Saturday, December 21, 2019

In Which Jenn Packs For WDW Three Weeks In Advance

Yes, I own this luggage for realsies.

Look, I don't know you. I don't know your packing habits. But I can tell you my usual ones, which some might describe as anal-retentive: I have a spreadsheet. Everything I need to pack is in that spreadsheet, and once it's in my suitcase, which happens at least a day in advance, I mark it off. I save every individual trip's packing list so that I can go back and consult it to check for items I may have missed. And of course I check the weather to make sure my clothing items are appropriate.

Yeah. About that last bit...

So this time around my WDW Marathon trip is but one leg of my personal Grand Circle Tour of the east coast. Next week I fly to Baltimore for Christmas with my husband's family; the week after that, we drive down to NC to visit my family; and then, the week after THAT, I fly down to Orlando for the Goofy Challenge.

Which means I am packing all the portions of my trip at once... including for Orlando weather. In January. Let me tell you from experience: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE WEATHER IS GOING TO BE LIKE IN ORLANDO IN JANUARY.

I mean, sure, once you close in, your local weatherperson can give you an idea. But three weeks out? Total crapshoot. I've been down for the marathon and been already warm at the start line. I've been down and FREEZING TO DEATH. Hell, one time it was even delightfully moderate. Do I know what I will be encountering in 2020? Nope. Not a clue. Zilch. Nada.

And here I am. Packing for it.

Obviously I can make some educated guesses. Some contingency items. Knee socks to wear with my dresses. A pair of running shorts to supplement the pants, just in case. Arm warmers and gloves, for safety. Those shake-em-out hand warmer pack things.

In an extreme worst case scenario, I can always go to Target or something while I'm in NC for emergency supplies. But man, I sure wish I was working with more information while I have access to the stuff I already own, ya feel me?

To make a long story short: YES I will be making you look at my Disney Dandy wardrobe and running costumes for this trip! ... Just as soon as I figure out what that looks like. >D

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Happy Friday: Goofy's Supplication Methods Are Questionable

This is not my first time expressing both my undying love for an tremendous confusion regarding the Disney Singalong Songs video The Twelve Days of Christmas, a staple of my childhood and possibly the reason my imagination is so... um... boundless.

But today I would like to discuss a bit of a sleeper from the tape which has been inexplicably stuck in my head the last couple days. Can I interest you in a trippy dancing fade-in Goofy asking Santa to bring him an elephant as a present? I THOUGHT SO.

Like, who art directed this thing? Did they do it in Powerpoint? Was Goofy freestyling or did a choreographer get involved? Is the elephant a metaphor for acid the entire time, hence the suspiciously Dumbo-esque lineup toward the end?

Additionally, does this video start with "... we phase in Santa Claus" as what happens on the ninth day? Because if so, that is also weird.

Not as weird as "Hip Hop Noel," though. That really is the gold standard.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In Which Elizabeth Goes To Kings Dominion

Occasionally, my friends will run a race or go to theme park without me and then make the grave mistake of telling me about it, at which point I strongarm them into writing me up a guest post. So let's welcome back the indomitable Elizabeth, who is here to tell you all about the Halloween haunts of Kings Dominion in Virginia!

I went to Kings Dominion’s Halloween Haunt for the first time this year, and it did not disappoint!  There were two main components: scare zones and mazes (i.e. haunted houses). The scare zones were designated, themed areas where employees (I keep wanting to call them “cast members” because of Disney…) will jump out and scare you, or possibly creepily follow you through the entire area until you leave. I’m not sure why the mazes are called that, because they are really just twisty paths through the haunted houses, and you’d have to try *very* hard to get lost. One of my friends refused to go in the first one we encountered because she was convinced she’d be trapped inside, and we had to reassure her afterwards that there were not, in fact, any dead ends.

The scare zones were interesting to walk through during the day, because it looked like theming that wasn’t fully thought out: “Oh, some random watch towers? That’s...atmospheric, I guess.” But then once it was dark and the actors were in place it suddenly made sense that this was supposed to be a prison yard full of violent escaped convicts. The prison yard and the carnival themed scare zones were probably the creepiest, and one of the zones featured actors on roller blades that had some kind of sparking device on them that meant they would charge at you *while spraying sparks* and it was VERY startling the first time this happened to me. The actors in the french revolution-themed scare zone didn’t seem to be working that hard at actually scaring us--they had large fans that would snap very loudly, but the actors would just sort of snap them in a desultory manner without even trying to sneak up on you first.

Speaking of the French revolution, the main entertainment of the night was the big musical numbers that featured Marie Antoinette being beheaded, followed by song and dance numbers from contemporary musicals, like The Greatest Showman (why? I don’t know). The beheading scene was pretty entertaining but we left shortly after that.

The first maze we went through was “No Vacancy: Condemned”, which I chose because it was touted as being a “mystery” that you would presumably solve. This was also the only maze we encountered where everyone got a flashlight. I was disappointed that there was not an actual mystery--the plot of the house was that the woman who ran this hotel had a bad habit of killing the guests, which you found out when the “ghosts” jumped out and screamed at you about it. The flashlight element was pretty effective, as they kept the lights down and you were in control of what you could see in the rooms.

In general, the mazes were really well done and my main complaint was that I didn’t have enough time to appreciate all of the excellent set design and costumes because I needed to keep moving through the space to avoid holding up the line, as well as being constantly distracted by the actors. We didn’t go through every single one, but I’d say “Blackout” was the most disappointing haunted house. It’s called that because the entire thing is in complete darkness--which IS creepy, except what happened was that all the guests formed a giant conga line, so no one was bumping into walls. I’m pretty sure this was an excuse for the designers to cheap out on set design as well, because aside from a few times we walked through fishing line hanging from the ceiling, I’m pretty sure it was just a plain hallway with some actors in it. The actors would get right up in your ear to say creepy stuff, which did make me jump a couple of times, but overall I was not impressed.

