Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/11/14

So ends the trip report proper. :( But I'm not quite finished! As I have in the past, I' saved our ADRs for a final food review post or two. You can see all the entries in this report here. Okay, onward! 

Last day. BLARG. My morning largely consisted of packing a final few items.

It could've been worse - at least I had a solid chunk of the day left to spend in WDW. Poor DeJanea had to leave early in the morning to catch a flight home. Sad stuff.

Speaking of flights, we had received our Magical Express info the day before and it was ALL wrong - Nicole and I were listed as flying to NYC with the rest of our group, when in fact we were headed to DC and Baltimore, respectively.

Nicole had already had hers fixed as her flight was at a very different time and she needed an earlier ME bus. I was fine with the bus departure time, but I did kind of want to make sure that my bags might possibly end up the same place as I did, so I headed to the airline check-in area to get it sorted out. The woman manning the station didn't seem to care much; she just looked up my flight, tagged my bag with the correct "BWI" sticker, handed me my boarding pass, and told me to get the hell out. Okay, maybe not that last bit, but you get the idea.

From there I sidled around the building and checked my duffle bag at luggage assistance while waiting for everyone else to show up at the bus stop. I actually don't know where Nicole went that last day, but Katherine, Erica, and Estelle showed up in short order and we boarded one of those ridiculous double-length buses (how terrifying must those be to drive?) and soon arrived in the Magic Kingdom.

Which was SO. INCREDIBLY. CROWDED. Seriously. It was nuts. So nuts that we needed coffee to face it all; we got in the super-long but reasonably efficient line at the Main Street Bakery where I got a peppermint mocha latte. It was just okay - I think I should stick to pumpkin and chai lattes where I belong.

Oh, and they of course had the ADORABLE Disney Starbucks cups, although they can fake you out if you're only looking at the Starbucks side. I briefly thought I had gotten a normal cup and almost got upset before I realized that I just needed to spin it around. Whew!

We pondered hitting the Tiki Room and so set out in that direction, but got distracted by a 10-minute Pirates of the Caribbean wait and instead rode that. We were in the front row - is that why we got so WET? I mean, I know Pirates is a water ride and all, but I don't recall ever being so thoroughly splashed.

Speaking of splashing, next up: our Splash Mountain FastPass, upon which we ironically did not get half so wet as on Pirates (although we did spend an undue amount of time hanging out next to the post-drop waterfall).

Estelle and I then headed to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to take advantage of those Very Special FastPasses. Reports that it's too short are not incorrect, but what a cute ride! The cars didn't swing as much as I might've hoped but the mine section itself was lovely. I'd say it's a little more intense than Big Thunder but not by much.

And yet somehow we seem unimpressed.

Erica and Katherine had gone to the Tiki Room in our absence, so Estelle and I walked to Liberty Square to see when the next showing of the Hall of Presidents would be. We didn't feel like waiting the fifteen minutes; instead ducked back into the Christmas shop to browse. Estelle purchased an awesome Epcot-inspired ornament and I broke and bought a Mickey Santa hat. I plan to wear it to all my formal holiday gatherings.

Here I briefly made a pit stop at the farmer's market type place across from Liberty Tree Tavern and wound up setting the record for Longest Time Spent Waiting To Just Buy A PowerAde, Jeez. Apparently the cast member was new and had not yet fully grasped how to, y'know, ring stuff up. Keep trying, buddy! You'll get there!

Another FastPass window had opened up, this time for the Haunted Mansion. It was a good ride, but then I think any pass through the Haunted Mansion when your Doom Buggy doesn't stop by the bride or Little Leota is a good ride. Seriously, they creep me out.

By then it was time to start thinking about lunch. Columbia Harbour House was right there and I love me their sandwiches, but there was a line wrapping around the building just to get in. Which is weird, because more often than not I see cast members standing out front with menus trying to drum up business. First Sanaa, now this? People need to stop finding out about my secret spots.

Comparatively speaking, Sleepy Hollow had a very manageable line, so we hopped in. Katherine and I engaged in one last glorious sharing moment and split a ham waffle sandwich. Estelle and Erica got the spicy chicken version featuring a sweet sauce that made them extremely popular with the bees. Erica let me try the remnants of her sandwich, which means I have now tasted every waffle sandwich variety currently offered. Where's my medal for that?

From there it was off to Tomorrowland to ride the PeopleMover, because what true WDW lover doesn't swoon over the PeopleMover? It was not, however, quite how we pictured it - upon our arrival we saw a LINE. A LINE. Not a long line, but still. A LINE. For the PEOPLEMOVER. WHAT. I'm not going to blame this one entirely on FastPass+, though; I think a lot of it was runoff from people who were waiting for Space Mountain to get up and running again.

