Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge 2016, Part 1: Travel, The WDW Swan, and Enchanted 10K

What a crazy, awesome weekend! I only got about 9 hours of sleep total, mixed with 19.3 miles of running and two full days in the parks, but I'm so glad I made the time to travel this weekend and make great memories with Lilly. Here's my recap of our travel and first full day at Disney.


We got a direct flight from BWI to Orlando, and then took a car service from the airport to our hotel. Air travel was smooth, Lilly was great, and we traveled with our own stroller for the first time. It's giant, comes apart in two pieces to fold up, but is great for naps, so there were some pros and cons. Because you can't just take a taxi with a baby unless you bring your own car seat, we booked a car service from the airport. It was actually about the same price as either a taxi or a shared shuttle service, and having the driver meet us at baggage claim was great. The driver actually didn't know how to install the car seat, and also insisted that facing forward was just fine, but once we got that all figured out, we were off! The drive was smooth, and by the time we made it to our hotel, we were itching to get out into the sunshine!

The view from our balcony


The first night, we stayed at the WDW Swan, which is actually a Starwood property but right off the Boardwalk. I would have stayed here for two night, but Saturday night they were full. Our room was ready right when we arrived around 3, and we went up to check it out. The room was pretty spacious, had a huge king bed, a seating area and desk, a mini fridge, and stand up shower. Since the Swan is under the Westin brand, they also had the usual white tea-aloe toiletries, which I love.

I had requested a crib when we booked, but it wasn't in our room when we checked in; we called the front desk then, and again after dinner, and it finally arrived at almost 10pm. We also had an issue with ants; I have no idea where they came from, but after getting back to our room after dinner, there were ants on the bottles I had left out to dry by our sink! I called the front desk, but they did literally nothing, since apparently housekeeping isn't available on call. I drowned most of them, but still found a few in the towels the next morning.

Other than those issues, I would definitely recommend staying here for a race weekend. They do have race transportation to the expo and race start, which ran about every 20 minutes, so there was never a long wait. On checkin, all the ladies working at the registration desk were wearing tiaras, and there were posters all over the lobby with race info. I would say they have some of the best hotel pools of any Disney hotel, and we took advantage of the hot tub after a long flight, and the grotto pool for a quick dip after the 10K.


While Kevin and Lilly napped, I took the shuttle straight to the expo for packet pickup. There were very few lines, and the expo floor wasn't nearly as crowded as I expected, but then, it was 4pm on a Friday. When I printed out my waiver beforehand, I was actually a little surprised to see that I was in the next to last corral. Based on all my previous run times I have always been in A or B for Disney races, since the last corrals are always for walkers. I printed out the results from my last GSC and brought them with me, and runner services graciously changed me to corral B for the 10K and E for the half.

I then hit the exp floor, and picked up a new sweaty band and t shirt from the runDisney booth and resisted the urge to buy everything else. I also sat in on one of the trivia presentations that were part of the speaker series, and should have raised my hand! I totally knew Cinderella has burnt orange hair!

There are several dining options right in the hotel, or nearby at the Dolphin, Yacht Club, Boardwalk resort, Beach Club, or other Boardwalk restaurants. The Garden Grove in the Swan has a seafood buffet on the weekends, so we decided to try that out. This dinner also has characters on the weekends, so we also got to meet Goofy, Pluto, and Chip n Dale! Lilly was fairly impressed by the chipmunks. By this time, though, I was so tired I didn't particularly enjoy eating, and held on o Lilly while Kevin devoured his weight in crab legs. The dinner also came with half a lobster tail for each adult, so that was nice! After dinner, we walked around outside for a little bit, and were able to see some of the fireworks from the Epcot show, which is within walking distance.


As always, race day came dark and early. I was planning on getting up at 3:45, pumping for ten minutes, hopping in my clothes and getting down to the shuttle. Lilly, however, decided she wanted to wake up at 3, and Kevin pulled her in bed with us until she settled down (she stayed in bed with him while I ran, because she's spoiled). Subsequently, I was up earlier than expected, and made myself some coffee before heading down to the shuttle. There was one already waiting, no lines, and we made one stop at the Yacht Club before arriving at the start line on the other side of Epcot in about ten minutes. I could've slept in another half hour! Even though they recommend you be on a bus by 4am and in corrals by 5, I don't see the need for this much time cushion.

Since I did get there so early, I had plenty of time to wander around, drink my coffee, and eat my picky bar. There were some vendors out with coffee and hot chocolate, so bring some cash if you forget to bring your own coffee.

I also stopped and asked a few questions at the Baby Care Center, which I had never noticed before! I knew they were in the parks, but having one right at the race area is awesome! They have water, a microwave, high chairs, a rocking chair, outlets if you need to bring your pump, and the lady said that during the race, the med tent was letting women store breast milk in their fridge. It was open to runners, of course, and spectators. Make note!

Since there was s much time to kill, I wandered over to the stage, and found where the photo ops were! There were two lines, and I hopped in one for Sleeping Beauty. This was around 430, and the lady managing the line said it would be maybe an hour wait. Half an hour later, though, I was about ten people back in line, and they switched out Aurora for RAPUNZEL!! She's my favorite princess!! BEST DAY EVER! Not only did I get this picture before the race, but I still had time to down some water and use the portajohns before getting into my corral.

