The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Nomad Lounge Review

Trip report time! This is the final recap for my November 2016 trip. You can read all posts in the trip report here. Thanks so much for reading!

I have been dying of excitement over the fact that WDW has produced my very own drink since I first glimpsed it on a menu back in June. Naturally it only made sense to hightail it over to the Nomad Lounge to try it during my time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

The Nomad Lounge is fairly out of the way right now, with an entrance beyond the main Tiffin’s entryway, tucked back by where the Avatarland (ugh) entrance will be soon-ish. Currently there’s not much foot traffic, though, and it remains a lovely, quiet respite from the standard park bustle. We’ll see how long that lasts once Pandora opens.

I arrived at the lounge a little before noon and no trouble securing a seat. I immediately asked the bartender for a Jenn’s Tattoo, but she wouldn’t confirm until I answered a question: did I like sweet drinks? The truthful response to this would be “it depends,” but in this particular instance I was getting a Jenn’s Tattoo come hell or high water so I just said yes.

While I waited, I scanned the room. The Nomad Lounge has a distinctly exotic feel, as you might imagine, with rustic furniture and decorations that emphasize adventure. The waitstaff wears a costume more akin to an upscale country club, imparting a feel of being in, say, a rich man’s hunting lodge. In addition to the bar itself, tables are scattered in the area and the patio outside. I think all those tables get waiters as I saw some interacting with guests, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

The bartender was training a new CM and service took a little longer than normal, but I wasn’t in a hurry. Eventually a Jenn’s Tattoo appeared in front of me, just as pretty as in the menu picture.

In case you can’t enlarge the picture, a Jenn’s Tattoo contains vodka, watermelon, hibiscus, and lime juice. It was good, but indeed very sweet. I had no trouble finishing it, but it’s skirting dangerously close to the cloying zone. Ideas for hacks: more lime or cut with club soda.

Dignity. Always dignity.

I also ordered some summer rolls, basically veggies wrapped in rice noodle paper and served with a sweet soy-based sauce (hoisin?). They were also good and helpful in that “well at least I had SOME vegetables today” way, but they disintegrated easily in my hands and I don’t think there’s any good way to eat them with cutlery. Great if you want something like a salad but not really; otherwise I’d say skip.

There were some other interesting drinks on the menu, but I knew I had the many beverages of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival ahead of me and I didn’t wanted to get sloshed/dehydrated prematurely. I sucked down a club soda instead and vowed to come back for more libations in January.

That about wraps it up for November’s trip report. If you’d read the whole thing – thanks! I love reliving my trips, both through writing them up and reading about them later. I hope you enjoy the reading bit too!

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: Festival Center Wine-Tasting Seminar

Trip report time! I’ll be covering my November 2016 trip. You can read all posts in the trip report here. Onward!

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, so I think – for a wide variety of reasons – now would be an excellent time to talk about wine.

This year I attended the Food & Wine Festival for the third time, but this wine seminar is the first upcharge activity I’ve attended, purchased on a whim for $15 to keep me occupied on my solo journey.

I lined up about half an hour in advance of the seminar and wound up in the very front row (they do ask you to move all the way down the table, so if being in the middle is important to you, let a few people skip ahead). The event was sold out, so a) make reservations early and b) arrive at the staging area in advance if you want a good view.

Three wine samples were already poured at each place, and crackers, water, and a note card and pencil were provided for pallet-cleansing and note-taking, respectively.

I was less concerned about what wine or winery I tried and more about time of the event when reserving; in the crapshoot, I came up with a winery known as Tasca. The event was hosted by a PR guy from Tasca, who along with a host toasted our session before diving into the history of the company.

Tasca hails from Sicily (“What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sicily? Probably the heat,” said the PR guy. “Sophia from the Golden Girls,” said the girl next to me, and I thought that was a much better answer). The wines are made by a noble family, but the Tasca guy repeatedly hammered home that these are farmers who get in their and do the work themselves. He even used the phrase “blue collar” to describe them, but I’m not sure that term applies if you can call yourself a count and own a huge estate. Nevertheless.

PR Man ran through what looked to be a PowerPoint presentation on the various wines, but it boiled down to this: one white, two reds. The white was light and crisp and not too sweet and I enjoyed it immensely. Both reds were duds as far as I was concerned. The first was okay but the second was like drinking an oak tree that had been liquified and mixed with red wine. I know some people dig tasting the cask but it’s not my jam.