Yes, folks, Space Mountain was down, which means for the second time in my Disney career I saw that elusive wonder, Space Mountain With The Lights On.

Our final FastPass of the day, the trip, the legend, was for the Jingle Cruise. Now boasting approval from the Vatican.

I thought our skipper was only okay - I think she could've milked the jokes a little more with a less rushed delivery - but the decorations were truly adorable.

Post wassailing, we hit the adjacent gift shop to see if we could find the rumored Jingle Cruise shirt, but it was a no go. (Disney has since released it online but I can't remember if it's available yet/still.) But since going home from WDW empty handed is a crime, we filled our last moments with shopping on Main Street.

But what should I purchase to commemorate the trip? That holiday sweater? Nope, they don't have my size. That cute t-shirt? Too similar to something I already have. Hey, what about that pair of soft comfy sweatpants Katherine is buying? SWEATPANT SISTERS UNITE. That and a 10% Annual Pass discount and I was sold. I regret nothing.

We caught up with Erica and Estelle in the Confectionery for some last minute sugar purchases before reluctantly heading for the exit, but not before taking pictures at the Aurora photo area. Not with Aurora, mind you, just her area. Sometimes the decor really makes it, y'know?

Happily we were able to pick up a bus back to Art of Animation with some speed, because we weren't headed directly to the Magical Express. Oh, no - we had to hit the Drop Off bar by the Nemo pool for one more libation before we went. I received a magnificent black cherry lemonade from our bartender, who was was awfully free with his opinions about legalizing marijuana for a Disney employee, but hey, whatever works for ya.

And then it was time. That tragic moment. That microcosm of despair. Time to retrieve our carry-ons and board the Magical Express back to the airport. It was only by some miracle I didn't burst into tears.

As is so often the case, we arrived at the airport with excessive amounts of time to spare, so we grabbed a drink at the airport sports bar. And then the trip was really over - I bid adieu to my New York friends, hightailed it to my gate, housed a subpar chicken sandwich, and boarded the plane for home.

So... that was that. Naturally I am bummed to be, well, anywhere that ISN'T Walt Disney World, but at least I have Dopey in January to sustain me. My boyfriend's coming for that one and he hasn't been in twenty years, so that'll be fun! And don't forget that I have two more trip report-ish posts coming in the form of restaurant reviews. Stick around.

In short, I had a lovely time. Special thanks to all my wonderful suitemates and the fabulous people I met along the way. Here's to more fantastic times at Disney!

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, November 25, 2014

The Fairest Week In Review: 11/25

JENN: Did you run this week? Tell me you ran this week. Somebody's got to have run this week.

MOON: I did a lot of running!

JENN: Whew!

MOON: Speed AND distance this week (go me!), ha.

JENN: Yay! I haven't run in two weeks. :( My foot is taking its sweet sweet time to heal.

MOON: ;-;

JENN: And it's SUCH a terrible time for it, because not running makes me feel like I really really really need to watch what I eat... AND IT'S THE WEEK OF THANKSGIVING. AND in addition to Thanksgiving proper, I have an Experimental Recipes Thanksgiving with at my boyfriend's brother's place on Wednesday AND my roommate is hosting a Friendsgiving on Saturday. ARG.

MOON: Better to let it heal completely!

JENN: You're right. Better to let it heal than mess it all up further. But I hate the way not exercising feels.

MOON: There's always ballet!

JENN: Sure, but my foot's so messed up I can only do floor barre and I can't do any jumping or turning, which is the most cardio-intensive part.

Basically I'm just whining. All I can really do is try not to go overboard on food and wait for my foot to feel normal. If it isn't showing marked improvement in a week, I may even go to a doctor... but if it gets to that point, I'm kinda scared...

MOON: I didn't exercise yesterday at all and it felt really weird. Not to mention exercise keeps me saneee. But I'm sure once you start running again you'll be even faster. Taking a break might not be such a bad thing.

JENN: We'll see. Oh well. I am thankful. I am thankful that it isn't worse.

MOON: I know it sucks when you're literally surrounded by food and awkward family situations, but you're a lovely lady and your foot will be better soon!

JENN: <3

And on that downer note: roundup!

- Back at Square Zero points out that photography can be deceiving.
- Running at Disney discusses the fine art of tapering.
- Fairytales & Fitness try some holiday flavors of running fuel.
- The Runner's Guide to WDW powers through the rough runs.
- Making your winter Disney packing list with the Disney Tourist Blog.
- Davelandblog features a photo that makes my Turner Classic Movies-loving heart glow.
- Frontierland Station has the lowdown on World Showcase's holiday entertainment.
- Theme Park Insider demonstrates how to take on carnival games - and WIN.

