The Fairest Trip Report Of All: A Food Review Hodgepodge

And now for the food review portion of my 2020 WDW Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Denouement! Allow me to present a random assortment of foods we ate that didn’t warrant their own post.

Pop Century Food Court: Curious about the new plant-based options, I picked up the new plant-based BBQ burger with sweet potato fries. It was actually pretty good, but a meaty taste that, while not exactly fooling me, was enjoyable. Sort of like a well-done burger. And the avocado on top was a nice touch. But holy crap, could I have taken worse photos??? Sorry, guys, it was the end of the day and I was tired. >D

Cheshire Cafe: I finally got a Cheshire Cat Tail! It was good, too, although not out of the common way – less a chocolate croissant and more a lightly glazed donut with chocolate running through it. The frosting on top was a nice extra shot of sugar. I wouldn’t go out of my way for one but it makes a decent breakfast if you want something lighter and/or don’t feel like waiting in the Starbucks line. Damn, now that I’m posting this photo I kinda want one…

The Mara Bakery: I picked up a plant-based flamingo cake to enjoy after the marathon, which I did indeed do on the balcony and it was awesome. It was very dense and sweet and only lightly chocolate-y, but I very much enjoyed the cinnamon elements of the cake and the frosting was the sort of thick that I personally respond to. Would recommend, although I still need to try that peanut butter brownie…

Choza Margarita: I went with the cucumber margarita, which was good – it didn’t taste like it was from a mix, nor did it have that sugar-y taste crappy margaritas so often sport. It was a little bland, though; I think it could use some jalapeno or something to punch it up. I liked that it came with a cucumber spear.

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie: I have not frequented Les Halles nearly as I should, but this was a good first foray. I got the Tartine aux Fromages, and it is completely worth your time: essentially pizza on good bread, it comes with a dollop of goat cheese that totally changes the game. Erika also let me try her Jambon Beurre, which is a ham and cheese sandwich covered with MORE cheese and when is that ever a bad idea?

Ronto Roasters: We got breakfast wraps and they were SO GOOD. I mean, it’s just sausage and eggs and cheese in a pita, but it was all hot and fresh and you should absolutely get one. Don’t let this little droid guy slave away in vain.

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Wine Bar George Review

And now for the food review portion of my 2020 WDW Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

See, what happened was, Becky of Disney In Your Day very kindly allowed us to horn in on her Wine Bar George post-half marathon brunch ADR down in the Disney Springs, despite the fact that she had only the internet’s authority that I am a real person. Thanks for accepting me on faith, B-Gees!

Like many restaurants in Disney Springs, Wine Bar George doesn’t have a theme per se, but it does have a nice airy feel with clean lines and lots of wood. The island bar (by which I mean the bar is an island in the center of the room, not to conjure tiki connotations) looks nifty indeed, but with our larger party we were sat at a high top in the corner.

Despite 3/5 of the assembled group having a marathon to run the next day, we were all quite determined to order Alcoholic Beverages. I initially ordered a frose at our server’s suggestion. But then Becky ordered a frozcato, which uses Dole Whip, and when the server offered her a prosecco floater I knew I had to switch to that.

It was good, with a sort of slushy orange-y pineapple taste, but I think if I came back I’d try the frose; I think the frozcato might be just a touch too sweet for my preferences.

For my entree I went with the burrata, which was essentially avocado toast with a giant freakin’ hunk of burrata which, if you’ve never had it, is like a softier, creamier mozzarella. This was AMAZING. The bread was griddled, the avocado perfectly ripe, and the bacon thick cut, all of which combined in a winning open-faced breakfast sandwich. Well, I say combined; if I had one complaint it would be that it’s quite difficult to get a single bite with all the components, but since they’re delicious in smaller combinations it’s no big deal. Perhaps they could add an egg?

Erika got the steak and egg frites plus some breakfast potatoes on the side, all of which she said was good but not bowl-you-over good. Stick with the burrata, I say.

Two funny things happened during our meal – first, Becky’s husband’s order came out a bit later, and was ultimately delivered… by George himself! The waiter confirmed that here’s there five or six times a week.

Secondly, and less exciting for… just about everyone else on earth, but our waiter was from the next town over from where I grew up and went to the same high school as me! Not at the same time, but still. Funny old world and all that.

Ultimately I found brunch at Wine Bar George to be lovely for a quieter, park-free morning. I may just have to swing back through for that frose.

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Oga’s Cantina Review

And now for the food review portion of my 2020 WDW Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

THIS. WAS. SO. COOL.

As I have mentioned on several occasions, I 1000% prefer to Trek over Wars with my Stars. But I gotta say, even as an inveterate follower of Captains Picard and Janeway,* I freakin’ loved Oga’s Cantina.

* Also: Robert Duncan McNeill, call me!

