Disneyland – August/September 2017

So, a little background on the trip first. Several years ago, in 2013, I decided that I was going to sign up for a ½ marathon at Disneyland. I think it may have been the Tinkerbell race, sometime in the spring of 2014? The details are fuzzy now. But, before registration opened, we decided to make a trip to Florida around the same time. It made a lot more sense to add on a quick visit to Disney World instead, so I gave up on my running plans. Ever since then, it’s kind of been nagging me in the back of my brain that I really wanted to do a runDisney event at some point. But, the scheduling is so hard- they tend to have all the races at times we can’t easily travel.

Back last spring, as DH and I were training for the BolderBoulder, a large 10K event here in town, he mentioned that we should do a longer race sometime, and I reminded him that I still wanted to do a Disney ½ marathon at some point, so I decided to look at the dates again, and see if there was any way one of the weekends would work out. The only one that was even a remote possibility was the Disneyland ½ marathon, over Labor Day weekend. It would involve the kids missing a couple days of school, but nothing else was standing in the way at that time of year. When I casually suggested it a couple of days later, we decided to go ahead and do it this summer!  I immediately jumped on the computer and got us registered.

It was only after registering and making our plans, that I found out that all of the races had initially sold out months ago, and just that very week they had opened up a few more spots, probably from TA and charity bibs that hadn’t sold. It was sold out again a few days later. So we got REALLY lucky with the timing! Now it was time to get serious about training – not only for the BolderBoulder, but for a half-marathon – YIKES!

Unfortunately, my spring and summer of training, for both races, was constantly hampered by issues and injuries. I started having back problems almost right away. After suffering through the BolderBoulder (Memorial Day), I finally went to a chiropractor, and slowly, it started to get better. Then I got shin splints. And had a horrible time finding shoes that would work for my wide, flat, often swollen feet. And my rheumatoid arthritis flared up. My shin splints got worse, to the point I really worried it had progressed to a stress fracture. Things were not going well, and several times, I thought I should probably just give up on doing the race. But knowing the trip might be a once in a lifetime experience, I stuck it out, probably against better judgement. I was determined to get to that finish line, even if I had to crawl, lol!

As the weekend approached, my Facebook feed lit up with other race-goers freaking out about the weather forecast. Late summers in Anaheim are supposed to be warm, but not miserably hot, and not too humid, so I hadn’t been too worried. Apparently, there was a freak heat-wave headed into town though, overlapping almost exactly with our dates. Isn’t that just fantastic. We had a similar weather situation at Disney World last winter, with record-highs almost every day. And also in February at Disneyland last year. Apparently, we are cursed to bring the heat with us wherever we go. But, I had worked too hard, and too long for this – and was not about to let Mother Nature get in my way!

I had my race outfits ready to go, and a rough plan of park days and what we wanted to do. I will say though, I put far less planning into the “Disney” part of this trip than I did into the “running” part, and it showed a couple of times. But, we did a decent job of “winging it” when necessary, and I feel a lot less pressure to do everything now, knowing we’ll be back before too long.

Day 1. Thursday 8/31

Traveling was uneventful – we took a very early bus to the airport (5:30am, I think). It dropped us off right by the security entrance, and since we weren’t checking any bags and didn’t need boarding passes, we were at our gate just a few minutes later. We picked up a quick breakfast, ate, and boarded our flight. A little odd that there wasn’t even any drama from the kids, it was quite boring, actually! We flew right over the Grand Canyon, it was really neat to see from the air! DH and I visited many years ago, before we were married. I want to take the kids someday, it just never seems to be a priority. Glad they got see it from the air, at least.

The 2-hour flight to California always feels so short, being used to the 4+ hour flight to FL. We hopped off the plane, headed straight to Ground Transportation, and were quickly being whisked away by a waiting taxi. I do LOVE not having to deal with baggage claim or the rental car counter.

