leave around 7ish which means the Mickey Pumpkins wreaths will be lit for the evening, and you can get some really unique pictures!

As Disney is all about practicing social distancing while keeping both guests and cast members safe, but still want to offer some character interaction through various cavalcades. These occur randomly throughout the day on Main Street. Some different variations that can be seen are: Pooh Bear and the One Hundred Acre Wood gang in Halloween costumes, Nightmare Before Christmas characters, classic Disney villains, Mickey and Minnie Mouse along with Pluto, Donald and Daisy Duck! The best way to watch out for these is to listen for the music to change that’s your cue that something wicked this way comes!

Finally, there is all the delicious treats to snack on all day. Some of our favorites included the Cinnamon Donuts (Available at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café) – Served in a Hitchhiking Ghost Novelty container and Constance’s For Better or For Worse Wedding Cake (Available at Liberty Square Market) – Citrus cake with raspberry Bavarian cream, whipped cream flowers, and a chocolate axe. A friend had the Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae (Available at Sleepy Hollow) –Pumpkin spice-flavored waffled topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sprinkles and loved it, so I would definitely recommend checking that out if you’re a pumpkin spice fan!

Hollywood Studios:

We didn’t get the chance to try any of the Halloween treats in any of the other parks, but I will list them below!

  • Poison Candied Apple (Available at Trolley Car Café) – Apple and caramel mousse covered in red glaze with a crunchy candy base 
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Cannoli (Available at PizzeRizzo) – Pumpkin cheesecake mixed with a hazelnut praline crunch in a cannoli shell 
  • Pumpkin Tiramisu (Available at Rosie’s All-American Café) –Layers of cream mascarpone and spiced pumpkin cake 
  • Box of Bones Chocolate Éclair (Available at Backlot Express)– Chocolate éclair with dark chocolate mousse and white chocolate bones 

A main Halloween offering at Hollywood Studios is Minnie’s Halloween Dine at Hollywood and Vine. This is a table-service dining option where you can interact with classics such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy in their Halloween costumes at a safe social distance.

Epcot and Animal Kingdom:

Unfortunately, both of these parks didn’t have much to offer in way of Halloween spirit. There were various snacking options, but we didn’t go out of our way to try in Animal Kingdom, but I will list them below for convenience in case any of them appeal to you!

  • Scar Cupcake (Available at Creature Comforts, Flame Tree Barbecue, and Restaurantosaurus) – Red velvet cupcake with toasted marshmallow filling, chocolate marshmallow frosting, chocolate pebbles, white chocolate flames, and an edible icing image  
  • Spooky Apple Punch Specialty Beverage (Non-Alcoholic) (Available at Flame Tree Barbecue and Isle of Java) – Sprite with Monin Apple Syrup poured over ice, garnished with a rock candy apple straw, a gummy worm, a Novelty Poison Apple Glow Cube, and a sugar lime rim 
  • Rotten Apple Punch Specialty Beverage (Alcoholic) (Available Flame Tree Barbecue) – Angry Orchard and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky over ice, garnished with a Novelty Poison Apple Glow Cube, and gummy worms 

All of EPCOT’s Halloween snack options will only be available on Halloween day!

  • Halloween Cupcake (Available on Halloween Day Only at Sunshine Seasons) – Choice of vanilla or chocolate cupcake with buttercream and a Mickey Pumpkin garnish
  • Nemo & Squirt’s Noggin Concoction (Available on Halloween Day Only at Coral Reef Restaurant) – Chocolate brownie stuffed with a chocolate chip cookie topped with white chocolate-covered pretzels and a Mickey Pumpkin Garnish
  • Halloween Sugar Cookie (Available on Halloween Day Only at Traveler’s Café and Garden Grill) – Sugar cookie topped with Halloween Sprinkles
  • Liquid Nitro Cake Pop (Available on Halloween Day Only at Desserts & Champagne Marketplace in World Showplace for EPCOT Taste of International Food & Wine Festival) – Liquid nitro chocolate cake pop with Halloween sprinkles

2021 Calendar Year Erin Condren Collection

Happy October! *woah* when did that happen?! Can you believe Hallloween is just around the corner, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. Soon enough we’ll be ringing in the New Year, and I don’t know about you, but I am excited to put 2020 in the past. What better way to do so than getting a jump start on your 2021 planner?! Lucky for you Erin Condren has dropped some AMAZING goodies, so you have plenty of options to find a planner that will fit your lifestyle!

