I Conquered Everest! (The race, not the mountain)

As you may have heard, we went to Disney World a couple of weeks ago and IT WAS AWESOME! We have been dying to go to Disney since having Luna, and we found the perfect excuse to plan a trip: a race. Several months ago, we signed up for the Expedition Everest Challenge. So, not only did we get to spend 4 magical days at our home away from home, but we also got to experience a magical run and after party. I think Disney runs might be my new obsession!

run disney

The Expedition Everest Challenge is a 5k through Animal Kingdom at night with obstacles and a scavenger hunt! I’ve got your interest, right? It was an extra special race because it was the 8th and final challenge. Why? I’m not sure, but I believe it has something to do with the Animal Kingdom expansion… Anyways, to prepare for the run we picked out Winnie the Pooh themed costumes. I was Pooh, Bella was Piglet and Husband was Christopher Robin. (BTW, I don’t know if Husband will ever allow me to dress him in costume for a race again… apparently Christopher Robin isn’t super cool. Whatevs. It could’ve been worse, my original plan was the three kittens from Aristocats.) We also prepared by doing Insanity Max 30 and running almost never. It’s so hard to stick to a running schedule, am I right?!

kittens
You’ve got to admit, it’s a cute idea!
Here's what we went with instead...
Here’s what we went with instead…

our group

Even without running we totally kicked butt! We ran our fastest 5k ever at 22 minutes and 51 seconds! Husband placed 15th out of individual men, Bella placed 7th and I placed 8th out of individual women. I am super proud of us, and impressed with Insanity Max 30 for keeping us in good shape. It was very intimidating to start the race in the first heat. We were surround by individuals and teams who have placed or won the challenge in previous years. Some had run every single year. We were shaking in our tutu’s, but we managed to keep up with the pack and it was a blast!

Before the race began
Before the race began

We ran through the parking lot, through the park, through three (albeit mediocre) obstacles and across the finish line. At the finish line we were handed the usual bottle of water, a cool towel and a clue! That’s right, the challenge was only halfway over. We were to solve the first clue, run to the second, give the correct answer, receive the second clue and so forth. It was not easy to keep running, but we pushed through it and took a few breaks to solve some serious clues. There were a total of 6 clues and at the second finish line we had to hold up the “hidden Yeti” with our 6 solved clues in order to cross and receive our medals. It was exhilarating and so much fun!

We did it!
We did it!

Then, the after party. We celebrated at the post-race private after party in the park. The Dinoland and Asia sections were open for us to enjoy. There were characters, open food and drink stands and rides! Yay, for rides with no lines! We rode Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids. It may have been a mistake to get soaking wet on the rapids considering it was chilly out and night time, but it was still worth it to be in Animal Kingdom at night during our own private party.

We conquered Everest!
We conquered Everest!

We didn’t get back until almost 2am. (Wild night for us lame parents.) After spending the entire day at Magic Kingdom and running all night we were EXHAUSTED! It was definitely a night to remember. In fact, it was such a good time that we are already planning our next Disney Run: The Disney Princess Half Marathon!!! (And, by “we” I mean me and Bella. Husband is thrilled to be the babysitter.) Who’s with me???

There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.
There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.

Also, who has advice? I am SO not prepared. Good thing I’ve got 9 months to whip myself into running shape!

Cheers!

Food and….Food? Festival

food and wine

Disney is known for catering towards families and children (just read yesterday’s post), but there is one celebration that is strictly for adults (or children that are 21 and older); the food and wine festival. If it’s a little odd to see Magic Kingdom under a spooky lights, than it’s surreal to see Disney turned into a bar hop. Surreal and delicious. This is my third food and wine festival to attend, and I plan to attend many more!

EPCOT

Besides the fact that I could not drink (thanks a lot baby), this may have been the best year yet. The weather was perfect, 80 degrees and a little breezy. The lines were not too long and I now eat fish, which opens up a whole new world of foods to taste. Since we were saving so much money on alcohol, we got more food than should be legal. I took pictures of almost everything we tried, so enjoy.

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I just had to take a break to eat something because editing those photos made me SO hungry.