I had debated for a couple of months about where to stay – I was initially leaning toward going back to Park Vue Inn, as we had really liked it last time. It was cheap, had a decent free breakfast, and was very close to the parks. (Closer than the Disney hotels, even). Two things caused me to ultimately go with the Disneyland Hotel though. One – I had this dreamy vision, however impractical it may be, of sitting in the pool after the race, sipping an “adult beverage”, and generally lounging the afternoon away in paradise. While the Park Vue Inn does have a small pool in the parking lot, that vision was not going to materialize there. Two – the kids were going to be on their own for the morning while Brian and I were at the race, and while I wasn’t really “worried”, I knew I would feel better about them being in the “Disney Bubble”. And not being left alone sleeping at 4am with an exterior hallway just outside their door. So, DLH is was!

The lobby isn’t quite as grand or impressive as some of the WDW hotels, but it had a quaint charm, and the kids really liked the Mad Tea Party tables. Check-in took a while, mostly because the CM was trying to find a room that was cleaned already for us. He found one, but it didn’t have the extra daybed. I told him that was more important to us than having a room right away. I should have also specified that we really wanted to be in Fantasy Tower, but that had been noted already on my reservation, so I didn’t want to seem pushy. We left our bags with Bell Services, and headed to the runDisney Expo, which was conveniently located at the hotel. (Another perk of staying here)

It took about 30 minutes to get everything sorted out – bibs picked up for both the 5K (for all 4 of us) and the ½ marathon for Brian and I. And t-shirts. Everything, even the different size t-shirts, were all at a different location. So it was a lot of wandering around and making multiple stops. Oh, and Lily found a princess headband that she just had to have, so we got that as well. Otherwise, I wasn’t willing to give up park time to shop at the expo, even though I’m sure there would have been lots of cool stuff.

We were hungry for lunch, even though it was only 10:30am (it would have been 11:30 our time, and we had been up since before 5am) We wandered through the hotel grounds for a bit, and finally found Tangaroa Terrace, a CS restaurant by the pool. Unfortunately, they were still serving breakfast, which we weren’t in the mood for. So we decided to head on the park and get lunch there instead.

The easiest way to Disneyland is to take the monorail, which has its Downtown Disney stop right outside our hotel. We were able to exchange our ticket vouchers there for “real tickets” and were quickly on our way. (Unfortunately, I forgot to sort out which ticket was supposed to go to which person before they attached our pictures to them, so they didn’t match who they were already linked to in the DL app. It wasn’t a big deal, except that it caused some confusion later with fastpasses). The monorail dropped us off right inside Tomorrowland. On the way, I used the DL app to scope out food choices, and found the Pizza Port to be very nearby. I usually have all this planned out in advance, but let’s just say that app was my savior on this trip, lol!

Oh, and I apologize now for both the quality and quantity, of photos from this trip. I was trying really hard to travel light – both on the plane and in the park, so I didn’t bring either of my cameras (I have a DSLR, and a really good P&S) but decided I would just use my phone. That’s a sacrifice I don’t think I’ll be making again.

The Pizza Port wasn’t quite open yet, but it was only going to be a couple of minutes so we waited. There was a family that had been waiting before us, and we tried to let them go first when they opened the doors, but after awkwardly standing around waiting for them to get their stuff together for almost a full minute, we finally gave up and went ahead, hoping we weren’t being rude. Oh well. I was trying to keep eating healthy, or relatively so, until the race so I got a veggie pasta and bottled water. Lily, who could literally live on pizza alone, was easily pleased here, of course. Owen ordered the spaghetti, mostly because it was called Space-ghetti, but only ate a couple bites of it, mostly filling up on the grapes and carrots that came with it. If Lily could live on pizza, he could live on produce. At least it’s healthier, lol! Even if not as filling.

A bit of a bummer on this trip was that Space Mountain was closed. I think they were doing some work on it to get ready for the Halloween overlay. I’m not sure if it is normal for it to be closed this whole weekend in prep for that. If so, that’s puts a real damper on trying to make this a yearly trip. At least we got to ride it about six times at the Christmas party last year. Owen was still sad though, looking at it all deserted.

