Welcome to my blog. I write mostly about travel and in particular my love of Disney, with a few tidbits such as musings about movies or theater thrown in for good measure. I have stories dating all the way back to 1997 so be sure to explore! I don't post regularly, so if you want updates be sure to join and follow this blog (links below). Feel free to share, and if you want you can also click the Facebook or Twitter links below. You can also follow me on twitter. And be sure to comment letting me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WDW Marathon trip planning

Well, it's been over a year since my last blog post. Shame on me.

I have 2 things coming up that I plan to write about in the blog. The first is a trip to Costa Rica over the holidays with my family. We have plans to do some cool stuff while we're there, so I'll be sharing photos and thoughts from that trip. 

Just 2 days after we get back from Costa Rica I'll be heading down with Kirk to Walt Disney World for a week. While there I will be participating in the WDW Marathon Weekend events. In fact I will be participating in a big way as I will be participating in the Dopey Challenge. This involves running all 4 events over the course of 4 days - the 5K on Thursday, the 10K on Friday, the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday. That's a total of 48.6 miles in four days. I'll write about the races here, and I'll also  get into more detail about the races in The Runner of a Certain Age Podcast. If you're interested in the podcast you can search for "runner of a certain age" in the iTunes Store or you can get them here.

What I really want to get into in this blog is to talk about planning for the WDW trip. Going to WDW requires more planning now than ever before. Or, I should say, there are more opportunities for planning than ever before - with Magic Bands, FASTPASS+ (FP+), MyDisneyExperience and all the new tools Disney offers. I won't be getting into any of that now, but rather I am going to assume that the reader is familiar with all this. If not, I suggest going to the Disney website or one of the non-Disney affiliated sites (my favorites are The DIS, DISBoards and Touringplans). There is a wealth of information available. 

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty. First is an overall agenda. This is all tentative, especially depending on the FP+ reservations I am able to procure. 

Tuesday January 6: Fly to Jacksonville. Scheduled arrival 10:37PM. Go straight to the hotel. 

Wednesday January 7: Kirk picks me up early and we drive straight to WDW. Our Magic Bands should have arrived so we should be able to go straight to the park. Our park for the day is Disney Hollywood Studios (DHS - though that may change depending on my ability to procure FP+ reservations for Toy Story Midway Mania - TSMM).  The crowd level is projected to be 5 (out of 10). We have an early lunch reservation for SciFi Dine-in (SFDI). I went to SFDI once with my family about 16 years ago and was not thrilled, but Kirk's never been there and IMO it's someplace you should go to once. If we end up not doing DHS on this day I'll cancel the reservation. 

I'll be leaving DHS early afternoon - probably be 2 at the latest - to go to the Marathon Expo so I can pick up my race packet and spend some time checking out the expo. I'll leave Kirk to his own devices. From there I'll head to Sanaa (and presumably meet back up with Kirk) for 5:45 dinner. This is one reservation we're most likely to cancel, I'm just not sure it will work into our schedule, but it is a restaurant we both want to try out. At some point we'll check into our resort - perhaps taking advantage of the automatic check-in. I also plan to request a specific building using the recommendations at the TouringPlans site. Our reservation is at Saratoga Springs but we are wait-listed at Old Key West. I am a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member and reserved using points.

A final note - for each day that we are planning to tour the parks, I have created touring plans. I will publish my plans which should (theoretically) make them visible. I don't know if they can be viewed by someone who is not a TouringPlans subscriber - if you are not a subscriber please let me know whether you can see them. These touring plans are, obviously, "works in progress" (especially as we have not procured FP+ reservations yet). The touring plan for Wednesday at DHS can be found here.