Vertical Layout Coiled LifePlanner in Layers Colorful

This planner will be offered in Layers Colorful, Layers Neutral, and Flower Power designs. They start at $55.00. And there will be a Spanish version offered!

Softbound Hourly Life Planner in Layers Neutral

The 8×10 Softbound Planner will be offered in 3 different layouts – hourly, vertical, and horizontal. Choose a cover from layers colorful, layers neutral, peacock, shimmer ivory, and shimmer rose gold. There will also be an A5 size available. The 8×10 retail for $35, and the A5 size retails for $30.

Pocket Planner

The Pocket Planner will be offered in 3 versions – Focused, Layers Colorful, Layers Neutral. They will retail for $18.

Accessories:

Soft Color – File Folders 6-Pack – $14.00

Metallic Layers Designer Schedule Pad – $15.00 & Gray Mid Century Circles Mechanical Pencil – $10.50

I hope you have enjoyed this preview for the new Erin Condren 2021 Calendar Year Collection. Cheers to a new year!

Hollywood Studios During a Pandemic

Hollywood Studios is definitely the park that felt most like pre-pandemic conditions although it didn’t really “ruin” the experience. With all the changes and prevention of large crowd gatherings, Disney has adjusted how you attempt to get Rise of the Resistance boarding passes. The park “officially” opens at 10:00, but they start letting guests in earlier than that. We were at the turnstiles around 9:45 – I believe they start running all or at least most of the rides before 10 as people usually flock to favorites such as Smuggler’s Run, Toy Story Mania or Smuggler’s Run. We decided to hangout on Hollywood Blvd to try to get our boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. Unfortunately, we did not get our group at 10:00, but they re-open the virtual queue system again at 2:00. We were able to get a boarding group at 2:00, but it was for a back-up boarding group which got called about an hour before park close. The nice adjustment with this is that you don’t have to get to Studios at butt crack dawn, so that’s a benefit of the adjustment.

There were more crowds around the park than I expected but no area was seriously congested where I felt overwhelmed or anxious. This was a great time to get to experience Galaxy’s Edge because there wasn’t so many people everywhere, and you’re really able to take in the whole experience. Even to the point that both of my nephews were able to get walk-up appointments to build custom droids at Droid Depot. Throughout our day, we were able to ride Rock N’ Rollercoaster three times, Tower of Terror twice, Toy Story Mania, Alien’s Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash and Smuggler’s Run twice, so I would say we got a lot done, but it was a long and exhausting day.

I will say the quick service dining options are semi-limited especially if you’re a picky eater such as my mom and I, but almost all of the full service dining options were operating, so if you plan to eat at places such as – Mama Melrose’s, 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Sci-fi Dine in and Brown Derby – I would make sure to get an advanced dining reservation. The character cavalcades run sporadically down Hollywood Blvd and head left towards Star Tours – the different variations included classic characters such as Mickey and Minnie in their matching convertibles, Disney Jr friends and the Incredibles members with Frozone. They were cute but not as special as the one in Magic Kingdom. I will say my key recommendation when it comes to visiting Studios is to just be prepared and aware that there may be crowds thankfully Studios has a lot of secluded and shaded areas where you can pull off to the side and take a minute to recenter yourself.

Epcot During a Pandemic

I went into visiting Epcot with low expectations. I knew that pre-pandemic Epcot was already a bit of a mess because of the construction going on in Future World. We had a great time, but I will say it was the most different of all the park experiences. I would almost go as far as to call it “eerie”, but it may could have been that we chose to visit Epcot in the middle of the week to avoid anticipated “festival crowds”. We definitely accomplished avoiding the crowds!