The whole experience took, I don’t know, maybe 45 minutes? It was interesting and enjoyable and I certainly liked trying new wines, but I didn’t like how the whole thing felt like a PR pitch. I suppose that’s to be expected, since each seminar is hosted by a specific winery, but I think I’d like it more if, say, a sommelier came and said “here are three wines I like and why.” Something a little more personal, a little less marketing-speak.

For $15, though, it’s one of the cheapest events on offer at the Food & Wine Festival, and all the water crackers you can eat! I doubt I’d pay a whole lot more for the experience, but if the price stayed reasonably steady I’d do it again.

Have you attended any Festival Center seminars? What did you think?

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/07

Trip report time! I’ll be covering my November 2016 trip. You can read all posts in the trip report here. Onward!

Ugh, leaving day. Always hate the last day of a WDW trip, no matter its length. It’s just so demoralizing. But I’ve given myself the wonderful guarantee of being registered for two more runDisney races in the future! I was at least able to comfort myself with that promise as I woke, performed my morning ablutions, checked my carry-on at luggage assistance, and hopped a bus to the Magic Kingdom.

Said bus took a bit to show (not my luckiest trip for bus catching), but I was still through the gates in plenty of time to catch my Space Mountain Fastpass. That done, I intended to take a spin on the Peoplemover, but there was a Cast Member holding the line for some reason. I proceeded directly to make Haunted Mansion FP instead. It was a remarkable trip only in that I was at no point stopped by playful spirits. Also, I swear I heard Little Leota tell me to bring my birth certificate if I decided to join her. Am I going insane or did they actually make that switch?

I came out of HM just in time to catch a showing of the new Great Moments in History with the Muppets. I understand that there are two shows, and this was the one about the Declaration of Independence. I found it to be classic Muppets – some okay jokes, a few hilarious jokes, but mostly jokes that are so bad they circle right back around to amazing. Mostly I was just pleased to see my favorite Muppet, Sam Eagle.

I am Sam Eagle and these are some important safety instructions.

I decided to walk back to Tomorrowland next, where I was pleased to see the Lunching Pad had opened an hour early. I made breakfast out of my very first cream cheese pretzel, a storied snack which I found quite pleasant but not necessarily get-it-every-trip worthy. Now, if Disney wants to start selling a pretzel stuffed with straight-up cream cheese frosting, I’ll buy six.

If you prick a sweet cream cheese pretzel, does it not bleed sweet cream cheese?
If you eat it, does it not revenge?

The Peoplemover’s line was flowing once again, and I jumped in a private car for a luxurious trip around Tomorrowland. I shall summarize my feelings about this attraction with this tweet:

While I was in the area I decided to take in the Carousel of Progress; not sure if I’d done it since, say, 2011, maybe? Obviously it’s quite dated, especially in that final scene, but it’s eminently quotable and ultimately charming. I dig that their dog is immortal. Where can I get one of my own?

By this point my Splash Mountain FP had opened up; I took a satisfactual spin while learning first hand that holding your Minnie ears onto your head while simultaneously attempting to pose for the drop camera is an art I need to study and refine. WDW power user moment: I snagged a Pirates FP while still actively on Splash.

On the way out I was chased down by a CM who loved my Cheshire Cat dress. Here’s my recent philosophy on dressing for the parks: obviously, comfort is paramount. However, my first adult trip to WDW I decided it didn’t matter how I looked because I’d be in WDW; who cares? And to a degree I was totally right, and if that’s your M.O., have at it. However, I pretty much across the board hate all photos of me from that trip. Therefore I now try to dress up a little, slap on some makeup. Not, like, ballgowns and heels or anything completely unhinged, but something a little cute and Disney-ish.

Call it vanity, call it Disneybounding, call it approximately 10 compliments on my Little Mermaid dress, 4ish for the Cheshire Cat, one for my blue Chucks, and none at all for my Eeyore shirt and tutu. Hold on to your hats because this is – believe it or not! – about to become a plot point.


Before we get there, though, I should note that I took in a showing of the Country Bears. It is absolutely insanity, total absurdity, and I love it for that. I can see it being a divisive attraction for those reasons, however.

