The Fairest Trip Report Of All: ANOTHER Nomad Lounge Review

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

Q. Oh Jenn, you’ve reviewed the Nomad Lounge in like 87 times. Why don’t you try eating somewhere different in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, like Harambe Market or Yak and Yeti?

A. No.

Q. Okay, well, if you must go to Nomad Lounge AGAIN, why don’t you order a drink you’ve never had before?

A. No. The Hightower Rocks, essentially a watermelon margarita, comes with an enormous wedge of watermelon. It’s a drink and snack. To stray would be to set oneself up for disappointment.

Q. Fine, but couldn’t Erika have tried something different?

A. No. She wanted to drink my drink, and the Jenn’s Tattoo deserves to be shared with the world.

Q. All right, all right. Did you at least try some new food?

A. Yes! Erika got the cheese plate, which offered an assortment of cheeses (included a bleu, brie, and two types of hard cheeses) alongside almond streusel and sweet potato puree. Erika was not a big fan of the bleu cheese but was quick to note that her distaste was more of a personal preference than anything wrong with the cheese itself. She was very into the almond streusel.

I got the Impossible sliders, since I’ve heard so much about these plant-based burger wonders. And they were indeed enjoyable, with a good meaty flavor. They reminded me of a pleasantly prepared well done hamburger – I prefer rare, myself, but for what it was I liked it. The slaw on top of the burgers added some crunch but wasn’t overly flavorful.

The sliders were served alongside yucca fries, which I enjoyed. They reminded me of a denser steak fry, with a crisp and nicely seasoned outer casing. I would not have been mad if there had been more on the plate.

Q. Great! Glad you enjoyed yourself. But next time you go to DAK, maybe you could try something new?

A. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………….

How many times have you been to Nomad Lounge? Twelve? Ninety? Eleventy-billion?

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: Everything Pop Food Court Review

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

Soooo I committed a cardinal blogger sin when it comes to this post about Pop Century’s food court offerings: I didn’t take much in the way of photos. I KNOW. Amateur hour.

In my defense, I don’t usual eat at my resort’s food court with much frequency, and I was caught by surprise when we hit up Everything Pop with the frequency that we did. Once I realized I had a post on my hands, it was practically too late.

Lack of pictures aside, I’m going to walk you through some of my Everything Pop food impressions all the same, as I personally find the written descriptions on food posts to be just as important – and often neglected! Here we go:

We picked up breakfast sandwiches on our first day, consisting of eggs, bacon, and cheese on a bagel (which I do not recall being toasted, although the whole thing was warmed). There were scads of these pre-made hanging out at the station, but it was actually pretty decent. Mind you, the scrambled egg was the usual mass-produced stuff and the bacon was, as per Disney standard, limp, but you can’t really go wrong with the salty-fatty-cheese-y combo. It’s not haute cuisine but it does the job fine.

The night before the 10K we picked up my usual pre-race meal of a pasta kids’ meal. Learn more to find out about its magical powers. Erika got a chicken parmigiana and did not seem unhappy with it.

However, the night before the half marathon we’d been to Epcot to sample some of the glorious offerings at the Food & Wine Festival. We didn’t quite want a full meal, but we did want a little something to fortify us before bed, so we chose a slice of cheese pizza to split. It comes with a Caesar side salad normally but we were able to request it on its own.

This pizza is… fine. It is not even Domino’s good, but it is frozen pizza good or maybe a slight step above? The cheese was melted, the marinara was not offensive, and the bread held it all together. Not a sophisticated flavor profile but an acceptable carbohydrate delivery system for pre-race purposes.

For our lazy post-half meal we dragged ourselves down to the food court for lunch. I’m afraid I don’t remember what Erika got but I went with the vegetable sandwich. This was a mistake.

In fairness, the description doesn’t mention much about it beyond the vegetables, cheese, and bread involved. But in my head I was picturing something more panini-like, probably because of the provolone cheese. Sadly, nothing about this monstrosity was hot, including said cheese. It was a massive collection of cold vegetables on bread. And not even fresh veggies either – everything was cooked or dried, and it was all doused in pesto. Together the flavors were entirely too aggressive while being impossible to consume together for an overall flavor profile. Soggy and cold all at once. Disappointed. Disappointed!!!