Won’t lie a benefit of the new hours is that Epcot doesn’t open until 11:00, so we were able to sleep in and take it leisurely in the morning – LOVED IT. Side note – I’m not a morning person unless I’m in Disney LOL. Since we were staying at the Swan we walked over to the turnstiles at International Gateway, so we started going around World Showcase towards France. It was honestly so indescribably weird because there was a period when it was just us and like a handful of other people walking around. We were able to visit all the festival booths and snack on so many yummy things with 0 waits at any of the booths.

Our Food and Wine Favorites included

  • Brazil – Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread (GF) – $4.50
  • Germany – Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce – $4.00
  • Africa – Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous – $6.75
  • Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar – Shimmering Strawberry Soft-Serve in a Waffle Cone – $5.25
  • Desserts and Champagne – Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops with Crushed M&M’s® Candies – $4.00
  • China – Mongolian Beef Bao Bun – $6.75
  • Hops and Barley – New England Lobster Roll: Warm Lobster with Fresh Herb Mayonnaise and Griddled Roll – $8.25
  • Canada – Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup served with a Pretzel Roll – $5.25
  • Canada – Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce (GF) – $8.25
  • Hawaii – Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet-n-Sour DOLE® Pineapple Chutney & spicy Mayonnaise – $5.25
  • Hawaii – Teriyaki-glazed SPAM® Hash with Potatoes, Peppers, Onions and spicy Mayonnaise – $4.25

We also got to see the princess cavalcade a couple of times and once with Mickey and the gang! We rode every ride with little to no wait except Spaceship Earth and Imagination with Figment. Soarin’ we walked straight on which was actually wild. Test Track was our longest wait but once again we got in line during their sanitation period. We manage to always time it so perfectly. We enjoyed Epcot, but it definitely isn’t a full day experience anymore. We were able to get everything done in about 5 to 6 hours. Having the limited Food and Wine festival right now is great because it gives you something a little extra to do, and it’s nice to actually experience it without really packed crowds. Again, take note that we went during the middle of the week, so our experience will be different than if you go during the weekend.

Animal Kingdom During a Pandemic

I will be the first to say that Animal Kingdom is not my favorite park. Honestly, my favorite thing about it is the Dinosaur Chip and Dale meet and greet. True story mom and I literally went to Animal Kingdom met Chip and Dale at their first meet and greet and then left and went to Magic Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong the rides and experiences are great, but it’s not something I have to do every trip. Anyways, this is a debate for another time.

The best thing about Animal Kingdom is we knew it wouldn’t take the whole day. Park opened at 8:00, and we made a point to be there around 9:00/9:30 to let the rope drop rush dissipate. To avoid the crowd we decided to go towards Dinosaur and make our way counterclockwise around the park instead of hitting up Pandora first. In the end, I stand by going that way because we were able to ride Dinosaur 4 times in a matter of 20-30 minutes. The “wait time” was truly us just having to get off the ride and walk through the queue again. Expedition Everest was a little more of wait, but I think it was about 15/20 minutes max, so we were able to ride that twice before moving on to Kali River Rapids. Our longest wait of the day was surprisingly at Kilimanjaro Safari. Truthfully, the only reason I believe it took longer was because we entered the queue at the beginning of their sanitation period, so there was about a 15 – 20 minute delay as they cleaned all of the jeeps. Once they began getting cars loaded, the line moved a lot faster. Safari they were loading every row of the jeeps, but I felt comfortable since there was a high divider separating each row, and we were in open air. Finally, we made it to Pandora – the rest of my family went and rode the Navii River Journey while Jeremy and I ate a quick lunch at Saulti Canteen before getting in line for Flight of Passage. I would say the entire queue and pre-show took about 30 minutes. We were the first group to board after a sanitation, so that added a little extra time to our wait, but it was nice to sit on newly cleaned seats. We were able to get the whole park done in about 5 hours which was great, but then it kind of sucks because you can’t park hop, so you have to plan to relax by the pool or visit Disney Springs if you’re looking for a more “full-day” experience.

Our biggest “issue” happened while we were dining at Flame Tree Barbecue, and I truly don’t think I would describe it as an issue but more of an inconvenience is finding a table eat. If you have never eaten at Flame Tree – it is an outdoor dining experience, so there are little pavilions and courtyards spread out with tables underneath them. We love eating there because the food is great, and you can also eat on the water. Once we received our food and found a table, we were frustrated because we could not find a cast member to come wipe it down after the family before us left which made me feel a little uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a cast member in sight who could wipe down the table. Thankfully, we came prepared with Clorox wipes, so we were able to use ours and wipe down the table and chairs before eating. Ideally, I just wish there had been cast members kind of nearby/wandering the dining area to wipe down the tables between guests. Overall, we had a “wild” time!