Anyway, any blood on saddles aside, my Pirates of the Caribbean FP window opened and I took my place in line. There was a little girl behind me who kept asking her parents if the ride would be scary, but despite their reassurances she remained worried. Suddenly she turned to me and told me my dress was pretty – and then turned to her dad and told him that she had told me that my dress was pretty. This apparently cheered her up enormously, and her parents noted that my dress had cured her fear. Magic!

I wound up in a boat with her, and she would periodically twist around and wave at me; at one point I swear she told me I was “very brave.” Our brief but intense friendship ended with a final wave as we parted ways in the post-ride gift shop. The Cheshire Cat: he brings people together.

I was out of immediate plans; I fired up MDE but didn’t find any FP slots to my liking. Instead I picked up a bus to Epcot for my final foray into the Food & Wine Festival. I’m lucky that was my main goal because there were NO FPs worth having available at any point during my time there and lines were pretty long.

The Chew was my first kiosk stop, where I got a peanut mousse that was very enjoyable, although I personally could’ve done without the added crushed peanuts. I also grabbed another Shipyard milk stout, the only thing I got twice during the festival, simply because I enjoyed it so much. I need to find a milk stout in my area.

I got in line for France, thinking I’d get some escargot, but my culinary interests took a left turn; I went and got some hummus fries from Morocco instead. They were subtly different from falafel and came with a spicy sauce I enjoyed.

After a failed attempt at the Test Track single rider line (even that was long), I went back to F&W for a red wine truffle. It wasn’t particularly red-wine-y as far as my tastebuds could discern, but I was fairly tired by that point so my brain might not have be syncing properly with my tongue.

I chilled for a bit in the fake grass by the future foods kiosks before suddenly realizing I’d almost forgotten to get Pat some caramels from Karamell-Kuche or however you spell it. I trekked over to Germany and stood in what I must say is kind of a ridiculous line for a food stall. It took like twenty minutes to get one chocolate-covered caramel square. But Pat liked it so it was worth the time.

As I walked back from that venture I came upon people sitting in wait for the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China. I picked up a Ritzy Lychee drink from the China kiosk (holy alcohol, Batman; if you complain about light pours at WDW, get this and be soothed) and plunked myself down on a stone bench behind the show. The show was pretty underwhelming but the fifteen minutes of sitting with my legs elevated made a world of difference in my morale. If you ever know I’m a WDW, tweet at me that I should sit down for awhile. No matter when, no matter what I’m doing, you’re probably right.

I caught Mariachi Cobre on the way out of World Showcase, then picked up a celebratory glass of rose champagne from the Desserts & Champagne booth as I slowly made my way out of the park. It was a sweet, sad thing, sipping the remains of my sparkling wine, gazing at Spaceship Earth, saying goodbye but also see you real soon.

I caught a bus to Pop and arrived over an hour ahead of my Magical Expres bus; I killed some time at the pool bar before leaving, slightly sloshed and very sad, for the airport.

And that’s more or less it – but not quite. I still have reviews of my wine tasting experience and Nomad Lounge. Stay tuned!

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/06

Trip report time! I’ll be covering my November 2016 trip. You can read all posts in the trip report here. Onward!

I was lucky enough to have a bus to Pop waiting for me after the half, and I was back in my room and showered in no time flat. A choice was presented to me: did I want to make the wise choice and take a much-needed nap? Or did I want to head to Animal Kingdom and use my Kilimanjaro Safaris Fastpass?

Kilimanjaro Safaris, duh. I changed and bolted for the bus.

Which took foreeeeever to show. Tons of people were waiting so I missed the first one to come along, and then when it finally did it was blocked for several minutes by a race bus offloading in the wrong area. I watched the clock nervously, aware that there was a 15 minute grace period after my FP window closed and there was a good chance I’d need every second of it.

I hit security with a challenge: make it from bag check to the safari in no less than 15 minutes. I was fairly confident that if I explain my bus difficulties and pointed out that I was but a single person the CMs would let me through, but it’s so much easier just to follow the original plan, y’know? Anyway, I made it with five minutes to spare, a testament to my speed and crowd dodging skills. If you ever accompany me to the parks, be prepared to power walk.