IMO, the best-designed mazes were No Vacancy, Blood on the Bayou, and Lockdown.Cornstalkers was also good and had the advantage of being the only maze that was outdoors, as far as I know.

Thank you, Elizabeth! Next time I'll have to tag along. :D

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, December 6, 2019

In Which Jenn Tracks Down ALL The Reign Of Kong Drivers

I don't know about you, but I tend to be a completionist to a fault. (Open world video games give me such anxiety that I tend to avoid them.) So when I discovered after the fact that the Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride at Universal Studios Florida offers you five different possible audio-animatronic drivers, I immediately sprang to YouTube to try and discover all of them, and how their spiels change that ride as a whole.

The short answer is... not a lot, really. Some drivers do have more appealing personalities, but none of their dialogue reveals anything major about the ride. Kalana, Will, and Doc seem to offer the closest to additional mythology, but none of them impact the overall ride experience save maybe for the beginning and end when there are no screens.

Still, I found it mildly amusing to pursue the full set, and to save time for anyone who might feel the same way, I've put them together all in one post for you.

(The descriptions that preface each video below were pulled from this article.)

Kalana: A mystical descendant of the natives who first settled on the island.

Will Denham: The fresh-faced, adventure-seeking younger cousin of famed movie director Carl Denham.

Jinks Costanza: A hardened New York City ex-con who is wary of the island’s mysteries.

Becky Callahan: The loose-cannon cowgirl who isn’t fazed by the dangers awaiting her on Skull Island.

Charles “Doc” Jordan: A PhD student in paleontology who took time off from his studies to explore the world.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, November 29, 2019

In Which Jenn Shares Another Favorite WDW Christmas Music Loop

Ah, the official start of the Christmas season! Last year I marked the occasion with a brief love letter to my favorite WDW Christmas music loop, and this year I am excited to carry on that tradition!

Funny thing is, I may seem to contradict myself here - when I declared my (strong, continuing!) love for the Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas music loop in 2018, I provided as part of my reasoning its uniqueness. In the process I noted that a lot of holiday loops can sound a little generic, being familiar renditions of carols and all that.

Well, this year I want to share with you my second favorite WDW holiday music loop, which consists of... familiar renditions of carols.

Sort of.

I'm talkin' 'bout the Echo Lake loop in Hollywood Studios, where they're not just playing carols - they're playing old Hollywood carols. Think Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, etc. As a huge proponent of anything you might see on TCM, I'm into it.

And! While a lot of the songs are indeed well-known carols, several are remnants of a bygone era. I mean, maybe you already knew Kay Starr's "The Man with the Bag," but I did NOT, and I freakin' love it. Dean Martin's "Marshmallow World" - nifty. Ella Fitzgerald's "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" - iconic. Ella Fitzgerald's "Christmas Island" - I must learn this immediately.

Like 50% of it is a love letter to Ella Fitzgerald, which I am fine with. Which reminds me - she also does my all-time favorite carol, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." Sure, so do a lot of people. But she does it WITH THE ORIGINAL, CORRECT LYRICS. When I tell you how much the fake happy lyrics irk me... Hallelujah, indeed!

So yeah. Give Echo Lake's Christmas music a spin. Or just play AKL's for the 87th time this month; I'll be right behind you.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In Which Jenn's Dream-Dad Is Super Confused About The WDW Marathon Course

I've told you about my runDisney stress dreams before. They come in a variety of guises, but the gist usually boils down to this: SOMETHING HAS GONE WRONG!

Dream me has missed her flight. Dream me has slept through her alarm. Dream me has forgotten to pick up her bib and also somehow taken a nap in the middle of the race. Dream me even registered herself in a Disney triathlon that does not exist and Brad Pitt was PISSED.

But don't worry, my subconscious is still innovating. Last night's marathon stress dream got really far off property.

So dream me is running the WDW Marathon, like I do. I've made it to the Magic Kingdom, always a good place for a bathroom break. But I somehow take my bathroom break... at my parents' house?

I'm furiously attempting to do weird extra stuff like change my socks and apply Vaseline when I realize that it's already 7am. This is actually perfectly acceptable as far as timing goes; you could easily still be in the Magic Kindom at 7am, depending on your corral placement.

Unfortunately I realize with a start that while I previously arranged for my dad to drop my back along the course so I can continue my race, we did not predetermine where that spot would be.

And there are road blockages. Lots of 'em. My dad points them out on a map. He says - he really says this, in my dream - "I could drop you off at Islands of Adventure." Which some of you may realize is a park in Universal Studios.

Dream me is skeptical but tentatively rolling with it. "Is that near the course? Could I walk there from the dropoff point?" I ask.

"Yeah," my dad replies. But I realize I need to get back to the Magic Kingdom, because that's where I left the course and if I don't start up again there I'm a cheater. My subconscious is dominated by my superego, I guess.

Then my dad drops the bombshell: "I have a friend who's a security guard at the Magic Kingdom and he offered to let me in via the back way of it's a small world," he says. "BUT I TOLD HIM NO."

Dream me was just about to throw a screaming fit when my alarm went off, so I got up and went for my run.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at here is: happy stress dreaming season, everyone!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: Halloween Horror Nights

Detailing our quick weekend jaunt to Universal Studios Florida. Read all posts in this report here.

Please accept this, the most apropos Halloween post I could hope to offer.

After our early afternoon break in the hotel, we walked back to Universal Studios Florida. Incidentally, I should say that I would totally recommend the DoubleTree at the Entrance to Universal Studios if that's the theme park complex you're focusing on for the trip. I freakin' loved being able to walk from the hotel to the resort, plus there was a Starbuck's on property that was never busy and a convenient gift shop as well.

