As always, we grabbed Polar Pops from Circle K and donuts from Daylight Donuts, but about halfway down there, we thought that it would be a good idea to eat actual food before getting to the Expo, just in case we didn't have time to eat.
My family, as usual, wanted Wendy's. I decided it would be easier to go to the one in the new Okahumpka Turnpike Plaza, rather than going all the way to 192 in Kissimmee, then backtracking to ESPN. Also, I just wanted to see what the new Plaza looked like, since it seemed like it was under construction forever!
|So fancy! It's much nicer and brighter inside too|
|This dog was keeping cool in his owner's swanky car (yes, we checked to make sure it was running)|
|MMM, Spicy Chicken Sandwich - the BEST chicken sandwich|
|Welcome to the ESPN Wide World of Sports|
Instead of grabbing lunch and drinks, like we've been instructed to do in the past, we were given a bottle of Dasani and sent directly to where we would be volunteering. Um, okay... odd, but whatever.
|Our workstation for the afternoon|
|At least there was a chair to sit on...|
|Team Leader Amy!|
Rules of Shirt Exchange are simple - if we got it, we can trade. If we don't got it, you're outta luck. It works on a one in, one out system. We can't 'get any from the back.' We can't go get one from gEAR bags (where the other shirts are). We can't trade one shirt from your Challenge bundle (Challenge runners get 3 shirts) - we have to trade all three shirts for three different shirts. It sucks, but doing it any other way would wreak havoc on runDisney's inventory system.
What we could do is to tell people - who were looking for a shirt we didn't have - was to keep checking back while at the Expo. Many people did that, and many times, we were lucky enough to make the trade.
I made many people happy during my shift, including one guy who I just wanted to hug - he was maybe in his early 20s and he was talked into doing a half-marathon, so it was his FIRST half-marathon. He wanted to trade to a different size, but he was one of those sizes that go quickly (like a Men's Medium, I think he was). He actually hung around the Expo for hours because he wanted that shirt. He didn't hang on the counter, or stalk other runners, he just chilled out across the open space and waited. I was SO glad I was finally able to get him his shirt!
I was ready to eat my foot by about 6pm, and finally, after the Kiddo returned from her "lunch" - with a box for me, I was able to go outside and eat. She brought me an Italian sub box (sandwich, cookie and I think pasta salad this time). It wasn't bad, but Amy had asked that I return quickly, so I really just snarfed it down and was back within 15 minutes. Hubby didn't even bother to take a "lunch" at all.
|It's a beautiful evening outside at a picnic table|
|Do we really need a DJ? Just play music|
|It got busy while I was gone!|
I wish I had checked Social Media for updates...
The Expo officially closed at 7pm, but our side (at the Jostens Center) stayed open a bit longer for the last-minute people running from the HP Field House. Once the Jostens Center closed, we checked out and headed to WaWa for a healthy dinner of milkshakes and potato chips.
|Small Vanilla Milkshake|
I wasn't impressed. The room had tile floor, which I understand is great for cleaning and maintenance purposes, but it was cold on the feet. The bed was okay, and since it was a King, Hubby got a nightstand (I hog it when we get a Queen room).
Oh, and see that little slim HVAC above the doorway? Yeah... It didn't work when we got there. We played around with it for a while, but eventually had to call maintenance. He came and played around with it for a while, then went up on the roof and played with something up there, before the AC/Heat finally worked. Good thing too, because it was cold this weekend!
|King + SofaBed. We moved the coffee table to between the bed and sofa|
Saturday dawned wet and cold. Like, I can feel it in my bones cold (Weather Underground - who I HATE, but has the data - showed that the low was 43º). We bundled up and started driving onto property.
We got to the exit for ESPN and saw a sign that said:
HALF MARATHON CANCELLED.
|(Taken later in the morning)|
I felt the disappointment in my gut and I wasn't even running the damn thing! I felt so bad for the Shirt Exchange Guy! It was his first race, and he was so psyched yesterday... I still wonder what he did on Saturday...
We all kind of were stunned, we weren't sure what to do. So, we ended up heading over to the Volunteer Area anyway, because we didn't know if there was anything we needed to do.
It was a ghost town. There was no one in the parking lot, there was no one at the check-in area, and of course, there were no legions of busses.
So, we headed back to the car and decided to go back to the hotel, change our clothes and rope-drop Epcot.
At the hotel, I pulled up my internet and checked my emails. Sure enough, emails had been sent out the night before, around 7:30pm (probably just minutes after leaving the expo), that the race had been cancelled, and volunteers were also told to stay home.
We found out later that a LOT of runners decided to make Space Mountains out of molehills (see what I did there...) and ran anyway! Many ran the course as much as they could. Many ran around the resort they stayed at. Many of the locals just ran wherever they normally ran. This post from I Run for Wine is a great story about the runners at Art of Animation. I think it really sums up both the Runner Spirit and the Disney Spirit.
After changing into our clothes for Disney, we made a pitstop at McDonald's for breakfast, then headed to Epcot.
|Mmm, sausage biscuit and OJ - breakfast of champions!|
|Sad, empty tents|
|They'll come tomorrow... hopefully!|
|It's not super-cold yet... but it's coming!|
|Welcome to Epcot|
|Rain + Cold = Unhappy Tourists|
We ran into one guy who was supposed to be running this morning who was taking advantage of the nonexistent lines, too. He was bummed, but he understood why Disney had cancelled. It's all about the safety of the people, not the dollar in the pocket.
There was a line, and it was longer than expected - even in this crappy weather! It took about an hour to get to our boat.
|It really does feel like you're outside|
|Yum, fish in a jar|
|Oaken's in the sauna!|
|Oaken's drawing in the steam|
|Good job, Oaken!|
|This is why we can't have nice things...|
|Getting closer to the loading area|
After that, we headed right over to meet Anna and Elsa, again, because when else would there short lines? (Yes, at Disney, for anything "Frozen", 1 hour is a 'short' line).