It wasn’t a super great safari – I’d hoped that my early morning FP would translate to frisky, cooler-weather animal antics, but no dice. I did get to see the painted dogs for the first time, which was pretty awesome, and the warthogs were out and about.

These aren’t them.

These either.

My next stop was Expedition Everest, where I used my FP before hopping right back in the single rider line. Then I was off to Nomad Lounge for my drink! Review to come – stay tuned.

I had a sizable chunk of time to kill before my Festival of the Lion King FP, but plenty of ways to fill it. For starters I swung through a few gift shops and picked up a [redacted] my mom had eyed in our December 2013 trip but ultimately talked herself out of buying; figured it’d make a great Christmas present. (I don’t think she reads this blog but better safe than sorry.) Love how the Annual Pass discount applies just about everywhere now.

That done, I plunked myself down on one of the stone benches near Dawa Bar and took in a series of shows: the acrobats, who were hard to see behind the crowd but had great energy, and Burudika, whom I have loved every since Estelle introduced me. They’ve really upped the quality of the dance instruction, with a couple of legit African dancers. Two guys hopped into the dance area who clearly had African dance training too, but they were dressed casually so I couldn’t tell if they were off-duty CMs or if it was just coincidence. Made for solid entertainment, either way.

It was during this happy, decidedly chill time that I came to a realization: I think I’m ready to call it. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park. I’ll try to explore this in a post at some point, but for now I’ll just say that the atmosphere is unparalleled.

Burudika ended just in time for my FotLK FP to open up, although somehow when I got there there were a bunch of people ahead of me? Didn’t a giant hoard get wise to the 5-minutes-early rule, or do CMs let you through in advance for show FPs? Hmmm. I managed to get my favorite spot (on the end next to the Simba float in the lion section) all the same, and enjoyed the show immensely. As is for some reason per usual, I was messed with and high-fived by tumble monkeys, which always enhances the experience.

I scooted out of the park then and picked up a bus to Epcot. No good FPs made themselves available to me, so I headed directly to World Showcase for some lunch at the Food & Wine Festival. It was cooling off a little as the sun began to set, opening me up to the purchase of mac and cheese and elderberry cider from Farm Fresh and – finally! After years – cheddar cheese soup from Canada, which was… okay. In it for the pretzel roll, really.

It was coming up on my reservation for one of those wine tasting things in the Festival Center, so I headed over there. I wandered through the Ghirardelli chocolate display and browsed the shops a bit more before getting in line behind a girl who turned about to be from Baltimore. I chatted with her and the Texan lady behind me, and before you know it we were let into the wine seminar area. Review of that experience to come!

By that point it was coming up on 6:30am and I was working on maybe eight hours of sleep over two days. I was tired – but I was NOT DONE. Step one of my Do Not Fall Asleep Initiative was a much-wanted photo with Baymax.

Pro tip: fistbump with your left hand, or whatever arm is closest to the photographer. Rookie mistake; I got flustered. I’m gonna need a redo in January.

My next act was to ride Figment, mostly to see what kind of Figment merch was currently available in the gift shop (yes, I know you can enter without riding but it was a walk-on and anyway I still LOOOVE Figment, just not his ride so much anymore). Gift shop offerings were not tempting, which is just as well but Figment deserves more.

Back to World Showcase for more foodstuffs! No, wait, scratch that; this time around it was all drinkstuffs. I got a whiskey stout from the Scotland booth (good!), followed by the Shipyard milk stout from craft beers (very good!), and then sparkling pineapple wine from Hawaii, which was too sweet but hey, bubbles.

While imbibing, I indulged in one of my favorite WDW activities, made all the easier by being alone: Aimless Wandering. I stopped short at Alberta Bound and watched the rest of their show; they’re no Off Kilter but I’ll take it. And then as I stepped away I could hear the dulcet tones of Queen, which I followed to the UK pavilion to catch the end of the British Revolution’s set. While there I investigated the gift shop (Doctor Who!) and checked for Pooh character photo ops, but they were already done for the day. That’s okay; I was repping Eeyore just fine by myself.

As I walked by the International Gateway I happened to notice a line of people waiting to check in for the race after party. I figured it was an inevitability so I went ahead and jumped into the fray. I’m glad I did it first chance I got because the lines I saw later in the night were waaaay worse. Plus I got to live out the Scrubs Coffeebucks double-line scene in real life as I found myself turning around and entering a new, separate line without even moving. Normally it is not good to find yourself the Ted Buckland in a given situation, but it saved me a few minutes.