The very popular flagship bar in Galaxy’s Edge, Oga’s Cantina cultivates an ambiance. The bartenders, while not playing characters per se, definitely have an air of anarchy about them (think Whispering Canyon Cafe, but make it space opera). The set decorations and, of course, DJ Rex all combine to create a strong sense of place, even if you’re not previously familiar with that place.

Slow Pan Video | DJ Rex Video

The drinks are not cheap, but they are delicious. It being early on in our trip and have 39.3 miles to run ahead of us, I had initially planned to get the non-alcoholic blue milk and cookie and call it a day, but I wound up getting totally swept up in the spirit of the thing and got the full two rounds Oga’s rules allot. (Although after our two our server offered us a third, which we declined but it seems the two-drink maximum isn’t hard and fast. Or it’s the anarchy?)

You can find menu photos all over the internet, but
these are the only ones in the world featuring my hands.

Intrigued by a “botanical grapefruit vodka,” I started with the Jedi Mind Trick, which also includes an assortment of juices plus my beloved falernum (or, as Pat and I called it, flrnm). This was pleasantly fruity but just not as interesting as I had hoped from something labeling itself botanical.

Erika’s first drunk was the Punch It! Powerade concoction she deemed entirely too sweet and fully cloying to the point that she was ready for something featuring alcohol. Do skip.

After seeing The Outer Rim across the table, I knew I had to get that next. It’s essentially a margarita but it comes with an exotic fruit puree that is foam by any other name, plus a copious black salt rim. It was kinda like having some slurpy on top of your margarita, which I was into.

In the back there you can see Erika’s Jet Juice, which both the server and a Twitter friend warned us was deceptively strong for its size. And indeed it was! Erika let me try it, and while I’m not generally a huge fan of bourbon cocktails this one was really good. I mean, I’ll sip a whiskey on the rocks, but it usually tastes weird in a mix to me. This one was delightfully balanced, with the chili liqueur cutting the alcohol taste beautifully.

Overall: totally worth it, already have another ADR for my next trip and it hasn’t even been confirmed yet. >D Hooray for Oga’s Cantina!

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!

In Which Jenn Can runDisney Photo Dump Again, Hooray!

Despite my better fiscal judgment, I have an WDW Annual Pass once again, and you know what that means, kids – I CAN ACCESS MY PHOTOPASS RACE PHOTOS FOR FREE!

And then I can make you look at them. Wait, no, don’t click away! Don’t you want to read my commentary??? It’s pithy and judiciously deployed, I promise!

For context, if you like that sort of thing:
WDW Half Marathon Recap | WDW Marathon Recap

Arranged in height order.
I spent entirely too long making this. I don’t know what it’s for.
“How horrible our Christmas will be!”
I’m crouching to keep the blood off the saddle.
Wait, is that a period joke? Anyway this photo is terrible.
No, guys, THIS was the best day ever.
Smoke gets in your eyes. Did I say smoke? I meant the sun.

Remember what I said about the happy almost-tears? Yeah.

Did you know I have double-jointed elbows?


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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Skipper Canteen Review

And for the food review portion of my 2020 WDW Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

I have predominantly heard three things about the Skipper Canteen restaurant in Adventureland: it is an 1) underrated 2) delight that 3) gets watered down more and more with each passing year. Eager to check it out before it before it started serving “American cuisine,” I easily snagged us an early lunchtime ADR for Friday.

Oh, sorry, there’s a fifth thing I always hear about Skipper Canteen: it is one of the only places you can get alcohol in the Magic Kingdom. To which I say two things: 1) at that time I was keep drinking to a minimum because of the race weekend and 2) it was all basic beers and wines anything, so I didn’t personally see anything to tempt me. But I can see how if you were really craving a beer that would be good to know.

So the Skipper Canteen, if you’re not already aware/informed by context clues, is lightly themed to the Jungle Cruise. Outside of the decor and ambiance, which shared the ’30s feel of the ride, our first and most prominent example of this came when our host showed us to the table: the man treated us to a litany of puns the entire way. As an admirer of the format, I was very pleased when we were informed that, for example, we would be sitting at “the backside of stained glass windows.”

Sadly, this particular form of ridiculousness did not carry over to our server, but she was nice and helpful all the same. She gave us a quick rundown of the specials, which included Brazilian cheese bread. Seeing as Erika was Brazilian, we had to give it a go.

You may recognize this dish from the Brazil booth at the Food & Wine Festival, where it goes by the traditional name of pao de queijo. At its best, these are fluffy and gooey with cheese and delicious. The Skipper Canteen version was okay, but we got the impression it had been left in the oven just a touch too long. The dish was accompanied by a cream cheese and pesto; Erika said that this was not a Brazilian thing and while we both tried it we preferred without.