Oh, I do have to give a plug for the new MaxPass system at DL. As soon as we were on the monorail (in addition to scoping out lunch) was able to make our first fastpass selections in the app. Setting it up was a breeze, and there were FPs available for every ride, most with return times right away. We were almost to the end of the window for the Star Tours FP by the time we were done eating, and I was able to get another one for Buzz before we were even done with lunch.

We saw a stormtrooper wandering around as we left lunch. Owen is always too shy to go up to them, but he really enjoys seeing them from a distance, anyway. If he could be absolutely anything, in any fictional world, it would probably be a stormtrooper.

Listening to the droids talking and making jokes in the Star Tours line is one of the best parts of the ride, and we were stopped in front of the best one for several minutes. Owen probably knows more about Star Wars than any of us, so he found the jokes particularly hilarious. He’s always nervous that he’ll be chosen as the Rebel Spy on the ride though – he stubbornly insists he is loyal to the Empire and aligned with the Dark Side, and won’t join the rebellion, lol! He escaped blame again this time though, and we were taken to the Wookie Planet (which I’ve done a couple of times) and the Asteroid Belt (which I don’t remember, must have been a new one for us).

Our Buzz Lightyear FP was good already, so we went right across the way to use it. I’m not usually great at those games, but I managed a respectable score, and it was fun as always. I still don’t care for the layout of Tomorrowland here though. Brian really likes it, but I find it to be cramped, and just has a “walled-in” feel.

(At some point, early in the day, we took this photo in front of the castle, though I can’t seem to place when that would have been. Oh well.)

I had also gotten us a FP for Matterhorn, but it was broken down when we got over there. I was impressed with how easily the app dealt with that, as it was a common problem while we were there. As soon as a ride was reported as being down, if we had a FP for it during that time, our FP immediately converted to an “any attraction/any time” FP. And we could book another one right away.

So we headed on over to It’s a Small World. I love how “grand” the entrance of the ride is here. Unfortunately though, there is no FP line, and it’s all outside. And it was HOT! I knew it would be, but still. It’s hard to imagine how hot it feels until you are there. It was barely noon, and already over 100 degrees. Prompting us to choose the longer line at the split, because it was in the shade, lol! No doubt that’s exactly why it was longer.

The ride itself here is so good though, it really puts the WDW version to shame. And I love looking for all the hidden characters. I know we spotted Tinkerbell, Jessie, Lilo, Simba, Ariel, Alice, Cinderella, Jasmine and Pinocchio. I’m probably forgetting some, too.

I had made a FP for Big Thunder Mountain on the way to Small World, so we made the trek through Fantasyland towards Frontierland. I specifically didn’t want to get distracted in Fantasyland and spend all afternoon there, just because that’s what usually happens and we end up never getting anywhere else. There’s a really nice little path that connects Fantasy and Frontier lands here, I don’t remember anything like that at WDW.

I was a little nervous about Big Thunder. We had taken Owen on it a couple of times, and he had hated it both times. Even last December, when he LOVED Space Mountain, he still thought BTMRR was too scary, go figure! But he was seeming a little more relaxed this time and definitely willing to give it a try, though not totally free from some nerves.  

Turns out, there was no need to worry. He had his hands in the air, screaming with pure joy for the whole ride! And begged to go again afterwards. I wasn’t willing to stand in the outdoor line again right then, but promised we would come back later. So glad he is enjoying the bigger rides now, though!

I’m pretty sure we went to get a Dole Whip after this, needing something to cool off. I’m also pretty sure I took a picture of said Dole Whip, but my phone is a little (ahem… more like a LOT) glitchy and has a tendency to lose pictures. 

Anyway, post-Dole-Whip-that-I-have-no-evidence-of, we headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean. Another ride that Owen has not been a fan of, but I wasn’t too worried anymore. No FP line here, but it moved quickly. I always joke that the DL Pirates ride is more like “Pirates of the Bayou” than Pirates of the Caribbean, lol! At least the first part. Like a lot of the rides here though, it seems so much more well done and detailed than its WDW version. And while it may not be his favorite ride, Owen wasn’t scared and even enjoyed the part with the ship shooting out the canons.