Where was I? Oh, yes, back to USF for Halloween Horror Nights. We made our way back to CityWalk, where a nice security guard gave his seal of approval for my Jurrasic Park shirt. On our way into the Studios, Pat bought us beers, which we sipped in a leisurely way as we traveled. I suppose that's the one thing Universal's layout can offer that Disney's cannot...

Universal beer

We entered the park about an before official close, leaving us time for one ride. Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon was nearby and boasting basically no wait, so we headed inside. I can't really offer any commentary on the virtual queue system they have set up there as there was basically no wait. However, I have a LOT of thoughts on the ride itself, most of which can be boiled down into a single acronym: WTF?

It is a profoundly weird piece of theme park ephemera, turning a standard motion simulator experience into... into... is this what tripping on acid is like? I mean, I was already on board when that one Roots dude rapped the safety spiel, but the main ride is something else entirely. WHY does Jimmy Kimmel have a glorified go-kart? HOW do we somehow get little farther than Times Square? WHO are Sara and Gary? WHY do we leave eponymous NYC halfway through to take a roller coaster ride on the moon? WHAT EVEN IS THIS???

If you can't tell, I consider it an absurdist masterpiece and I am deeply in love with the entire thing. But probably not for the reasons the creators would've expected.

Anyway. By the time we finished tripping our asses off with Jimmy, the park was shutting down to day guests. Since we had tickets for Halloween Horror Nights, we were allowed to stay in the park during the transition in Stay 'n Scream holding tanks. We chose the one closest to the Ghostbusters house, since that was our primary goal.


By my estimate, about 15 minutes before official go time, our Ghostbusters line began moving, and we were entering the house and 10 minutes later. Strangely enough, I wasn't nervous in the slightest. Maybe it was the beers Pat bought me while we were waiting in line. Maybe it was the complete lack of facade; basically you were outside a warehouse, and then you went inside and bam, the library from the opening scene. Whatever the reason, I went through the whole thing with my eyes open and had fun and everything!

Mind you, as has been noted in reviews, the Ghostbusters house isn't really trying very hard to scare anybody. It's more of a medium to tell the story of the movie. You go from the library to the firehouse to Dana's apartment to there is no Zuul to Gozer to Stay Puft with little more than the occasional terror dog leaping at you from a wall as any kind of scare.

I was absolutely fine with that, but I do think the whole thing felt rushed. I think they might have been better served putting together a standalone plot set in the Ghostbusters universe so they didn't feel like they had to hit Every Original Plot Point, but what the hell do I know.

Me? I don't know much. But Pat knows EVERYTHING about Ghostbusters. And, alas, he was somewhat let down by the experience. He too felt that not only the house itself was rushed, but that we, the people of the line, were rushed going through it. He wanted more interaction with the cast than was available. In fact, over the course of the evening I asked him a couple times if he wanted to go again, and he said no.

So that was not the rip-roaring success that I would've hoped. But there was one more point of light to hit: the event gift shop. While none of the merchandise was inspiring enough to purchase, there were tons of great set pieces decorating the store.








Since it was nearby, I dragged Pat through another round of my beloved Revenge of the Mummy before we grabbed a drink some bad pizza and did an exploratory lap of the lake. 

The scare zones were still warming up for the most part (indeed, the Zombieland area never really seemed to get warm...), but Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe was going full force. Here are thrice the number photos of me in the Dragula car than you'd ever want because I love the robot man and can't choose from among his amazing poses:




Next up we went through the new Fast & Furious ride, which was pretty much EXACTLY the same as the Kong Ride only with different decoration/video. Points for this iteration for Vin Diesel hanging from a helicopter, I guess?

After that we headed over to Rip Ride Rockit, our secret song codes memorized. But we couldn't get the secret menu to come up! On the way out I asked a cast member if the secret menu was even still a thing - and he offered us a second ride to try again. Alas, we still couldn't get it to work, but it was super nice of the SM to give us the second shot.

From there we headed into Diagon Alley, which as it turned out was still fully open. The Gringott's line was a little long, so we hopped into Florean Fortescue's for ice cream instead. I freaking LOVE the clotted cream ice cream here, but apparently I'm the only one - Pat did NOT like the lick I gave him, and I even overheard a woman ahead of me in line ask for a description and then reject it. What, you don't like sweet-n-sour milk? >D

Florean Fortescue's

We swooped around the lake and took a spin on the Simpsons ride, which is no Back to the Future but fun enough. Then we circled back to Gringott's for one last go-round, plus a late-night viewing of the fire-breathing dragon.


And then we took a final spin on Rip Ride Rockit... and Pat got the secret menu to work! He says the secret is a light touch.

By then it was around midnight, but even with 2 more hours of the event left, Pat put in the vote to head home. The lines were still pretty long, especially for the houses. I was too tired to resist, so I followed him out. We walked back to our hotel, got up the next morning, and flew home. Boo. Boo! ('Cause I'm a ghost, see?)

I used to be absolutely terrified of haunted houses and scary movies, but now I'm kinda into them. Unfortunately for me, Pat wasn't really jazzed for the houses because he's NOT scared of such things; he just wanted to ride rides. And I get that. But I think I'd like a do-over with someone who's willing to be just brave enough but not TOO brave for the haunts. Anyone? Anyone? :D

So that was our Universal trip. Stay tuned for food and drink roundups, plus the diary of a Kong completist. See ya around the blog!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: 10/20

Detailing our quick weekend jaunt to Universal Studios Florida. Read all posts in this report here.

I hopped out of bed for a shower around 7am, then roused Pat for another day of theme park FUN! After a quick stop at the hotel's Starbucks location, we walked on over to Universal Studios, arriving just after opening. (An amateur move, I know, but we were hella tired from our late-night plane ride and needed the sleep).


