If you missed my Wine Dine Splash Half race recap, part 1 can be found here.
As noted before, my first trip to Walt Disney World wasn’t entirely wet and miserable — just for the hours immediately before, during and immediately after the half marathon itself. Otherwise, Kari, Anna, Bella the service dog and I made the most of it.
Here are some highlights of our “we’re West Coast women” trip to Florida’s Walt Disney World and a few more ‘race recap’ related bits.
The first day, we were all beat (since day one was all travel) – but thankfully I’d had the foresight to know that everywhere would be packed and we would be hungry, so I had made reservations for a late dinner, which we all needed badly. It was loud inside Raglan Road in Downtown Disney, but Bella knocked out for a bit under the table, so it couldn’t have been too bad!
The waitress was very good with Bella surprising her – what server expects to be greeted with a wet nose to the crotch? – and was very clear when I asked for vegan options. The portobello ‘burger’ I ended up with was definitely pretty lackluster without the cheese, which according to the menu was the star, but it was vegan and the steak fries screamed ‘pub fare’ in a good way that complimented my Woodchuck cider.
Day two actually started when Kari’s bag finally arrived around 1:45am – definitely late and undoubtedly right after she had fallen asleep. (Thankfully, on our return, Disney travel redeemed themselves and our bags made it home at the same time we did.) After a bit more shut eye, we headed for the Magic Kingdom. I managed to snap a commemorative “I’m about to lose my WDW virginity” photo via GoPro at the hotel shuttle stop, but clearly, did not manage to stop talking or close my mouth whilst doing so.
Once we were in the park, I managed to mess up a picture with the Mayor (sorry Mayor, you were very nice indeed and looked like an old skool mayor does in my head,) but I did get almost all of the castle into this obligatory photo. I am short and nearsighted and thought I had it all in there…
Disney World is basically an extra tall, extra wide version of Disneyland — where if Disneyland is a combo meal, Disney World is illegally super sized. Even the horseless carriage outside of the Haunted Mansion is really just a bigger version of the one at Disneyland. It’s kind of a trip!
We ran around a bit, headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, picked up our bibs and started wrapping our heads around the idea that this would be the first time we ever ran a runDisney event that didn’t have an ‘ungodly morning hours’ start time. (Notably, the photo of Kari and me below is from the ‘Coast to Coast’ confirmation photo area, which was an interesting update! While I had not ever received a Coast to Coast medal before, it was rather nice to know that only those of us who earned them would likely be taking them home this race. My understanding is that’s been an issue in the past.) Thank you, nice race expo citizen who tried to take a picture of the three, er, four of us with my improperly adjusted camera.
We spent the day heading up to the race in the park and even met up with the amazing Kat – who is a firecracker both online and off, and it was great to hug her in person! She was only hours (basically) removed from her Lasik experience to boot and still made the drive to come meet up with me. While I regret having not spent more time with her, our crew had to retire early for that which would later be dubbed the Wine Dine Splash Half.
Though admittedly, I wish we had been able to visit more of the attractions, we all had the race that night on our minds. My mind was preoccupied with getting Kari and Anna properly fueled and comfortable so they could shake any nerves they had. Adjoining rooms just added the the happy chaos. The scene in Kari and my room as we prepared was a whirlwind of KT Tape, BodyGlide, stuffing packets of Skratch into Locksaks, dusting parts with Lady Anti-Monkey Butt and laughing off our nerves while off-duty Bella begged for belly rubs.
Before we knew it, the countdown was over. We got Bella all set for the night and then BOOM, we were boarding the shuttles to the corrals. (See sewing photos.) Ready or not, we were all about to take on 13 point one plus miles unlike any of us had experienced before.
Despite the struggles of the course, there was no way I was going to miss out on my first Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights experience. While I did not tear up, I liken the experience to a version of seeing Cinderella’s Castle all lit up at the end of Main Street during my first half marathon. Wet, cold and not exactly super stoked, the smile you see here is indeed genuine.