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!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/10/14

It's time for another trip report! Yay! As I have in the past, I'll be saving our ADRs for a final food review post, but I've decided to sprinkle all the Food & Wine Festival stuff into the report itself. You can see all the entries in this report here. Okay, onward! 

Our last full day at Walt Disney World was a Studios day, and as Estelle and I were the first people ready in the morning, we took off for the park... OR SO WE THOUGHT.

Follow the bouncing bus:

  1. We walked to the Art of Animation bus stop and found a seriously INSANE line for the Studios. We figured this had to be a freak thing, 
  2. so we walked over to Pop Century's bus station, where the line was even CRAZIER. I decided to get all clever and led us onto a Downtown Disney bus with the idea that we could then pick up an Epcot area resort bus and use the path to the Studios from the Boardwalk. 
  3. Upon arrival at DTD, we hopped in the Epcot resort bus queue, only to be informed by a cast member that if we got on this other bus over here, it would take us to the Studios.
  4. But not before it took us to Port Orleans Riverside AND French Quarter.
  5. The end result being that we FINALLY arrived at the Studios, oh, an hour or so later.

Oh, WDW transportation. Always an adventure with you!

Our first thought upon arrival was breakfast, so we got in line at Starring Rolls. Estelle found a danish that would do nicely, but what I really wanted was a breakfast sandwich, something Starring Rolls mysteriously lacked. I knew from reading Eating WDW that Fairfax Fare has an egg sandwich, so I cruelly abandoned Estelle in line and ran over there.

But not fast enough. I slid into the stanchions with the Fairfax Fare breakfast menu still in view. But as I came to the front of the line, a guy switched out all the menus for the lunch specialty hot dog offerings. I checked my watch - 10:31AM. Breakfast ended at 10:30AM but surely they weren't hard and fast on that rule, were they?

They were. I asked for an egg sandwich and was cruelly denied. Maybe I could've argued my way into it, but instead I beat a retreat to the Sunset Ranch Market produce stand and sulked my way through a bag of Craisins trail mix and a bottle of water. Seriously, Disney, won't you spare a thought for brinner?

Estelle met me at the tables in the back but was still working through her coffee and danish; she sent me on ahead and I jumped into the Rock 'n Roller Coaster single rider line. It took about 40 minutes to make it into my super-stretch limo, but considering the standby line read 90 minutes I counted myself lucky.

Post "Sweet Emotion" I located Nicole and Erica, who were meandering about Sunset Boulevard while Katherine and DeJanea went through the Tower of Terror standby line (YES KATHERINE I WILL RIDE THIS WITH YOU IN JANUARY BUT I WANT THAT ICE CREAM). The latter still had awhile to wait, so the former and I met up with Estelle in the Muppets courtyard and took in MuppetVision 3D before heading to lunch.*

DeJanea and Katherine escaped the Tower of Terror with their lives, and we met them at the Sci-Fi Dine-In for our lunch ADR. More on this in a later post!

Somewhere in there we also visited Wandering Oaken's, where long lines of children waiting to play in the snowground. To them I say: silly children. Drive north a few hours and see what winter is like for REAL.

After lunch we formed splinter groups, with Estelle headed off to the Yacht Club; Katherine, Nicole, and I bound for Epcot; and DeJanea and Erica staying the Studios. On our way out, Katherine, Nicole, and I randomly passed the Great Movie Ride and jumped in the (long, actual existing, since when is there an outdoor portion of the queue, what the heck?) line. Coincidentally enough, we encountered DeJanea and Erica in that very line, and we were able to enjoy a thorough hijacking by Mugsi in the world of movies.

Then it was time for Epcot really. Katherine, Nicole, and I picked up a Friendship boat that was just docking, with Nicole debarking at the Boardwalk while Katherine and I continued on to the Yacht Club. We made a brief pit stop in the Yacht Club lobby to see the sights and smell the smells before walking to the International Gateway for the final day of the Food & Wine Festival.

Our first stop was the Scotland booth which was offering 12-year-old Glenfiddich scotch. I don't actually like scotch, but I understand old alcohol is better alcohol and I figured when will I get this shot again? So I decided I would order to Loch Lomond cocktail, which contained said aged scotch. While we were in line I overheard someone mentioning they had purchased it earlier and hated it, but I was undeterred. I was taking the high road and getting to Scotland afore ye if it killed me (COME BACK OFF KILTER).

Well. It didn't kill me. It didn't even maim me. But it was kinda gross - like thin mead with a weird aftertaste. I downed a little over half of it before giving up and chucking the rest in the trash. Meanwhile Katherine ate meat from Australia and fared much better than I did. Moral: don't drink scotch cocktails. Do eat meat.