Our first order of business was to ride my personal favorite Universal ride, which is Revenge of the Mummy - I love Brendan Fraser, I love The Mummy, I love roller coasters, I love dark ride elements, I love Brendan freaking out about his coffee, I love this ride!

Next we skedaddled to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, a more traditional coaster experience that's still fun. I forgot to look up the secret music codes; I think I just wound up selecting the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and calling it a day.

Then it was off to Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express. While in line, I received a lovely compliment on my Mr. DNA dress from a lady similarly Jurassic Park-attired. Her boyfriend recommended that I swing by the Jurassic Park Discovery Center for some Mr. DNA photo ops, which I vowed to do.

Upon arrival in Hogsmeade we had hoped to pick up another ride on the presently operational Hagrid's Magical Motorbike Whatever It Is, but by the time we arrived the line was 3 hours long, so, pass. Instead we took another spin on the Forbidden Journey, then popped over to Honeydukes for breakfast pastries (finally got my pumpkin pasty - review to come!).

After that we trotted on over to the Hulk coaster, which was boasting a 50 minute wait but Pat really likes it so we jumped into the queue anyway. About 15 minutes in, we passed the single-rider line and decided to take a chance on it. Well, it was completely empty! We wound up on the very next train going out. Good show!

Our next act was to swing by the aforementioned Jurassic Park Discovery Center - where the discovery was that the entire downstairs area was closed. Boo! A nice dino technician did let me hold a stegosaurus egg, but alas, no Mr. DNA for me. Someday.

Dino Discovery Center

We considered investigating an additional ride or two, but the lines were starting to get pretty long; I think after Saturday's deluge of morning rain everyone decided to come on Sunday instead.

Rather than waste away in a line, we decided to skip on out of the park for lunch at CityWalk, where I found a sign that had me all over it.

Stay Silly

(In retrospect I do realize that the phrase is probably "Stay, silly," meaning "don't go," but I like to pretend the comma is just a smudge and my original interpretation stands. Stay silly, my friends.)

Pat really had his heart set on eating outside, so instead of attempting to get ourselves perfectly placed in a sitdown restaurant, we hit up a quick service eatery and did it ourselves. 


The only logical followup was of course to grab a margarita at the airplane bar across from Jimmy Buffett's and strolling around CityWalk for a bit. We ducked into a few stores but none of it proved particularly interesting, so we walked back to our hotel to rest for a bit. On the way I managed to dunk my white sneakers into a truly horrifying amount of mud but now they have character or something? I mean, who makes white running shoes anyway?

Back at the hotel, the sweet and totally apropos sounds of Ghostbusters followed by Ghostbusters II lulled Pat into a restful nap while I changed and prepped for the night's festivities: Halloween Horror Nights!

... which I will detail next time. Because cliffhangers are scary!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Most Universal Trip Report Of All: 10/19

Detailing our quick weekend jaunt to Universal Studios Florida. Read all posts in this report here.

Pat and I began our whirlwind Universal Studios Florida trip in unusual way: with a 3:30am flight. Hey, it was super cheap! Unfortunately, Frontier airplanes are NOT comfortable for sleepers, but we managed to snag some shuteye on the way to Orlando and landed before 6:30am, ready and rarin' for some theme park action.

We picked up an Uber from the airport and hit our hotel before 8am. We were staying at the DoubleTree at the Entrance to Universal, which I snagged for over 50% off on Hotwire as one of their "blind" hot rates. It's not on property but may as well be; we were able to walk to CityWalk in about 10 minutes. We could even see the top of Rip Ride Rockit from our room; if we'd been higher up in the tower we probably could've viewed the whole park.

Oh, I haven't mentioned an important plot point yet - part of a tropical storm was passing over Orlando that morning, which means it was pouring down rain. I didn't even bother changing my clothes or putting on makeup as everything was bound to be ruined/covered anyway. But we were 100% undeterred from park-touring - Pat snagged us some ponchos from the hotel gift shop and off we went!

We arrived at the gates of Islands of Adventure about 30 minutes before opening. Although the borderline torrential rains weren't exactly ideal, they were performing one helpful function: keeping people the hell away. There was scarcely any crowd waiting at the gates, and when they swung open we hustled inside with only a handful of others.

Before setting off, a detour was required: we ducked into a gift shop and requested plastic bags into which we could stash our poor phones. Incidentally, this is why this post doesn't feature a lot of photos as I was busy protecting my phone from the rain. (Fear not, the next day has lots!)

That done, I led us left, wading through what turned out to be a newly formed Lake Jurassic (squishy socks say what?), and into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Pat claims I took him the "long" way 'round but I stand by it. Right may or may not be technically shorter but left deposits you directly in front of Hogwarts Castle, our first destination since Hagrid's Magical whatchamahoosit was closed due to the weather. I made Pat go in front of me in line and enjoyed watching him discover the various fun elements of the castle queue.

After Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey Past Things That Are Trying To Kill You, we emerged to... buckets of rain. The storm wasn't ready to let up, and it was having an unfortunate effect on the park; namely, a remarkable number of rides weren't operating. Our ponchos were keeping us from miserable levels of wet but there was precious little in the way of rides for us to walk to.

So we made an unusual game-time decision and took the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley. A little early for park hopping, perhaps, but at least Gringott's was open. We were able to get in a ride there with minimal wait, then wandered about Diagon Alley a bit, which in addition to being richly themed is at least partially covered. Pat and I enjoyed Knockturn Alley's little bit of ambiance especially.


The only other ride we took in at USF at that time was Men In Black: Alien Attack. Pat DESTROYED me, and was very disappointed that the ride doesn't display everyone's score; he wanted to know if he'd destroyed everyone else.

We took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade, then ducked into The Three Broomsticks for an early lunch. It was already absolutely packed, but the cast members were keeping the place in ship-shape, actively seating and busing and just generally achieving a turnover any restaurant manager would envy. We both got turkey leg meals, which were fine.

