The Nightmare Before Christmas In Walt Disney World, V2

At the end of 2017, I published my first The Nightmare Before Christmas in Walt Disney World post. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s easily my favorite end of the year post ever. So I thought rather attempting to reinvent the wheel in these trying times, why not just do something that made you happy over again? So I did! All new photos make up V2, plus the same lyrics we love. Happy holidays, readers! See ya in 2021. I hope it’s an improvement over this year. 😝
What’s this?
What’s this?
There’s color everywhere
Magic Kindom
What’s this?
There’s white things in the air
Disney Christmas
What’s this?
I can’t believe my eyes
I must be dreaming
Wake up Jack, this isn’t fair!
What’s this?
What’s this?
What’s this?
There’s something very wrong
Sally
What’s this?
There’s people singing songs
What’s this?
The streets are lined with little creatures laughing
Everybody seems so happy
Main Street Station
Have I possibly gone daffy?
WHAT IS THIS?
What’s this?
There’s children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads
They’re busy building toys and absolutely no one’s dead!
Haunted Mansion gravediggers
There’s frost on every window, oh, I can’t believe my eyes
And in my bones I feel a warmth that’s coming from inside
Oh look, what’s this?
They’re hanging mistletoe
Jingle Cruise
They kiss?
Why, that looks so unique
Inspired!
They’re gathering around to hear a story
Candlelight Processional
Roasting chestnuts on a fire
What’s this?
What’s this? In here
They’ve got a little tree – how queer!
Castle fireworks
And who would ever think – and why?
They’re covering it with tiny little things
They’ve got electric lights on strings
And there’s a smile on everyone
Kevin
So now correct me if I’m wrong!
This looks like fun, this looks like fun,
Oh could it be I’ve got my wish?
What’s this?
Oh my – what now?
The children are asleep
But look – there’s nothing underneath
No ghouls
Villains
No witches there to scream and scare them or ensnare them
Only little cozy things secure inside their dreamland
Studios entrance
WHAT’S THIS?
The monsters are all missing and the nightmares can’t be found
And in their place there seems to be good feeling all around
Instead of screams I swear I can hear music in the air
Candlelight Processional trumpeters
The smell of cakes and pies are absolutely everywhere
Cake at AKL
The sights – the sounds!
They’re everywhere and all around
Festival of the Lion King
I’ve never felt so good before
This empty place inside of me is filling up
Cinderella Castle
I simply cannot get enough
Minnie ears
I want it – oh, I want it! Oh, I want it for my own
Castle
I’ve got to know, I’ve got to know,
what is this place that I have found?
WHAT?
Makini Wall
IS?
WDW Marathon start
THIS?
runDisney castle gif
Walt Disney World? Hmmm…
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Inner Disney Dandy Can’t Be Stopped

Normally around this time of year I would start packing for my Walt Disney World Marathon trip. What, already? Yeah! Just like last year, my holiday visiting would have allowed me to simply roll straight into Walt Disney World with no stop at home in between. I’d need to pack in advance (with, Florida being Florida, plenty of weather contingency options).

Alas and alack, COVID continues to ruin everything. Marathon Weekend is cancelled, a fact that breaks my heart anew daily. Oh, and now my Rivals race is cancelled too. GREAT. But one way to cheer myself up a smidge is by indulging my inner Disney Dandy, and to that end I have a new Disney outfit to share with you today!

Pinup Girl Clothing makes this super cute retro Disney castle skirt – in fact, you may have seen it in The Dress Shop at Disney Springs. PUG was having a pretty darned good sale over the Black Friday weekend, but as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been buying almost exclusively secondhand clothing this year. Luckily I was able to price match it on Poshmark! Bonus: I used funds from sales from my own Poshmark closet to pay for it, so this skirt is sustainable AND never touched my credit card. Score!

Quick note: two weeks ago I purchased a tripod with a remote so I could start delivering some real photos of my outfits, finally putting an end to these 2006-MySpace-cell-phone-in-the-mirror travesties. Unfortunately it has been stuck in Miami since December 1 and I don’t know if it will ever escape and come home to me. I know – I wish I were the one stuck in Florida, but what can ya do. In the meantime, more janky mirror photos below! At least you get to see my cat.