Erika was also far more interesting than me (a Diet Coke girl) and selected as her drink the Schweitzer Slush, a passion fruit and apple concoction. She said it was too sweet but she enjoyed the boba balls it came with.

For my entree I selected the curried vegetable crew stew, which I ordered on the strength of the curry alone. Unfortunately the flavors were not as strong as I would’ve hoped, but it was curry all the same. The coconut rice was sticky and mildly flavored, pairing nicely with the stew. Vegetables included green beans, tomatoes, and zucchini, plus there was fried tofu that could’ve stood to be a bit crisper but otherwise had a nice flavor. All in all I found it to be a pleasant and healthy choice. The naan was tough, though; don’t order this for the naan.

Meanwhile Erika also selected a stew, albeit of the seafood variety, which was our server’s recommendation. Alas, I neglected to snap a photo, but she had similar critiques to mine: primarily, it could use a more robust flavor, but it was otherwise tasty.

Ultimately I would return to Skipper Canteen. While the menu does seem to be arranged for less adventurous palates, the Afro-India menu is still more interesting than most. And who can resist the puns?

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/13

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Hello and welcome to the final day of my 2020 Marathon Weekend trip report! Are you here looking to get stressed tf out??? If so, do I have the blog post for you!

Our morning began at 5am. In the still-dark of early morning we rose, showered, dressed, and headed out the door with but one goal in mind: RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

Luckily there was no real line for bag check/airline check in, and with a Studios bus arriving in a reasonable amount of time we were at the park and through bag security a little after 6:30am. That half hour was spent milling around in a pool of anxious psychic energy as we all waited for the moment of release: BOARDING GROUPS FOR RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

I asked Erika to go for a boarding group too, since it’s a numbers game, and at 7am we went to town touchpad-smashing in the app. But, alas, a mixup! Erika got through first but had forgotten to add me to her boarding group. So I had her in mine, got an error that she already had a group, I was briefly distracted by discovering Erika had accidentally signed up solo, and THEN I got my own boarding group. She was 35… and I was 80.

Drat.

Not to litter this trip report with every minuscule move we made in an effort to correct this error, so here’s a summary: we talked to several Cast Members at several guest services locations throughout the day, and were told on no uncertain terms that once boarding group filled up the day there was no way to make changes. We finally got someone to agree that, if Erika wanted to ride with me (which she did) despite a lack of overlap in boarding group time windows, that would be allowed.

So what we had now was a numbers game. If we wanted to make our Magical Experience bus to the airport, we needed to head out of the park in the area of 1 – 1:30pm. Group 35 would almost certainly make it – but 80? That was a less certain. It was definitely doable, but it all depended on downtime. Based on early morning boarding group movement, I had around two hours worth of buffer time – but precious little more.

But there was nothing to be done about it but wait and see. We set our sights on other rides, and after grabbing our boarding groups headed immediately for Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. We went through the line so quickly they weren’t even using the preshow rooms. (Incidentally, if we had gone directly to guest services about our boarding group mix-up instead of riding that first, we might’ve gotten it fixed, since backup groups were still available. Oh well; live and learn.)

FORGOT TO DO THE SHOCKER DAMMIT

I had originally made DAK FastPasses for this day before we found out about the whole boarding group thing, but in the interest of keeping focus I cancelled them all and instead picked up a FP+ for Tower of Terror, which we then rode. Ironically, my boarding group distraction kept me from freaking out in anticipation of the drops. Turns out sometimes anxieties can cancel each other out! Who knew?

Erika’s boarding group number was nearing, so we headed over to Galaxy’s Edge, snagging a quick breakfast at Ronto Roasters before setting up camp near Rise. We made a last-ditch effort to see if any CMs would let me sneak in with Erika’s boarding group, but alas, they would not. Not that it mattered overmuch, since Rise of the Resistance was down.

It remained down for about two hours.

Double drat.

I did enjoy the free-range characters.

I had made us another FP+ for Star Tours, so we did that, and thankfully by the time we got out Rise boarding groups were moving again. But I’d lost just about all my buffer time. I called Disney’s Magical Express and convinced them to let me reserve a DME bus 30 minutes later our current one, although they made me agree that if I missed my flight – which was still a solid 2.5+ later – it would not be their fault. Yeah, no, not a problem. (Erika’s flight was an hour later than mine already, so fear not, I was not endangering her in any way. I may be a neurotic mess but at least I’m not a total jerk!)

We stopped by guest services at the front of the park where a very nice CM reprinted our DME info even though as it turns out they don’t usually do that in-park, and then de-stressed with a lovely photographer who very kindly directed us through some photos in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

It was only later I discovered I had spent some portion of the day
with my ears on backwards and it will NEVER NOT BOTHER ME.
Do you have your exit buddy?