I had another FP, for Indiana Jones. I had never ridden this before, and wasn’t even sure what it was. Brian and Lily did it last time, but they only vaguely remembered. The queue is really neat though! The first part is through a jungle-y area outside, then it goes into the underground tombs and caves, really creepy and well themed. The kids had fun trying to set off traps and generally cause trouble.

The ride itself was WAY more intense than I was expecting! Kind of an indoor roller coaster, through scenes from the movie. Without thinking, I had let Owen get in the car first, followed by Lily, such that he was on the very end away from us. I was hoping that he wasn’t traumatized during the ride, but Lily assured me that even during the scariest parts, when she was screaming in terror, he was cackling with laughter and thought it was the best thing ever. What in the world happened to my child who, barely a year ago, was afraid to ride the Barnstormer?!?

I mentioned to DH around this time though, that what felt so different about today, compared to every other theme-park trip we have taken, was that we had been able to do everything together, as a family. In the past, we’ve spent more time split up than together. And while we always made it work, it was so much more stressful. THIS was the kind of trip I had been dreaming about for years, finally coming to pass.

From the app, it looked like the Matterhorn was running again. Owen wanted to take the train, so we decided to take it to the Toon Town Station, as it would get us about as close as Tomorrowland would. We wouldn’t have made the next train, as there was a long line, but they announced that this train was going out of service after the TT stop and wouldn’t be continuing, so most of the line in front of us opted to wait for the next one. Lucky for us, that’s where we wanted to get off anyway. I was surprised that in the recording announcing the train’s arrival, they mention it making a loop around the “Magic Kingdom”. That’s the only time or place I’ve ever heard Disneyland referred to as MK – they are usually very adamant that it’s “just Disneyland”, and that MK is a “Florida-thing”. I think they just copied the recording from WDW.

The train ride here is really neat – it passes through some nicely themed areas that you can’t see otherwise. We walked around Toon Town a bit, but it was so hot that we quickly sought shelter in Roger Rabbit’s Toon Town Spin. I could have gotten a FP, but the wait was only a few minutes anyway, and I didn’t want to give up any time in the A/C, lol!

I think we stopped for some type of frozen treat on the way to Matterhorn, there were a LOT of those purchased this trip! Anything to battle this heat. I hadn’t ridden the Matterhorn last time. Owen was too short, and Brian said it was really rough. It turned out not to be as bad as he had led me to believe though, and I actually liked it quite a bit. The Yeti is terrifying when you come around the corner to face him! As usual, Owen loved it and wanted to go again. But it was just too hot, and I was ready to call it a day. 

We made our way down Main Street and through Downtown Disney, seeking out shade when we could find it. And sticking close to the open doors of shops, where we could often feel a quick blast of A/C pouring out. Unfortunately, the monorail was closed so we had to walk the whole way. It’s not air-conditioned, so they have to close it on the hottest days as it becomes too dangerous to be inside it.

I was supposed to get a text with our room number, but in all of our Disney trips, that has never worked. So we stopped by the desk again. We were in Frontier Tower, the farthest away one that I hadn’t wanted. Darn. But we had the extra bed, and they had upgraded us to a pool view (instead of the parking lot view I paid for) so at least there was that. We arranged for Bell Services to follow us with our luggage, but halfway there, realized one of our items was missing – it was the bag from the Expo with all of our race bibs in it! That would be a disaster if it was lost! We went on to the room while the CM went back to look for it. Brian was very stressed, but before too long he showed up, expo bag in hand. Whew!

The room was nice – plenty spacious with a gorgeous view overlooking the pool area. The headboards lit up like fireworks  (the CM that brought our bags showed us that trick, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have discovered it).

The boys immediately headed down to the pool. I wanted a little time to relax in the A/C. Lily got restless pretty quickly and headed out to “explore” (i.e. find a place to shop). I mostly kept my feet up, and put some e-stem on my feet and legs, with the portable TENS unit I bought to bring with me. I knew I had to be careful not to let myself get into a bad state this close to the race, despite the temptations of fun all around.