Castle Skirt

Castle Skirt

How freakin’ cute is that? And it has pockets, which is a universally beloved feature. I can’t wait to wear it to the Magic Kingdom, where it will doubtless feel at home, and get my picture taken in front of the castle. Castleception!

That’s a retro beauty that deserves The Twist:

Maaaan, I just wanna go home (aka WDW)… c’mooooon vaccine!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

Happy Friday: What Does It Matter? The Parade’s In The Past!

I just read that since Disneyland has been closed all this time, there will be no Disneyland portion of the Christmas parade during this year’s Disney holiday special. I’d imagine that’s not the only change we’ll see, but at least Tituss Burgess will be there to gently shepherd us through.

Tituss Burgess magic

But this announcement did remind me of yet another song from the seminal sing-along video of my childhood, Disney’s Twelve Days of Christmas: “Here Comes Santa” featuring the Walt Disney World Christmas parade. The nostalgia kinda fills the hole in my heart, y’know?

Alas, I could only find one video of the song, and the quality is TERRIBLE. On the other hand, there’s a pretty good rip of the full video on YouTube. In the immortal words of Liz Lemon: should we just watch it real quick? I think we should. We’ve had a tough year.

(If you’re not down for the full half hour, “Here Comes Santa” starts at 24:23. And while you’re in there, don’t sleep on Hip Hop Noel.” Just trust me.)

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Flouts A Major Running Rule

Running gear

Hi, my name is Jenn, and I like to play fast and loose with an inviolate running rule. Which running rule, you ask? This one: thou shalt not use new and/or untested running gear on race day. Which you shouldn’t. If you haven’t tried it out thoroughly before, how can you be sure it’ll agree with you! You don’t want to find yourself fighting with your supplies during a race!

Oops:

Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2016: I purchase my first Minnie ears the night before the race. I think to myself, you know what would be cute? Running in my new ears. I did. They did. Worked out fine.

Baltimore Marathon 2017: Bought some new running capris the week before the race. They had a ZIPPERED POCKET. I was so enamored of this zippered pocket I ran the marathon in these new pants completely untested. Not a mile on ’em. Turned out fine. 

Wrightsville Beach Marathon 2018: Bought some new running capris a couple weeks before the race on clearance. These had TWO SIDE POCKETS. I think I did do a couple shorts runs in these but nothing in even close to marathon distance, which is a big chafe risk. I just really like pockets, y’know? Turned out fine.

Wine & Dine 10K 2018: Decided on a whim to run in my Cheshire Cat dress. Didn’t feel like braving the cold of Maryland’s fall to test it out in advance. Turned out fine.

Walt Disney World Marathon 2020: Wore the sports bra I used for only a handful of short runs. It was the right color for my Sally costume, okay? Turned out fine.

There may be others; the truly frightening thing is that this list is just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll pay for it someday, but so far, all my gambles have – wait for it – turned out fine!

Except for one, it it should have been fine – I ran the 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon with sneakers that hadn’t been tested past a 5K or so, but they were the exact same model as I usually used. Why this particular pair only bothered the tops of my feet so much is a mystery for the ages, but I had to stop four or five times to adjust them. Oh well, live and (don’t) learned.

In conclusion: don’t use untested gear on the race course, kids! But if you do, I trust that it will turn out fine.

Have you ever tempted the race gods with new gear on race morning?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Jingle In The Jungle

Every Christmas I embark upon a mission: to dig up the most uniquely Christmas background music that I can, the kind that’s themed in such a way that it feels like Disney in a manner regular carols can’t evoke. While it’s tempting to just repost the Animal Kingdom Lodge holiday background loop every year and call it a day, I have two new loops for you this year, and both in the same vein!

I enlisted the help of Twitter in my quest, and one of the suggestions that came back was Trader Sam’s loop. I searched for it on YouTube and nothing came back – but the Jingle Cruise did! This loop is a little old and includes a few repeats from the Echo Lake loop, but it includes some very Jungle Cruise-y music like a Hawaiian holiday song. I do wish that the radio announcements referenced in the video comments had made it over from previous years, but what can ya do.

I was all set to end the post here, and then – a miracle! I discovered a Disney’s Animal Kingdom entrance loop. According to the description, this version is now retired, but it sounds like it was still fairly recent. From last year, maybe? Regardless, it’s pretty evocative of DAK. I still prefer AKL’s loop, but this is a solid entry.

If you have any other great unique Christmas loops to share, do let me know!