And so we come to my final purchase of the trip: a whoopie pie. It was an impulse purchase by a sad girl about to leave her heart’s home. How could I not? It’s shaped like Mickey and covered in edible glitter!

Unfortunately this was only okay. The chocolate cake portion was one-note and too thick, obscuring the inner spread of vanilla frosting. The frosting layer wasn’t thin per se, but it wasn’t thick ENOUGH for the cake-to-frosting ratio. Mind you, I wish EVERYTHING had more frosting, or, alternatively, just buy me a can of frosting and give me a spoon. But if I wanted something sweet at Pop I’d get a cupcake or something next time.

Overall I find Everything Pop to be perfectly serviceable but largely uninspired. I think Landscape of Flavors across the lake at Art of Animation has more interesting options, although I haven’t been there in a couple years so who knows.

How do you feel about Everything Pop? Do you have any frosting? Can I have some?

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: 11/05

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

And now for the final day of the trip report. Boo hiss.

We got up early to shower and finish packing before dragging our luggage to the airport check-in desk and heading to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There was a very long line for the DAK bus, but several buses arrived one after the other to get us going quickly. I realized why too late: DAK had Extra Magic Hours this morning. I had totally forgotten to check. Amateur move.

Oh well! I resolved to keep a close eye on available FastPasses, and we kept on with our day. Obviously since we had missed the start of EMH the Flight of Passage line was too long. 🙁 I later thought I had picked up an FP for it but it turned out in my haste I just got a River Journey FP. I swear I remember it being FoP when I booked it but what can ya do.

Anyway, back to the morning at hand: River Journey was only about 25 minutes so we did that instead. I know this ride is much maligned but I rather like it. It could definitely stand to be longer with a more involved story, but I think it does a wonderful job creating a sense of place.

After communing with the strangely atonal Shaman of Song we stopped at Pongu Pongu for breakfast. Erika got a breakfast sandwich that seemed perfectly serviceable. Meanwhile I took the opportunity to check off one of my bucket list food items: the lumpia, a sort of egg roll with pineapple and cream cheese filling.

I understand that this, much like River Journey, is a somewhat controversial item, with those who try it falling into distinct love-it-or-hate-it camps. Well, somehow i still managed to be straight down the middle – I thought it was pretty good with a crisp sugary crust and creamy filling, but it could be improved with some more textural contrast on the inside.

Next I intended to lead Erika to Kilimanjaro Safaris, as I had previously seen in the MDE app that the line was too long. Unfortunately after our breakfast I saw that the wait time had jumped a fair bit during that short time, so I instead steered our little party toward Dinosaur, which had practically no line. In the meantime I picked up a safari FP and all was right with the world. 

I had also previously obtained an Expedition Everest FP, so we headed over to Serka Zong for a trip through the mountains. I always like to visit with my friend the Disco Yeti.

We had some time to kill before our safari FP, so we took a spin through Gorilla Falls, which nabbed us some particularly nifty views of the… mongooses? Mongeese? Those and the gorillas.

Our FP time opened up and we boarded our safari. Our driver was very good; his delivery was friendly but not too squeaky-enthusiastic if you know what I mean. We got to see a couple of teen giraffes having a fight, and a mother hippo and her baby sunning themselves.

Post-safari we popped into Zuri Sweets so Erika could get a chocolate snack, and then Dawa bar for a Ngumu jungle juice for me. This used to be POG juice mixed with rum but they now use peach schapps instead. It was still good but I think I might prefer the rum slightly better.

Refreshments in hand, it was time for my FAVORITE THING: Festival of the Lion King, of course! For some reason part of the standby line was routed through the back door, which put us in the giraffe section, but I asked the Cast Member nicely and she let us walk across to the lion section (I like doing the weem-aways). We got tumble monkey high fives and all was right with the world.

Lunchtime was upon us, so I unceremoniously dragged Erika to my beloved Nomad Lounge. More on that to come!