Hey, remember that tiger hat I modeled at the Animal Kingdom? Well, it was a completely impractical and frivolous purchase that I totally regretted not making and had lamented much in the chilly day previous. Jokingly I mentioned that the African Outpost might have it - and as we passed by I saw that they DID. Naturally I bolted over and used my Wine & Dine gift card on it. Money well spent as per usual.

My mission accomplished, we moved on to additional foodstuffs. Katherine bought more meat from Patagonia, and I stopped at Mexico (where the cast member complimented me on my tiger hat) for the sweet corn cheesecake. Verdict? My second favorite thing after the pao de queijo. It was really more analogous to a corn pudding than a cheesecake; in fact, I didn't detect much cheesecake texture at all. But if you enjoy sweet corn, you would very much like this.

Our next stop was in the Germany gift shop to look for Haribo shark gummies, but alas, they didn't have any. They did have dinosaurs, which was almost as good, but my heart was so set on the sharks that I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm. I considered buying a delicious grapefruit beer to drown my sorrows, but I wasn't quite done with my Food & Wine purchases so I refrained.

Katherine and I had been experiencing Acute Phone Battery Drainage all day. The cure? Time spent in the Chase Lounge, accessed via exclusive elevator with the help of our matching Disney Visas. We availed ourselves of the Coke Freestyle machines (raspberry Coke is weird, guys) before settling on the floor in a corner by an outlet and watching the provided cartoons while we charged up.

Then it was time for one last stop - Brazil again, where I convinced Katherine to get some pao de queijo and a cocada. I bought myself more pao de queijo, too, and it was just as good as the first time.

Pao de queijo round 2 + moscato!

We located Estelle in France during snack time, and once everything was consumed it was time to head back to the Studios for our Fantasmic FastPasses. We passed Nicole on the way, fresh from an encounter with Alice, but she demurred joining us so we carried on without her. From there we took the path between Epcot and the Studios and power-walked past the Boardwalk, into the Studios, and directly to the Fantasmic amphitheater.

Well, not DIRECTLY - we had to hop in a massive FastPass line first. I'm confused about the precise value of the Fantasmic FastPass. My mom and I used it last December, and at that time I thought that standby line was held until the FastPass window had closed. This time around it looked like the standby line was being let in before the 7:45PM FastPass cutoff; when we entered the amphitheater, it was already largely full. Indeed, it was one of the most packed showings I've ever seen. We were way over on the other side of the stands from the entrance.

The show was great as usual, and we were close enough to the top that it wasn't too painful escaping back into the park. Extra Magic Hours were in place, and we scurried over to the Osborne Lights to make the most of them. The lights were beautiful and the snow was a wonderful touch, but my favorite part was when the lights danced to "What's This?" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Festive!

I felt like I hadn't shared anything with my Sharing Buddy Katherine in forever, so when I spotted a temp bar with specialty drinks, I coerced her into going in on a Winter Berry Margarita with me. It was wonderfully tart and tasty, but more importantly it had a glow cube. And that says CHRISTMAS, no?

We whiled away an hour or so dancing around to carols, taking pictures, and generally being silly, but as park close grew near we couldn't shake the urge to ride one more ride. The eventual consensus was to walk over to Pixar Place and see if the Toy Story Midway Mania line was manageable. And it was in this way that I rode Midway Mania for the first time sans FastPass. Astonishing! Also: I had the highest score in my car. I don't have any point to attach to that; I'm just bragging.

By the time we exited the ride the park was closed, and we were forced to make the sad march to the bus stop. The bus took foreeeeeever to show up, but we were finally deposited back at Art of Animation, where we made a quick stop in Landscape of Flavors for snacks. I debated buying some gummy bears, but Katherine promised me some Haribo gummy cherries and I no longer needed to make a purchase.

There was nothing left to do but pack. Sigh. I drank my leftover beer from the race and ate Katherine's donated cherries while I packed up, then showered and went to bed. Which I just mistyped as "bad" because the next day we would go home. And that's bad.

Tomorrow: the final day.

** What foolishness would you like to see?

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, November 21, 2014

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/09/14

It's time for another trip report! Yay! As I have in the past, I'll be saving our ADRs for a final food review post, but I've decided to sprinkle all the Food & Wine Festival stuff into the report itself. You can see all the entries in this report here. Okay, onward! 

Considering how late I was up the night before, I slept surprisingly poorly. By 10:30AM I threw in the nocturnal towel and got out of bed. I was a little distressed to find my phone hadn't charged, as it had experienced some minor water damage thanks to the hours-long shower of the Wine & Dine Half. I plugged it into the wall and to my relief it juiced just fine. That and the subtle but weird screen discoloration had evaporated entirely by the end of the day. Hooray for no rainy consequences!

