Thursday, October 20, 2016

Should Jenn Get A WDW Annual Pass Or What?

I just don't know, guys. Should I buy a WDW annual pass?

The facts, as they say, are these.

Yes, thank you.

  • Disney is currently offering 13 month APs if you buy by January.
  • I currently have three WDW trips on the docket: November for the Wine & Dine, January for the WDW Marathon, and April for the Dark Side Half.
  • I haven't received or found any runDisney discounted ticket promotions for W&D. Even if discounted tickets are offered in conjunction with the marathon and Dark Side, I'm already paying full price for one three day hopper.
  • There has also been some light chatter from my mom about going again during the Christmas season. If that trip was in the combined last week of November/first week of December, given the 13 month promotion that trip would come in under my AP's expiration date (assuming a W&D-spurred start date).
  • Disney's also added a 20% AP discount at a bunch of restaurants on property. Wouldn't hurt to have that.


  • APs have gotten EXPENSIVE. Like, crazy expensive. I should save money and can save it on tickets, starting by:
  • I could not purchase tickets for the WDW Marathon weekend and just hang around the gateless parts of WDW, a la last year
  • I could also use my Disney Visa points to pay for a good chunk of the AP, but if I do that I can no longer use those points for hotel rooms or food, which are other money sucks associated with WDW trips.


  • I have a Southwest Visa and use those points to fly... well, Southwest, so I'm pretty exclusive with the airline. And for some reason, fares on Sunday, January 8 (the day of the WDW Marathon and the day I planned to return) are INSANE.* I save a good $300 worth of points if I fly back Monday instead. But then I'm in WDW for three days instead of two, and do I really want to hang around for three days without playing in the parks?
  • This would give me more opportunities to see and do stuff I otherwise wouldn't be able to or would have to wait much longer for. Rivers of Light, for example, should be running by then. I can finally get a brioche ice cream sandwich.


  • There are lots of things I can do outside the parks that would be fun. I could actually check out the Disney Springs post-marathon weekend party. Maybe splurge on a massage, which would be expensive but still cheaper than a ticket. Go bowling or see a movie at that fancy one that has food.
  • That would be a second three day trip all by myself. I'm a strong, independent introvert, but do I want to double down on that? At least Pat should be coming with me in April.
  • If I keep waiting Southwest might lower the prices on Sunday, allowing a 2-day trip for the marathon again and thus saving me money.

Frankly I'm at a loss. The pro/con lists come out even-ish by my reckoning. People of the internet, advise me!

* Flights are also weirdly expensive the days surrounding Wine & Dine. Is Southwest on to the runDisney community?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Fairest Week In Review: 10/19

Marine Corps Marathon is getting close, guys! Knocked out one more long run last week before the big show.

Sunday | rest

Monday | ran 15.11 miles on the treadmill in 2:35
I had off for Columbus Day so I took advantage of the extra time afforded me.

Tuesday | walked 2.11 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 5.28 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.1 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 6.09 on the treadmill miles in 1:05

Saturday | rest
Walked a bunch around the Maryland Renaissance Festival, though! Lots of food and mead and people in elaborate costumes. Asked Pat for a baked sweet potato and he brought me a sweet potato tart a la mode. Boys.

Now I'm in the throws of tapering and prep. Visions of Swedish Fish and sports drinks dance in my head. I feel good - strong. Not injured (knock on wood). New sneakers ready. Only thing bumming me out is that most people are having their Halloween parties the Saturday before, which is the night before the race. :( Everyone save me some candy!

In exchange, enjoy this roundup.

- Elbowglitter explains how races provide motivation.
- Running, Loving, Living dives into running injury prevention.
- Plus the Magic shares a Starbucks "You Are Here" WDW collection. Might need to pick some up myself... Not that I need more mugs but shhh.
- Disney Nerds speaks to an Epcot horticulture intern.
- Rolling with the Magic eats on through Epcot's Italy pavilion.
- This Fairytale Life shares a pretty Minnie ears DIY.
- Disney In Your Day gives the Great Movie Ride an imaginary makeover.
- The Disney Hipsters try out DAK's Wild Africa Trek.
- Disney Travel Babble shares an amazing Haunted Mansion bathroom makeover.
- The Disney Tourist Blog considers the wider implications of ride refurbishments.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In Which Jenn Sidesteps Theme Park Lockers

Girls, we've got it rough. We know this.