From there we headed back to Harambe to see the Harambe Village Acrobats, and act I had wandered past before but never stopped to watch. It was good! None of the tricks were mind-blowing but the stacks of humans they created were impressive all the same, and their energy was really good. Erika and I even allowed ourselves to be pulled onto the stage to learn a dance.

We took a bathroom break at my favorite WDW bathrooms by the FotLK theater (CLEAN!), at which point I discovered the Avatar FP I thought I had wasn’t. Blast and damnation. But there wasn’t much to be done about it so late in the day, so we pondered our alternatives.

Here I am pondering my alternatives.

Initially we thought we’d sneak in one more ride on Everest, but as we headed in that direction we happened to walk by the Theater in the Wild just as the Finding Nemo musical was about to start. Great believers in providence, we took in the show instead.

Then it was time to say goodbye to all our company. We boarded a bus to Pop, grabbed some snacks, took one last lap around the gift shop, and hopped on the DME bus to the airport. Plane ride and home. The end.

Thanks for slogging through this trip report with me! I still have a couple more related posts up my sleeve including food reviews, so keep an eye out. See you for the WDW Marathon 2019!

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: 11/04

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

I was able to wander right onto a Pop bus post-half marathon, and I rolled on back to my room and immediately hopped into a much-needed hot shower. (I don’t care what the experts say about ice baths and crud – you can pry my hot shower from my HOT DEAD HANDS.)

By the time I emerged, I figured I might as well stay awake until Erika got back, so I riffled through my snack box and watched the ubiquitous Friends marathon until she appeared. She took her own shower, and then it was nap time!

I woke up about 3 hours later, which is without question the longest nap (of, like, 3 total) I’ve ever taken at WDW, but I’m learning to chill now so I can party later, y’know?

Erika wasn’t far behind me, and we chilled in the room for a bit while a sudden Florida rainstorm came gushing down. After a bit – as is so often the case – it subsided to a drizzle, and we took advantage of the lull to duck over to the Pop food court and snag lunch.

After lunch we killed time for a bit before heading out to the Wine & Dine Half after party. It officially started at 10pm, but the official word was that mix-in began at 8pm. Being a paranoic, I had hustled us over half an hour too early – but I was delighted to discover that cast members had just begun handing out party wristbands at 7:30pm. That’s a 30 minute bonus to us!

I was overcome by a sudden thirst, so we took a quick trip to Club Cool followed immediately by the Light Lab for a cider flight. I didn’t care for the blueberry peppercorn, but then I don’t like blueberries so I saw that coming. The berry one was pretty good – predictably sweet – but the rose cider was my surprise favorite. It was much more dry than the rose ciders I’ve had in the past, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

Erika had gotten a full-size rose cider, and I gave her my rejected blueberry sample. I picked up my two remaining minis, and we double-fisted into the night and over to World Showcase.

First up: a ride on Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride with the Three Caballeros. Erika, a Brazilian native, reinforced something I’ve been thinking for years: what are you doing in Mexico, Jose Carioca? You belong in Brazil! Maybe that long-rumored Brazil pavilion will open and he’ll finally have a proper home?

We took a couple minutes to explore the Dia de Muertos exhibit at the front of the pyramid, which was surprisingly cute. 

Our feet carried us out of Mexico and deeper into World Showcase, where we finally found ourselves in Japan’s Mitsukoshi department store… just as it started to rain. Like, kinda hard. After thoroughly examining the shop’s contents, we took a spin through the Kawaii exhibit and… it was still raining. Boo.

I turned over some options in my head and was just suggesting that we head to Morocco’s indoor exhibits when I witnessed some brilliant people walking up to the second floor of the Mitsukoshi building. IllumiNations was starting in about 15 minutes, and that platform had a protective eave. I dragged Erika up the stairs and we staked out some of the last spots available for the show.

Unfortunately the rain was causing more trouble than driving people indoors: an announcement rang out that IllumiNations was postponed due to weather. My heart sank – this was my last chance to see it before it was replaced. Luckily it went off about 15 minutes later. Whew! 