Duly wristbanded, it was time for more food! I picked up some pork belly from Brazil (not as a buttery as I would’ve hoped/expected), and then the butter chicken (MORE CURRY SPICE, DAMMIT) and Jam Jar shiraz (pretty good; not too sweet) from the Africa booth.

Then I did something stupid. Illuminations was starting, and, well, I know this is sacrilege, but – I’m not all that into Illuminations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I don’t feel a deep need to keep my eyes glued to it, y’know? I decided my time would be better spent in line for Frozen Ever After, which would hopefully be experiencing a fireworks-induced lull.

This isn’t the stupid part. The stupid part is that I decided to walk around the wrong way, because, oh, yes, I am SUCH a great power walker.

Well, I am. I am indeed very speedy. But starting from I think France I still barely made it to Norway as Illuminations was ending.

I was greeted by a posted 90 minute wait for the Frozen ride, but I was willing to gamble that it was residual from before official park close. Admittedly a CM was setting up extra stanchions as I arrived, but I had come to far to turn back (back! Over the falls! … Too soon?). And I think my risk paid off – I waited, by my internal clock’s estimate, about 25 minutes, which isn’t too shabby, and the queue is quite adorable – it definitely serves as a worthy distraction. I think maybe they re-appropriated the old fishing village? Bonus points to Wandering Oaken’s sauna.

As for the ride itself? SPOILER ALERT! Okay, well, see, I’m a lukewarm (ha!) Frozen fan at best. I’ve seen it once. It was cute. I liked that the true love was between sisters and not with some guy. But I can’t say it does much for me beyond that. Maybe it’s my own personal lack of sister? I haven’t seen any of the sequel shorts nor do I feel a deep need to, although I think that does take away a bit from my appreciation of some scenes, especially the ogre-replacing snow giant thing at the drop. I guess I should see them…

Anyway. The scenes were cute. Still miss the Maelstrom. But I will say this: the arguable showpiece of the ride, Elsa singing “Let It Go” in her ice palace and sending you backward as she hits the chorus, is stunning. I’m still thinking about that one.

I was starting to really feel the lack of sleep, but I wasn’t about to quit yet. I dragged myself over to Soarin’ and did that again, then Test Track, which turned into a bit of an ordeal when the lab doors didn’t open and the CMs didn’t notice until it was pointed out to them. Not that it matters, because I zombie-built an extremely substandard fake car and then zombie-rode the ride in a weird dissociative haze made extra trippy because, well, Tron Track.

Then I rode Spaceship Earth and almost dozed off three separate times, at which point I had to begrudgingly admit that, despite the remaining hour of after party, it was time to call it. I didn’t like it, mind you, but there was a very real chance I might collapse on a poor Norwegian if I attempted another Frozen ride and I can’t afford to get banned from the park; I have an AP now!

Sad but secure in the knowledge that I was doing the right albeit annoying thing, I boarded a midnight bus, headed home, and went to sleep.

Next up: one more day in the place where dreams come true.

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2016

Trip report time! I’ll be covering my November 2016 trip. You can read all posts in the trip report here. Onward!

Despite my near panic attack the night before, I woke up exactly with my phone wake-up call. But: NEW PANIC ATTACK. Due to the time change, my bedside clock read 4am, the exact time the buses to the start STOP RUNNING. Okay, no worries – the clock needed changing. I could deal with that. What I could NOT deal with was the fact that my phone said 4am too.

Naturally I freaked out, because as a rule I have found phones to take care of themselves where time changes are concerned. Perilously close to a true tailspin of fear, I did the only thing I could do to quiet my mind: call the front desk. I asked the CM who answered for the time, he was like: Uh, it’s 3:09? I turned my phone off and on and lo and behold, it said 3:09am too. And just like that, the day was saved.

Now decidedly less shaky, I was able to prep for the race with a light heart. I hit the bus line just after 3:30am and arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports just before 4.

There wasn’t a ton to do – I made my obligatory bathroom break and then milled around a little. I took up an early position outside of corral D and filed in as soon as I was permitted to take a prime seat at the front. I passed the time by watching some sort of television spot being recorded in corral C.

