Where do I even begin? In typical Disney fashion, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2013 was chock-full-o-fun! They say when you run Disney, Every Mile is Magic and I couldn’t agree more! With that being said I’m going to have to split this blog into multiple parts and hopefully you’ll be able to take some tips from me and enjoy your run Disney experience.
When we found out that Troy’s block leave was going to be extended a week past regular block leave (sorry for the Army terminology aka – his vacation matched up perfectly) we decided to sign up for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend! Troy signed up for his first marathon and I thought hey, Goofy is my favorite Disney Character (by the way that doesn’t include Princesses because Aurora is my favorite princess) so I will be the crazy one and sign up for that! We wanted to do this trip in celebration of our 5 year wedding anniversary – I know we’re a little wacky for wanting to do a marathon for our anniversary! Then Troy’s brother Ryan signed up for the Goofy Challenge as well and so it became a Stemen Family trip to Disney.
I’m glad this event takes place in January because Tedy & Sophia are both January babies so it was a way to celebrate their birthday’s as well. We left the day after Tedy’s birthday and headed down to the most magical place! We went to Disney for Christmas 2011 but this time we did a few things different – first of all we didn’t get park tickets and we did this for two reasons: 1) the marathon was our main purpose for being there and I didn’t want to be walking all over before the event. 2) Cecilia is only 6 months old and I didn’t want to bring a baby into the park all day long.
Secondly we stayed at a Disney resort: we did this because 1) we were able to get an amazing deal at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Not gonna lie I absolutely loved the room decor and really wish I could find the Finding Nemo bedding that was in the room because I think it would fit perfectly in the kids room! Ok here’s an important tip to remember when you’re planning a trip to Disney – CALL THEM! Do some online research first to see what resort you like, etc but to get the BEST prices you must give them a call! Tell them anything that might help with the pricing – I got multiple discounts because we were staying a certain number of nights, were there because of the marathon and we are military! I’m going to brag for a moment – not including the cost of the race (because that’s a whole different beast and probably the most expensive race you’ll ever pay for) we only spent just around $1000 for our hotel, food, etc while at Disney. With that being said be sure you set yourself a budget and make sure you save for Disney and stick to said budget! I was so thankful we did this because when we got back from Disney I had to have a root canal and that’s not cheap but ya know what…we don’t have any credit card debt (actually we don’t even have a credit card) but that’s a whole other story and I will blog a bit about race Expos soon because I think that this is a huge area where you need to properly plan and save and stick to it so that the whole time is magical! 2) we took advantage of the shuttles at Disney – they run every 15-30 minutes which isn’t bad at all!
Not going to lie in typical procrastinator fashion we totally packed the morning before we left. Yet I will say that the night before Troy pulled a Liz DeLise and wrote out our packing list on the mirror in the bathroom (this is a trick I have been using since College and it works wonders). I don’t recommend packing the day of a trip but also if you do, don’t freak out! When packing for Disney it’s important to remember that it’s Florida but it’s still winter. We had been tracking that the temperatures were going to be a warmer than usual (look up past weather folks, it’s important to know) so we took that and the number of days that we would be there into account. We packed 8 outfits for each kid – 4 warm weather & 4 cooler weather (only Tedy went through all 8 outfits). For ourselves we packed our race day gear (I made up special shirts for the marathon for us) a couple extra workout outfits (since we would still be squeezing in a few training miles before the big event) and 5 outfits – mostly warmer weather since we would be receiving long sleeve shirts at packet pickup. Also, don’t over pack – if you need it, there are coin laundry facilities so use them. THe only thing is that we did do disposable diapers for this trip but that’s another story in and of itself. Special tip for the ladies: even pick out which sports bra you are going to be wearing on the day of the event! Oh and don’t forget your bathing suits! Of course there will be other little things here and there that you’ll pack, some that are important when packing for running include: Muscle Aid Tape (if you need it – I did because I had been having IT band issues), The Stick (especially if you’re doing the Goofy because you’ll need to roll out those muscles after the half marathon on the first day) and your Fuel Belt or CamelBak. As a quick side tip – DO NOT use anything you haven’t used in training on race day – so be sure you’re training with these things to make sure they work the way you want them to (I’ll go into more detail about this when I get to the day of the event).
Once we were packed and ready to go we hit the road and enjoyed our trip down to Disney. Luckily we only live about a 5 hour drive away (that includes stops) which is why I didn’t mind that we hadn’t packed until the day we left because we would just be waiting around to check in at the resort anyway. After we checked in, we went to our room, brought all our stuff in from the van and then went exploring. When you are staying at a Disney resort there are tons of things to do! We enjoyed a nice dinner and a movie out on the patio – they show family friendly Disney movies every night outside at the resort we stayed at – it was great! Side tip about food & drink at Disney: we did not get a Disney meal plan (we didn’t get it the first time we went to Disney either), because of how our trip was going to be I did the math out and set a budget and made it more cost effective to not do a meal plan. So be sure you are realistic about this and how much your family eats, where your family will be going each day, etc to find what works best for you. Also, kids meals come with a kids drink and honestly there was a lot of food in the kids meal – there were a couple of times that we got two kids meals and it was plenty for myself, Sophia & Tedy. Another tip about drinks – go ahead and get a refillable mug – yes the initial cost may seem expensive but it’s well worth it (between the waste of other cups and the cost of just a drink at each meal) and you’ll have a souvenir to take home. One thing I did was take my Disney mug over, fill it with PowerAde then refill my PowerAde bottle.
After the movie we went back to our room and made our plans for the next day – this trip was already MAGICAL and was only going to get better!