I had told everyone to be back at the room before 6pm so we could get ready for dinner. The boys were back by 5:30. When I checked the map, Lily was in Downtown Disney, so I told her just to meet us for dinner (which was in DtD) instead of coming all the way back to the room first. Yes, I have her location permanently tracked on my phone, lol!

(Owen being goofy in the hallway)

I actually ended up not minding Frontier Tower as much as I thought I would. I had read so many reviews that talked about how “far away” it was from everything. All I can say is that those people obviously have not stayed at the WDW resorts and have no concept of what a “far away” building can mean! It was only about a minute walk from the other buildings, and actually closer to the pool. And Owen really liked looking at the giant model of Big Thunder Mountain that was in the lobby. He would study it every time we went by, often finding new details.   

Dinner was at the Naples Pizzaria in Downtown Disney. Despite having an ADR, we were still seated outside. Yuck! It was still so hot. Most of the table service restaurants at DL rely heavily on outdoor seating though, another sign that they aren’t used to this kind of heat. You definitely wouldn’t see these kind of set-ups at WDW.

We had also eaten Italian for lunch (had I been planning better I would have avoided that), but Brian said it was okay, because we were “carb-loading” for the race, ha! That concept basically turned into an excuse to eat junk food for the next two days. The dinner was fine, nothing spectacular, and it probably won’t be on my list to return to. Owen liked the balloon blaster he got during the meal, though.

After that, it was back to the hotel for an early bedtime, as we were all going to be up bright and early in the morning (more like dark and early) for the 5K race. Overall though, a great start to our trip, despite the heat!

Day 2. Friday 9/1

Our alarm was set for 3:30am. As usual, for a night when I have to get up early the next morning, I never slept for more than an hour or two at a time, and was wide awake a few minutes before the alarm, so I went ahead and started getting ready. I was considering this to be a practice run of what it would take to get ready and out the door on Sunday, and things actually went pretty smoothly. We weren’t exactly sure where we needed to be to get to the corrals, but I correctly assumed that there would be enough people out and about that knew where they were going, and we could just follow. It turned out to be super easy. Security was right outside our hotel, and just a short walk to one of the parking lots for all of the starting-line activities. We definitely chose the most convenient hotel for the races!

We hung out in the main area for a few minutes, taking pictures, getting water, etc. But soon enough, they were encouraging everyone to move on to the assigned corrals. We were in Corral C for the 5K, so the third of five. It was a long and somewhat tedious wait, especially for Owen, who was too short to see the giant screen at the starting line where they were broadcasting the pre-race entertainment. He and Lily goofed around together some though, and slowly the minutes ticked by until the 5am start. They have this game they often play- Lily will lift him up from behind and start walking around, saying that gravity stopped working for him. He thinks it is hilarious.

They were interviewing some of the runners on the screen – we thought it was funny that one of the girls they talked to, who was Owen’s age, when asked if she had done any training with her family for the race, said that they had done “some stretching” before leaving their room this morning. The announcers had a blast with that, and assured everyone that this was proof – all the training you needed was “some stretching”, lol!

Finally, at 5:10am, they announced our start and we were off! I had read lots of complaints about how crowded the races are, and how hard it is to run and get around. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. When we did the BolderBoulder last spring, it was WAY worse. So this felt a lot more relaxed.

The first part of the course was down a street, and around the backside of the parks, so not too interesting, but finally we came into California Adventure through the back side of Radiator Springs, and then around towards Paradise Pier. We started to split up shortly after this. I had grand visions of us running together for at least the first part and getting some pictures in the park, maybe at one of the character stops. But no one else seemed terribly interested in that plan, and I had to concede that it was best if we all just ran our own race. Well, Brian agreed to stay with Owen.