Turkey legs

The rain was finally letting up, and we set our sights on exploring Hogsmeade a little more. We poked around some shops, ultimately ending up in Honeyduke's where Pat picked up some bulk candy. The cast member who served us was super nice and told us about a secret bar drink: part Guinness, part Strongbow, part Hog's Head ale. We never got around to trying it but maybe you can and report back?


Post candy break, we saw something interesting: while Hagrid's Magical Motorbike Something Something was still listed as delayed, they were running some empty trains. I really wanted to give this a try, so we took a chance and hopped into line. It took probably about an hour, but my faith was ultimately rewarded: the ride opened and we were halfway there!

Hagrid's Magical Way Too Long Name does something sneaky-sneaky, though - the preshow room is strangely far away from the loading area. I'd say we waited another half an hour at least between viewing the preshow and boarding the train, which seems odd to me. But the important thing is that it didn't break down, I was able to climb into the sidecar, and... I loved it!

It's hard to tell since I've only done it the one time, but Hagrid's Magical Skrewt-Viewing Train might be my favorite Harry Potter ride. The launches were super fun, and the show elements really elevated the whole experience, driving home that there was a story along with the thrills. And who doesn't love unicorns?! Mind you, it could stand to be a little longer, and it could CERTAINLY do with being open for longer hours, but I'd love to ride it again someday.

(For those wondering: Forbidden Journey is my second favorite, Gringott's third. I just think the latter is a little too abrupt with the roller coaster elements.)

Pat really wanted to ride the Hulk roller coaster, so we back tracked through Jurassic Park (Lake Jurassic had thankfully drained by then). On the way we passed The Watering Hole, so we stopped for a drink. A super nice cast member made us two Dino Roars (review forthcoming), and informed us if we kept the glasses we could get a discount on refills.

Next we slammed through a bunch of rides in a row: first the Hulk, which Pat really enjoyed. Then the Spider-Man ride, in which Pat rightly asked the question: why is everything in the queue made of blue molding? We looped back around for Forbidden Journey again, then the Jurassic Park water ride. I was a little bummed to find it just the same as before; for some dumb reason I thought the updates Hollywood's version got applied to Orlando as well. But no, same dinosaurs, no mosasaur. Such is life.

The cast member loading the Jurassic Park boats gave me a bit of a hard time about wanting to sit in the back so I wouldn't get as wet, but I am not ashamed! I came to see the sights, not soak the soaks. And that, friends, is why I've only ridden Kali River Rapids once. >D

Since we had the glasses and were in the area and all, we stopped back at The Watering Hole for another round of Dino Roars before jumping into line for Reign of Kong. Sweet mother of my one cat Ruffian, what the hell is with that hyper-intense queue? It's dark as all hell in there, plus there are the flayed people and the creep-tastic audio-animatronic shamaness? I read there are even scare actors on busier days. Yikes. We saw one little kid walk into the main holding room, take one look, and turn around. I don't blame ya, kid.

And then the ride is... fine? I haven't seen the Kong movies but I understand the basic concept. Maybe if I knew more backstory I would find this ride more interesting but is was just kind of a lot happening to no clear purpose. Why are we here? Why are they here? What's the point, exactly? You know that I know that this is just a motion simulator with a wraparound screen, right? Can we backtrack to the room with the actual set pieces?

Maybe we didn't have the strongest driver - our audio-animatronic truck driver was Becky the cowgirl, but later research informed me that there are 5 different drivers with 5 different dialogue sets. Perhaps a different one would create a stronger narrative? All I can say for sure is that nothing about this ride suggests that the queue theming should be half as bonkers as it is. Restraint, Universal. Or go balls to the wall. Pick one. But the queue should not be crazier than the ride, y'know?

One final note about Kong: the worm thingee in the final portion of the queue looks like a Graboid. Anyone? Anyone?

Anyway. We left Kong behind and briefly popped into the line for Hulk, but it was pretty long and we were getting tired so we bailed. Instead we left the park and grabbed dinner at Antojito's; review to follow.

Then it was back to the hotel for some much-needed shuteye. Gotta be rested for those Horror Nights!

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

In Which Jenn Puts Together A Universal Wardrobe

So you know how I make you look at my planned outfits every time I go on a WDW trip because I'm a Disney dandy? An investigation has yielded that I can do it for a Universal Studios trip too. And so I shall!

I know what you're thinking: you own Universal-themed clothing? Well, as it turns out, I own juuuust enough for this trip. Behold!

I know, I know, it's cheating to double up on Jurassic Park. But, um, Jurassic Park is awesome, so. I mean, the original is. The Jurassic World movies so far have been the original plot more or less only worse, but Jeff Goldblum IS in the next one so I guess things are looking up?

Anyway. The woman-inherits-the-earth t-shirt was a gift for my bridesmaids (because I got married in a museum amongst dinosaurs!). They were BOGO free and I had an uneven number so I added an extra for me. And it's paying off handsomely.

The JP dress came during that same purchase. Who doesn't love Mr. DNA? The only thing that would make this better is if B.D. Wong's face were part of the pattern, but I suppose one can't have everything.

And finally... TWIST! Yes, that's Mickey Mouse on that dress... but the text advertises an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon. Presented by - you guessed  it - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS! Take that, punks!

After all, you can take the girl out of Disney, but you can't take the Disney out of the girl.

Unfortunately none of these pieces are available for purchase anymore, but I got the JP stuff at Hot Topic and the Oswald dress from Wish if you want to dig around there.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In Which There's Something Strange In The Neighborhood

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

And so I shall! Ladies and gentlemen, a SURPRISE LAST-MINUTE ORLANDO TRIP has fallen into my lap. I've always wanted to take a surprise last-minute Orlando trip!

