Disney Marathon Weekend Day 3

Part 1

4:45 wake up call and onto the bus at 5:45am. The busses are the nice big tour coaches and heated which is a plus when it is 38 degrees outside. One stop at the Wilderness Lodge to pick up other guests and we were in the Epcot parking lot by 6:05 for the 7am start.

the theme for this years 5K was UP and away based on the recent Disney release. Carl Fredrickson, Russell and Doug were there to entertain the kids with a photo op in front of Carl’s house.

Carl’s house.

Lots of eager runners and many still half asleep kids.

The starting fireworks.

We started at 7 on the dot and ran out into the parking lot, made a sweeping right turn and followed the road to a service road entrance behind Test Track. We ran under test track and entered the countries between Mexico and Norway. The course took us all the way around World Showcase before we exited the park and International Gateway and then reentered at England. we ran down the main walkway past Spaceship Earth to the park entrance the made a right hand 180 to head back past Spaceship Earth before making a left back out the park towards the finish line.

The finish line after we had gone through and received our medal.

Lots of support at the finish from spectators in the grandstands and many wonderful volunteers all along the route. Thanks to all the volunteers. Even though it was cold and we had to dodge runners in the first mile or so, it was still a PR day and a great warm-up for the Marathon on Sunday.

Part 2

Mom and Dad are arriving today, so we had to check out of the Towers to move over to Beach Club. They were able to get out of Chicago despite the snowstorm last night so we are grateful for that and very excited to see them. Matt and I made our way over to the Beach club and secured a wheelchair to help make dad’s bad back a bit more bearable. The room was ready and our request for first floor accommodations was granted. The bags were scheduled to be delivered in 3 to 4 hours so we decided to go out on the front lawn and play some catch (Matt has the foresight to travel with two mitts and a baseball at all times). We played catch for about 45 minutes, until the webbing broke on my glove (Matt says it is because of the power of his throw, I said it is because I have had the glove since Purdue days.)

They arrived on the Magical Express and we took them to the room to drop off their bags, then on to Epcot which is just a short walk away via the International Gateway entrance. Walked around a bit and did a few of the rides that they were comfortable doing (no Mission Space). The lines were very manageable, again because of the weather.

We got back to the room at 6 to get ready for our dinner reservation at the California Grill which is on top of the Contemporary Resort. We had a 7:30 reservation so that we could view the 8:00 Magic Kingdom fire works from our table. Dinner was excellent as it always is at that location. We did experience a first for us at Disney World… Invisible fireworks. At about 7:45, a nice heavy fog moved in to blanket the Magic Kingdom. By 8 when the fireworks started, we could see almost all the castle but when the fireworks where launched, we could see them leave the ground but no payoff. They pipe the ‘wishes’ music into the restaurant to sync with the show, so it was a bit weird hearing the audio cues but not see the visual ones.

We headed back to Ecpot for Extra Magic Hours (we get to stay in later than the public since we are staying at a Disney resort). It was pretty deserted so ride lines were very short. A quick hot chocolate, then back to the room.

Tomorrow Animal Kingdom.

Disney Marathon Weekend Day 2

The day started with packet pickup at the Wide World of Sports which is kind of off by itself over by the Pop Century resorts. The easiest way to get there is to get to Holloywood Studios and take the WWOS bus from there. They have busses running every 20 minutes to accommodate the weekends racers.


The pickup was very well organized with sections for Marathon runners, Half Marathon runners, 5K runners and Goofy runners (doing the half and the full). We were required to show our race waiver and a form of ID in order to receive our number, timing tape (not a chip anymore), and various instruction sheets.


Everything comes in a nice blue mesh shoulder bag which will be used on race day as your clothes check bag. They used to give you a clear plastic bag  on race day to check anything you don’t want to take on the course with you. i don’t think people will be checking too much on Sunday as it is supposed to be 30 degrees at the gun.


After packet pickup you walk over to the expo to pickup your race shirt and safety pins to attach your number. You have an opportunity to purchase official merchandise as well as items from various vendors. I imagine the hats and gloves will sell well this year. A tip for the expo. The official merchandise lines are very long, so be prepared to wait. They are Disney lines so they move well but it can still take 30-40 minutes to make it through.


We headed over to Hollywood Studios to mill around for a while but did not get to go on anything as all rides were about an hour wait and we had a dinner reservation to get to. We got back to the hotel for a quick change and hopped on the monorail for a quick ride to the Grand Floridian. We had a early reservation for Citricos so we could get back and watch the College Championship Game (Go Bama). I had the Roasted Chicken Breast with pappardelle pasta, wine-braised artichokes, grape tomatoes, basil pesto and savory chardonnay broth. Matt had the Braised Short Ribs with creamy polenta, sautéed greens, and blood orange demi-glace. Excellent meal. Head and shoulders above last night. Monorail back to the hotel and up to the Top of the World for the game.