(Side note: it was after the race was a big fail. None of us had packed dry clothes. Despite all the chatter from last year, vegan food was so hard for me to find, I gave up after I walked a mile of food without finding anything that wasn’t loaded with dairy or eggs. Eventually I ate a very boring but vegan falafel because I was feeling hypothermic, hypoglycemic, and, oops, realized I basically hadn’t eaten all day. I failed myself because I did a good job pacing but a crap job of taking care of myself. As I promised my friend Smash, I will never, ever do that again. However, should one wish to pay my way in exchange for pacing – in full matching costume of course – at any sort of event, perhaps we should talk!)
We retired after 4am – late even for West Coast gals. Once we were fed, showered, slept and were feeling somewhat recovered later that day, the good stuff started happening — like my finding a happy little carton of chocolate soy milk to accompany my Mickey Mouse pretzel. For a Disneyland-versed vegan, this is HUGE.
Despite California seeming ‘hippie dippie’ the truth is that even with advance warning, allergen friendly isn’t an easy game at Disneyland. Non-dairy milk is only available either via very advanced special request, or at the hidden Starbucks in California Adventure. On Sunday night, it was amazing to walk into the Main Street Ice Creamery at the Magic Kingdom, order two scoops of chocolate Tofutti, and have a very nice counter gal double check to see if I was vegan or if it was simply preference, as I’d ordered it with a cone that I did not know contained honey.
But, as always when it comes to food, I digress.
Earlier, before ice cream but after pretzels, we made friends with some nice lady whilst losing our 7 Dwarves Mine Train virginity. (The kid losing his shit really cracked all of us up.) Shout out to you, nice lady! I wish I had gotten your name and/or email so I could share this with you
Right after we finished riding, the attendant who was staying with Bella (who had to wait in a crate while we rode) saw the pup was using it as a means to take a little nap break away from sticky children’s hands, so he offered to let us ride again. We went from getting off the ride to right back on! (I promise this was basically the ONLY moment we had where having Bella was some sort of advantage. Personally, I spent a lot of time making sure no one was stepping on her and that adults were doing a good job of teaching their small humans to be respectful of a “working” dog. Oh, and fetching napkins to clean her paws off.)
Sunday night deserves attention, all because of one man: sous Chef Ron of Boatwright’s Dining Hall made my trip extra special. Friendly as can be, not only did he ensure I had a delicious vegan jambalaya, he even took care of little things (like making sure I got rolls with vegan butter before the meal, just like the rest of my party,) and then went above and beyond and shared the recipe! It wasn’t just the tequila flight talking. It was delicious. (The jambalaya and tequila flight, separately. I have since revisited the jambalaya at home. The tequila flight, not so much.)
For the record, the tequila flights had only been on the menu for a week and as the first person to order one, I was both shocked (do people not drink at Disney in Florida?) and amused — the staff was definitely interested in me and how I was liking it. Or maybe they were interested in how a 100ish pound lady was going to handle three “three quarter ounce” pours (cough cough, generous pours indeed) of blanco tequila.
It wasn’t entirely all Prince Charming and happy endings after the race. On the way home Kari’s knee was still bothering her so much I stopped and KT taped it at our gate in St. Louis. (Naturally it wasn’t until after I finished taping it that we found a hidden pair of scissors in her bag she didn’t even know about. Oh well.) I had learned a lot about pacing others and accidentally lost weight I did not actually have to lose (mostly water, thankfully!) on this trip. The race itself caused me to inadvertently dye my beloved, no-longer-sold white jacket green and I didn’t get to eat even a quarter of the vegan things I had read about online.
Kari and I waited probably a decade to go on this trip. Sometimes even the best laid plans get blown to bits. Even if things did not go how any of us had planned, we certainly cannot say this trip wasn’t memorable!
Walt Disney World, you were alright, but I have to be honest: this little Californian is happy to be home.