Magic Kingdom During a Pandemic

“Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy”

One of my traditions when I visit Magic Kingdom is to admire and acknowledge that plaque under the train station before officially going into the park. I love it because it represents the whole Disney company and what Walt stood for, but this trip it felt so applicable. I haven’t been shy admitting that I have been struggling these past few months with my mental health, so entering Magic Kingdom for the first time in a few months truly felt like a chance to step away from some of my anxiety and just truly enjoy myself for a day. Granted, we are still in a pandemic, so I always enter a situation hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Magic Kingdom was our 2nd park to visit on our trip, so I already had some expectations from the day before at Hollywood Studios. Although, each park is truly it’s own experience in the Covid-19 world. So here’s my take on Magic Kingdom during a pandemic.

The first thing I was adamant about was not getting to the park right at rope drop. I had read on various Disney Facebook groups that during park opening it always seemed to be more crowded and created a bottleneck situation which for me was an absolute no go, so we arrived about an hour after park opening which was perfect! Our bus over had a few other families on it, but I felt super safe and spread out enough. There was absolutely no one at the health screening, security or turnstiles which was really great. When we walked under the train station, tears immediately began to fill my eyes as it just felt so good to be home again. Then, I turned around and various princesses were greeting above the crowd *can we just talk about Disney magic y’all?!*. Main Street was almost like a ghost town, even Starbucks didn’t have a line in the early morning – it was that quiet!

Our day revolved mostly around hitting all the rides we could as my nephews were with us. We managed to ride 15 rides throughout the day, and we did not stay the whole park day – we left around 4:00 in the evening. All of the queues felt super safe, and people were following directions. The nice thing we noticed about Magic Kingdom is the “Incredi-Squad” which is Disney’s version of the mask control. It was nice to notice them wandering throughout the park ensuring everyone was following the rules. One cast member told us she felt like a glorified hall monitor for adults, but hey gotta do what ya gotta do. Dining at MK was a little bit hectic because we did not mobile order our lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace early enough, so we had about a 45 minute wait, and it was next to impossible to find a table available. I think this is just due to the fact that one all the tables are socially distanced, and Casey’s Corner and Crystal Palace are closed and Be Our Guest is only offering a higher priced fixed menu for lunch which isn’t usually the case. At the end of the day it truly wasn’t a big deal, and didn’t derail our experience at all. I think it’s just we are so accustomed to how we used to do things, so it’s just a matter of adjusting to these new standards.

When it comes down to the overall park experience, I will say Magic Kingdom ranks best right now along with Hollywood Studios. Some reasons I feel this way are that magic kingdom is so spacious, so I felt super safe the entire day, and I never felt I was in a situation where I immediately needed to step back even shopping in the Emporium. Another reason is that the entertainment experiences were the best at Magic Kingdom with the random character cavalcades and greetings from the train station. It added that extra bit of pixie dust throughout the day. Honestly, anytime I heard the music near Main Street I would run to see what characters were coming out next. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into Magic Kingdom during these weird times, and I hope you will follow along as we venture along to Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom soon!

WDW During a Pandemic

Let me preface this post by apologizing. I meant to get these blog posts out sooner, but the month just got away from me. Anyone else having a hard time believing it’s already September and Fall is finally underway?! I read a tweet earlier that accurately sums up my emotions, “Time flies by when you take two naps a day and contribute absolutely nothing to society.” SAME.

Anyways, this will be the first blog post of a 5 part series. Instead of documenting my whole trip into one long blog post I’ve decided to break it up – one blog post for each of the parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – plus this post regarding our stay at the Swan Hotel and our character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort.

First up our stay at the Swan Hotel!