I’ve since been informed that the show may be delayed as much as 2 hours without getting cancelled, but I wouldn’t want to spend 2 hours holding my spot! The one thing I don’t get is that it was raining at the official start time, and it was still raining when the show started. What changed that it could run after all? Go figure.

The rain showed no sign of stopping, so we decided to be brave little ducks and venture out into the open. The time of Food & Wine Festival snacking was once again upon us.

To begin we stopped at the Japan booth right in front of us for teriyaki buns, which had delicious steamed dough although I found the chicken mixture inside a bit too sweet.

Next up was the Brazil booth. Since Brazil doesn’t have a resident pavilion, the kiosk was staffed by regular cast members. Erika helpfully taught them how to say the names of the foods they were selling in Brazilian Portuguese, and the CMs invited her to stay awhile and coach them.

Alas, she had to decline, as we had delicious pae de quiejo to eat. Erika tells me this awesome cheese bread is usually eaten as a snack. Also she has a bag of them in her freezer, so I’m thinking party at Erika’s house?

The ears-over-hoodie look is very big in Brazil.

We made a stop at France so that Erika could pick up some of the raspberry creme brulee, which she deemed to be very tasty. Then we abandoned World Showcase for Future World and Mouse Gears as I wanted to make some purchases before it closed.

My first order of self-indulgent business was selected a new Minnie ear headband because NO CERTAINLY NOT YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH. I hemmed and hawed between the rainbow and Dia de Muertos versions before deciding on the latter on the principle that it might be discontinued soon.

I also wanted to get some embroidered mouse ears for Pat’s niece, but they’ve moved the embroidery station since I last used the service and I had to search around for it a bit. The cast members at the station were lovely and helped me add the cheapest possible item so I could get to my Disney Visa discount threshold (a reusable tote, since you asked). 

Sadly the weather was starting to get to us. Erika resorted to buying the world’s most expensive poncho in Mouse Gears. My hoodie, increasingly damp, wasn’t keeping me as warm as it had earlier in the evening. Visions of Splash ‘n Dash danced in my head.

So I did this day what I did that day: rode indoor rides to keep off the rain and chill. First Spaceship Earth, then Soarin.’ And that was all lovely, but when we were done it was still raining and we were getting cold. 

I halfheartedly asked Erika if she wanted to go one more round of snacks in World Showcase, but she vetoed in favor of going back to the room. This sounded like a plan to me. Dammit, one of these days I WILL shut down Epcot!

We picked up a bus to Pop pretty quickly and basically went straight to bed, one more day in the most magical place on earth ahead of us.

Next up: the last day. 🙁

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 Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

And now for my very favorite runDisney half marathon!

Despite my standard issue paranoia and compounding exhaustion, I woke right up with my alarm for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Once again my phone tried to fake me out by not reflecting the time change, but this time I knew to simply restart it and there it was: 2:15am. Perfect.

I taped up and dressed before rousing Erika, and once she was ready we headed out to the bus line and hopped on the second one out. We were deposited in the same Magic Kingdom bus stop as yesterday’s 10K, which was a little weird for me as I was still sort of expecting the start at the ESPN Wide World of Sports as per years past. My brain is all sorts of nostalgic.

We were let into the corral area around 4:15am, and after a quick porta potty stop we went our separate ways – Erika off to corral G and me to corral C. The DJ started up shortly after and went through just about the exact same routine as pre-10K, with dancing and singing. His observations are absolutely correct: the back corrals are way more into it than the front corrals. Most of us in C just kinda sat there. 

In my defense I was pretty tired – mostly I was just looking forward to taking a shower after. Also my knee was worrying me. I had it good and KT-Taped up, but what if it failed and I had to hobble the whole way? ANXIETY.

So my morale was not as high as it should be for a runDisney race. But that was okay. In my heart I knew the Disney magic would turn it around. Or if nothing else I was definitely going to get that hot shower.

The first few corrals took off without any of the internal mini-waves, bringing C up to the front with a quickness. The usual fanfare and fireworks, and we were off!

Initially my knee felt… okay. I was undoubtedly aware of it, maybe even fielding some complaints, but nothing so bad that it required I slow down or change my gait. I kept it slow and easy with the hope that a gentle pace would maintain the status quo.