Alas, no Disney this time around, but our impetus is no slouch - we're off to Universal Studios Florida this weekend. Why? Well, Pat is interested in the Harry Potter stuff, sure. But the reason we're taking this trip now boils down to one word: GHOSTBUSTERS!

This year's Halloween Horror Nights event features a Ghostbusters-themed haunted ("haunted") house. Pat freaking LOOOOOVES Ghostbusters. Loves! Ingrained childhood love! He had a backpack as a kid!

I'd never seen it before we met and he made me watch it within, like, two weeks of dating. I like it! I like that one bit about the slinky especially!

But, to review: Pat LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVES Ghostbusters.

He loves it SO MUCH that I was able to fiendishly leverage his affection into this quick USF jaunt. I found some v. cheap flights through Frontier and snagged a solid discount for a nearby hotel on Hotwire, and we were go.

I haven't been since 2015, so I'm pumped! And while historically I'm not so big on haunted houses, I hear the Ghostbusters one is much more fun than scary. Makes sense! But then we ain't afraid of no ghosts anyway, sooo...

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Q. Who has the most KT Tape?

A. I do! I have the most KT Tape!

A couple weeks ago I got an email from KT Tape asking me to fill out a survey, the reward for which would be a 50% discount code. Sold! I knocked that survey out and, the moment my code arrived, I pounced.

But there was one conundrum: how much KT Tape should I get? It can be so hard to tell, pains and injuries being the fickle unwanted guests they are. I've had some hip muscle pain (possibly IT band related? Oh no, not again*) lately, so I knew I'd be using tape for the foreseeable future, but I wasn't sure how much tape that required. What if I bought too much and it went bad?

Wait, does KT Tape go bad? I went straight to the experts.

So there you have it. I bought 6 rolls in a rainbow of colors and it felt good. Not as good as, say, not having an injury in the first place, but I guess pretty colors are the next best thing?

P.S. Not sure if the 50% code is technically shareable, but I bet with some internet sleuthing you can find it for yourself...

* Scientists theorize that if we knew why the petunias thought this, we would understand a lot more about the universe as a whole.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, October 4, 2019

In Which Jenn Will Find Any Excuse For More WDW Time

Thought I'm now a Puerto Rico resident, I'll be spending the holidays with family on the mainland. This being so close to WDW Marathon Weekend, I thought, why not stay an extra week with my parents in North Carolina and then fly direct to WDW? Brilliant!

And it is brilliant. Time- and money-saving! Of course, there is one hiccup: there are, like, 3 flights a day out of Wilmington International Airport.

This is an exaggeration... if you're talking about flights. It is true that ILM* services only 3 airlines. I don't know how you can very well get off calling yourself an international airport with a scant 3 available airlines, but there you are. And of course none of these airlines are my beloved Southwest. Harrumph.

* Those of you familiar with the area may say: did you check the Myrtle Beach airport? I did; none of the flight options were sufficiently superior to add an hour-and-change drive to my morning. But I like your thoroughness. Good show, good show!

But then, of 3 airlines, 1 must be capable of jetting me down to Orlando, yes? Sure - if I want take accept a either slightly time-consuming layover that requires a heart-poundingly short turnaround between flights OR a very time-consuming layover with a helluva lot of downtime between flights. I mean, yes, there were a handful of options that would get me down to Orlando in time... provided nothing went wrong.

Did I say "in time"? I did, because generally speaking I fly down the day before my races. I've found it gives me less time to build my anxiety (that's right, kids, I'm high-functioning high-anxiety!). This does of course mean that I have only one day to get to the expo and pick up my bib before closing, but historically I've come from BWI. This major Southwest hub has, like, 87 direct flights to Orlando per day starting at around 6am. Worst case scenario, I hop the next one I can squeeze onto. You can even read this personal case in point if you don't believe me.

Not so coming from Wilmington. My best bet would get me to Orlando around 11:30am. Not bad, right? Not bad at all, except that it involved a layover in Atlanta. If I missed my intended flight, the next one didn't get me to MCO until 2pm, assuming there was even room for me on it, and if that didn't work out...

High-anxiety people, I think you see where I'm going with this. Yes! I threw money at the problem!

That's right, I secured a second night at Pop and am now flying down to Orlando on Thursday. I won't arrive in Orlando until early afternoon, but it's cool! I've got time! I'll go to the expo tomorrow!

And, ooh, maybe buy an Annual Pass...?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Happy Friday: I Am Offended On Behalf Of Bullseye

Since I've been posting with less frequency, I've tried to make sure that the quality of post has been at the very least personal. You know, something very much in my voice. If not necessarily hard-hitting journalism, at least something only I could write.

But I couldn't help but dust off the ol' Happy Friday format for this gem. It just feels like important information, you know?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

In Which Jenn Wants POCKETS (& No Chafing)

Okay. Okay. I shouldn't even be telling you about this. I'm only ruining it for myself. But I just can't help myself - they're so goooood!*

* And, to be clear, totally unsponsored. 

I've historically been a capris girl, even in the summer. I have Thighs and a Butt and I don't like Chafing. But it's so freaking hot in the Puerto Rico summer that I just had to break down and buy some running shorts.

I had an old pair from Target's C9 line, but they were sort of flimsy and didn't have any pockets. I needed to call in reinforcements. I snooped around on some potential models and brands, both luxury and cheap, before settling on an Old Navy pair. They were cheap, had a reasonable 5 inch inseam, and had side pockets, so what the hell, right? I took a shot.


How have a gone so long without side pockets in ALL my running gear??? Side pockets are the BUSINESS, my friends! Key pockets are so yesterday; I want to shove my keys in my left pocket and my whole goddamn cell phone in the right and CHAAAAAARGE! (aka slowly shuffle)

Old Navy shorts

Old Navy shorts

The 5" inseam? Perfection! Long enough to prevent the dreaded chub rub without being so long as to feel frumpy. Plus the shorts don't ride up and the high waist doesn't slip? SIGN ME UP.