We drove to Orlando from Louisiana as we didn’t feel completely comfortable hopping on a flight just yet. We checked into the Swan on July 29th. Our trip just happened to align perfectly with the Swan reopening. The 29th was the first day the hotel had reopened for operations since closing in March. This added the benefit that we would be the first guests staying in our rooms, so we felt SUPER safe. Also, the Swan was offering a great discount for Disney World Annual Passholders which is why we decided to stay there instead of a Disney Resort. Overall, we had a great stay and felt super safe and comfortable with all of the guidelines in place.

When we first checked in, the resort was almost dead. We would see other guests around the hotel here and there but not often. The further into our week long stay we saw the crowd levels start to pick up, and it would get crowded in the quick service dining area in the mornings. During pre-covid, I never noticed that area crowded ever, but I think it’s because of the lack of dining options open at the resort. There were only two breakfast options available to guests – one quick service and one sit down, so most people opted for the quick service, but it was easy enough to avoid the crowd if you felt uncomfortable.

A downside of the minimal operations is that the boats that take you from the Swan and Dolphin to Epcot and Hollywood Studios were not running and as of today they are still not. You can either make the walk to both parks, or the resort is offering Mears bus service to and from both park entrances. On that note – transportation. You can take Disney busses to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs. I’m specific when I say Disney vs Mears busses because they are two completely different experiences. On the Disney busses, the cast members assign you to your seat which is social distanced from other guests riding the bus. I felt completely comfortable on those rides. The Mears bus was a different story. So those buses are like the travel buses you take for the Magical Express or race mornings. I expected they would have a safety protocol in place, but you know what happens when you assume… On a return trip from Hollywood Studios, mom and I took a row which was two back from the party in front of us, and we made sure nobody was sitting in the aisle across from us. A family of like 8 sat themselves in every which row in front, behind, and to the side of us and when they sat down they all removed their mask with one of their children sticking their face in between the seats in front of us. I almost had an anxiety attack – when we arrived at the hotel I waited until I was able to get off the bus without being completely surrounded and had to take a few deep breaths. That was probably one of the more stressful situations I felt we had during the whole trip – which is honestly amazing because in reality, it wasn’t that horrendous. Given that we know Mears does not enforce any kind of social distancing on their busses, we will probably choose to make the walk next time. Thankfully, everything else about our stay was great, and we felt super safe and comfortable with our decision to stay there.

On our last park day, we decided to do the character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace at the Riviera Resort. Mom and I had been here previously, and we knew we loved the food, and I was searching for any excuse to be back in the room with Mickey again. The dining check in process has been adjusted to be completely digital. So once my My Disney Experience app location saw I was at the property, I was given the option to check in for our reservation. I checked in as we were walking to the lobby and got the notification our table was ready before we even made it in the doors! Granted we had the first reservation of the morning, so there were not other parties waiting. The tables were spread apart well enough to feel comfortable, and it was not flooded with people so there were tables empty between every party which made us feel a lot safer. The character experience was unique as they are not stopping at tables or really coming close at all. They do their song and dance around the restaurant, and they stop in the main four corners. Thankfully, we were right near a corner, so I was able to get some great selfies, but a family inwards was having difficulty because the characters aren’t really supposed to stop. The food was as good as normal, and the experience was as best as it could be during this time. Would we do it again? Not sure if it’s worth it until a more personalized experience comes back, but it is a great chance to see the characters a little closer, take in some great views, and eat delicious food!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences at the Swan Hotel and Topolino’s Terrace! In the next post, I’ll be discussing our experience at each of the different parks. As always, thank you for reading and your support!

Erin Condren x Hello Kitty Collaboration

I don’t know about y’all, but I feel like my inner 90’s kid is thriving this week! First I shopped the Hello Kitty x Stoney Clover Lane collaboration. If you haven’t shopped it yet you should definitely check it out – there are so many cute items – it was SO hard to not splurge on it all! Now today Erin Condren released their collaboration of accessories with Hello Kitty! *swoon* Initially when the collab was launched I was nervous the collection may seem young or kiddish, but they did an amazing job designing it! I was so impressed watching the preview of the collection on the various EC Squads Instagram and Youtube pages! Now that the whole collection has officially released I wanted to share what I will be ordering today!