P.S. What’s a jingle in the jungle, you ask? WELL:

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which This Is Jenn’s One Thousandth Post

Fireworks

I stopped celebrating this blog’s birthday a couple years in (it’s in July, if you’re wondering, and we’re currently over seven years on). After a while, with no 5 or 0 on the end of the number, it felt kinda redundant. But something about 1,000 posts feels like it warrants some mention, so here we are. This is my one thousandth post! You’re reading it right now!

I would like to thank: 

  • my brain, for refusing to stop thinking and rethinking things until I exorcise them by writing them down
  • my body, for letting me continue to run and even improve at running despite the fact that I never thought myself a natural athlete
  • runDisney, for giving me a reason to live (best day ever)
  • Disney parks, which aren’t always perfectly run but I nevertheless love with my whole heart. I feel like I belong somewhere every time I’m there
  • my readers – while I’d hardly call this blog wildly popular, I like to think I have a core loyal following. My domain briefly fell off for like a day a year ago because I was having trouble getting my renewal to work; someone immediately tweeted at me asking what was up because they “weren’t ready for it to be over” and that’s exactly the sort of thing that warms the cockles of my cold, dead heart. If you’re reading this, know I appreciate every one of you for real!

I know that over the last year I haven’t posted with the same breakneck frequency that I used to, but don’t worry – I don’t anticipate this blog going away anytime soon. After all, where would I put my race recaps and needlessly detailed trip reports? You can either open up the window and shout into the void, or you can do it on the internet. I choose the internet, here.

So here’s to a thousand more posts! Because you can’t get rid of me that easily.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Makes The Cheater’s Holiday Orange Mug Cake

Pomander mug cake

Hey! You know what I haven’t done in literally two years? A cheater’s recipe! Since I’m sure you don’t remember because how could you possibly, my cheater’s recipes are so called because they’re barely recipes at all. I’m a cheerful baker, but an indifferent cook. So they’re really more like assembly instructions, usually. Ideas for things that can be slapped together with minimal effort. Effort so minimal it feels like cheating! Get it?

What inspired me to return to the format after so long away? Well, thanks to many twists of fate, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time alone lately. Not alone-alone, mind you – I’ve still got the cats, so I’m never lonely – but I’m the sole human occupant of my apartment at the moment, and the only one who needs to be fed human food. (Needs. Ruffian only wants.)

So I’m temporarily back to cooking for one, which, if you ask me, is way more of a challenge than cooking for ten. Few ingredients can be readily bought in the proper proportions for just one person, which leaves you either eating the same thing a million times in a row or wasting a bunch. Not to mention the diminished motivation. I can disappoint me; it’s cool. Like, I’ve done it before, you know?

Where was I before I went down that little rabbit hole? Oh yes. Cooking for one. I bet one element of my isolation is the same as yours: COVID. Gotta stay inside! And because you gotta stay inside, you might be looking at a very diminished Thanksgiving party. Heck, it might be just you. What are you gonna do, bake an entire cake for one person?

No! But you know what you can do? Make a single-serving mug cake! 

If you’re not familiar with mug cakes, they’re a small-scale cake recipe designed to be assembled in a mug and cooked – wait for it – in your microwave. I’ve been making them for myself lately when I want something sweet that won’t leave me with an enormous yield of too many cookies or whatever. They’re easy, they’re pretty good, and they satisfy the sweet tooth. 

I wanted to bring some of that magic to you, so I created a new recipe with the holidays in mind, and so I give you: the holiday orange (aka pomander) mug cake!

Pomanders are those traditional oranges people like to stab with cloves and put up around Christmastime, for the smell and also the aesthetics. I used this recipe for vanilla mug cake as a base, and then messed around with the ingredients until I got what I was after. 

A few notes before we start:

If you’ve never had a mug cake before, temper your expectations – you’re not going to get a fluffy birthday cake. I’d liken the consistency more to a moist, spongy muffin. Still satisfying, but it’s a different animal.

I use 1/4 teaspoon of orange essence because I found the full 1/2 teaspoon to be a bit too tart. If you like a really strong orange flavor, feel free to go for the entire 1/2 teaspoon.

I also reduced the amount of sugar and butter in the recipe by a full tablespoon each. If you’re after a richer treat, feel free to add them back, but be sure to reduce the milk by a tablespoon, too.