Our pockets are useless.

Hey, baggy cargo pants can be a cute look. But it's not how we want to live our lives, and it's definitely not always how we want to swan around an (often sweltering) amusement park. It's cool, though; that's why God invented the purse, right?

Unfortunately, some theme parks have declared war on bags. Busch Gardens Williamsburg won't let you take them through the line - and its lockers aren't free. Universal Studios will let you stow stuff in a locker, but it's only free for a limited time; woe betide those who would wait in a lengthy line. I've had a similar experience in Six Flags Great Adventure. Universal, however, takes it one step further: for a couple of their big ticket coasters, there's a metal detector stationed halfway through the line. Even those with zippered pockets can't bring their phone through.

With the metal detector situation I can't help you. But if it's just the bag you'd love to ditch, ladies, I have good news! They can take our purses, but they will NEVER TAKE OUR BOOBS.

Behold: the Sports Bra Storage method of theme park travel.

It's easy! All you need is a ziplock bag, four safety pins, and a substantial sports bra. Alternatively you can use a small cosmetic bag or similar, but there tends to be extra bulk there.

  1. Flip your sports bra inside out.
  2. Align the sandwich bag so that the opening lines up with or just below the top of your sports bra.
  3. Smooth out the bag against the fabric and safety pin the bag to the bra at the top and bottom corners. Be careful not to catch the bra's back in the pins. If the bag extends beyond the bra, do NOT fold it; instead, pin it just above the bra's bottom, at the sides of the bag.
  4. Flip the bra back to right side-in. Put on your bra and smooth out the bag underneath. You are now free to insert your phone, ID, credit cards, and your average ticket media in the plastic bag. Seal it up et voila!

Wear a loose tank and unless you're REALLY jamming it in there, no one will be able to tell you're storing your stuff in your bra. No bag check and no lockers for you! I've never once had an issue with everything staying secure, but for extra safety you can always throw a hoodie zipped up all the way over your ensemble; this would catch an unlikely escaped item.

There are, of course, a few disadvantages to this method. It does limit what you can take into the parks. And if you have a phone so giant it won't fit into a small bag, well, you'll have to look into other alternatives. And there are lots! But this is my preferred method in the face of bag moratoriums and I thought I'd share it. Let me know if you try it out!

How do you prefer to store your stuff when riding?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, October 14, 2016


I'm not gonna lie - I was kinda disappointed in Big Hero Six. I loooooooved Baymax, but he took a surprising back seat to the kids' drama. If there's a sequel, I'd probably see it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to make it to a theater or anything.

Unless I was promised 90 minutes of this:

And that's how I'll be reciprocating all my fist bumps FOREVER.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Which Jenn Goes Back To Busch Gardens Williamsburg

This blog assumes two items:

  1. All amusement parks are, to varying degrees but with utmost certainty, inferior to Disney parks.
  2. They are still fun.

Therefore when a Groupon popped up for Busch Gardens Williamsburg about three hours south of us, Pat and I jumped at the chance. We've been there before and nothing has changed since then, but I thought a recap would still be fun.

Quick background for those who aren't familiar: Busch Gardens is mostly themed to western Europe, with the park divided into France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and, for some inexplicable reason, New France aka Canada. (Plus a couple kids areas but I haven't checked those out in several decades, so.) It's a giant step up from your average Six Flags in quality but the majority of the rides do tend to be more thrill-based than story-based.

First, two things we did NOT do that may surprise you: the roller coasters Alpengeist and Loch Ness Monster. Alpengeist is only okay; Loch Ness Monster is a jolty '70s coaster that does not rise above its age. If you've never ridden either, by all means do, as roller coasters can be very personal. But since we've done both we elected to skip them in favor of more rides on the coasters we LOVE.

And what coasters do we love? APOLLO'S CHARIOT! Swoopy, swoopy, swoopy, with a satisfyingly long track. The name of the game here is airtime, with some fun bunny hops at the end. Also, this is the coaster on which Fabio was hit in the face with a goose, so enjoy that.