After that we headed over to Muppets 3D, but I couldn’t concentrate; every three minutes or so I was discreetly checking the app for boarding group movement. The groups were creeping along, but agonizingly slowly. Growing frantic, I began surveying Twitter for information – once your boarding group is called, how long is the line usually? How much time did I have, really??? I was doing math wildly in my head, calculating the drop-dead time I had to give up the ghost and leave WITHOUT RIDING RISE OF THE RESISTANCE.

I determined that if I prioritized making our Magical Express bus, I wouldn’t make it. But I also knew Uber was a thing that existed, and we were getting so close to boarding group 80. I decided that at 2:15pm, we simply had to abandon our quest.

Boarding group 80 came up at 2:08pm.

Thankfully, even though Erika’s boarding group was closed they let her through to ride with me as promised (which is good because I probably would’ve burst into tears at that point), and after a mere 20 minute wait that included a fortuitous call for parties of two that allowed us to jump some of the line, we were in!

And was it worth it? Oh, hell yeah.

Spoilers ahead, I suppose. To start, I wish I was more of a Star Wars fan; as it stands I respect it and have seen the movies, I’m just not into it, you know? I can only imagine how freakin’ amazing it would be if you lived and breathed by those environments and characters. Because as a tepid fan, I STILL found it awesome.

The first portion in the motion simulator shuttle was well done and unexpected, especially the part where you emerged outdoors. The interstitial bit with the storm trooper room and all the First Order CMs was excellent. The CMs organizing people into ride groups were clearly given freedom to role play; I swear I overheard one guy speaking with a mock German accent. Our CM was a petite college girl who was a tad too small and adorable to be convincing, but she did her level best to interrogate us.

Once the doors opened for the second, dark ride portion, the CMs there too were clearly playing characters, and they called our attention to the droid piloting our car before sending us out into the ship. (Ship? Star? Were we on the Death Star*? I honestly don’t remember. See what I mean about being a tepid fan?)

* “What’s that?” “It’s the Death Star.” “What does it do?” “IT DOES DEATH.”**
** “I shall have the pasta alla arrabiata.”

Anyway, I won’t do a blow-by-blow description of the ride, but suffice it to say it was impressive. The sets were massive, the details were plentiful, and I always like to see audio-animatronics. Give me a dark ride over a roller coaster any day! My favorite part was probably, you know, keeping it vague, when the one guy does the one thing with the laser and the ceiling. You know? End potential spoilers.

And so the ride ended and we boarded a bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge with satisfaction in the knowledge of a job well done. We grabbed our bags from bell services, got a very comfortable Uber to the airport, and were still there in plenty of time to get through security and pick up dinner before our flights. I mean, sure, in essence I paid $35 to ride Rise of the Resistance, what with the Uber charges and all, but that’s not the point. The point is that I set out to ride it and ride it I did. Victory! Victory in our time!

So ends the high-stakes tale of WDW Marathon Weekend 2020. As always, it was full of honor and glory.

Thank you so much for reading this trip report! It’s truly my favorite type of post to write. Occasionally I like to bust one out and navel-gaze as I relive race triumphs and nostalgic moments; it’s probably a solid 85% of the reason I keep this humble little blog going.

runDisney and WDW are not without their faults, but they both truly bring me tremendous joy. I hope I passed on just a little of that joy as you read.

Tune in here in the coming weeks for a couple bonus tidbits in the form of food reviews. See ya real soon!

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/12

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

Post-race, I did my usual thing – got a bag from the merch tent to hold all my race snacks, then jumped on a bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge. The volunteer running the bus line stopped me briefly so we could discuss how my Sally costume was awesome because The Nightmare Before Christmas is awesome, which, heck yeah!

I was just getting onto the hotel elevator when I got a text message from runDisney – due to the rising temperatures, the course was being modified. Erika got caught in the changes, and tells me she saw tons of people passed out at med tents and even sitting by the side of the course. She had to move a bunch of times for ambulances. So as much as that kinda sucks for the affected runners, I can’t say runDisney made the wrong call.

Erika says her phone registered about 1.5 miles lost, but I told her by the time she walked from the staging area to the corrals she probably made up the distance. If your circumstances required that you miss Blizzard Beach, you’re still a marathoner in my eyes!

My first order of business upon arriving in my room was obviously an unhurried and very much deserved shower. Then I did something that only runDisney could allow – I consumed a post-marathon dessert on my savanna-view balcony. To paraphrase Richard Dreyfuss mouthpiecing for Tom Stoppard that one time, you catch me at the very point of decadence!