With the exception of Nicole, who had apparently departed for Epcot hours ago, we were slow to get going. People wandered about showering, getting food and coffee, etc. Under normal circumstances I am up and at 'em at WDW, but exceptions must be made on occasion. I ate the rest of the snacks from the race box, which was kind of lackluster. What happened to the full Luna bar and piece of chocolate from previous boxes? Boo.

By noon we had made it to the Magic Kingdom, where much picture-taking and merrymaking was experienced. Our first stop was the Christmas shop in Liberty Square, where Estelle purchased some truly adorable red and green sequined Minnie ears. I played around with some Christmas hats but abstained from making a purchase... SO FAR.

Estelle made us some FastPass reservations, but we got mixed up and accidentally went to Big Thunder Mountain first. Whoops! Maybe I would've checked beforehand if the My Disney Experience app would deign to work on my phone. But no matter. We turned tail and took on Space Mountain, which I was able to ride without any unladylike incidents because I was wearing jeans. (But seriously, getting out of those cars is NOT graceful work.)

Here we split off for snack time, with Estelle traveling to Adventureland to snag a Dole Whip that would match the pineapples on her dress. Meanwhile, I led everyone else on a vital field trip to the Cheshire Cafe to purchase a food item I had been dying to eat for over a year. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... THE CAKE CUP.

The cake cup is not pretentious. It is not fancy. It is, at its core, a box funfetti cake with sugary store-bought vanilla icing someone shoved into a cup and put a price markup on. But there is just SO MUCH FROSTING and I have SO MUCH LOVE FOR FROSTING that I couldn't resist. Indeed, Official Food Sharing Partner Katherine and I tag teamed this sucker - I scraped off the icing and she tackled the cake. It was great and glorious and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Note: the Cheshire Cat is edible but tastes like nothing.

From here we headed into Storybook Circus to poke around. Dumbo had a long-ish wait so we headed into the gift shop to see what we could see. There wasn't as much unique merchandise here as I would've liked considering the wealth of cute stuff that could be done with the circus motif, but the decor was suitably adorable. DeJanea even got her first set of mouse ears, embroidered with her name. (Can you believe I still don't have any?)

As we exited the shop, Katherine noticed that the line for the Minnie and Daisy character meet and greet was at a mere ten minutes, so we hopped in the queue. We split up out group so as to not overwhelm the photographer with a billion cell phone photos and whatnot. Daisy was deeply jealous of Katherine's tattoo and mimed that she wanted one too. I think Disney should definitely roll out some tattooed characters.

Side note: while between Daisy and Minnie photo ops, a suspicious event occurred. A wheelchair group came in the side entrance to see Daisy, but they instead ignored the cast member's instructions and hijacked Minnie - and interestingly enough, no one was using the wheelchair. Look, I know that disability and injury aren't always obvious to the naked eye. Maybe I'm being overly cynical. Maybe I'm being a jerk. I don't know. We didn't make a fuss or anything. But I think duplicitous wheelchair use is disrespectful to those with legitimate need, and Disney needs to continue working on their ADA policies.

Post characters, we met back up with Estelle for our actual Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass, then headed back to Main Street to browse some shops.

While there, we received a tragic text message from Nicole that she had lost track of time and wouldn't be able to make our early dinner ADR at 'Ohana. Sadness!

But it was getting to be about that time, so we picked up the monorail to the Polynesian and grabbed a buzzer at the 'Ohana podium. It vibrated with unexpected quickness, and we were seated in no time flat. Our first act? An order of Lapu Lapus all around! According to our server, our tray full of pineapples made us the talk of the restaurant. More on this meal in a later post.

After dinner, most of our group went back to the Magic Kingdom. But Estelle wanted to go to the Grand Floridian to see the resident orchestra perform, and as I am not one to send a good soldier off into the night alone I went with her.

The orchestra was excellent and it was fun watching families dance to the music, but what I really liked was the pianist in the lobby who picked up after they finished their set. A little boy stared transfixed at the keys as the man played and the two ultimately struck up a conversation. We later spotted them plus the boy's mom continuing their talk on one of the couches. I like to pretend that this little boy was inspired to become a pianist and will one day remember that moment as the second he knew his ambition. Disney magic!

Hearts thusly warmed, we picked up the resort monorail to the Magic Kingdom and headed straight for the super-cute tree stump charging stations by the Tangled bathrooms (shout out for Estelle's favorite background music!). We located a lone unused charging slot among the available, so Estelle got a head start on battery power while I ran off to buy my boyfriend this plate from the new Haunted Mansion gift shop, Memento Mori. I was so excited because he's an architect and loves the Haunted Mansion and it's like they designed it just for him!