Okay, now – go!

Holiday Orange Mug Cake

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  1. Melt the butter in the mug (you may want to grease the mug first, but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary). 
  2. In a separate cup or bowl, mix the milk, orange extract, and sugar together.
  3. Add your mixture to the butter and combine. Then add your remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until combined.
  4. Nuke in the microwave for approximately 70-80 seconds, give or take. Adjust to your microwave’s usual strength; they all have different outlooks on life and how fast they’re willing to cook things therefore.
  5. Let the mug cake cool for five minutes or so. You can garnish it with whipped cream, or cream cheese frosting, or sprinkles, or anything else you like. Or you can eat it plain. Enjoy!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Timehop Throws Shade At Disney???

Holy smoke Rocky, guys, I know I just posted, but I saw the FUNNIEST thing in my Timehop yesterday and I had to share!

You guys know Timehop, right? The app that shows you all the stuff you posted on this day on your various social medias and that stuff? In addition to populating with your own on-this-day photos and tidbits, it also sometimes shows some historic events and such that occurred on that day too. Various Disney park openings and movie debuts have sometimes been included as the day’s fun fact, because, I always assumed, many of Disney’s accomplishments are objectively historical.

As of today, though, I begin to wonder if a Disney blogger moonlights as a Timehop exec, because this is some niche humor:

Timehop Epcot

Ha! Today we call it EPCOT and it has a Frozen ride…!

I mean, we all know the story about why Epcot never became the Epcot as Walt envisioned it. It’s the Frozen dig that kills me. That is some vintage late-2014, still-bitter-about-the-closing-of-Maelstrom, why-is-there-IP-in-Epcot-it-doesn’t-belong-here shade. I’m surprised they didn’t have that little dinosaur guy dressed as a Viking at the end. 

I can’t wait until the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster opens and we find out what Timehop has to say about that. I’m guessing with all the ousted dinosaurs it’s gonna get real personal real fast.

Disney, man. You find it in the darnedest places!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Shares Her Rarest Character Race Photos

Pat and I were talking the other day about how we hope we can ride Splash Mountain one more time before the refurb starts. Now, I have gone on record as being 100% on board with the overhaul. But still, a final ride-through to say goodbye would be nice.

That got me thinking – once, a long time ago, during the 2016 WDW Marathon, I got a photo with Brer Fox and Brer Bear. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen either character, in the parks or as part of a runDisney event. Perhaps they’ll appear one more time in some sort of goodbye ceremony or what hae you, but I doubt I’ll ever see them again.

Brer Fox Brer Bear on race course
And such a quality photo, too!

And that in turn lead me to ponder what other rare characters I’ve caught on the WDW race course. “Rare” can be hard to quantify, of course, depending on Halloween and Christmas parties and how many runDisney races you do a year and what have you, but here are some of the characters I know I’ve only seen that one time:

Friar Tuck on race course
Friar Tuck, WDW Marathon 2015

Villains on race course
Frollo, Evil Queen, and Jafar, WDW Marathon 2019

Evil Queen as Witch, WDW Marathon 2016

Dang, 2016 was really the year, wasn’t it?

Ah, memories. I can’t wait until this stupid pandemic is over and we can all safely go back to running Disney!

Do you have any rare Disney character photos, on course or off? Who’d you catch?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The Battleship Half Marathon

Battleship Half Marathon start

Okay, so the Battleship Half Marathon may not have been a triumph, but it turned out fine.

The race was a bit unusual in that in order to accommodate COVID precautions, the start would be staggered across several hours. My wave time was 8:30am, so I didn’t even have to wake up until like 6:30am (which if you’re into runDisney is like one in the afternoon, seriously). My dad drove me over to the race start, and as we crossed the bridge to downtown Wilmington I saw the marathoners who had started at 6:30am already out on the course. 

I was worried about getting to the race on time – what if it turns out important roads are blocked? What if I can’t find the start area? What if I can’t find the porta potties? – but of course since I had budgeted the time everything went smoothly, and I arrived about an hour before my call time. We were on strict orders not to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance for our individual wave, so I busied myself taking a few laps around the neighborhood. 

At 8:15am it was my turn to file into the start area, where I found Becky from Disney In Your Day, so that was nice – it was good to have company for a couple minutes. We were given a few last minute instructions and warnings (the boardwalk could be slippery; don’t take off your mask until you reach the trash cans past the start line) and we were off!