  1. HELLO KITTY X ERIN CONDREN METALLIC ASTERISKS COVER
I am a sucker for any piece of the Foil Stamped Collection EC produces! I love the way the foil catches the light, and I feel like this cover is Hello Kitty, but it doesn’t necessarily scream it, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for something older and more appropriate!

2. HELLO KITTY X ERIN CONDREN STICKY NOTE BOOKLET

I was so happy this was a part of the release! I received a similar one in their subscription box previously that I loved! These tabs are perfect for sticking wherever you need a reminder. Especially now I use it to right a tentative event in my planner just in case it gets cancelled. I also love the three Hello Kitty head notes – they are so fun! Also, the great thing about this set is it’s a booklet so it has a hard cover, so you can stick it in your bag without worrying your sticky notes will get bent and/or ruined!

3. HELLO KITTY X ERIN CONDREN PRETTY KITTY LIST PAD 2PK

I am obsessed with Erin Condren notepads – I truly have so many that I keep around because they are perfect! I love them for when I’m making grocery lists or I need to brain dump things on my mind! And this design I mean come on how cute! I customized mine to be the color Peony!

4. HELLO KITTY X ERIN CONDREN MINI SNAP-IN BOOKMARK TRIO

These are one of my favorite Erin Condren accessories! They are so convenient and useful! I easily snap them into my Daily Duo Lifeplanner – I put one of the specific day of the week and another on my monthly view, so I can easily flip back in forth between the two!

7. HELLO KITTY X ERIN CONDREN BALLPOINT PEN

Time to be honest – I truly didn’t intend to purchase this pen. I talked myself out of ordering it the first time but when I woke up I decided to splurge and order it. I just low the simplicity of the design, and the. bow topper is just so cute!

That’s a wrap on all I ordered from the Erin Condren x Hello Kitty Collaboration! I am excited to get my order late this month and show you all the goodies! Friendly reminder that all of the links in this blog post are commissionable which means I earn a small percentage of anything you purchase with no cost to you! As always, I appreciate your support and love of Positively Pink!

Let me know if you order anything from the new collection!

Your RunDisney Basics

Happy Monday Y’all!

I loved all the feedback I received from my “So you want to start running…” post; I am so glad y’all found it helpful!  If you haven’t had a chance to read it, check it out by following the link above.  Today’s post is going to be solely dedicated to RunDisney!  Obviously, my viewpoint/opinion is SUPER biased because I live and love RunDisney, but I will say I have had negative experiences or opinions about various things involving RunDisney, so my views shouldn’t be all biased.  Just a fair warning.  My goal for this post is to introduce you to RunDisney especially those who have never been able to participate yet.  I hope to give you a general idea and some basic info about RunDisney!

First, I will explain RunDisney to those who may not fully grasp the concept of it yet!  RunDisney is a Disney organization that puts on various races throughout the year at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  There are four race weekends in WDW every year:  Wine and Dine, Marathon, Princess, and Star Wars weekend.  I will discuss the differences in each weekend a little later.  Typically, the only distances offered are a 5k, 10k, and half marathon.  The marathon distance is exclusive to marathon weekend.  Each weekend also offers a challenge of completing the 10k and half marathon.  Marathon weekend offers two challenges – the Dopey Challenge, which is running the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon, and the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, which includes the half marathon and the marathon.  The races either start in the Epcot or Magic Kingdom parking lot and finish in the Epcot parking lot.  The courses for the distances differ by the theme weekend, but they will each go through at least 1 Disney park!

One of the first questions I got was “how to register for a RunDisney race?”

which is a PERFECT place to start.  I am going to give you a very basic breakdown of how the registration process works.  First, you need to be aware of when the registration days and times are.  Disney annual pass holders and vacation club members are able to register usually the Thursday before general registration.  There are only a limited number of bibs offered for early registration so don’t fear if you don’t classify under either of these categories you still have 2 options:  1. you can pre-register through a certified Disney travel agent with one of their vacation packages!  Side note: I have never used a travel agent before, but I have had so many friends have wonderful experiences with it, so I can definitely endorse it!  2. You can register on general registration day!