It was just after 5am when I had a terrible feeling: I needed to pee again. CURSES. I briefly considered just holding it until the end of the race before rejecting this obviously stupid idea in favor of the pragmatic but annoying reality that I needed to give up my front-of-corral position and hit a port-a-potty. The corrals were right next to the start area for this race, so the only option was to go back from whence I came.

Naturally at this late hour it took foreeeeever to power through a bathroom line. Corral A was being sent off as I finished, and as I power-walked back to the corral area I stripped my top layer and affixed my earphones so as to shave off as much prep time as possible. I assumed by that point my corral must’ve moved up, but as I requested entry from a volunteer he told me I was ahead of my group. Rather than send me back, however, this beautiful man let me wait around a minute for corral D to move forward one spot before letting me in. Good sir, I salute you.

Two corrals later and we were off! Being only one week removed from running a full marathon, I wasn’t sure how the race would go, really. Upon starting I found my legs were not what I would call fresh, but they were willing. I plodded along at a steady pace that was nonetheless faster on average than my MCM pace. >.<

Nothing remarkable marked the first few miles of this race. Entering Animal Kingdom and subsequently running through it is of course a major highlight. They had the Tree of Life Awakenings lights going but no animals out that I saw.

Most of the lines for characters were pretty long, but I of course HAD to stop for the Festival of the Lion King stiltwalkers. They were very gracious about my crazed yelling over how much I love their show.

By that point I was out of DAK and running along a rather unremarkable road; this verisimilitude was broken only briefly by a photo op with Meeko, who I haven’t seen much in the parks so I figured what the hell. Then more roads, during which it finally dawned on me: oh, right, the Studios isn’t part of the course during construction. That’s why you’re not there yet!

Now for the high point of my race! I was running toward a turn when I saw a Launchpad McQuack character stop. Should I get a picture? I mused. Pat’s a Ducktales fan, but there’s a line, so…



I have been trying to get a photo with Darkwing Duck for so long. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

Riding my Darkwing high, I stopped for a quick picture with Lilo and Stitch.

Then I took off down the road. And guys, I mean took off. The minor fatigue of earlier somehow faded away. Check these split times:

Clearly I meandered through the first half and more before BEASTING the last few miles. My GPS watch clocked mile 13 at 8:54, which is insane for me under the best of circumstances let alone in the final mile of a half I did not taper properly for. And I DON’T KNOW WHY. The magic of Disney? General delirium? One question remains: WHERE WAS THIS DURING THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON, BODY??????

Anyway, I blasted through the final mile or so before sprinting under the finish with a time of 2:15:22, anywhere from 5 to 10 to even 15 minutes faster than I would’ve expected in a post-marathon context. And that’s with a full four character stops, probably costing me a solid three minutes at least. Hell, during my first W&D Half, I had an extra week of recovery time and came in about five minutes slower. I was pretty thrilled.


Next up: day two in the parks. Let’s get exhausted!

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

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: 11/05

Trip report time! I’ll be covering my November 2016 trip. Onward!

Hello and welcome to Jenn’s TREAT YOURSELF 2016!

Close enough.

Let us begin.

As is tradition, I slept terribly the night before my flight, but I nonetheless bounced out of bed at 4:45am because such is the power of Walt Disney World. My dad dropped me off at the airport and I slid through security with plenty of time to spare.

Travel tip: always start your trip with a fruit/veggie combo smoothie at Jamba Juice (or wherever) with a zinc shot mixed in. That way no matter what you eat during vacation you’re starting off with a strong nutritional base and fortification against airport colds.

Between snagging a seat near the front of the plane and landing 40 minutes early, I was on the Magical Express bus sooner than I ever could’ve hoped. Pop Century was even the first stop, which is miraculous. Of course, that meant my room wasn’t ready, but no matter, as here comes travel tip number two: Pop has a handicap stall all the way at the back with its own mirror and sink, perfect for changing and applying makeup as needed. Just be smart about using a handicap stall – you don’t want to monopolize it too long in case someone who legit needs it comes along.