The first character stop was about a mile in, the green, yellow, and purple lights indicating the Mardi Gras theme of The Princess & The Frog. I’ve only seen this movie once, but I know Louis the gator when I see him and I thought frequent knee resting would be a good idea, so I jumped in the photo line.

When I started up again 2-3 minutes later… MY KNEE DIDN’T HURT! At all! Oh Disney, what miracles thou hath wrought!!! I ran on with newly cheerful vigor.

Sooner than I expected we were entering the Animal Kingdom, although from the side instead of the main entrance I remembered from years past. I guess this was to accommodate running through Pandora, which was… fine. I dunno, guys. I just can’t get into it. Like, it’s a weird forest that glows a little? Some of the rocks float?

So I didn’t get a ton out of running through that area. But I was very pleased to see the Awakenings show playing on the Tree of Life!

I was sad to see that the course nixed running past Everest, cutting us off just short as we were siphoned into Dinoland. It was there I stopped for a photo op with Chip and Dale. Normally I begrudge them their mean treatment of Pluto, but their dinosaur costumes were just too cute to pass up. I even made a friend in line!

Sadly it was time to run out of DAK and back onto the roads. This is the least exciting part of the race, but at least my knee was still feeling good and runDisney was keeping the entertainment coming. (But not the Festival of the Lion King stiltwalkers – how am I supposed to consider a runDisney race complete without a photo with them???)

I saw the surfboards of Lilo & Stitch rising out of the ground for a photo stop and resolved to skip it; I had gotten them in previous races. But when I saw it was Elvis Stitch, obviously I had get in line!

A couple miles later and we were running into the Hollywood Studios, which pleased me as the last time I ran the race construction forced us to bypass that park entirely. As I ran down Sunset Boulevard I was astonished to see Edna Mode had no line to speak of, so I stopped for a weird-arm-pose photo (I’m gonna have to redo this one given a chance).

Edna Mode (and guest)

Next we rolled on out of DHS and onto the labyrinthine path toward the Boardwalk,which was surrounded by construction walls. They were livened up with some joke signs, but I can’t remember any of them now so they can’t have been that good.

As per usual the spectators began showing up in force on the Boardwalk path proper, and the increasing roar of cheering pushed us all into Epcot. The delightful “Les Poissons” from The Little Mermaid was playing as I took my first steps toward France, which felt magnificently apropos. I stopped for a quick photo with Marie and sped off just in time to sing “Hee hee hee! HOH HOH HOH!!!!” with my man Rene Auburjonois, as is right and proper.

Every truly cultured music student knows

I was feelin’ the runner’s high right on time (World Showcase = dopamine for me for some reason), and I sped through the countries waving to all the WS cast members as they roared their approval. And I had to stop for a photo with the powerful, the pleasurable, the indestructible Mushu.

Pretty eyes, huh?

And that was pretty much game! I went whooshing out of WS, into Future World, past Spaceship Earth, around the penultimate marching band at mile 13, and then bam: finish line. Unofficial time of 2:18:11, which isn’t bad for one week post-marathon and one day post-10K with a bum knee and 8 photo stops. Negative splits FTW!

I collected my medals (half and Two Course Challenge), grabbed some drinks and a snack box… and kinda looked around. Does anyone else kinda of have a, I don’t know, lost feeling right after finishing a race? What am I supposed to do with myself now???

Luckily autopilot took over. I headed over to the merch tent on the extreme off chance that one hoodie I like suddenly showed up in small (it didn’t) and get a bag for all my snacks and crud. And then on a whim I took a picture with Lumiere, whose line was about 12,000 people shorter than it had been that morning.

And that was pretty much that. I boarded a bus back to Pop, sulking over the lack of Oreos in the snack box, but at least certain that that shower was finally in my sights.

TL;DR: I LOVE RUNDISNEY!!!! Is it marathon time yet???

Next up: A very long nap and the race after-party!

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: 11/03

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

After the 10K, Erika and I headed back to the room to shower and eat some of our snack boxes. My initial plan was to head right out to Epcot as soon as we were ready, but it was chilly outside and I was kind of exhausted so we elected to take a nap instead.