Just as I recalled, the 10K is a great, flat, fast course, which starts out dark, then hits EPCOT and gets awesome. There isn't much going on in the first two or three miles, which was fine, since I spent most of the first two miles trying to break out of a pack of "runners" going at a 10:30 pace. I was in corral B, and there were people starting out walking! I mean, c'mon, if you know you're going to start walking, go back a few corrals! After mile 2, though, I hit an easy 9:00-9:30 pace, the crowd spread out a little, and I felt great. I knew the 10K was going to be easy, but I felt like I could've pushed to an 8:30 pace no problem! I didn't, though, because, you know, half marathon in 24 hours.
Even though it's just a 10K, there are a ton of water stops along this course, which was great. The weather was so perfect, about 58 when the race started, and minimal humidity; perfect racing conditions! I only stopped here to wake a picture at the lake in Epcot, and then later, right before mile 5, along the Boardwalk. Pro tip: If you're staying at any of the Boardwalk hotels, you can walk right down to the race route! Kevin packed up Lilly in her pram and walked across the bridge connecting the Swan to the boardwalk, and was waiting for me right there! He said he got the phone alerts for my pace at the 5K and knew when to walk down; he was up for all of about 20 minutes before jumping back in bed to wait for me to come back. Definitely a perk for the spectators!

I saved plenty of energy for a final kick in that last .2 of a mile, and finished feeling great! I got my medal, about five bottles of gatorade, and, thankfully, a heat wrap (once the AC on the bus hit my sweaty back, I was freezing!). Since I had already gotten by picture with Rapunzel, I made a beeline for the buses, and was showered and back in bed by about 9:30.

'Ohana and Hollywood Studios:

After a quick nap, we packed up our bags, left them with the bell hop to transfer to our next hotel, and headed out for the Polynesian Resort for breakfast. We had 11:10 reservations at 'Ohana.

Now, for some reason, Disney does not do resort-to-resort transportation. That means we had to take a bus to the Magic Kingdom, then pick our next hop to the Polynesian. We could have taken the monorail, another bus, the ferry, or a water shuttle. Due to the fact that you have to fold up strollers on most transportation, and our stroller is not easy to fold, we opted for the ferry.

We arrived at the Polynesian right at 11:10, but it took us a few minutes to find 'Ohana (it's upstairs, just FYI). We then had to stand in a line just to check in, which took a while because most people in the line didn't have reservations and were there just to get on the wait list. We didn't get to check in until almost 11:30, and the hostess said we were late but on the list. We wandered around waiting for our buzzer, and after checking back at the hostess stand a few times, didn't get seated until 12:20. By this time the restaurant was half empty, which was nice, and the manager came to apologize, and gave us three Fastpasses to use in the parks. Score.

The food at 'Ohana was pretty decent, all you care to eat, and included waffles, breakfast meats, biscuits, pineapple bread, fresh fruit, and eggs, as well as coffee and POG juice. We had brought a cooler for Lilly's milk, so we also sneakily threw some waffles and pineapple bread in there for later.
It's also a character breakfast, so we got to meet Lilo and Stitch, as well as Hawaiian Mickey!

After breakfast, we headed to Hollywood Studios, where we took turns riding Star Tours, met Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc, Chewie in the new Launching Bay area, and Kevin used his extra fast passes for the Tower of Terror. We never had to wait in line long, stroller parking was pretty easy, and I had my Solly wrap for whenever I did have to carry Lilly around.

Since I had just raced that morning and still had another 13.1 miles to go, I was definitely pounding water all day long. Every time we stopped for food (or Starbucks), I got an extra ice water, and we refilled our water bottle before getting into any line. I also really appreciated the Baby Care Center, which is in guest relations just to the left as you enter the park. They had private rooms for pumping or nursing, a microwave and sink to heat bottles, high chairs, baby spoons, and giant changing tables. When it wasn't too crowded, I even put a blanket down and let Lilly get in some tummy time, since I figured she was tired of sitting in her stroller all day.

At the end of the day, I was too tired to stay for the galactic fireworks, and we headed back to our new resort, the Port Orleans Riverside. As usual, Lilly was too hyped up to sleep until almost 10, so I only got another 4.5 hours of sleep before I had to be up for the Princess Half!

Lessons Learned

- Get a better stroller! Our stroller needs to be taken apart to fold down, and we were carrying my bag plus a diaper bag plus whatever odds and ends Lilly had with her, so getting on and off the buses was a pain. It also didn't have a cup holder. Next trip I think we might consider renting a stroller from a local company.
- Pack a collapsible water bottle. Kevin and I both brought water bottles, plus bought drinks while were were in the park. Combined with no cupholders, we were toting around a lot of bulky fluids Next trip I will probably pack collapsible water bottles that don't roll around in my bag.
- Arrive everywhere early. Easier said than done with a baby or 530am start time.
- Plan for downtime. I would have liked to enjoy more time at the pools, or been able to stay awake for fireworks, but we packed our afternoon so tightly we just didn't have time. If you're staying on property, I'd recommend planning for a few hours in the hottest part of the day when you can either take a nap or chill out by the pool or just relax at the hotel bar for a little while, so you can keep going at night.
- Do some research on food. While we had reservations for breakfast, once we got to Hollywood Studios, the only food options were fast food burgers or turkey legs. Not quite what I usually eat all day before a race. I'd prefer if Disney had more fast, healthy options, like a to go salad bar or something.
- So glad we used the baby care center! I stopped there to pump and just get some quiet time with Lilly.

Check out my post on the Princess Half here. 

1 comment:

  1. Hannah! Your post sounds about right for WDW with an infant 😊. I should have shared some tips since I've done Disney with Izzy twice as an infant and Jake at 3 months. There are definitely ways to make things easier.

    As for the stroller, you don't have to fold them up on the monorail. We have a BOB and definitely love it for the parks. However, I'm sure any jogger would work great. I say jogger because the big wheels come in handy at theme parks.