I curled up in bed and busied myself posting race photos to Facebook until Erika arrived, at which point it was time for a nap. An hour and a half or so later we threw on some clothes and were off to Epcot. We made our Frozen FP+ just in time! Not gonna lie to you; lowering myself into the boats post-marathon was some kinda rough on the ol’ muscles. >D

After our ride on NotMaelstrom, we backtracked to Spaceship Earth and used our FP+ there. I didn’t focus nearly as much as I should have given the upcoming overhaul, but don’t worry, by this point I can pretty much close my eyes and ride it in my head. Erika made most of the choices in the “build your future” bit at the end, and I was very pleased to see a largely new combination of animations – even if the camera somehow failed to capture my face, blerg!

I do so like to boomerang around Epcot, so we headed back to World Showcase and the Mexico pavilion. The Choza margarita stand line was still long, but the day before Becky had told me it moves pretty quickly so we took a chance. I was proud to perform my (quite simple) transaction entirely in Spanish!

We had a Mission Space FP+ coming up… to be honest, I wasn’t really feeling it. I conferred with Erika and she agreed – rather than follow any set plan, we decided to cancel our FP+ and wander the rest of World Showcase completely free and untethered.

Well, almost. I saw on the MDE app that there was an American Adventure showing at 7pm, and since we had 20 minutes to meander back there I thought it would be a nice loose goal to have. We made it a few minutes in advance and I spent half the show wondering when Lincoln would show up before I realized I was conflating AA with The Hall of Presidents. >D

After a quick pit stop in Les Halles in France for a light dinner, we ducked into the UK pavilion garden for the end of the British Invasion show, the doubled back to Japan so I could get a little celebratory sake from the bar in the back of Mitsukoshi. The lovely bartender there responded graciously to my extremely limited Japanese. Kanpai, y’all!

Glass in my hand, we walked out through Canada and took up positions behind the esplanade to watch Epcot Forever, which is cute but not super impressive; I won’t be devastated when the new HarmoniUS show replaces it. We left during the “A Whole New World” bit to beat the crowds to be buses but also because who the hell authorized that as the musical finale?

And so that was our final night in WDW. We headed back to our room, did some packing prep, and headed to bed. One more day awaited us in Hollywood Studios – and oh boy, was THAT a doozy…

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The 2020 WDW Marathon

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

This is the story about how a recurrent IT band issue left me horrifically undertrained for a full 26.2 miles worth of running in high heat and humidity and also I was already tired from running a half marathon the day before and somehow it was AMAZING and I loved it and it was even better than last year???

As the Mad Hatter advises, we shall begin at the beginning: our morning began with a chipper 2am wakeup call, which was super fun as always. Although for once I actually really slept for a couple hours. I’m as anxious as ever so I think perhaps even my psyche is finally tired.

Anyway, Erika and I woke, dressed, and ventured into the night to grab a bus to the start line. One of the nice things about staying at a deluxe resort is that the bus lines are never as bad, and we were able to wander onto a bus at our leisure. I was decked out in my Sally costume, and I prayed to Catherine O’Hara to give me strength.

Per my usual we were at the staging area a good two hours in advance, and amused ourselves with some photography before we were finally permitted to make the long walk to the corrals. I sent Erika off to corral F with a crisp high five before wandering down to corral C for the long wait.

And a long wait it was, indeed. A big deal had been made of the race start being moved up to 5am this year, but at 4:57am we hadn’t even had the national anthem yet; something was clearly up. I took an extra porta potty break while the race hosts continued to chatter and stall for time.

It turned out the reason for the delay was that the course traversed much of the same parking lot area currently being used as drop off by the buses. Many have decried this as an obviously bad idea, and I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do have an operating theory: I think the reason Disney made the race start 5am instead of the usual 5:30am was because they knew they wouldn’t be able to clear the area in time, and they were giving themselves breathing room. By that token, our start time just before 5:30am was actually a win. Or a bunch of the race organizers are idiots; all things are possible.

Moving right along. Corral C came up pretty quickly, and soon I crossed the start line and headed toward… Epcot?

Okay. Listen. I knew that there had been changes to the marathon course. However, for some reason I had it in my head that the changes amounted to fun tweaks; I didn’t do a full study of the new map on the principle that it would be a fun distraction if I encountered some surprises here and there.

Well, as it turned out, “here and there” was EVERYWHERE. The course was COMPLETELY different. I spent just about the whole race like “Where am I?????” Some changes were, to my mind, positive, and some were negative, but I certainly got my surprises.

The first few miles of the race include a brief run through Epcot, where I stopped to commune with my best friend Figment before rolling past the Mexico pavilion and back out of the park. (Incidentally, it is CRIMINAL that there was no legit Figment and Dreamfinder photo op here.)

We experienced some parking lot time and some road time, which was predictably a bit boring but so far I was feeling okay; slow, but okay, and miraculously, pain-free! My side and knee were KT-Taped to high heaven but it seemed to be working. You know what else is incredible?

Rim shot!

(Not gonna lie; I stopped almost exclusively for Frozone.)