About 90 minutes later we dragged ourselves out of bed, dressed. and snagged a bus to Epcot. We got the bus pretty quickly – but getting to Epcot was another story. I don’t know what the deal was, but it took us an hour to get there from Pop. As far as I could tell it was a simple matter of tons of people all trying to get into Epcot at once, which I guess is plausible given it was a Saturday during Food & Wine Festival, but still. Yikes.

At least I was able to use the time riffling through FastPass availability, and by the time we arrived at the park we had Spaceship Earth and Soarin’ FPs waiting for us.

We went straight to Spaceship Earth to start, and thanked the Phoenicians accordingly. I hear that SE is set to go down for a serious refurb soon, and I can’t say it upsets me – the descent animations, while fun enough, have outstayed their welcome.

From there we headed over to World Showcase, which was, unsurprisingly, insanely packed. But when your schedule demands you go on a Saturday and suck it up, y’know?

We started in China, where we both picked up delicious duck bao buns. I also grabbed a jasmine beer, which I wound up liking enormously. It was kind of like someone mixed a Natty Boh with a bit of jasmine tea. I was unexpectedly into it.

Erika almost bought a bubble tea at the festival kiosk, but upon expressing disappointment with the proffered flavor I rerouted her to the Joy of Tea stand where she liked the offering better. And that’s why you should always travel with a Disney professional, folks.

Post-bao buns we kept on walking along and poking around kiosk menu, but the lines were so long we skipped just about everything. Japan was curiously abandoned, though, so we hopped in line just as the taiko drummers were starting. I picked up the log o’ sushi aka an uncut spicy tuna roll. It was pretty good but I’m not a huge fan of mayo-based sauces with sushi; too creamy. Soy sauce all the way!

Next we carefully perused the France kiosk as Erika is fond of their cuisine. When she mentioned being particularly into the pastries, I turned our tails and marched her into Les Halles where she wound up selecting two very photogenic little numbers.

By that point our Soarin’ FP time had opened up, so we headed over to the Land for a quick spin with Patrick Warburton (also I bounced through Club Cool because I need at least one sparberry fix per trip). 

After that I managed to fit in something I’ve been meaning to do for forever: the Disney Visa character photo spot in the Imagination pavilion. There was a bit of a line but nothing nearly as bad as you would encounter in a regular photo op. One 10-15 minute wait later and we were greeted by Pluto and Minnie, the latter of whom mimed great excitement over our medals. She knocks out a mean running man, let me tell you.

While waiting I had picked up a Living with the Land FP, so we took a leisurely trip through the greenhouses before heading over to the Festival Center to hit up the mimosa bar. We both ordered tropical mimosas, although officially Erika did not receive one because she forgot to bring her ID. I 100% drank both and definitely didn’t hand her one and call it done. Believe it!


We wandered through the Festival Center as we sipped, taking in the bustle of the vendors and demos. The merchandise area was interesting, especially vis a vis Figment, but despite my love for him there wasn’t anything I could really justify buying. Once you have Figment ears, what more do you need? (A Dress Shop dress, maybe? Ooh…)

I ran through FP availability again but nothing looked particularly good, so we rolled through Test Track single rider. It took us about 30 minutes but considering the regular wait was over an hour it wasn’t that bad. I auto-generated a car before getting on the ride but it was a total loser across the board. Boo. (For those who don’t know, if you haven’t designed a car you can touch your Magic Band to the podium anyway and the system will quickly mash together a random car for you.)

Ever the power user, I had miraculously snagged a Frozen Ever After FP for a mere 1.5 hours away while waiting in the Test Track queue, so we gloated our way back to World Showcase. 

Our first act was to hit up the American Adventure, where we just missed the Voices of Liberty but did have a chance to check out the nifty new Native American gallery exhibit. Then we took in the show, where I was pleased to entertain Erika with my dramatic hand gestures during “Golden Dreams.” If only we’d sat in the back row I could’ve indulged in some over-the-head action.