Watched the first half the game form the lounge. Wow, what a turn of events for Texas. Doesn’t look like they can pull that one out. 5K early tomorrow morning. Time for bed.

Disney Marathon Weekend Day 1

What a great day!! The first full day I have had a chance to spend with just my son, in a long time. Started pretty early this morning, awakened by the alarm at 4:30am. Got up, let the dog out for some quick relief, gave Matt his first wake up call and hit the shower. Cab showed up at 5:45 to transport us to O’Hare for the ‘semi’ early flight.

I was expecting a rough time in the security line, but was surprised that at 6:15 am there were very few cattle at that hour. By 7 am though, all three security checkpoints in terminal 1 were packed. Glad we chose to get there early. They were doing random pat downs after you went thru the metal detectors and this was the first time I was asked to take off my pull over sweater with a 1/4 zipper.

When it came time to begin boarding the plane, they were again doing random pat downs, right at the gate. We managed to avoid both touchy feely situations. It will be interesting to see how Orlando handles the ‘heightened’ security on the return trip.

We arrived on time (thank you United) into MCO (Orlando International Airport) with a full flight of anxious kids and excited adults like me. We opted to take the Disney Magical Express as our transportation to the new Bay Lake Towers.  The magical express is a nice way to get from the airport to Disney World if you plan on staying on property. As long as you reserve prior to your trip, you don’t even have to handle your bags once you get to Orlando. Disney picks up your bags for you from baggage claim and delivers them to your room. The downside is your bags can take up to 3 hours to get to your room after you have left the airport, so pack what you need for that day, in a carry on.


A noticeable change from last year is that if you do book ahead of time and receive your travel plans booklet in the mail before you leave, all you need to do is go right to the line that puts you one the correct bus. Previously, all guests had to get in a line to check in and revalidate all your information, then get in the queue line. Now you only need to get in the check in line if you forgot your passes or never received them or never booked ahead of time. Nice change as it rewards those who plan ahead. That’s me!!

We have been DVC members since the late 90’s and wanted to try out this new DVC property for the first part of our marathon trip ( we will be moving over to the Beach Club Villas once I get mom and dad down here on Friday.

Bay Lake Towers is a nice complement to the Contemporary and is connected by a walkway bridge on the 5th floor. All entrances to Bay Lake are controlled by key cards, so only guests of that property can gain entrance.

We checked in and headed up to the room for a look see before we ventured into the park. They put us on the 6th floor with a Magic Kingdom view (a requested upgrade) and the view did not disappoint. There are 16 floors to the tower and a room higher than ours would have gotten you a little more of downward view ‘into’ the Magic Kingdom, but I think the 4th floor or up gives you a wonderful view of the Castle and Space Mountain, especially at night.

We walked over to the Magic Kingdom (you can take the Monorail or the walkway to get there) to see how busy things were. Not surprisingly because of the season and the weather, it was not too busy. Kind of strange seeing people in full winter gear in Florida. They must not be from the Midwest as I was tempted to go with shorts and a t-shirt.  The most popular attractions like Pirates, Haunted Mansion etc were only 20-30 minutes wait times so we were able to hit all the ones we wanted in only a few hours, with a couple of snack stops throw in.


By 5pm we had been up for 12 hours and we were starting to feel a bit slow so we decided to exit the park, walk back to the hotel and grab a drink before dinner. The 16th floor has a private DVC lounge called the Top of the World. Matt is a big fan of the virgin Pina Colada which is supplied to Disney by Oasis so he grabbed one and I had a XXX with a funky color changing ice cube (shaped plastic with LED’s inside). Cute and festive to add to our good mood. In the evening, the lounge has a viewing deck where you can watch the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom and they pipe in the soundtrack so it is as if you are in the park watching the fireworks. The viewing angle is different so instead of seeing all the fireworks lined up with the castle (assuming you are watching from somewhere on main street) you see the castle on the left and space mountain on the right, with the some of the bursts going off just to the right of the castle and the majority going off right over space mountain.


Grabbed a quick dinner at the Wave in the Contemporary. The decor was very nice but the food was only so-so. There are some fabulous restaurants throughout the World so maybe it was just an off night for them (the cold may be messing with their karma). We decided to watch the fireworks from our balcony this time and catch them up in the lounge tomorrow night. If you watch them from your room, you can tune to channel 20 on the TV and get the same soundtrack that they have upstairs and in the Magic Kingdom. Nice touch.

Early to bed tonight so we stay on schedule for the upcoming races. We have to get up at 4:30 on Friday morning and Sunday morning for the 5K and Marathon. Tomorrow.. packet pickup.

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