Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 5

This morning we slept in and then walked over to the Magic Kingdom to hit a few attractions we had never done before like Mickey’s Philharmagic, The Carousel of Progress and Peter Pan’s Flight. I had done the Peter Pan ride when I was 11 but not since then. We used one of the Fast Passes for that one as it is a heck of a long wait for a two minutes ride. We enjoyed about 2 hours in the park before heading over to Epcot for the rest of the day.


While at Epcot we had another one of the private photo ops for Disney Visa card holders and this time the session was with Minnie and Goofy by themselves. A few fun photos later and we were out the door to Soarin.

When we received our VIP passes on day 3, Matt and I discussed how we could give some of them away as a nice gesture to some deserving park guests. What prompted that thought was how many rude guests we ran into on the trip be they from other countries (mostly) or from the US and how we would like to ‘reward’ someone for just simple acts of kindness.

For the next few days we were extra aware of how guests seemed to be treating other guests or apparent family members. It turned out to be a difficult task as most people were oblivious to others around them and were just in a hurry to get  where they were going. I must say that this is the first time I felt outnumber by non English speaking guests most of which seemed happy to barrel their way through the park. Perhaps it was that we were looking for good that we saw too much bad, but whatever it was we were determined to do something nice for someone.

Turns out that nice thing happened in the Soarin line. We used our fast pass to jump the 50 minute standby line for the fast pass line ( the fast pass line was being blocked by a large group whose time was not coming due for another 5 minutes). We politely asked if we could get by and a young couple from Atlanta saw us excuse ourselves and followed us in as their passes were valid but they could not get by the group.

When we got into the queue for the ride, the woman said thanks for getting by that group as they did not know if they had to wait in that long group line. We started talking and found out the had a tough time getting to Orlando because of the snow but they were so glad to finally be in Disney. This was there second time to the parks ( they had visited for their honeymoon 5 years ago) so they were looking forward to  riding some of the new attractions this time. We gave her some tips on avoiding motions sickness on this ride as she was worried about that (lean forward a bit and look to the left or the right depending on that glider that you are in, and focus on another group of riders. This can reset your point of reference and calm the stomach).

We enjoyed the conversation while we had an extended wait in line (there was an issue that they had to fix before letting us board) so Matt asked how long they were staying. They replied 5 days, so Matt and I looked at each other and I said to them ‘Were going to hook you up’ and explained how the VIP passes worked and gave them each a pass with three uses on each. They looked very excited and thanked us for the passes.


The ride was great (Matts’ first time), and the young lady came through without issue. When we touched down they both thanked us again and we parted ways. It felt very good to do something nice for other nice people.

While I am still on that subject, it amazes me that so many people look like they are in a bad mood, act like they are in a bad mood or verbalize that they are in a bad mood when they are at Disney. This is supposed to be the most magical place on earth but too many people don’t check their crap at the door and seem to be miserable. Why bother coming here if you are bummed out and want to let everyone know you are bummed out. Everyone has stress in their lives by I try to leave mine at home when I am on vacation, especially when I have limited time to spend with my son. I may get the occasional crappy email or voice mail about work, but I deal with it absorb my few moments of frustration and them continue to have a great time. The kids will be gone soon so I need to enjoy these events as much as I can while I can.

We went back to the hotel the get cleaned up for our final dinner of the vacation. California Grill is one of my favorite restaurants on property followed by Artists Point in the Wilderness Lodge and then probably Citricos in the Grand Floridian. Citricos was the first place my wife and I ever tried fried alligator which they unfortunately don’t serve anymore. We chose California Grill as the last meal because in addition to the exceptional food and the view of the Magic Kingdom fire works every night, it is on top of the Contemporary hotel right next to where we would spend our last night.


Our reservation was for 7:45 so we could catch the fireworks but as is sometimes the case, the earlier reservations hang around longer than they should so they can catch the fireworks. This put every later reservation behind by about 20 minutes, including us. Instead of worrying about it, we went out on the observation deck which has a fantastic view of the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed the fireworks. The music from the parks is piped into speakers in the restaurant and on the deck so you get the full experience as if you were in the park. The only difference is the fireworks are at a different angle so many of them look like them are over Space Mountain instead of the castle.