We trotted on back to Norway for Frozen FP and some front row action. I must admit I quite like this cute little ditty even if I do miss the Maelstrom. World’s most underwhelming on-ride photo, though.

It was getting on in the evening, at least as far as Two Course Challengers were concerned, but we weren’t quite done yet. Since it was so close, we decided to walk over to China’s Temple of Heaven. We poked around the Shanghai Disneyland exhibit before taking in the China movie. It’s a pleasant little film – I’m glad I watched it one more time before the replacement shows up.

Erika still had some bounce in her step, so I led her over to the Food & Wine Festival corridor area in Future World. We snagged some of the bacon mac and cheese, which was quite good, although different form how I remember. This version was served in a neat scoop, and by consequently felt more densely packed and less cheesy. But there were definitely some good flavors there.

We also both picked up a cheese trio, which was kinda weird. The cheese and strawberry macaron was kinda of bizarre, with the sweet strawberry contrasting oddly with the herbaceous cheese. The cream puff has a similar flavor profile, if not quite as pronounced on the sweet end. But the smoked salmon one in the middle was straight up savory, and I enjoyed it very much.

On our way out we popped into Mouse Gears so I could potentially grab some souvenirs, but it was so crowded I immediately got overwhelmed and made a hasty exit. There would be time for purchases tomorrow.

We quickly caught a bus back to Pop, swinging through the food court for a few more provisions before settling in our room to prep for the morning’s half marathon. Pitch Perfect sang us to sleep. Okay, it sang Erika to sleep. I tossed and turned like a paranoid lunatic as per usual. The important thing to remember is that I’m consistent.

Next up: The Wine & Dine Half Marathon!

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 Wine & Dine 10K

Trip report time! See all the posts in this report.

I slept with my usual fitfulness the night before the 10K, and even woke up about 15 minutes before the alarm. I popped up early and busied myself prepping before intercepting the piercingly load wakeup call. Once I was ready, I woke Erika, and when she was set to roll we headed for the bus.

We were early, but it was just as well: before the first bus even began to load there was a line stretching far behind us. We managed to make it onto bus #1 and were soon bound for the start line.

The bus dropped us off in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, and as none of the pre-race festivities interested us overmuch we went straight for the queue to enter the corrals. The organizers let us in about an hour before start time, and after a quick bathroom break we entered corral F.

Yes, corral F: because she had no proof of time Erika was placed in the last corral, and as a good and stalwart friend I elected to drop back from A and run with her. I’m not going to say this was a mistake, but… well, you’ll see.

A DJ kept the crowd going with some dancing and singalongs before the usual suspects (Rudy, Carissa, etc.) took the stage for some largely time-filling babble. Then the race began!

And began… and began… and began. Boy, you guys in the back corrals have the patience of freakin’ saints. I never really noticed the new in-corral mini-wave system from my usual position in corral C, but it really fakes you out toward the back. It felt like forever before F finally toed the line.

Then the fireworks tolled for us and we were off! … Well, I say “off.” It was more of a crawl. Corral F was, frankly, a mess – there were walls of walkers, and anyone trying to run was dodging in and out in an effort to get around said walls. It wasn’t so bad when the course opened up on the wider roads, but any time things narrowed it was a veritable nightmare. At times Erika and I were practically jogging in place.

And another thing about being in the back corral – because the people are so packed together, the character lines are much longer. We never even bothered to stop for anybody; nobody was tempting enough for the kind of time suck the line would inflict.

To be clear, I’m not trying to hate on the people in corral F! Everybody, no matter their speed, has the right to take a shot at runDisney’s races. But I still don’t think Disney’s quite mastered how to organize those people. Not everyone in F wants to walk, and not everyone who walks does so at the same speed. I think further differentiation would be very helpful to prevent the current insane bottlenecks.

Anyway, the first couple miles on the roads didn’t consist of much beyond us alternating between being boxed in and running away from being boxed in. Once we entered Epcot, the course opened up a bit, and naturally the scenery became 1000% more interesting.

We managed to run pretty much the whole way around World Showcase to the finish, stopping only for a quick photo in front of Spaceship Earth.