The festival had 30 different countries and a free passport to stamp and check off purchases in each country. There are also tons of wine tasting classes and cooking classes you can pay a little extra to attend. We stood behind one of the wine tasting classes for a minute and heard things like “if you smell closely you can get a hint of pepper, mint, bay leaves and raspberries” and “sip and taste the poblano peppers, cherries, cilantro and a hint of cinnamon”. I wanted desperately to ask for a show of hands of who actually tasted these subtle flavors.

checkout china menu passport wine class

There are also free concerts all evening at the American Gardens Theatre. Wilson Phillips was the big act the night we were there.

wilson phillips

There is a Chase Lounge at the festival for Chase bank members that offers free sodas, juices, coffees, teas, Disney movies, air conditioner and unlimited phone chargers. Thank God I have a Chase account. It is heavenly to be able to step away from the crowds at the festival and relax with some free goodies for a bit. The lounge was located on the third floor of the American pavilion this year, which happened to be the location of our cocktail hour for our wedding. We never actually got to attend our cocktail hour so it was fun to be able to sit and hangout out where our guests enjoyed some cocktails before our reception.

chase lounge

Speaking of our wedding, we couldn’t help but walk through the American pavilion and talk about how we had our first dance right in the middle where the colonial singers were currently performing classic American songs. Then we skipped over to Italy and I forced Husband to take a picture on the bridge where we stood and watched the fireworks after our ceremony. You better believe I’ll force him to retake the same picture in the next year or so with our little girl.

us on bridge

Between stuffing our faces and Husband getting a little tipsy, we had some fun outside of the festival. We rode the rides, took photos with characters and showed off my new favorite tank top! Husband got to ride the new and improved Test Track (it’s not safe for pregnant people). Sleeping Beauty suggested I name our daughter Aurora, and everyone wanted to know where I got my Disney maternity top.

test track sleeping beauty Minnie baby take shirt

For those of you who may be wondering, I ordered from Etsy at a shop called BabyTalk Designs.

Did I mention how nice of a day it was?

sunset france at sunset

The only downside is that we had to leave before Illuminations…I just don’t have the energy I had last year! Oh well, it’s nice to not feel rushed on vacation.

Cheers!

Mickey’s Halloween Party

Clearly, Husband and I are a little nutty and have been to Disney World more times than most people would ever want to go anywhere. We just can’t get enough. However, as many times as we have been, we have never attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. So, when Husband decided we were going to Florida to celebrate his Birthday I made sure that the party was part of our plans.

halloween party the castle

During the Halloween party (and during all the Disney parties held at Magic Kingdom) the park closes early for the guest who did not purchase a special party ticket and opens (or stays open) for the guests attending the party. We were there from 7pm to midnight. About the time we arrived the sun went down and the park transformed into a not-too-spooky land fun of characters like Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas and incredible party decorations.

memories mickey wreath

99% of the people in attendance are dressed in costume, like incredible costumes. Most families dressed in theme… We saw Peter Pan with Tinkerbell, Wendy and Captian Hook. There was Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and Rex. One family had Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. The best part of the night may have been just people watching. Everyone was so darn adorable! We, on the other hand did not dress up… I know what you’re thinking, we are so the kind of people who typically go all out in these sorts of situations, but we were just so busy the weeks before, it just wasn’t in the cards. Don’t worry though, I have BIG plans for when our baby girl gets here.

us and the castle

I got to see my good friend Ruth from NYC!
I got to see my good friend Ruth from NYC!

The Halloween party is definitely set up for families with children. There are trick-or-treat stations set up around the park, dance parties with different characters go on all night and the villains even put on a special show throughout the night in front of the castle. These activities were not as fun for us non-costumed grown-ups, but there was plenty we LOVED.

back of castle

For one, the “Mickey’s Boo-to-You” parade is amazing! This is the best Disney parade I have ever seen, which basically makes it the best parade ever. Some of the characters are really creepy and come right up to you, some even touch your face as they whisper “Happy Halloween”, and the choreography is much better than a typical Disney parade.

parade headless horseman hitchhiking ghost

“HalloWishes” is the fireworks show shown during the night and it’s VERY good. Nothing is better than the original “Wishes”, but I do love the extra big production and the Halloween music in “HalloWishes”. We actually watched them from behind the castle, so we had a show of fireworks happening in a full circle around us.