Thursday January 8: First off is the 5K for me. The plan is to meet Kirk at Epcot after the race. I estimate I should be at the park by 11:00AM. We'll do counter service for lunch - probably Sunshine Seasons, a favorite of ours. (I also have a second SFDI lunch reservation for this day - in case we decide to do DHS on Thuesday instead of Wednesday.) The projected crowd level is 7. The touring plan for the day can be found here. We will probably leave the park 4-ish as we have a 6:00 reservation at Boma (a restaurant both Kirk and I have been meaning to try. Heck, I've never even seen the Animal Kingdom Lodge.) After dinner it's an early bedtime for me.

Friday January 9: 10K to start off the day for me. I'll be leaving Kirk to his own devices as I do not intend to visit any parks. I'll probably relax at the resort and go to lunch at DTD (perhaps Earl of Sandwich - EoS). At 4:00 I'll be attending a meet-up of fellow Disney enthusiasts/runners who are members of a social media group that I am a member of at Disney's Pop Century Resort (POP). I won't be able to stay long as Kirk and I have an early dinner reservation at The Flying Fish at The Boardwalk. After that it'll be early to bed for me again.

Saturday January 10: I start the day with the Half Marathon. Other than that I'm planning a totally relaxing day for myself. I'll probably do both lunch and dinner at either the resort or DTD. I'll just hang out and rest up - recouping from the day's race while preparing for the final event on Sunday.

Sunday January 11: The big event - The Walt Disney World Marathon. Once I'm done I will (hopefully) have a total of 6 medals - one for each race plus the Goofy (for completing the Half and Full Marathons) as well as the Dopey for completing all four races. After eating my intention is to go back to the resort and relax for a couple of hours. I hope to have the energy to spend the evening at the parks (I use the Galloway method for running races and typically I recover pretty quickly so I think I'll be OK). My plan is to meet Kirk at the Magic Kingdom (MK). The projected crowd level is 3. Here is the touring plan. We'll probably do dinner at counter service, perhaps Pecos Bill's. MK is open late that night (until 11:00) - hopefully I'll be in good enough shape to stay until then. We'll see...

Monday January 12: First (and only, technically) all-day-in-the-parks day. As you can see from the previous days, there will be no park-hopping (at least not for me). Kirk has an annual pass (AP) so for him it's a moot point, but for me it made no sense to pay for park-hopping when I would only have this one opportunity to use it. So I intend to buy a 5-day regular pass with no park hopping. If, by chance, we decide we want to park hop this day, then I'll add a 6th day. Still cheaper than a park-hopper. Anyway, the plan is for Epcot all day. We have a lunch reservation at Le Cellier. Counter service - perhaps Tangerine Cafe - for dinner. The projected crowd level is 3.Touring plan here.

Tuesday January 13: Final day at WDW. The plan is to head back to MK. You may have noted that we do not intend to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom (AK) on this trip. We also did not go on our previous trip. In truth, the only "must do" for us at AK is Expedition Everest (EE). For me, with all the other stuff going on with the races (and I do anticipate more meet-ups of running groups to get announced) it simply does not make sense to take out the time to go to AK. I actually like the park, a lot, it just does not make sense this time around. Kirk can go whenever he likes - and he may choose to do so on this trip on his own. As for me, I'll be running through AK on the Marathon, so technically I will have visited. AND... last year the Marathon runners were allowed access to EE during the race. I really hope that happens again this year. The projected crowd level is 4. Touring plan here.

In terms of pre-planning, here is where I am:

  • Book room - done
  • Book flight - done
  • Create MyDisneyExperience account - done
  • Link resort to MyDisneyExperience - done
  • Link Kirk into MyDisneyExperience - done
  • Customize Magic Bands - done
To Do:
  • Buy 5-day pass for me
  • Link our passes to MyDisneyExperience
  • Make FP+ reservations
  • Change Touring Plans in accordance with FP+ reservations
  • Fingers crossed that waiting list request for Old Key West comes through
That's it. Tuesday night we drive back to Jacksonville. I'll spend the night there and I have an early flight home Wednesday. Please feel free to comment on this plan. I'd love the feedback!