Upon my return another charging station had become available; we transferred our phones to it and just hung out for awhile. The Tangled area really is quite charming.

We couldn't wait for a full charge, though, because it was time for the Main Street Electrical Parade! I'm not normally a big parade person but I just LOVE Disney's night parades - MSEP is awesome but if they ever decide to bring back Spectromagic I won't mind that either.

Chalk this up to another thing FP+ has made irritating - parade viewing is now a thing you FastPass if you want a good spot. Sheesh. We ended up with an okay position in Frontierland, but I've always had good luck finding a spot by the hub and FP+ prevented that. The parade itself, however, was fantastic as per usual - gotta love the Alice floats!

Ditto on the fireworks. I kinda can't wait until the hub expansion. I'll miss the rose garden but boy do we need the room. Estelle and I ended up shuffled over to a backstage area just past the ice cream parlor, where the view was actually pretty food but it was kind of hard to hear the soundtrack. Oh well - like I don't know the music by heart anyway!

After the fireworks we skedaddled over to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for my first ever ride! The line was reportedly about forty minutes, which wasn't bad considering, so we hopped in. Estelle made friends with a mom and her little girl who was absolutely mesmerized by the jewel sorting and water mini-games in the queue - she kept having to go back and retrieve her.

We were very nearly there when the unthinkable happened: the ride broke down! Our consolation prize: a FastPass good until November 30 for any ride. We resolved to come back later in our trip to get our Mine Train ride in at last.

The park was close to closing, but we had time to sneak in a ride on Peter Pan, which featured - get ready - NO WAIT. No wait for Peter Pan! Now that's just crazy talk, but it's the truth.

We came off the ride after closing and were met with a confusing sight at the hub: the Main Street Electrical Parade was running again. Huh? When does MSEP ever run after park closing? That's IllumiNations' thing. But there it was. So we watched the parade again (at the hub with a great view, might I add) because duh. But it was a weird version - the canopy over Cinderella's dancers was missing, and the dwarfs that had cavorted with Snow White only hours earlier were nowhere to be found. Maybe MSEP was surprised to find itself running again too.

The park was, as I mentioned, now closed, but we weren't quite done yet. Happily for us, the Main Street Bakery was still serving; after grabbing a coffee for Estelle and a mint tea for me, we settled on a bench by the castle and I finally saw it: the Kiss Goodnight. Which I still think should feature Jiminy Cricket. It just feels right.

Then and only then was it time to catch the bus back to the resort and go to bed. In the morning: the Studios!

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, November 20, 2014

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Wine & Dine Half After Party Recap

It's time for another trip report! Yay! As I have in the past, I'll be saving our ADRs for a final food review post, but I've decided to sprinkle all the Food & Wine Festival stuff into the report itself. You can see all the entries in this reporthere. Okay, onward! 

Picking back up where we left off after the Wine & Dine Half Marathon - the after party! Weather update: STILL RAINING.

First stop in Epcot: the Odyssey bathrooms. Very exciting, no? I needed that space to change out of my sopping wet pants and socks. But don't worry, the next stop was much more interesting: the New Zealand Food & Wine Festival booth for a venison sausage. The sausage itself was tasty but not as exotically flavored as I would've expected. The salad it came with was enhanced with an unbelievably sour dressing that got dumped in the trash.

Earlier I had sent out a text informing my travel buddies (to review: Estelle, Nicole, Katherine, DeJanea, and Erica) that I had finished the race, and I was surprised to hear that I was the first of those of us running to finish, at least as far as was known.

I sent back my location and DeJanea and Erica found me just as I was finishing up my sausage. Our mission? To penetrate Darkest Mexico's pyramid and ride the Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros.* Not only were we successful, we practically had a boat to ourselves. Indeed, we noticed as we were debarking that the boat in front of us was populated exclusively by two Mexico cast members. Taking a break? Sweeping the ride for drownings? Who knows? Weather update: STILL RAINING.

At this time we found Estelle, but soon split off again to accommodate differing gastronomical needs. I stopped off at the Germany booth for a bratwurst in a pretzel roll, which I very much enjoyed because PRETZEL ROLL. Neither the sausage nor the accompanying mustard were particularly groundbreaking, but PRETZEL ROLL. Did I mention the salty wonderful PRETZEL ROLL? PRETZEL ROLL!!!

Estelle and I then hit another booth, I think a beer booth? It was somewhere nearby, but unfortunately we didn't get anything because Estelle came to the unfortunate conclusion that she had lost her wallet. I instructed her to continue searching all pockets and purses in case she'd missed it while I ran over to the Brazil booth, following which if it hadn't turned up we would hit guest relations.