Your best bet at registering for the race you want is to be on the site at the time registration opens.  I usually get on the website a little bit earlier, but a runDisney cast member told me that the queue to register pulls people randomly i.e. it doesn’t matter if you get on earlier (seems totally fair right…?!)  Because of this I recommend you open several different browsers once registration officially opens to see which window will get you in the fastest!

Once you’re in, you will select the race you are interested in and fill out all of the generic information.  You can register multiple people for different races, but you need to be careful because races could sell out while you are registering for a different one.  An example – you want to run the fairy tale challenge at princess weekend and the 5k.  You get all your information put in for the challenge, and you add the 5k and fill out everything with that.  Finally, when you go to pay for both; you get a mean error message saying that the Fairy Tale Challenge is sold out.  It is possible that nothing will sell out immediately, but I just want yall to be aware!

This is just my very basic information on registration because my great RunDisney friend Devon (@fitfabdisney) dedicated a whole podcast to discussing on how to register for RunDisney events, so I would love for you to check it out for a more detailed and in-depth explanation on registering!

The next topic I want to discuss is the different race weekends!

I could discuss the different race weekend and their pros and cons, but I will keep it short and sweet for length purposes!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

This event usually happens in early January usually the second weekend.  This is the only race weekend that offers all four distances – 5k, 10k, half marathon, and a marathon.  Unlike the other weekends, the 5k is on Thursday instead of Friday!  The weather is absolutely unpredictable for this time of year.  In the matter of one weekend, it can go from cold for the 5k and 10k to the extreme heat for the half and full marathon.  True life this happened this year!  The theming for this weekend remains the same – it is some variation of the classic Disney characters and Dopey!  Classic Disney including – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Oswald, Chip, Dale, and Goofy.  This race weekend I would consider a little more serious because people come in just for the marathon, so I feel you see a lot more serious runners this weekend.  But don’t be intimidated because there are a lot of first-time marathoners and half-marathoners participating!  The course for the half marathon and marathon both go through the Magic Kingdom and because it is so close to Christmas times you can typically catch the Christmas lights on as the sun rises.  Talk about true Disney magic!

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Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network

I have a love/hate relationship with Princess which usually happens towards the end of February.  I personally feel like this is the most crowded RunDisney weekend, but it is such a magical time running with so many women who support and lift each other up.  It is truly a weekend of female empowerment while running for a great cause!  The themes are a surprise just that it includes some variation of a princess or an important character from a princess movie!  They do tend to repeat princesses in different variations because there are only so many Disney princesses that they can cycle through.  This half marathon course runs through the Magic Kingdom as well.  The weather for this weekend is so unpredictable.  It has ranged from hot to freezing rain, so be prepared for anything which I think is just applicable for any time in Florida!  This is a great weekend for a girl’s weekend or your first race ever!

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Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

Star Wars weekend is the weekend I have participated in the least, so I don’t have a lot of opinions about this weekend.  Obviously, the theming is revolved around Star Wars characters and plots.  They have recently introduced the concept of Rival Run, which gives you the opportunity to choose your side: Light or Dark as long as you register early enough.  Picking a side does not affect anything truly, you just get a different bib based on your side! It’s a fun little extra.  The half marathon course for this weekend runs through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot!  If you’re not into Star Wars then this probably isn’t the weekend for you.  Also, this usually occurs sometime in April, and it is historically HOT and potential rain, so just take that into consideration.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend

I love this weekend for several reasons.  It was my very first half-marathon, so it is truly special to me.  This weekend usually happens the first or second weekend in November, which means the weather is usually cooler than normal.  It’s never been super cold as far as I can remember, but it has been a comfortable heat.  The theming for this weekend is all over the board, so it’s hard to pin down.  They used to revolve around characters who interact with food, but this year will be a villans theme, so stay tuned to see how Disney plays that one out.  I am excited to see!  The half marathon course is the same as Star Wars through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.  The best part about this weekend is registering for the half marathon gets you a free admission to a Post Race party in Epcot.  The party occurs Sunday night after Epcot closes to the general public and there are tons of unique and rare characters out for everyone to meet.  Also, all of the food and wine festival booths stay open, so you can eat and drink back all those calories you burned in the morning.  Even if you don’t run the half marathon but want to attend the party, you can purchase an admission ticket separately and still attend!