GRIFFON! If you've ridden Sheikra at Busch Gardens Tampa, I understand you've ridden the same ride: the first drop is 205 and VERTICAL. We waited the extra time each ride to in the very front row because this is a rare case where ride experience is definitely affected by position. When they hang you over the edge of the first drop and make you think about it, looking straight down the track is absolutely glorious. The drop is smooth and fast and awesome. Don't be afraid!

VERBOLTEN! Okay, I love this one more than Pat does, but he still enjoys it. The track itself has two fun slingshot accelerations and the surprise in the middle, and everyone loves a roller coaster in the dark, but it's the themeing that really does it for me. I love that the designers took the time to tell a story, beginning with the car rental and botany lab of the queue, all the way through the blacklit show building and sound effects. This to me is the most Disneyesque thing in the park.

Only bad thing about this coaster: because of all the programming involved in the show building's effects, it has a tendency to go down a lot. We had to come back three times to ride it successfully. At one point we were in the loading area when it broke down. Luckily we hadn't been waiting too long, but it's something to keep in mind when planning your day. Try to get this one in as early as possible.

You could argue that Curse of Darkastle, being a dark ride, is pretty Disney-ish too. I would liken it more to Universal's Spiderman ride, myself, although frankly not as well executed. It's got the whole dark ride sets plus 3D effects going on, but the story of Mad King Ludwig and his victims isn't cohesive. Mind you, I remember riding this back in 2005 when it opened and they used to hold you in a room before you hit the load area to watch an explanatory backstory video. They now just have those doors open, and if you happen to walk through while the video is playing, you see it - if not, you don't. I'm sure line flow is helped by this decision, but I'm not sure the audience gets the full experience without the video.

We also rode one more coaster, Tempesto: it is short and suffers for it. What ride time you get is fun but it's basically over before it starts: forward, back, forward, up, over, done. Pat pointed out the entire experience would be improved if you repeated those motions but backwards. As it is I wouldn't wait more than 5 minutes for it.

I think the only other thing we rode is the skyride, which isn't going to blow any minds but it's a fun throwback.

Then of course there is the predator show (ME: "Can we see the predator show?" PAT: "Do they own that franchise?"). There's some hokey acting but the animals are ADORABLE. The fox might be my favorite.

We were there for Howl-O-Scream, Busch Gardens' Halloween event, but did not tour any haunted houses as Pat much prefers roller coasters and I much prefer not having a nervous breakdown. We did walk through a couple scare zones; these I tend to enjoy as the scares are less direct and the open spaces keep me from feeling trapped.

The Wendigo Woods scare zone took over New France, the idea being that some military science department had, I don't know, built a wendigo? Trapped one? It wasn't clear. Mostly there was an audio-animatronic "wendigo" animal in a cage with piped in screams (why? It's caged...). The real "scares" came from guys in blue camo outfits and helmets, who would do things like shout in a bullhorn, snap a clipboard at you, or drag some sort of load metal something at your feet. More startling than anything.

On our last Griffon ride we could see a winged, demonic DJ (whom we affectionately referred to as "DJ Satan") from the top of the first hill, but he had vanished by the time we hit the demon scare zone. I hope he's okay.

I would've liked to walk through a few more but Pat's been having recurring hip trouble and it was bothering him, so we headed out instead. On our way we walked through the Jack the Ripper scare zone at the entrance to the park. I'm not clear if Jack himself ever shows up; mostly it seems to be zombie Victorians. One nifty trick I hadn't noticed during previous trips: headless Victorian ladies. I tried to take a pic but it was dark and I was walking which is why it sucks.

A couple notes on food and drink: food is only okay, with most of it being kinda heavy; BGW has not caught up to WDW for options. France does have crepes, which is nice, and Festhaus has sausage. Trappers Smokehouse has the same kids meals as everybody else BUT they also have waffle fries. The turkey leg place right outside Trappers yields Pat's favorite turkey legs OF ALL TIME, and he fancies himself quite the connoisseur.

In addition to mazes, BGW offered some escape room experiences, which were intriguing but we never got around to it/didn't want to pay extra. Right next to it, however, was a bar, which had some good fruity mixed drinks. We also had some hurricanes at the pirate bar in Italy. Both places served our drinks in souvenir light up glasses, but as we had nowhere to store them and didn't feel like walking them back to the car we ended up chucking them.