Once changed, an expo bus was waiting for me, and I arrived at the expo a little after 10am. My first order of business, however, was not to pick up my bib. Rather, I stopped in at the little ticket kiosk in the center of the Wide World of Sports Plaza to, y’know, do the thing. Readers, an annual pass is expensive and frivolous. But it was Treat Yourself 2016, so…

There was no line, and a very nice CM who was also originally from Maryland shepherded me through the process, although he couldn’t get my AP connected to My Disney Experience for some weird reason. He instructed me to do it in the MDE app myself; I had been burned before, but I resolved to deal with the problem on the bus later.

Then it was actually time to grab my bib, which I accomplished pretty quickly. I headed over to the expo center to get my shirt and poke around, and found it to be 1,000% less crowded than I have ever experienced before. I guess most people were there for the Lumiere’s Challenge and were still recovering from the 10K in their rooms? If they intended to return at all. Whatever the reason, the crowd was refreshingly manageable.

My first expo stop was the official race merchandise area. There was some cute stuff but as always the prices are a little ridiculous. Usually I manage to walk away empty handed from these things, but not this time: I wound up buying a lightweight longsleeved shirt with a stylized illustration of Remy running running in front of Spaceship Earth (I’ll post in a pic in a haul post later). With my new 20% AP discount and the $15 gift certificate that came with race registration, the price was downright reasonable. Treat Yourself 2016!

I did a quick loop around the expo but didn’t run into any overly compelling discounts; I pondered a few things but having just dropped money on my Remy shirt I was able to walk away without difficulty. I did randomly receive a kiwi from one booth, I want to say a grocery store or something? Anyway, that was new.

That was enough expo for me, so I grabbed a Powerade on the way out and picked up a bus to Yacht/Beach/Boardwalk. I used the bus time to hook up my AP (it actually worked! Although I did have to restart the app to get it to register correctly), then played with APs. There wasn’t a ton available at Epcot, but after some persistent refreshing I was able to snap up someone’s just-abandoned Soarin’ FastPass. All the WDW sites tell you to be persistent about FPs and they are right.

I disembarked at the Boardwalk and walked around to the International Gateway. I was extremely glad I had already grabbed my ticket at WWoS, because the IG ticket booth was swamped. I skipped merrily past the line and, well, into the bag check line. But hey, one line down!

And then… EPCOT. Hello, my dear old friend. Hello, Food & Wine Festival. And hello, the apparently entire population of Florida. It was only 11:30am, but it was also Saturday, so the lines were looking pretty long. It was a bit early for champagne for many, though, I guess, as that line was short. Luckily I was taught by Douglas Adams that time is an illusion (lunchtime doubly so), and I grabbed a glass of the cheapest bubbly liquid available and sauntered over to Test Track for some single rider action. Does anyone else kind of miss the old version?

After my ride I headed back to the World Showcase for lunch. Yes, the lines were long, but they moved fairly efficiently. And I’ll say this: when the lines are lengthy, the food turns over at a faster pace and what you get is fresh. Such was the case with my first selection, the Peking duck in a steamed bun from the China kiosk. Last year I felt the steamed bun was kind of stale, but this year it was soft and fluffy and perfect.

I followed my duck as follows: spicy tuna hand roll from Japan (basically just a sushi roll but there’s something so satisfying about biting into the uncut version [that’s what she said]), pao de quiejo from Brazil (once again not as good as I remember), smoked salmon on a potato pancake from Scotland (anything with lox on it is good), and the Ghirardelli raspberry torte from the Chocolate Studio (fancy and delicious but kind of one-note).

Did I say the lines were long before? Well, matters were only getting worse as time went on. I was sated for the moment, so I retreated from the World Showcase and wandered over to the calm and quiet of the festival center. My primary goals here were to use the bathroom (check!) and examine the Figment merch. I was mostly interested in the oven mitt but it seemed to be sold out. 🙁

For my next act, I did something I haven’t done in years: Ellen’s Universe of Energy. Strong rumors suggest that this ride is on its way out, and I can’t really argue with that – it’s old and frankly kind of boring in places. But it’s also kind of funny in place and features BILL BILL BILL BILL BILL so I rather like it. I’ll be sorry to see it go, unless it’s replaced with a dedicated Bill Nye ride – can we do that?

The forty minute respite from walking was lovely, as was having room to stretch out in the ride car (as per usual, the ride was maybe 35% full). I swung through Club Cool for a beverage before walking all the way back to American Adventure for the Voices of Liberty and AA show. Golden dreams!