I’ve talked before about how around mile 7 is my least favorite part of the marathon, but I was used to be it being right after the Magic Kingdom. This time it came before, but I was too busy being confused by my surroundings to register if this was an improvement. All I can tell you is that by the time I hit Cinderella Castle around mile 10 or so the sun was already up, so just like in the half no glorious nighttime-lit-up castle photo for me. Sigh. There were no appreciable lines for pictures, though, so I stopped for one anyway.

Oh, wait, but before that I stopped for Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland and also my beloved Sam Eagle in Liberty Sqare! JJ was also out and if I’d had to presence of mind I would’ve asked him to try to take a selfie with me with Sam in the background if we could make it work. Maybe next time?

I’m gonna play catch with my dad!
You are all WEIRDOS.

Back to chronological order. Okay, the course took me out of the Magic Kingdom via the usual backstage way; there were some characters out but nothing I didn’t already have or particularly love so I kept on rolling.

Roundabouts here I think we ran past the sewage treatment plant as per usual, because even a new course can’t save you from everything. Oh, and I was very surprised to see the Haunted Mansion gravediggers at a very early mile 12 or so.

Can’t scare Sally, duh.

I hit mile 13 shortly afterward and my morale actually got a boost. If you think of the marathon as, I don’t know, a parabola or whatever, the peak is 13.1, and once you pass that, it’s all downhill from there, right? I mean that in the positive sense. Something like that. Anyway, my feet kind hurt and it was hot and muggy and I was slow but I wasn’t experiencing any pain and the halfway point was behind me, so: onward!

We had reached another period of long boring roads, but some characters livening things up a bit. I saw a top hat on a duck and thought I was stopping for Scrooge McDuck; it turned out to be Fancy Donald and Daisy but that was okay too, I guess.

I also stopped for the country bears, inexplicably rousted from their usual home in Frontierland. The camera caught me off guard but given the company I think it kinda works…?

Mama, don’t whip little Buford – I think you should shoot him instead

Finally we approached the Animal Kingdom; there were a smattering of animals out but NO FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING PERFORMERS????? They are my rock! My must-do! Theory: because DAK was positioned much later in the race this year, the FotLK cast couldn’t be out because they had to prepare for a show. Which is unacceptable and I demand we return to the original course immediately.

But back to what I was actually doing at the time. Right. So I entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom, used the bathroom, trotted past Everest; you know, the usual (if I recall correctly it was around 9am but I didn’t see Everest operating; not sure what that was about). I turn the corner on the way to Dinoland, feeling, y’know, reasonably okay about things for mile 17ish.

And then I see her. It’s HER. It’s KEVIN!!!!!

No, seriously, I busted out my phone in line expressly so I could send my only in-race tweet, which read as follows: “KEVIN KEVIN KEVIN KEVIN!!!!!!!”

And it was everything I dreamed it would be.

May I take your bird back to camp as my prisoner?
OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE BE MY PRISONER

So I grinned my way out of DAK, my feet heavy but my heart light, my Kevin-induced joy propelling me down boring between-park roadways. “Hi Sally!” said a water stop volunteer. It’s nice to feel recognized.

On the road I came across a couple denizens of the Adventurer’s Club, which had little to no line. “The people who remember the Adventurer’s Club,” they were saying into their mics, “are much older and slower than this.” Well, I already had a photo with them from 2018, but I wasn’t about to let them feel unappreciated, so I stopped for a pic.

It turned out to be a very gratifying stop at that, for the second I approached the martini guy lit up. “Look what we have here! It’s Sally!” he said. “It’s like The Nightmare During the Marathon!”

“The whole thing, really,” I couldn’t help but reply, and was very pleased with myself when he laughed. “KUNGALOOSH,” we all agreed, and I ran back onto the course.

I also I met up with Señorita Minnie who was cool but certainly no Kevin.

Then came the much-lauded new addition: Blizzard Beach. Boy was that a disappointment. First of all we got routed around the seemingly endless parking lot, and then once we got into Blizzard Beach barely anything was even happening. The wave pool was running and stuff like that, but there weren’t any characters or anything. I’d actually say I prefer Wide World of Sports, where at least there were lots of characters and marching bands and stuff.

Blizzard Beach was hard, but it was about to get harder. For awhile there I had been using the following mantra: “I am comfortable with being uncomfortable.” But I was getting awfully uncomfortable. My feet definitely hurt. My muscles were sore. I was shuffling along. Luckily I wasn’t in any real pain, but somewhere in the area of miles 21 to 23 I wasn’t thrilled with my position in life.

But guys – this year, it happened for me. Y’know how last year, even though I was better trained and all that jazz, I didn’t get the miracle boost from running into the Studios? This time, God only knows why, it WORKED. Oh boy did it work. I took one step over the berm into Hollywood Studios and I was instantly almost in happy tears. All my aches vanished. I was full of joy. I. WAS. RUNNING. DISNEY!