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I hope this post has given you better insight into the world of RunDisney!  If you have any questions about RunDisney, drop them in the comments below, and I would be happy to answer them!

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So You Want to Start Running…

Hey, y’all!

I am finally writing one of my most requested blog posts “I want to start running, but I have no idea how?” Let me start this off by saying I am in no way by any means an expert, so the advice I will be sharing comes from my personal experiences and running-related books I’ve read over the last 2 ish years! I’m going to cover just the basics in this post, and if y’all enjoy it or have any more questions I can add on to it!

1. GET FITTED FOR RUNNING SHOES!

I cannot stress this enough! Take the time and spend the money to get fitted for running shoes that are best suited for your feet! It’s super simple to find a store that does this – just google “running store near me” and you will see multiple options come up of places to go around you! I don’t have a specific recommendation of what store to go to as I’ve been to a variety of different ones over the year! They will typically ask you to walk around the store or on a treadmill to evaluate how you walk/run to decide what shoe is best for you!

I wear Hoka Cliftons currently, and I used to wear the Hoka Arahis before them. I personally wear Hoka’s because they were recommended to me by my podiatrist because they offer the most support. I have had two ankle surgeries and two-foot surgeries, so it was super important to me to make sure my shoes could support any weaknesses I may still have. The best part about these running stores is they usually have a 30-day return policy, so you can try the shoes out and see if they will truly work for you.

2. Register for a race or set your goal.

Before you begin running you need to decide why am I deciding to run right now? This answer can take many forms – weight loss/health, stress release, or you have always wanted to run a 5k/10k/Half/Full. By deciding what you want to achieve it will give you motivation when times get tough, and it will keep you focused. Make sure you pick a race that is far enough out to make sure you have enough time to properly train!

3. Research and decide on a training plan to follow.

I currently work with a running coach (@runningwithstrength) who curates my training schedule, cross-training, and nutrition on a weekly basis.  I chose to upgrade to a coach after using the galloway plan for over a year.  I have been with my coach for almost 1 & 1/2 (on and off due to surgery).  I have personally noticed a significant difference in my race times and have achieved all of my PR’s under her coaching.

BUT I have personally succeeded on online training plans alone as well.  My favorite training plans are the  Galloway training plans.  I SWEAR up and done by the Galloway method which is basically about Run/Walk/Run intervals.  It’s super simple – you just adjust the amount of time of running and walking to whatever YOU can do.  I love that it’s customizable to your abilities.  You can start by just doing 15-second runs and 30 seconds walk and as you feel yourself getting stronger you can continue adjusting your intervals.  You can also find tons of other training plans on Pinterest and Google!  Just search until you find the one that’s right for you!

4. Nourish and hydrate properly

This is something I didn’t take seriously my first year running.  I just ate whatever and didn’t really think about my training runs or what I was eating before races.  You don’t need to have a strict diet regiment if you don’t want to but just make sure that you are eating enough carbs to fuel your runs as well as protein!  Basically, just make sure you are fueling your body, so you can avoid injury!

Also, hydrating is SO important during these hot summer months.  I’m not this best at this I’ll admit, but something I do stick to is the Monday of race week I start drinking at least 60 ounces of water every day.  As the race gets closer, I will start adding electrolyte drinks like Powerade, Gatorade, or Propel.  I do this especially when I’m at Disney for race weekends and I am playing in the parks in the heat!

5. Accept that this running is a rollercoaster.

I am totally going to say the cliche, but running is a marathon, not a sprint.  What I mean by that is you’re going to have good runs and bad runs no matter what you do.  You need to accept the good with the bad.  It is so easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way, but it is all apart of the process and trust the process!  Speaking of the process and the journey, I cannot emphasize enough that this is YOUR journey and no one else’s.  Even doing this for two years I still struggle with the comparison factor.  Comparing my paces, my mileage, and my distance with everyone else’s – I’m still working on it, but it is so important to be in your journey focusing on your next mile.  I truly believe that if you run any amount, you are a runner, and you should own it!

I hope this helps for everyone who’s asked!  If there is anything else you would like to know, please feel free to message me or comment on this post.  I would love to help out your running journey in any way possible!

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