hallowishes fireworks castle and fireworks

The Haunted Mansion was phenomenal! It was surrounded by spooky lights, tons of fog and there was even a “real” ghost outside the house telling jokes to keep all of us in line entertained.

haunted mansion ghost

Then, there’s the food. With a pumpkin spiced waffle sundae and a candy corn flavored dole whip, you just can’t go wrong.

waffle sundae

BTW, I'm fairly certain this is just vanilla soft serve with candy corn hidden in the cone...still good though.
BTW, I’m fairly certain this is just vanilla soft serve with candy corn hidden in the cone…still good though.

We had a blast. We actually got Disney exactly 2 hours before the party started so it was great to get spend the entire first night at Magic Kingdom. The lines were shorter than normal and it was fun to see Disney under a slightly spookier vibe. Next time, will be even better!

happy halloween

Cheers!

Let the Babymoon Begin!

*Written at 8am yesterday.

Today is the first day of our last big hurrah before Baby Z’s arrival. Our original plan was to travel internationally…(we take at least one international trip every year), but things did not line up accordingly so this year we are being less adventurous than normal, but still excited to visit two of our most favorite places: NYC and Disneyworld.

I am sitting on a plane headed for New York as I type. We will spend 5 glorious days soaking up one of our favorite home away from homes. Then, we are flying back to Nashville for a very special ceremony for out Aunt. The very next day we are driving to Orlando for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, EPCOT’s Food and Wine festival and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights! And maybe, just maybe, we’ll stop by a nice warm beach for a minute or so. Woohoo!

View of the Upper East Side from Roosevelt Island.
View of the Upper East Side from Roosevelt Island.
Food and Wine Festival 2012
Food and Wine Festival 2012

We love traveling more than pretty much anything else…hope this baby is okay with going overseas for her first birthday. I don’t know if we will be able to wait much longer before another big trip. Once we got the itch to travel the world, it just hasn’t gone away.

I’ll do my best to keep you posted on our babymoon adventures over the next two weeks, but no promises!

I hope each of you are getting some sort of fall break. Don’t we all deserve a little getaway?

Cheers!

Under the Big Top

I should probably apologize for being MIA the last several days. It’s been a heck of a week, and as much as I wanted to take time to write to you, something was constantly getting between me and my laptop. I have been sick as a dog for over a week now, which always makes life more exciting. I’ve also had a major, I mean MAJOR, work project to complete this week. (It turned out great in case you were wondering.) And, we had a couple of very good friends staying with us for five days. I love having visitors, but they keep me pretty occupied between work and bedtime.

Finally, I’m back. It’s Thanksgiving Eve and I am back on an airplane headed to Houston to spend this holiday weekend with my family. It’s been four years since we have spent Thanksgiving in Texas, and three years since we have had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We are very excited to stuff our faces and watch the Macy’s Day parade from the comfort of my parent’s living room.

Anyways, I’m way behind on my posts so I’d like to use this time to talk about the elephant in the blog.

Dumbo’s new section in Fantasyland

Another addition to Fantasyland is the new “Storybook Circus”. The famous Dumbo ride has not only been moved into the Circus area, but has also been doubled. Hopefully, these twin Dumbo rides will cut the wait time in half, but so far the wait has stayed at about 70 minutes.

 

The Barnstormer with Goofy is also in the Circus, as well as Casey Jr’s Splash-n-Soak Station. There’s a line of Circus train cars lined up with animals ready to soak in children (or children at heart) who get in their way. It wasn’t hot enough for me to want to play in the water, but Husband bet me that I couldn’t make it through without getting wet. Obviously, he was hoping I’d get soaked, and knew I couldn’t resist a bet.

Made it!

The circus area was full of lots of little attractions, mostly directed at young kids.  I enjoyed looking around and shopping in the new area.

You can meet a few classic characters here in Pete’s sideshow.

Christmas Mickey Candy-Covered Apples
Map of what the complete New Fantasyland will look like in 2014

 

New Fantasyland is a hit so far, and I’m only half way through!

Cheers!