We enjoyed our final Disney dinner together and even received a little surprise decoration on the Chocolate Crème Brule that we ordered. It is Matt’s Birthday this month so he was wearing his ‘It’s My Birthday’ pin around the parks and our waiter noticed it and added the chocolate marker in the above photo. I would recommend if you are celebrating anything when you go down to Disney, be it Anniversary, Birthday, Wedding, 1st Visit or whatever, go to Guest Services when you get to the park and they will give you a pin for the occasion. It is nice to be recognized by the cast members and sometimes other guests as well.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and up to the lounge for a final drink (few drinks). Matt and I wanted to play some cards but did not bring a deck with us and found that they did not have one to use, but did have a bunch of board games that we could use. I had never played Jenga before so we chose that and I proceeded to beat the ‘Jenga Master’ or so I was warned.


Tomorrow is the saddest day of all the day we leave Disney….until the next visit.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 2

The Disney Half Marathon 2011 is in the books. I am pretty happy with the performance because even though I did not make my goal time I did PR and cut 13 minutes of my previous time. I f you would like to see the route we ran this morning as well as my splits click on the link below which will take you to the RunKeeper activity from this morning. Add the satellite layer if you want to see the parks we ran through.


The day started at 3am, again, with my trusty Android phone acting as my alarm. I got dressed quickly having laid out the cloths the night before and was out the door by 3:15. As I closed my room door I saw another guy with a bib on (for non runners this is your name and number fastened to your shirt with bobby pins, not a spill protector) and I struck up a conversation. Turns out he was from Lansing Michigan and was running his first Disney race so I filled him in on what to expect leading up to the race. After that it was up to him. Disney tells you that you must be on the bus no later than 4AM so that you have plenty of time to get to your starting corrals ( again a running reference where they line us up in groups for a start in waves, nothing to do with Woody’s Roundup). Once you exit the bus, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to the starting line and get in place.

I had planned on running with the Cliff pace team but they were no where to be found and I discovered later that they had lined up in the corral behind mine. Since I am not a master at pacing so I went out to fast, excitement and all, and ruined the pace. But as I said at least I got a PR (Personal Record) today.

I had talked previously about one of the best motivational moments of the race, that being the full on gospel choir about 300 yards from the finish line, but I experienced another one today. I don’t know if I just missed it last time or f they recently added it, but when we are about to enter Cinderella’s castle running towards main street, up on the balcony outside there were two trumpet players with those 5 or 6 foot long horns, signaling or arrival. Pretty neat, and I must say that the gospel choir got me choked up as it does every year.

I finished up and went to the medical tent to have them wrap my knees in ice and get some Tylenol.
Let me just say that it sucks getting old. Stuff hurts that never hurt before and the hurt takes much longer to go away. Children, don’t waste you youth. But I digress.

We will head into the parks later this morning and I am looking forward to displaying my medal and seeing all the others who are doing so. I is a tradition to wear you medal into the parks post race and the only downside is saying congratulations over and over to all the people I see. And with 27,000 plus entrants I may need to say it quite a bit.

I’m looking forward to next years race and invite anyone who has thought of doing a distance race to contact me for 2012. I would be happy to run with you, or if you are a lot faster than me when can hang out before and after.

Thanks to all the well wishers. I will post pictures as soon as I get them from the course photographers.

5 Things To Do With A Teenager In Disneyworld

On our recent Marathon trip in January, my son and I had lots of time to spend with each other before the Marathon and after the race. He is 19 years old and has been going down to Florida with us since his first trip in 1997, so you would think he has pretty much done it all in the 13 years he has been visiting Walt Disney World.

But the thing is, as he has grown up, his tastes understandably have changed. While he may have enjoyed Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a Mickey Bar when he was 6, he now enjoys Rockin’ Roller Coaster and a Mickey Bar (the fine cuisine that is a Mickey Bar remains a favorite). Each trip down is also more about experiences for him rather than just attractions. The whole reason for the vacation was to have that time together with him and to share the experience of running a marathon together.