The details of the SummerHaus are stunning, and I was enjoying looking at all the details. I took way too many photos (as I always do), but will share just a few.
|It's so cute!|
|I wanna go upstairs|
|I love that there's so many books|
|More books, and violins on the ceiling|
|See! She's bored! Just come over here and meet with your sister!|
|Elsa apologized for the weather (which I bet she did a LOT OF over the weekend!)|
|What the hell? I just realized it says Nutty BUDDY! Why you do this, Little Debbie? Nutty Buddies are Ice Cream Cones!!|
|Bow to me, I am your Princess!|
One bonus of hanging out back here was that we got to experience the Norway Vikings, which I didn't even know was a thing!
I got my photo taken, then proceeded to play with the one Viking's beard, because he'd been admiring Hubby's beard. Cute experience.
|I love the 2nd Viking in the back!|
|Sorry, sweetie, he wins... his beard is much better|
|"That's right, good sir, your lady just stroked my face"|
We popped into Chick-fil-A on the way back to the hotel and had a bed picnic. Then basically, we just hibernated until dinner.
|The. Best. Nuggets. On. The. Planet!|
Sadly, the chowder was only so-so, and the cheese quesadilla was boring. I think I'll stick to BBQ chicken quesadillas from now on, and skip the chowder.
|Sorry to say it was bland, even after adding salt and pepper|
|Wind Chill is what now?|
When we originally registered, our shift was "Full - Course Monitor - Hollywood Studios" from 5:15am to 2pm. Every time we volunteer - after I get confirmations at sign-up, I put the shift information into my iPod notes so I can quickly refer back to it.
So when we got our official letter in the mail, a few weeks before the trip, I only double-checked the Assignments, but not the start times - this was my mistake.
|Official Volunteering Schedule|
So, what happened? Well, we checked out of our hotel around 4am and moseyed our way to the volunteer check-in area, got our t-shirt and snacks, then headed out for our bus, which, as you can imagine, had already left!
I, of course, was pissed off. We weren't that late (I think we got to the Volunteer area by 5:00), and I was assuming that we were mostly on time, and it was the BUS that left early!
The two transportation volunteers checked to see what other busses were still around and the three of us were able to get onto a Runner Direction - Epcot bus.
Once on the bus, I was able to pick up some wi-fi, and lo and behold, I see that our shift had been changed from 5:15am to 4:30am. So, the being late and missing the bus thing? Yeah, all on us... Sorry for cussing you out in my mind, Disney!
Luckily, the Team Leader was desperate for bodies, as many people wussied out because of the weather and didn't come to their shift.
On the bus, we could finally chill a bit, and we were all given noisemakers to use on the course, to cheer on runners. I, of course, took the WaWa hand-clapper!
|These things are obnoxious, but so fun!|
|Wrapped up and toasty - drinking Mountain Dew|
The course would come from the Boardwalk area, run just shy of entering through the International Gateway, but instead go behind the scenes for a small bit, then come back out and enter Epcot.
Once we were set up in our area, our Team Leader left us to basically fend for ourselves until the race began to come through (she had a large amount of ground to cover, as her volunteers were spread from Crescent Lake to Mexico, I think). One of the first things we did was go check out the photo op near the entrance to backstage. I'm not really sure why it was there - it wasn't a character stop, but just a backdrop with Dalmatian statues. It was still cute, and lit well so you could see how overdressed I was!
|I'm like a Frosted Mini-Wheat - Eight Layers of warm goodness!|
|Yes, I wore ALL of this|
|I think the Kiddo had on 5 or 6 (she doesn't get as cold as I do)|
|Looking towards France from outside the International Gateway|
|Looking toward Crescent Lake (I think the hotel in the distance is Yacht Club)|
|Sunrise over the Gateway™|
|He has no shirt on!|
|She only has on booty shorts and a sports bra!|
|"I can't put my arms down!"|
|I hope Kevin and Michelle had awesome runs!|
|No. Just No.|
|Dapper Dan runners (In Yellow, Red and Purple Shorts - Teal Shorts is hard to see)|
|Running as Bob's Barricades staff members|
|It's gotten much more crowded at our part of the course!|
|Hard to see, two guys running as Genie and Jafar Genie (in body paint!)|
|Lou startin' to get all up in the course|
|Almost done, but on property so you're safe!|
|Remember when this place was a good place to go?|
When in the hell did Outback start charging so much for a piece of steak? I looked at the menu and almost choked... The CHEAPEST steak they offered was almost $17! Maybe I'm just old and misremembering the cost of menu items last time we went, or maybe I'm just old and cheap, but that was a bit of a sticker shock! I got a cheeseburger, Hubby got chicken fingers and the kiddo got fried shrimp with cheese on her fries.
I was talked into 'loading' my fries so they were like Aussie Fries, and I regretted that. The cheese was already congealed by the time I got my plate, so I had to eat my fries with a fork. The burger was okay, but the entire meal and dining experience reminded us why we never go to Outback. I was underwhelmed and didn't plan on going back. Our meal, after our $25 gift card was still $35. That seemed like too much for what we got.
|Basic cheeseburger and "loaded" Aussie Fries|
And, since it was just past Christmas, we of course had to stop at the Russel Stover Outlet near Wildwood. After Christmas and after Easter are the best times to go, because they have the best selection of candy that we like (Valentine's is good too, if you like those boxes of assorted chocolates).
This time we spent $22 and - between the three of us - ended up with:
Not a bad haul! I'll stick most of these in Lock & Locks, which are the BEST storage containers EVER, and munch on them over the next few months. I like sweets but I can't binge!