After that it was medals, snack boxes, and onto the bus back to Pop.

And that was the end of the 10K! Despite having to severely curtail her training due to medical necessity, Erika did a great job, and I suppose in a way being forced to slow down forced us to save our energy for the next day’s half.

But dear Lord, you back corral people have a tough row to metaphorically hoe. I salute your tenacity, but Disney needs to keep tweaking their systems for realsies. Justice for the last corral!

Next up: off to Epcot!

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: 11/02

Hello and welcome to my 2018 Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend trip report! It begins, as just about all my trip reports do, with me getting practically no sleep the night before. I met up with my trip buddy Erika, and my dad drove us to the airport. No problems, easy flight. As Mary Poppins says, well begun is half done.

Our plane landed a bit early, and we marched right on down to the Magical Express stop, which whisked us off to Pop Century. In an unprecedented turn of events, I received a text that our room was ready before we even arrived at the resort. It wasn’t even 9:30am. World record!

After a quick stop at the food court for breakfast, we popped into our room to drop our stuff and change. This was my first time in a Pop room since renovations, and I must say, I was pretty into it. The overall vibe was much nicer, with such perks as sliding wooden doors, an adorable murphy bed, a lit makeup mirror, and a coffee maker (but no coffee – I guess you have to bring that yourself).

I did find later, however, that the walls are thin as all hell; you can hear every exclamation and toilet flush from your neighbors. I suppose nothing’s perfect.

From there we headed out to the race expo. Bib pickup and official race merchandise lived in the new stadium building, and everything proceeded smoothly. Erika and I were both registered for the Two Course Challenge (10K + half for the uninitiated), so we had our photos taken so they could ID us for our challenge meddles after the half.

We poked through the merch, of course – and, also of course, the only thing I liked was sold out in my size. :/ Erika picked up a pretty cute race jacket, though. I would’ve been tempted by it too but I thought it was too similar to the jacket I got for last year’s WDW Marathon.

Next it was off to the expo hall for shirt pickup and vendors. We took a spin or two around the hall before snagging a direct bus to Disney Springs.

Our first stop was the newly redesigned World of Disney, and boy is it different. As far as I can tell they knocked down just about all the internal walls, which makes the place much easier to navigate. I wandered around coveting Minnie ears before finally deciding to indulge myself in the Minnie bow sunglasses I’ve been eyeing up for like three trips now. This is like my third pair of aviators but the bow is SO CUTE! 😀 (See above.)

We exited WoD near Basin, so that naturally became our next stop. They have a discount for runners, but I ultimately decided to hold off on making any purchases until my 2019 marathon trip. I only just started using my Basin shampoo bars and I want to make sure I love them in the long term before I buy again, ya feel me?

I next led Erika into the Marketplace Co-Op and straight back into that Holy Grail of Disney girliness: The Dress Shop. I want every single dress there; if only they didn’t cost a million dollars apiece. I wandered around running my hands along skirts covetously but talked myself out of making any purchases just yet. Erika did buy herself and her daughter matching Snow White dresses, which are freakin’ adorable.

We poked around the rest of the Marketplace stands before setting off in search of food. AristoCrepes was our destination… and it was closed. Curses! Instead we drowned our sorrows in some sodas and a split Earl of Sandwich concoction, but it wasn’t the same.

Erika had neglected to pack a swimsuit, so we wandered through Uniqlo and Zara in the hopes of locating something cheap. Unfortunately both stores seemed to be laboring under the misapprehension that winter is coming, Florida included. It was fall collections as far as the eye can see. Useless!

This brought our Disney Springs adventure to a close. We hopped on a bus back to Pop and went back to the room to lay out our race stuff for the morning. Erika snuck in a nap while I puttered around and formulated the morning’s plan.

As is Florida’s way, a hardcore rainstorm came through, but it eventually slowed to enough of a drizzle that we could safely head to the food court for dinner. We grabbed some carbo-loading pasta and then chilled in the room until it was time for bed.

And then I lay awake for who knows how long freaking out about waking up on time for the morning’s race. The more things change and all that.

Well? Did I wake up in time? Find out in the next installment!

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!