Speaking of not having anywhere to store stuff: like Universal Studios, BGW will no longer allow you to bring any kind of bag with you through the line. You have to store things in a locker, which, unlike Universal, is not free. You can rent a locker individually, or you can get a $5 transferable locker pass. Unlike Universal, at no point does BGW require you to go through a metal detector halfway through the line, so I elected to use my tried and true Sports Bra Storage method. More on this in a later post.

Advice if you live in the BGW area but far enough away that it's a bit of a haul: don't get up early and drive in the morning of. Get a hotel. There are lots of cheap ones in the area, and you do NOT want to deal with DC-VA traffic, especially if it's a workday. That's what we did, and we awoke rested and ready to roll. Totally worth the money.

I hope to be back next year - they're building a new wooden coaster! (Maybe even during the regular operating season; I haven't seen that German Festhaus show in forever and I miss it.)

Have you been to Busch Gardens Williamsburg? If you go, can you confirm the health of DJ Satan?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Fairest Week In Review: 10/12

I feel like I spend so much time training for fall races, and then when those races arrive I run less than ever. Which makes sense, what with tapering and all that, but it's kinda weird sometimes. Anyway, here's last week's runs:

Sunday | rest
I was gonna run this day, but it was dreary and rainy and I elected to put it off. No harm done.

Monday | 11.05 miles on the treadmill in 1:55
Not gonna lie, guys. This week was rough. My legs were pretty lukewarm about the whole running thing. I mean, I got it all done, but it wasn't awesome.

Tuesday | walked 2.16 miles outside in 35 minutes; 70 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran 9.58 miles on the treadmill in 1:40

Thursday | ran 5.28 miles on the treadmill in 60 minutes; walked 2.07 miles outside in 35 minutes
Normally this would be a non-running, ballet day, but Pat and I went to Busch Gardens on Friday; we elected to drive up on Thursday and get in a hotel in favor of NOT getting up at the crack of dawn and braving Friday morning beltway traffic. I don't know how familiar you are with DC's beltway, but... no.

Friday | walked around Busch Gardens Williamsburg all day
According to my phone, this amounted to about 10 miles. Can't vouch for the accuracy of that number, but we certainly did traverse the park a great deal. Recap of our experience to come!

Saturday | rest

I managed one more long run this week, but from now on I'm in serious taper mode for the Marine Corps Marathon. Assuming the weather isn't too terrible, I have a good feeling about this year's effort!

Roundup time:

- Just Me & My Running Shoes ponders that tapering thing I'm so into lately.
- Just in case you need it someday: Sparkly Ever After explains how to weather a hurricane.
- Mouse on the Mind shares some nifty Tim Burton-ized Disney art.
- Disney In Your Day reviews Chez Remy in Disneyland Paris.
- Square Life Around the World ferrets out some Disney freebies.
- The Disney Hipsters outline their favorite Disney character stops. I've got Baymax on my radar!
- Living A Disney Life lists park pet peeves.
- Main St. Gazette pokes around inside the history of the Carousel of Progress.

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In Which Jenn Is Happy, Really, Please Stop Asking, runDisney

Can we talk about Pharrell's "Happy" for a minute? Because it's WDW-stalking me.

To be accurate, it's runDisney-stalking me. I have heard it at every Disney race I've run since it came out, which means all of them but one. I have heard it on course. I have heard it post-race. But mostly, reliably, INESCAPABLY, I have heard it blasting from the DJ stage pre-race.

I do not mean to suggest that this song is not good. I am not generally a pop kinda girl, but it displays some actual melody performed by a guy that can legitimately sing assuming of course autotune isn't lying to us. But every time I hear that song now (and it is strangely ubiquitous even two years after its debut, and especially popular on the race circuit), all I can think about is shivering in a giant parking lot while waiting for a porta potty. I'm not saying it's right; I'm just saying it is.

So can we just establish, runDisney DJs, that I am indeed happy, and you don't need to ask anymore?

Here! Allow me to transport you, too, to the Epcot parking lot at 4am:

Do you have any strong associations with runDisney through songs?

Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!