I'm going to leave you in wallet suspense while I talk about the Brazil booth. FAVORITE BOOTH OF THE FESTIVAL. Pao de queijo aka cheese bread? AMAZING. GLORIOUS. EXEMPLARY. The cheese was baked right into the dough and suffused the bread entirely; no lava-like pockets, just cheesy bread all the way through. LOVE.

I also purchased the cocada coconut candy, which was essentially just coconut and sugar. If you like coconut and sugar, which I do, you would like this, which I did. If you don't, you wouldn't. It's kinda like eating the inside of a Mounds bar without the chocolate, only the sugar "glue" holds together a little more; for example, it's too hard to easily cut with the side of a fork.

As I was eating my cocada, Estelle and I were traveling to guest services, where, upon arrival, they did not have her wallet. Estelle did, however, find the receipt for the cab she had taken to the after party in her coat pocket, so we strolled over to Soarin' while she called to see if they had it.

Results were not yet conclusive as we walked into the Land pavilion, but Estelle shooed me over to Soarin' while she waited in Sunshine Seasons for a call back from the cab company. I hopped in the standby queue (spookily empty, although once past the divergence point it got more crowded) and took a ride on a glider. By the time I got out, Estelle had received word that the cab company did, in fact, have her wallet. Yay! Weather update: STILL RAINING.

We headed to the front of the park so that Estelle could grab her wallet at the cab stand. I was getting pretty chilly and chose to wait for her in the locker area next to Spaceship Earth. Once Estelle had returned, we took a ride in a time machine while Dame Judi Dench told us all about knowledge on cave walls and the first backup system.

It was nice and toasty inside Spaceship Earth, but outside it was cold cold cold - so cold that it was getting to be too much for me. It was 3:30AM and the after party ended at 4AM. Although I was awake enough to stay out longer, I was starting to literally shiver, so I reluctantly decided to pack it in. Estelle went off to find other members of our group and I caught a bus back to Pop Century. Then I had to brave the walk from Pop to Art of Animation, and just in case you were wondering, weather update: STILL RAINING.

I made it, though! And I took a hot and wonderful shower and went to bed. In the morning: MORE WALT DISNEY WORLD! Yay!

I leave you with this thought.

*And pals though they may be, if some Latin baby says yes, no, or maybe, EACH MAN IS FOR HIMSELF.

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, November 19, 2014

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Recap

It's time for another trip report! Yay! As I have in the past, I'll be saving our ADRs for a final food review post, but I've decided to sprinkle all the Food & Wine Festival stuff into the report itself. You can see all the entries in this report here. Okay, onward! 

Hit it, Gene!

Minus the Volkswagen connection, this should give you a pretty solid idea of what the 2014 Wine & Dine Half Marathon was like. In a word: wet.

Not that we were entirely without warning. The weather forecast kept flip-flopping in the days leading up to the race. For a long while there it looked like we would dodge the aquatic bullet. But, alas, it was not to be.

Backing up: after prepping myself for the race in our suite, not forgetting to don several bajillion wrist accouterments, Nicole, Katherine and I left the safe haven of Art of Animation for the bus line at Pop Century. The line was predictably long but there was a decent bus arrival rate and we had plenty of time. We collected Kellie on the way to the bus, thus completing her and Nicole's extremely impressive coordinating Genie and Iago costumes.

Pop is pretty darned close to ESPN Wide World of Sports, so the buses deposited us at the starting area almost obscenely early. We bypassed the lengthy lines to take a photo with a cardboard cut out of a champagne glass, instead meeting up with Kimberley, checking our bags, and wandering into the runners-only area and the water station.

Before we got rolling I decided it would be wise to hit the port-a-potties, so I hopped into one of many, many loooong lines. At some point I became aware that Danielle from Live, Run, Grow was behind me, but I didn't want to be all weird and just whip around and announce "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!" so I kept my mouth shut... until such time as I overheard her mentioning that she was looking for a Kellie who she had last seen at the NYC Marathon. So I whipped around and announced "I KNOW WHERE KELLIE IS!!!!" which is almost as bad but I had information to impart!

Anyway, Danielle (who was hanging with a Jenn who isn't me) took it all in stride, and post bathroom break our groups converged for the long walk to the corrals. Katherine and I ducked into the D corral just about as the rain was starting to make its presence known. Thank goodness I had brought that hat.

There wasn't much to do except kinda randomly futz around and lament over the weather until the corrals started moving forward. We shed our outer layers, high fived or something similarly affirmative (I don't remember; did we yell Steve Holt?), and we were off!

Or anyway Katherine was off - like a SHOT. I stuck with her for a bit but when she stepped on the gas about half a mile in I mentally wished her Godspeed and decided to stick with my current, slower pace. I didn't want to spend my post-marathon energy too quickly and make myself miserable later.