Battleship Half start corral

I took off at a pretty speedy clip as, per my pre-race post, I harbored unrealistic but not entirely unattainable hopes for my first sub-two hour marathon. The first few miles, along the edge of the water, were reasonably flat and any predicted boardwalk slipperiness proved no problem – so far, so good.

We turned off the boardwalk area and crossed a bridge, which had a bit of an incline but not too terrible. From there we ran around the namesake Battleship North Carolina’s memorial boardwalk, which goes all the way around the ship – I was very pleased with this, as I had fully expected to run up to it in the parking lot and then immediately turn around, but nope! We got a full 360 degree view. The ship was in drydock, too, so I saw rather more of it than I ever had before.

Following that we had to suffer through a bit of an out-and-back, but not too long of one, and at least it was flat from what I can remember. Then it was back out onto the road and over what would prove to be my nemesis: the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Boy howdy, was that bridge steep. I kept telling myself I could run the whole bridge, a la the Severn River Bridge when I ran the ZOOMA Half, but no – this one was much longer and much worse. And, to add insult to injury, my dad pointed out on the drive back that we had to run up the side with the steeper incline; the downhill portion wasn’t as steep. I demand a reversed course!

After escaping the bridge, the course turned back to downtown Wilmington and its brick walkways. And then: power to the finish!

HA HA, JUST KIDDING. If you were doing the half marathon, it was time to do the whole thing all over again!

Yes, the half marathon course was a double loop, which meant it was time to pull a Bill Murray and repeat everything I just outlined: the Riverwalk boardwalk, the battleship, and – gulp – the stupid Cape Fear bridge.

Oh, and I hadn’t mentioned the weather yet, had I? It had been sunny and steadily climbing toward 80 degrees all morning. I went into it all cocky, thinking: I live in Puerto Rico! This shouldn’t be a problem! What an idiot. It was still hot, and it was still affecting my performance. I also feel like we could’ve stood to have more water stops, but I totally understand why that wasn’t possible given the desire to keep volunteers from congregating as much as possible.

All of which is to say that when I hit the halfway mark and checked my GPS watch, I knew I was already just shy of my A goal even if I kept my pace steady. Given the heat and the stupid bridge, I knew coming in under two hours was out of my reach. Drat.

But it was okay. While it would’ve been nice to hit my goal, all I ever really wanted was a decent proof of time for my runDisney corral placements. I resolved to Do My Best on round two, and while I don’t know if my best is right, I certainly didn’t give up, either. I just wish I’d decided to bring my headphones – I was worried about missing directions, but ultimately I don’t think it mattered and I could’ve used some music.

Wait, what I said a few sentences back was a lie. I did give up on the second round of the Cape Fear bridge, but only a little. I definitely ran some sections, but I also walked some too. And once I got to the top I made myself run again. I just didn’t want to risk burning myself out completely, you know?

At least I didn’t sign up for the marathon; I can’t imagine doing the bridge four times. 😱

By the time I ran back into downtown Wilmington again, I was approaching toast. A random spectator – some of ’em got in somehow – called to me, “Looking good! Nice steady pace!” which just goes to show that it’s impossible to know what a runner’s actually going through at any given moment. 😆 Honestly, I probably could’ve stood to push myself a little harder over that last mile or two, but what can ya do. I crossed the finish line with a decent time and with the vast majority of my reserves exhausted, so at least I can say I put some effort in.

Battleship Half GPS time

Medals, new masks, and snacks were all bagged to minimize contact, so I grabbed one and plopped down on a nearby curb; I needed a quick break before I felt ready to get on the move again. Becky came up behind me shortly, and we commiserated over the dang bridge for a bit before she headed off to her hotel and I called my dad for a lift. Success!

So I didn’t make sub-two, or even get a new PR, but for a first race back in sub-optimal conditions I’d say it wasn’t so terrible. I got my decent PoT, and that’s what really mattered. Now here’s hoping Rivals happens – with runDisney magic and some accompanying negative splits, maybe my sub-two hour half lives there?

Thanks to the organizers of the Battleship Half for making this race happen with maximum safety and COVID precautions. I’m sure it took even more care and planning than usual, and without it I wouldn’t have my new and improved PoT, so I say again: thanks to those guys!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!