And so here on out, despite everything that came before, I had THE BEST TIME. The course was back on track the way I remembered it and I was soaking it all in. Spectators were calling “Go Sally!” left and right; I was slapping fives and groovin.’ Hyacinth Hippo says what up.

On the Boardwalk someone happened to yell “Dig deep!” and I immediately began singing my Song of the Training Cycle to myself: “Ya gotta dig a little deeper! For you, it’s gonna be tough! Ya gotta dig a little deeper! You ain’t dug near far enough!” I’m sure I looked like a crazy person, mouthing nonsense with a crumpled almost-crying-for-happiness face, but what can ya do.

Then we finally hit World Showcase and as always that was MY JAM. The classic Disney music was playing as I surged on. It was still hot and it was still humid and I was still just SO DELIRIOUSLY happy. Oddly enough, I didn’t see a single character out – maybe because of the heat advisory they were trying to keep everyone moving? But it didn’t matter; I was zooming and in the zone.

Let’s see; what could really put the finishing touch on my runner’s high? Oh, I don’t know – how about if THEY STARTED PLAYING “DIG A LITTLE DEEPER”??? It wasn’t quite the ecstasy of my “How Far I’ll Go” moment of 2018 but it was darned closed. I added hand gestures to my lip syncing and ran on.

The weird new course swerved us out of World Showcase before Norway, which while not ideal was understandable to accommodate construction. What I did not care for is that no one bothered to carry over the music to the final backstage bit of course. I missed the end of my song. 🙁 Would it have killed them to set up some some additional speakers? Also and more importantly, where the hell was the gospel choir at mile 26???? I demand answers, runDisney!

All this kvetching is to say: I had made it! I had the gas in the tank to plunge for the finish line, and while I crossed under the wire with one of the worst marathon times of my career, I had hit all the heights of happiness I come to runDisney to hit. Somehow, despite my poor (and I mean POOR) training cycle and record heat and humidity, I had SO MUCH FUN. My heart was full from having just run the WDW Marathon – and broken, because it was over.

Clearly I’ll see you next year. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that, and…

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 1/11

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

The bus line post-half marathon was long, but lucky Pop’s popularity was anticipated and many buses awaited us; we were on one and back in our room in no time flat. We took turns showering and changing before finishing up some light packing and heading out the door – it was time to transfer from Pop to Animal Kingdom Lodge!

So when I initially made my room reservation I only planned to run the marathon. When I switched to Goofy, I needed to add some nights to my trip – but rented DVC points (my method at the time) are notoriously immobile and nonrefundable. Not one to fret, I assembled a split stay, and the time to switch was upon us. We left our bags with the luggage assistance fellows with the promise we would see them again at our new resort.

AKL, as a deluxe resort, is much nicer, but I must confess leaving the Skyliner behind was painful. >D

Race buses were still circulating between the finish line and the resorts, and a charter was using the Disney Springs slot. Luckily I saw a bus labeled Disney Springs in the DAK spot, and we climbed aboard on faith. When I saw the Cirque de Soleil tent I knew we had made it.

First on our agenda was brunch with Becky of Disney In Your Day and company, which was delightful – more on that to come in a later review, of course. After that we ducked into the Dress Shop, just to look. No, really, we didn’t even buy anything this time! (Because runDisney already takes all my money. Have I mentioned I love my new race jacket?)

I said we didn’t buy anything; I didn’t say we didn’t WANT to buy anything.

I was out to spend some money, though, and we headed into Basin with purchases in mind. I’ve been trying to make the switch to solid shampoos since it’s more sustainable etc., and I find Basins are among the cheapest that work well (skip the conditioner bars, though; in my experience they suck). I examined the wall of shampoo bars carefully before filling a cardboard tube with my selections. I also picked up some of my old oatmeal soap since my skin has been skewing sensitive of late.

After our shopping adventures we picked up a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge and then straight onto the bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We paused on the way in to make some very normal hand gestures.

We already had a FastPass open, for Dinosaur, so we rode that.

Next we walked over to Serka Zong for some ice cream, which we ate in the Rivers of Light stadium. I’m so glad they keep it open during the day – it’s a lovely respite from the crowds with plenty of seating.

The finishing of our ice cream coincided nicely with the commencement of our Expedition Everest FP+ time, so we rode that before rolling over to Festival of the Lion King.

We made it to FotLK fifteen minutes early but somehow we were held in a line??? As a sort of overspill crowd????? We got in and ended up in the back of the giraffe section, which was fine, but I’m accustomed to a much closer seat over in lion. The show was amazing as always; I’m just a overly picky malcontent.