I was planning to stay with Lily, but good golly I couldn’t keep up! It was a little disheartening. She claims to hate running and could probably count on one hand the number of runs she did this summer to “train”. But despite trying rather hard not to be, she’s actually a pretty good runner. I, on the other hand, had been working my butt off all summer, and she was still leaving me in the dust. Of course, I had trained for distance, not speed. I tried to console myself with that knowledge, anyway! The photopass photographers actually got quite a few good pictures of her, luckily.

We ran through quite a bit of California Adventure, which is the park we were headed to after the race, so it was fun to be there before it opened to the public and be reminded of what was in store for us later. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but it was already hot! Even before the sun was up. And so humid! I tried to ignore it as best I could. And my leg (the shin-splints-hopefully-not-stress-fractured-leg) was hurting a bit, but nothing I couldn’t run with. As long as it didn’t get worse on Sunday, I wasn’t too worried.

We ran through some more backstage areas and under a tunnel that took us into Disneyland. Always fun to see the transitions between what’s meant for the public eye, and what isn’t! We ran through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland– I thought it was really cool and fun that they had all the rides running (not open to ride, just to add to the atmosphere) and tons of CMs out, cheering us on. Lots of characters too, but they all had long lines and I no longer felt like losing my momentum to stop and wait.

We passed through the Castle, down Main Street, and back through Downtown Disney to the finish line. I had totally lost Lily by this point, and after spending several minutes looking for her at the finish line, I decided that she must have headed back to the room already. She didn’t have a key with her, but maybe she was camped out on the couches in the lobby? I was the only one that had a phone, unfortunately. Well, she wasn’t in the lobby or the room, so I decided to just wait there for everyone to come back, rather than head out and look for them, and risk missing them as they came back to the room.

It wasn’t too much longer before they all showed up. She had been waiting for me just past the finish line, don’t know how I missed her. But she found the boys as they finished, at least. Since we had missed getting a finish line picture together, we took a few in the room with our shiny new medals. It actually felt weird to get such a fancy piece of bling for only running 3 miles. I was doing that several times a week all summer at home, with nothing to show for it other than an entry in my training log, lol! The 5K isn’t officially timed, but based on our running watches, Lily finished in about 37 minutes, myself in 39 minutes, and the boys came in at 42 minutes.

I was hoping to make EMH at California Adventure this morning, at 8am. At first, I had thought that plan might be too ambitious. But seeing as how we all decided to blast through the race without stopping for pictures, we should have no trouble. It was barely 6:30am. We quickly cleaned up a bit and headed on into Downtown Disney, to get breakfast at Earl of Sandwich. It’s one of my favorites, and we seldom make it to DtD at WDW, so it was a treat to have it so close to our hotel here.

We sat outside – it was actually cooler now than it had been earlier, even though the sun was starting to come up. I think the early morning sun may have burned off some of the fog and humidity, allowing some heat to escape.

We were at the CA gates by 7:30am. The kids played some more of their broken-gravity game to pass the time. And Owen found a “lucky penny” on the ground that he chased around for a bit. One time, he dropped it and it rolled right up behind a lady that was sitting on the ground, such that it was slightly underneath her. Owen, being much too shy to ask her for help, simply crawled up behind her in stealth mode, waited until she leaned forward slightly, and snatched it. It was rather well executed actually, she never even knew. But, I still wish he wasn’t so shy and could better advocate for himself.

The mom in front of us, there with her two girls, apparently didn’t qualify for EMH, but the CM at the gates gave her some “pixie-dust” and let her in anyway, which we thought was nice. We were headed straight to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride (which has replaced Tower of Terror). They held us at a rope a little ways back until exactly 8am. Then we joined the stampede. I wasn’t in the mood to rush too much, or risk getting trampled so we stayed back a bit.

Owen was getting nervous. For months, I had been hyping up the ride to him, telling him how they had “gotten rid of” Tower of Terror (which he positively HATED at WDW last year, and we promised him he never had to ride it again). As we came up to it, I knew he wasn’t going to be fooled. He kept observing that the building still *looked* like Tower of Terror. More colorful, for sure. But clearly a dropping ride. He LOVES the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, especially Rocket Raccoon, who I had read is the main character in the ride. So I really wanted him to give it a chance. Lily was really good with him through the queue, distracting him and generally being reassuring.

