Sunday, November 8, 2015

More like a Quarter Marathon - Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2015 Volunteering Report

This year was our second year volunteering for runDisney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend.  It's a night race, which is different from a lot of other Disney races, and I love it.

After packing the car and grabbing donuts, we left around 10am.  We made a WaWa stop for snackage and arrived at the expo around 12:45 (we were running late, as usual).

Wawa $13.53
$1 each Herr’s Hot Chips (Me and the Kiddo)
$1.50 Each King Size Candy Bar (Me – Twix; Hubby– Butterfinger Bites)
$1.49 SC&O Chips (Hubby)
$2.79 “Meat Cup” (Pepperoni w/Cheese and Crackers – Kiddo)
$1.19 Each 32oz Soda (All of us)

We had to park way far away, but we were lucky enough to catch a shuttle to the entrance.

See those tall palm trees? We need to go WAY over there
The Kiddo and I sat in the way, way back, in the backwards facing seat.
I look like a grimacing thumb with hair
There's those palm trees, and we're still not really close to the buildings
We were dropped off at the front of ESPN, which is still quite a walk, up the sloping sidewalk, to the HP Field House.

The entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports
Up the hill to the Jostens Center and HP Field House
We checked in for our shift, and asked if any spots had opened up (we were unable to sign up for any race spots - we were wait-listed for the whole weekend except the Expo). Unfortunately, nothing was available, but we were told to keep an eye on our email in case something came available. We were given our shirts, and our lunch, and we headed off to eat and change.

View from the upper portion of the Jostens Center - gEAR bags were in the back left corner
This year, we were assigned to gEAR Bags, rather than Packet Pickup. Can I just say that I love gEAR bags SO MUCH MORE than bibs?  Much easier, people aren't stressing as much, don't have to pay as much attention to details (with bibs, there's IDs and signatures and paperwork, oh my!). Here, I would just take your bib, rip off the bottom and give you your stuff. I loved it! Runners were a lot more talkative, asking great questions about the course and if it would be fun. Truly, a great spot to work at the Expo.

For those of you who have runDisney before and always wondered, what was behind that huge black curtain? It's shirts. Lots of shirts. LOTS OF SHIRTS.  You're welcome.

I think each bundle had either 5 or 10 shirts, folded together. Just pick up a bundle to restock the area
At one point, my WaWa caught up to me and I headed over to the potties, but I saw that Jeff Galloway was on the floor and his line was super-short. I popped in line, thanked him for helping me to get running and got my photo taken. I just wish I had something he could have autographed for me.

Yay! My second photo with Jeff Galloway!
Our shift ended at 7:30 and we checked out for the night, then headed to our hotel, Champions World Resort (cough*resort*cough) and checked in. Nothing fancy, it had 2 double beds and a refrigerator and microwave. It was a Hotwire Secret Price hotel, and we spent $33 per night.  After taxes and whatnot, it was $75.  Worth it for 2 nights.

View from the front door (yeah, we'd already slept when I remembered to do photos)
I hate that hotels don't do thick blankets anymore - this hotel has THIN blankets between two flat sheets
Standard hotel bathroom; toilet and bathtub in separate area to the left, 'closet' to the right
Old school ROUND toilet (because door barely clears the bowl), and tub/shower combo
We always unplug the stupid hair dryer and use the extra outlet for our charging stuff
'Closet' with hangars that can't come out, ironing board and safe

We probably grabbed some dinner, but I can't remember where we ate, and if I can't remember, chances are nothing fun happened. So, we ate dinner... then went to bed.

Saturday morning, we decided to drive to Downtown Disney Disney Springs. We've been avoiding it because there is so much construction right now, but we were curious to see the progress. We parked in the super-cool new parking garage, and were way too enthralled with the tech.  There are light-up signs on each level that tells you how many spaces are available!  At each parking spot, there is a light that shines to tell you the spot is available. It's really neat (or I'm really a dork - probably both.)