From here on my half was a solo act, but I really didn't mind at all. I had my music playing and I was at Walt Disney World and rain or no I was happy. I settled into a slow but steady rhythm and zoned out, although I did spare a thought for the poor Main Street Electric Parade character photo ops who were getting rained on.

Entering Animal Kingdom sure caught my attention, though! I saw Rafiki under the bag check area with pretty much no line, and kind of regret not stopping for a pic, but as he himself would say: What does it matter? It's in the past! I was too distracted by the glowing red fangs that marked the park's entrance.

Running through a park was as awesome as ever - a truly galvanizing experience. Gushing bathwater of the sky notwithstanding, I all but skipped my way past the Tree of Life and Expedition Everest, mouthing music lyrics and occasionally punching the air for emphasis because I am a dork.

I ran out of DAK and under a parking fee booth - where some FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING dancers were hanging out for photos! And being completely ignored. I very nearly caused an accident veering over to them, but caught myself, politely sidled off the course, and came up behind them, probably scaring them half to death. I was about to orchestrate a selfie photo when a Cast Member popped up to take the picture for me.

Naturally this whole time I was gushing like a crazy person about how much I love their show, punctuating it with a final "You're the best ever!" As I ran away I heard the cheetah girl yell back, "No, YOU'RE the best ever! Thanks for stopping!" And of course with this exhilarating event to propel me I knocked out my fastest mile of the race.

From there it actually got - dare I say it - a little boring. It felt like it took FOREVER to run the roads between DAK and the Studios. A lot of characters weren't coming out because of the rain, and the running conditions were getting a little questionable, too. I never had any close calls, but I discovered it was wise not to step on the slippery paint jobs on the asphalt. That and with the darkness and the reflection of the rain I needed to concentrate if I didn't want to lose depth perception. (Actual momentary thought: OH MY GOD WHERE EXACTLY IS THE GROUND???)

After what I can only assume constituted approximately fifteen years' worth of running, we made it into the Studios - where I got teased like all get out. I caught a glimpse of the Osborne Lights and I was all "SQUEE! It's happening!" And then the course turned me AWAY. I was a little mollified, though, when I discovered that we were now running through the workshops tunnel from the dearly departed Studio Backlot Tour (complete with disco ball, for some reason). The lights for the costume shop and everything were on, and it occurred to me that this might be the last time I ever saw them, so I drank it in.

Finally, finally, FINALLY I came upon the Osborne Lights, where I got my photo taken but it didn't turn out that great. I'm surprised they didn't have a ton of official race photographers staking out the area. I was also surprised by how quickly I ran through it, but it was still a magical experience.

Shortly after that the course snaked out of the Studios and I had a disheartening experience: I observed that we were going to run to Epcot via the Studios-Boardwalk-Epcot walkway, which meant I knew EXACTLY how far I still had left to go. Which, with my post-marathon legs and the by that point getting ridiculous rain, I had very little interest in doing. Running while essentially taking a two-hour-long shower is a novelty that wears off pretty quickly.

But there was nothing to be done but continue to put one foot (carefully and firmly) in front of the other and press forward. The no-joke rain and chill had driven most spectators off the course, but the Boardwalk resort area path pulled a few people from their rooms to cheer which boosted morale a bit. A couple of smart and prepared people had even erected a tent for the purpose. And of course the Boardwalk lights were beautiful as always.

We crossed the bridge and entered Epcot via the International Gateway - almost there! Indeed, even more almost-there than I expected; by my recollection barely any of the course made its way through Epcot. We pretty much went straight into Future World, past Spaceship Earth (where was the gospel choir, b t dubs?), and then hit the finish.

Speaking of the finish, I saw as I approached that the clock read 2:29 and change. Not that clock time really mattered, but I liked the idea of coming in under 2:30, so I powered forward and finished at 2:29:58, with a net time of 2:20:25. Not a PR by any stretch, but not bad under the circumstances.

I pressed through the finish area, collecting my space blanket (never more judiciously deployed) and a random Yeungling that I told the guy not to open; I just chucked it in my bag. I got my regular medal, got my Coast to Coast medal, got my food box and PowerAde, got my checked bag, and headed into the changing tent.

Which was a MAD SCENE. There was no organization and no privacy, and spacing was a total free-for-all. Hey, at least it was heated! I put my stuff down on my space blanket and shuffled things around for easier carrying. I was wildly pleased with myself for having the foresight to pack a complete change of clothes, but the changing tent was so crazy I just swapped out my shirt and sweatshirt and headed back out into the cold.

Next stop: the after party! Because no way was I missing the after party no matter how discouraging the weather might be. But this post has gone on long enough, so we'll get to that tomorrow. See you then!

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!