I had planned to hop into the the Chase lounge following the show, but the line was a solid 100 people deep and I didn’t see it moving it all. So much for Freestyle Coke machines, but nothing another stop at Club Cool couldn’t ease.

Indeed, lines all around the World Showcase were insane, driving me back to Future World and into the loving embrace of Spaceship Earth. I could smell Rome burning in the queue; is that normal, or is it Pavlovian conditioning?

Somewhere in there I had picked up a Living with the Land FP, and I killed the time before it in MouseGears scoping out ear hats for Pat’s niece. I shot him a text about color selection and busied myself trying on various Minnie ear headbands. There were so many cute options but I ultimately talked myself out of this obviously unnecessary purchase.

Then it was over to The Land, which boasted an Actual Line, further proof the FP isn’t always a positive thing overall. Mind you, I had a FP, allowing me to callously breeze past the peasants directly into a boat. Row all to myself because single riders live large. Gators are still covered by tarp, by the way.

Shortly after it was time for my very first spin on the new Soarin’ Around the World. New third screen notwithstanding, lines were well over an hour, and even with FP it took about 15 minutes of waiting before I was settling into my glider. By a stroke of luck I was in the top row toward the middle, and I enjoyed a dangling-foot-free ride.

SPOILER ALERT! My thoughts on the overhaul: beautiful. I loved it. The vistas were breathtaking and the new smells of grass and ocean were a lovely surprise. My only real complaint is in the transitions, which could be noticeably artificial. I find it hard to believe, for example, that an elephant happened to helpfully throw a camera-obscuring amount of sand in the air. By the time I got to the monument valley scene I saw the hawk out of the corner of my eye and immediately thought, they’re so going to throw him at me. SURE ENOUGH.

By that point it was pushing into early evening. I did one more check of MDE and found no FastPasses worth having – it was time to head back to my room. But first: back to MouseGears for that hat.

Pat had responded with a vote for the pink Minnie eat hat for his niece, so I grabbed that and a form for the name embroidery, selecting black thread in the standard cursive-y font. While I was there, I couldn’t help donning the black sequined Minnie ear headband one more time. It was, as it had been a few hours ago, a completely unnecessary purchase. But… TREAT YOURSELF 2016!

Did I want to wear them out of the store? Um, yes. Yes I did. The very nice CM kindly clipped the tags for me, and then another very nice CM delivered my newly embroidered gift ears, and then I left Epcot in sequined Minnie ears, secure in the knowledge that I was now the WDW equivalent of a basic bitch. And it felt FABULOUS.

There was a bus waiting for me at the Pop stop, and upon arrival in my room my checked bag was sitting on my bed. First up was laying out my race stuff in case I needed to panic and try to find a replacement for something missing, but happily everything was in order.

On to food. I pondered walking over to Art of Animation for their food court’s make your own pasta station, which is what I did for the marathon. But I remembered that as a mad scene and didn’t even want that much food anyway; I decided instead to stick to Everything Pop and their reliable kid’s meal pasta. I picked up two cookies as my sides, one of which would provide pre-race sustenance in the morning alongside a bag of character gummies.

I returned to my room, plunked down my food, turned on the TV, and… nothing. After a bit of fruitless experimentation I called the front desk; the CM who answered apologized and said it’s a frequent problem they have with the cable. She said that it can usually be fixed remotely, but I found myself answering the knock of maintenance about 20 minutes later. She successfully fixed my TV and the day was saved. Sure, I could’ve just pulled up some Netflix on my laptop, but why would I want to do that when I have access to the special WDW channels?

I watched the Breeder’s Cup and then some of Pitch Perfect as I ate, unpacked, showered, and prepped for the morning’s race. This is also where I started to get a bit frantic about waking up on time. I was already sleep deprived and I still haven’t fully gotten over the near-miss of MCM 2015. I set four alarms on my phone, set a wake-up call on the hotel phone, then tried to set a second one but apparently you can’t do that.

This all kept me awake far past when I should have been, but as it turns out it doesn’t matter because you can hear the Sorcery in the Sky fireworks from Pop. Something to keep in mind for the future.

Anyway. I finally fell asleep. This concludes trip report day one. Next up: race time!

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