We went up to the roof for a bird's-eye view of Disney Springs, though the Kiddo stayed far away from the edge of the roof (she's no fan of heights!). Once I was done, we took the cool escalator down one level, then took the elevator to the ground floor.

View from the top of the Westside Parking Garage (the ball in the middle is Planet Hollywood)
Looking left to Cirque, Disney Quest, Splitsville and AMC Theaters where you can watch and dine at the same time)
Though the fences are very high and safe, the Kiddo will not go any closer to the edge.
Another shot of DisneyQuest and Splitsville
Escalator with safety panels
We've never been fans of Downtown Disney's WestSide, so there wasn't much for us to comment on. Splitsville looked fancy, as did the AMC theater. Mostly, we just high-tailed it to the other end of Disney Springs to the bus stop.  While walking, we debated on what we wanted to do, and The Hubby was basically, I don't care, as long as there's food involved. He hadn't eaten anything that morning, and had gone from happy to hangry at the drop of a Mickey Ear.

We kicked around a lot of ideas, but he was no help in making a decision, so I said let's just go to Roaring Fork at Wilderness Lodge. We can get food, then boat over to the MK. So that's what we did, although by the time we got there, it was already lunch time, so no breakfast for me.

Breakfast/Lunch @ Roaring Fork $36.80
$10.79 each – Bacon Cheeseburger w/fries (One for each of them)
$6.99  - Kid’s Chicken Nugget Meal w/fries, cookie and soda (Me, I think it's a great deal!)
$2.99 each – Adult Soda (One for each of them)

Boating to MK is the best!
If I ever get a boat, it will be because of beautiful days and trips like this one
Preparing to come ashore
Relaxing on my own little boat
It's a beautiful day at the Magic Kingdom
Hello, beautiful Christmas decorations
Once we got to the Magic Kingdom, we let the Kiddo roam free, while hubby followed me around while I took photos of the Christmas decorations.

Up at the top of the train station, we ran into the Kiddo. She loves people watching from up here!

Ssssshhhh! Don't spook the wildlife
Here's some of my favorite Christmas (and non-Christmas) photos from this trip.

I do wish there weren't huge guy wires... Ruins the pictures
They're a little less noticeable in this shot
Hello, Mr. Nutcracker
Guarding the tree
Walking through the poinsettias
Balloons and Decorations
Fab shot!
Gas lights and Helium balloons
Celebrate a Dream Come True just ended!
Hello, beautiful!
Pinocchio and the Fountain
Pluto and the Fountain
Goofy and the Fountain
Chip 'n' Dale and the Fountain
Hubby and I took a break and headed to the PeopleMover.

At 3, we met up with the Kiddo at Big Thunder and took a ride around the mountain.

She'll probably never NOT wave to people on this ride
This here's the WILDEST ride in the wilderness!

At this point, I was feeling pretty hungry (I'd not had a big lunch), so I declared it time for funnel cakes!

Snack/Dinner @ Sleepy Hollow $19.14
$5.99 each – Funnel Cake with Extra Sugar
FREE - 3 Large Ice Waters

When you ask for extra sugar, they just tell you to say 'when'
Three funnel cakes and eight pounds of sugar later, we hit up Jingle Cruise for a festive cruise along the Nile.

Jingle Cruise tree
Sign near the boat loading area
We wandered around more, just people watching, until about 7pm.  The family hung out in the new grassy area while I took some night shots of the castle, then we watched the Castle Lighting show. This spot is kind of far to really get a good view of what is going on, but I really just like seeing the castle, not so much the show.

Astroturf, not real grass
I love the colors
Beautiful blue castle
During the Castle Lighting show
Fully iced over with lights
Ta Da!

Once the castle was lit, I moved over to the Liberty Square bridge and took some photos from my favorite angle.