We were close enough to our Flight of Passage FP to head over to Pandora to do some exploring before we rode. I still haven’t been through the regular queue! Not that I mind the short waits, mind you, but I hear it’s amazing. Also, this was the first time I managed to get through the pre-show without the “wait, something went wrong” bonus scene. I legit thought it was a regular part of the video, not a contingency plan, but apparently it only plays if stalling is necessary.

It was getting on in the afternoon and we had gotten up very early. Also we would be getting up earlier. Either way, it was roundabouts time to head back to AKL. Oddly enough, we still hadn’t gotten a text message that our room was ready. We finally received the go-ahead on the bus back, but took a quick detour through The Mara food court to get dinner and some post-race pastries. Also I had to seek out the runDisney pickup point in advance of the morning’s bus ride, because I am a paranoiac.

I ALWAYS take a picture of the bus schedule so that I can continually check it.
I may be high anxiety but at least I’m punctual.

Then we found our room on the Zebra Trail, and – holy upgrade, Batman! We had a savanna-view room we did not pay for! Yowza! Given the lateness of our room’s readiness (the text arrived at 5:39pm) I’m guessing the ran out of regular rooms. I’ll take it!

So that was an excellent omen. We skittered down to bell services to grab our bags before settling into our room and prepping. In the morning: THE MARATHON.

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!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The 2020 WDW Half Marathon

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!


Another alarm successfully not slept through! I would celebrate without restraint, were I not too busy knocking on wood.

Yes, Erika and I woke to our 2:30am alarm on Saturday morning, determined as I am to not just be on time for the bus but among the most on-time-est. We dressed and wandered out into the night, climbing onto a bus without difficulty. 

We took up the long march to the start, where I discovered my new favorite Cast Member of all time among the many guiding our way. His opening volley was “GO BACK TO BED!” which, I mean, can’t really argue with that, followed by “the water stop at mile 9 has been replaced with margaritas.” Can’t really argue with that either.

Anyway, our morale suitably bolstered with the lie of mile 9 margaritas that would never come, we took up our time-killing positions in the staging area until they let us take the long walk down to the corrals. I peed twice before the race start but still had to go during the race so it hardly did any good.

Oh, also, I had dropped back to corral F to run the half with Erika, and I saw someone with an H bib in our corral. I’m no narc, but BAD SHOW, SIR. Perhaps he’s practicing to join Club runDisney? ;D

The race went off at the appointed time, and Erika and I went with it – but slowly. As Goofy Challengers, I knew we had a lot of mileage ahead of us. Not to mention it was forecasted to be in 80s that day with high humidity, none of which is friendly to runners. A couple of times Erika would start to take off a bit, and I’d be like, hey, Speedypants, where are you off to? And then she would drop back and we’d continue our long slog.

And so we plodded through the first few miles of course. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the WDW Half/Princess Half course. Sure, running through the castle is nice and all, but once you’ve done that there’s sooooo much boring road between you and Epcot. I know a lot of people really dig that castle run, though.

Anyway. Erika didn’t want to stop for too many characters, preferring to save them for the marathon, but when I saw the toy soldiers and reindeer I had to call for a stop. This cost us the largest chunk of time that I myself experienced in either race but no regrets. Adorable and unique!

Have I mentioned Erika and I met in ballet class?


From there our next landmark was the castle; I was a bit bummed to note that with the combined forces of our later corral and slow pace we would not be approaching it at night. The lights were scarcely even noticeably on. Erika once again deferred a photo to the next day, and I didn’t argue.

One enjoyable distraction was the number of people complimenting me on my surprise Epcot leggings. One guy dressed as Sully even pulled up next to me and ran apace for a bit so he could grill me on where to get a pair for his daughter. However, I am VERY disappointed to report that not a single spectator thanked the Phoenicians. :/ What, you guys already thinking about the refurb? Hasn’t Dame Judi Dench suffered enough???

Most of the character stops we had seen had frickin’ huge lines, but a couple miles later we spotted Lilo with scarcely a wait at all, so we hopped on in.

Ah, yes, roads, roads, and more roads. I have no further tales of interest to regale you with before we hit Epcot and, weirdly, some of World Showcase? The course was clearly flexing to accommodate all the construction walls in the park. No matter; I called for a photo stop because PANCHITO PISTOLES!!!

Now I just need a photo with Joe Carioca and I’ll have
the complete Three Caballeros set!


And then we ran backstage and out of the park. Finish line, boom, done!

Sorry; I know that was one of my more boring runDisney recaps. Honestly, it was so hot and muggy and we were taking it so easy so as to not prematurely exhaust ourselves before the marathon – and in that way, the race was a great success! It was not a PR in fun, but we made it happen. Don’t worry, the marathon recap will be way more stimulating.

But before that, we’ve got a day in Epcot to recap! See ya 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!