And finally: the price. They retail at $20. But it's Old Navy so there's a sale, like, every other day.

To review: hella economical. Beautiful fit. POCKETS. Where's the catch?

Oh, I found it: their popularity. My research has not been exhaustive but I've ducked into several physical Old Navys Old Navies Old Navii and haven't found a single pair in stock. And if you want to catch 'em online, you've got to be quick - on more than one occasion I've turned my nose up waiting for a better sale and lived to regret it.

And now I'm telling you people and making it worse. I see the problem now: I'm an idiot. But that's not your fault, so buy a pair! You won't regret it.

Who makes your favorite running shorts? POCKETS ONLY.

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In Which Jenn Likes Yoga Because Of Disney, Obviously


Since I moved to Puerto Rico I don't have as many cross-training opportunities as I once did. Well, I say that - all I ever used to do was ballet. I've actually been doing some weight training and resistance exercises in addition to running, so you could argue that I'm doing more cross-training, maybe? But I miss ballet.

Not to say there isn't ballet in PR. Obviously there totally is. But we're sharing a car now and there are no dance studios in easy distance of me. Boo.

Yet when we first arrived and lived in temporary quarters, for a lovely 7 weeks, I was a 4 minute walk from a yoga studio. I'd never really been a yogi but it had a lot of the same flexibility demands as ballet so I gave it a shot. I can't say it made me feel like I'd been through a workout but I definitely streeeetched and even a little sore from that stretching sometimes.

So I liked it! Especially savasana, which is the part at the very end where you lie there and unwind from your practice. Not for the obvious reasons - I mean, sure, I like chilling as much as the next person, but I can do that at home. No, what I really liked was the music. Was it bangin'? Hell no. But it sure reminded me of Serka Zong.

Yup, I have the sort of mind that can bring anything back around to Walt Disney World. During savasana you're supposed to clear your mind of thought. But I've never been much good at that, so instead I did my version of meditation: as the drums and chimes and flutes washed over me, I imagined being in Disney's Animal Kingdom, wandering past Expedition Everest, watching the Tibetan prayer flags flap in the breeze. Good times, good times.

Alas, we ultimately settled in a different part of the city, and there's nary a yoga studio in safe walking distance anymore. I've been challenging myself to do a yoga video from YouTube every week, but you know how these things go. Still, this week I finally got around to pulling up the archived livestream Disney did a couple months ago for National Yoga Day. It take a loooong time to get started but once it does it's a simple practice anyone can do. Heck, I think the female instructor might even be the same one from the Yoga for Runners class I did at the 2018 WDW Marathon Expo. Now, if only they'd done it in DAK...

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How To Add On A runDisney Challenge After You've Already Registered

I've seen the question pop up many a time in the runDisney fan Facebook groups: "I'm registered for just the half marathon, but I want to go Goofy! I'm registered for Goofy, but I want to be Dopey! Can I upgrade to a race challenge?"

Well, I lived that very tale, and I'm here to tell you that it's both doable and doable easily - for a price.

My first step was to email I laid out my dilemma - I was registered for the full but wanted to switch to Goofy - and requested information as to how I could make that switch.

A couple days later I received a very nice response telling me that it wouldn't be a problem provided that I took the following steps:

First, I was to register for Goofy outright. You do this like you would if you were starting fresh. Don't dilly-dally as if the race you want to transfer to sells out they can no longer help you.

Once this was done, I was to fill out a transfer form. This was a PDF attached to the initial email I received. It wasn't too complicated - it asked for my basic information plus the registration numbers of my former marathon registration and my new Goofy registration.

I sent this back in an email response and voila! Well, not entirely voila. I was assured that once the form was processed I would receive a refund on my original marathon registration, which I did - minus a $45 transfer fee. This strikes me as a little steep but I think we've all accepted by now that when it comes to pricing, Disney does what Disney wants.

And that's it! As far as I'm aware you can follow this process for transfers in any runDisney race weekend. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, however.

You can only transfer up, not down. The form I received (which I can only assume is customized per race weekend) offered the opportunity to transfer from the 10K to the half, half to full, full to Goofy, and Goofy to Dopey (with any combination leapfrogging to a higher distance permissible). There's no option to go backwards - if you're in the marathon, you can't get any money back dropping down to the half.

The other thing to note is that there is a transfer deadline. For this year's marathon weekend it's October 8, but it's going to be different every race weekend and year. If this is something you're pondering, make sure you check that deadline now so that you don't miss out.

runDisney mentions the ability to make transfers in your account, which may be a new feature. You can check that out on their race policies page. The above was my experience in April 2019 but things do change. The good news is you can always start by emailing that email address - it's a pretty low risk way to start.

Hope this helps somebody! See ya at the Goofy races - I'll be the one who's just relieved she woke up on time. >D

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

In Which Jenn Thinks The Mulan Remake Isn't

Okay, I've taken some time to think about it, and I believe I'm ready to weigh in on this whole Mulan remake controversy.* Basically: yes, I have a problem with it. No, it's not exactly what you think.

* Because you've doubtless all been waiting to hear what an obscure white girl blogger has to say on the matter.

So if you don't know (but you're reading this blog then you totally do, but all the same) Disney's live action Mulan remake has met with some mixed reactions in the fandom. As details have been slowly released, the negative camp has been horrified by Disney's sins of omission: no songs! No Li Shang! NO MUSHU!

It's enough to make a Disney purist burst into exquisitely rendered tears. But not so fast, say the woke among us. This remake is working hard to be more culturally accurate! The original played a little too fast and loose with some details of Chinese culture and Disney is working to correct that!