Anytime I can get a water reflection, I'm all for it
There's more lights now, since they added the turrets
I think the green/blue is my favorite color combo, when the castle has lights
I also went around the back of the castle and took a few from the Tomorrowland side.

It's so dreamy!
Not tilted enough to be artsy, but it's still a great shot!

Reflection isn't as good on this side
Once we were done, we bused over to Hollywood Studios. Sadly, this would be the last year they did the Osborne lights, and I wanted to see as much of them as possible. (Sure, we'd be coming back soon for Special Olympics volunteering, with a friend of ours, but you can never have enough O Lights!).

No, these aren't the Ozzy OsboUrne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
The view looking towards Lights! Motor! Action!
The Jennings' Family 'Fireplace'
The ginormous light switch that turns it all on every night
In the middle of it all

We stayed for about an hour, but with the race starting soon, we wanted to head over to the Boardwalk to spectate the race. We'd never gotten an email, and around funnel cake time, we'd decided that even if we got an email, we probably wouldn't volunteer, since we weren't prepared nor had enough sleep to stay up all night.

We were awake enough to spectate though! (Me, not by much...) We bussed from DHS to the Boardwalk hotel and chilled out in their lobby for an hour, charging our tech and just enjoying the AC. I wasn't expecting the race to get to our area for another hour at least.
Trying to charge AND text at the same time (Hubby is on the other side of the fireplace)
Who thought these chairs were a good design idea?

Just before midnight, we stopped over at Seashore Sweets for some ice cream to eat while waiting for the runners. We grabbed a bench to people watch, and was wondering why no runners or pre-runner bike staff were coming by.

Snack @ Seashore Sweets $12.11
$3.99 Waffle Cone with Mint Chocolate Chip (the Kiddo)
$3.69 Each – Single Scoop Cup (Me, Mint Chocolate Chip; Hubby got Chocolate)
Ice water (me only)

Yummmmm, Edy's (Dreyer's for your West Coast folks)
Oh, oops. The runners don't come THIS way, they come THAT way.  We had to walk over to Yacht & Beach Club to be on the race route!  We finished our ice cream and walked around the lake.  Hubby found what he thought was a good spot, but I thought we could do better, so I told him to stay there, and I scouted ahead. I found a great spot, by the Mile 12 sign, that had other people, but more importantly, CHAIRS!  Family joined me and we waited for runners to come through.

Not a bad view while waiting for the runners
While we waited, we chatted with the other people waiting and discovered that, due to lightning in the area, the course had been cut in half, resulting in more of a quarter marathon, at only 7 miles long.  Between the "Splash n Dash" last year, and weather this year, it wasn't looking good for Wine & Dine weekends! (And, man, am I glad I didn't get a chance to sign up! I would've been ticked!)

Anyway, most runners still seemed cheerful as they passed by. Many took photos at the mile marker anyway, though I think we actually represented Mile 6 now. We stuck around until 1am, as long as we could, but we still needed to get back to our car at Disney Springs, and buses usually stopped running around 2am.

Mile 12? Mile 6? Who cares, we're running at Disney!
We headed to the bus stop outside the Beach Club and caught a bus driver who asked us where we were going and just chauffeured us.  There were also 4 really drunk folks on the bus with us, trying to get back to Hollywood Studios - they couldn't walk there because the walkway was still being used by runners.

After dropping them off, our super-awesome bus driver took us to the (not yet open) Westside bus stop!  We got our car and headed back to our (LOL) resort, and conked out for the night.

Sunday, sadly, we were just too damn tired!  We ended up just checking out, grabbing snackage at WaWa and coming home.

WaWa $17.11 total
$2.79 each (Meat Cup)
$1.50 Each (Reese Cup, me; 3 Musketeers – Hubby)
$1.39 Kit Kat White (Kiddo)
$.50 Nutty Buddy (Kiddo)
$1.09 Herr’s Cheese Curls (me)
$1.19 each 32oz Soda