There are a few of the fun things we did and my favorite one was completely free.

  1. One of the best things we did on our last Marathon trip was just play catch. My son has really gotten into Major League baseball lately and he always travels with two mitts and at least one ball. We had planned ahead  and both brought our favorite mitts and a few baseballs. This is an activity you can do pretty much anywhere on property as long as you find an area where there are not any guests that would be impacted and if you don’t mind carrying the equipment around with you. We chose to throw around on the Beach Club lawn close to the walkway by the water. We were the only ones out there as it was misting a bit but that did not bother us because we were having a great time just throwing and talking. We receive may smiles and looks of approval as well as a few kind comments about our choice of activity. We talked and played catch for over an hour and would have gone on longer if the webbing on my mitt had not broken. I had that mitt since my Purdue days so it was getting old, but Matt insists that the break was because of his amazing power. I’ll give him that one.
  2. Take a walk. There are so many things to see outside the parks and all it takes is a stroll with your son to take some of them in. One of my favorites is getting up early and walking over to the Boardwalk to get some coffee and a Cinnamon Roll. We then continue on around the lake and over to the International Gateway to Epcot, which is not yet open, but it is interesting to see all the activity that goes on in the morning before the parks open. If you are really ambitious, you can walk the other way to Hollywood Studios and back again. If you are a runner, or not, most hotels have a list of the running trails/walkways around your hotel. You can choose to run them or just take a nice long walk around them. Early morning is best before everyone is making their way to the parks.
  3. Rent a Boat. As I mentioned in my Marathon Day 6 post, we did an Illuminations cruise. Although a bit expensive, I found it worth every penny for again, the experience and the memories that it produced. There are many less costly options at several resorts throughout Disney World. Call (407) 939-7529 to make a reservation for the chartered excursions.
  4. Go Shopping at Downtown Disney. You can find exclusive Disney World merchandise at one of the many unique shopping locations.
  5. Get a midnight or later snack. Many of the restaurants or even hotel can have fairly late hours, but our secret spot is the 24 hours quick service restaurant in the Dolphin hotel called Picabu. We found it on one of our previous trips and it is a must do if we are staying at any one of the Epcot resorts. If you are out late and even the bars are closed, this place can really hit the spot.

These trips are a great time to reconnect with your kids. You can just walk, and talk but be sure to listen.

Hello everyone and welcome!

Welcome to my world. This is the initial post form my new blog, Run Morgan Run. I decide to take this thing live right before I leave for Florida to run in the 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon as I wanted to capture the trip as my first extended attempt at writing. I have never been much of a writer (or at least attempted to be) not since writing for the high school paper. In addition to the writing, I was a photographer for the paper and the music director for the radio station. Both those jobs continue to influence my life today and I wanted to reconnect with writing.

Before I continue, I must give props to Doug Schneider. Doug was a high school friend who was on the radio station with me  and went on to become a successful writer in the New York state area. We recently had a chance to reconnect while he was in town for the holidays and I will be bugging him for advice as I move forward with this new adventure. Doug is the Public Service Editor at Press & Sun-Bulletin (Gannett Central NY Newspaper Group).

Back to my reason for this blog. As the name of this blog suggests, I am a runner. I started running almost two years ago as a way to stay healthy and set and achieve some concrete goals (you can’t cheat running goals. If you don’t put in the time, it really hurts on race day). I wanted to track my progress as I train for and participate in races, local and not so local.  So far I have done 5K’s, 10K’s Half Marathon and this Sunday my first Full Marathon. I plan on getting involved in Triathlons as well in the coming year.

So this blog will track my progress with those and other activities I like to participate in as well as commentary on my daughters volleyball career (traveling volleyball is a part time career for the parents as well), travels for my day job (Service Management Project Manager) and other things I want to try.

So, thanks for visiting and please bear with me as I attempt to get better at this and at least make it interesting.

Daniel Morgan