None of which is news to me; my dad, who has a bachelor's degree in East Asian history for some unknown reason, informed my innocent 12 year old self from jump: "You know this isn't a very Chinese movie, right?" I did not know. I was 12 and I loved it. He just likes to ruin things. But he's not wrong.

Did I mention I love the 1998 Mulan? I freaking LOVE it. Mulan is my favorite princess! But I'm happy to recognize that it's not the most culturally accurate representation of the tale. Mulan is not Disney's invention; she has a looooong history and is a huge part of Chinese folklore. Disney wasn't even the first to adapt the story, not by a long shot, and probably won't be the last.

And there, my friends, is where I start to have a problem. If Disney wants to make a new Mulan that better follows the source material, great! If they're going to work harder to make sure that they represent Chinese culture with improved accuracy and sensitivity, magnificent! That all sounds very forward-thinking to me!


This is not a remake. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A REMAKE. It is extra not a remake because Disney didn't even make up the dang story themselves in the first place. They weren't even the first to create an adaptation. This is a just new interpretation of the Mulan tale.

The absence of songs and characters does not invalidate the new movie's worth in any way shape, or form. But it does pull the plot too far removed from the "original" to earn the title "remake." It'd be liked calling Disney's Beauty & The Beast a remake of the '80s television show "Beauty & The Beast" because they share a title and source material. And do we do that? No we do not! And from where I'm standing this is no different.

So why is Disney calling it a remake? Simple: to capitalize on our nostalgia. Those of us who grew up during the Disney Renaissance love hard. I'd be willing to bet that 70% of the people dropping money on all these live action remakes are millennials looking to recapture that precious portion of their childhood, many of whom are sharing it with their own kids. The nostalgia is essential for Disney to tap into if they want to continue using these remakes as a license to print money.

That's why they're calling it a Mulan remake. They must know they're starting their story from just this side of square one. But they're hoping you won't notice if they don't change the title.

P.S. While I'm actively putting my foot in it: there's no reason Ariel can't be black. Hell, if we do in fact get Terry Crews as Triton out of it I consider it an upgrade! Andre Braugher for Sebastian, anyone?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

In Which Jenn Makes A New WDW To-Eat List

Waaaay back in 2014, when this blog was a mere baby blog - a blaby? A blogby? - I did a post about all the foods I wanted to eat at Walt Disney World. Since then, I have made a small dent in that list... and since then, five years' worth of NEW foods have popped up.

So I did it again! I went combing through the last year's worth of Disney Food Blog archives, painstakingly searching for reviews of foods that looked simply too delicious not to pursue. Any time I found such a wonderful treat, I compiled it in a spreadsheet. (Where would a WDW planner be without spreadsheets?)

There were some criteria, of course. It had to be something I was legit jazzed about, not just "oh, that looks good." And no seasonal or limited edition items; that's a recipe for heartache. In my research, I didn't go back much more than a year to avoid changed or discontinued items. But other than that, all things delectable were fair game!

And so I present to you: my 2019 WDW To-Eat List. I have a lot of work to do.

(Curious to see how I did on my first list? I've updated it! Check it out.)

AristoCrepesBubble waffle ice cream
The Polite PigGideon's cookies
MultipleJalapeno & cheese stuffed pretzel
MultipleMarshmallow wand
Nomad LoungeTuna poke bowl
Santu'li CanteenCheeseburger pods
Dawa BarNgumu Jungle Juicex
Thirsty River BarDragon's Breath
All-Star SportsEdible cookie dough
Pop CenturyOatmeal cookie sandwich
Rose & CrownSticky toffee pudding
Woody's LunchboxGrown-up grilled cheesex
Woody's LunchboxChocolate hazelnut lunchbox tart
Woody's LunchboxS'mores breakfast sandwich
TerralinaFlourless chocolate cake
Trolley Car CafePeanut butter cupcake (regular or Kylo Ren)
Contempo CafePeanut butter pie
Wine Bar GeorgeCrispy mac 'n cheese bites
MultiplePurple wall slush
Trolley Car CafeCarrot cake cookie in its new iteration
Beaches & CreamChocolate layer cake
Beaches & CreamGrilled banana bread with peanut butter
The GanacheryHomemade s'more
Prime Time CafePeanut butter and jelly milkshake
Cheshire CafeHam and cheese pretzel
Cheshire CafeCheshire cat tailx
Adventureland CartCheesburger egg rollsx
Pinocchio Village HausItalian cream cake
The Smiling CrocodilePimento cheese BLT
Jock Lindsey'sAir pirate pretzelsx
MultipleMickey scone
The MaraPeanut butter brownie
Ale & CompassParker House rolls and spreads
Kringla BakeryLefse
Nomad LoungeJenn's Tattoo (MINE!)x
SprinklesFrosting shots
Pop CenturyKing whoopie pie
Plaza Ice Cream ParlorAll-American sundae
House of BluesToffee butter bread pudding
PolynesianShave ice with condensed milk
Yachstman SteakhouseOnion pull-apart rolls
Good's Food To GoBread pudding
BaseLine Tap HouseBeer flight
Territory LoungeCheese fondue
AbracadabarPepper's Ghost
Contempo CafeChocolate chip cookie sandwich
Skipper CanteenCurried vegetable crew stewx
GhirardelliCrissy Fields cookie bits sundae
Sunshine SeasonsRed velvet whoopie pie
Pongu PonguLumpiax
Top of the WorldChocolate cake
The MaraKudu cookiesx
Kusafiri BakeryRoast beef & cheddar panini w/ curry chips
AristoCrepesCookie dough flight
African OutpostBrown Elephant
NorwayTroll Kreme Slush
BluezooSeared tuna
Tangaroa TerraceFried Spam Masubi
All-Star MusicPrincess Aurora cupcake
Yorkshire Fish ShopEnglish meat pie

Have you tried any of the above foods? What's on your To-Eat list?

Don't forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!