I have to say, the queue is really awesome! This was the only time we rode it standby, and I’m glad we did it once, because the FP line misses a lot. Tivan, The Collector, has lots of artifacts on display to look at, including Rocket’s blaster. Owen did enjoy seeing that. And the screen up above plays a looping video of the team arguing (about how they are going to escape), and generally being themselves. (They have been captured by Tivan, and the ride is supposedly a tour to go see them, as the newest addition to his collection) It’s all very well done. Lily loved the part where Baby Groot got mad at being labeled simply, a plant, and did his trademark “I am GROOOT!” while stomping adorably. She was like, “AHH, my heart!!” Baby Groot is my favorite too, you just want to scoop him up and give him a tiny hug!

In the TV room (now called Tivan’s office) we got our first look at animatronic Rocket Raccoon, who explains how we are going to help them break out. Owen really liked seeing him, but was still visibly nervous. We were quickly loaded onto an elevator afterwards. Owen had asked me several times if the ride still dropped like TOT did. I just told him that I hadn’t ridden it yet, so we would have to see. (Not really a lie, just maybe not a full truth…) He wasn’t buying it anymore, obviously! Hopefully this wasn’t a cruel prank we were pulling on him.

Rocket came back and got things started, we were quickly whisked up, up and up, and immediately dropped again! I lost track of how many ups and downs we did, but we would often pause at a screen, showing us progress of the team’s escape attempt, and then quickly be dropped again. The final scene had the team free, and thanking us for our help, before one final drop. And the classic 80’s soundtrack music was blaring in the background the whole time. The ride really is a lot of fun! I don’t remember the drop sequences in TOT being quite so “bouncy”. It is definitely a very different atmosphere.

The real question was, how had Owen fared? He was sitting a couple of seats away from me, as I turned to ask him what he thought, I realized that the giant smile plastered across his face rendered the question unnecessary. As he bounced out of his seat, he was exuberant, and shouting “That was sooooo freaking awesome!!! Let’s do it again!!”. And I was one relieved mommy, lol! I promised him we would get a FP to come back later, as the line had already gotten quite long. So glad this one was a success, though!

Monsters Inc was nearby, maybe not a wise choice to spend EMH time on, but I wanted to do it anyway. It’s one of my very favorite movies. The 10K race (which was happening tomorrow) was Monsters Inc themed, unfortunately it was the only race of the weekend we weren’t doing. The ride was fun, as always though.

As we were leaving, I pulled out my phone, and was greeted with a rather foreign sight. Not my background, not my icons, not my anything! I panicked, and starting saying, “OMG, this isn’t my phone!!” Well, it clearly WAS my phone, as I have a personalized case that is unmistakable. But where was all of my stuff? My photos? My apps?? Had it just done a spontaneous factory reset and wiped everything? It turned out it had somehow gotten into Guest Mode, I didn’t even know that was a thing. I rebooted to get everything back to normal, and Brian mentioned that I had probably just erased any pictures I took while in Guest Mode. Rats!! Though, once we got home, I was able to retrieve them after all, so crisis averted.

It was still EMH, so we headed over to Radiator Springs to get in line for the racers before the rest of the crowds arrived. I was hoping to get a FP to come back and ride it at night, but didn’t want to risk missing a chance now. Turns out there was almost no wait at all! And we even got our own car. Unfortunately, Owen is still short and you can’t see him well in the picture. Still a common problem for us on most rides. Oh well, one day!

The ride is so much fun, though. I think it is Brian’s favorite one here. If you haven’t ridden it, it’s a lot like Test Track, but Cars themed, and much more immersive.

Afterwards, Owen wanted to look in Luigi’s tire shop – none of us realized it was a ride! I don’t think this one was open last time – Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. It was cute, reminded me a lot of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.

Our first FP of the day was for Soarin’ around the World, I had  gotten it on the app as soon as we were in the park, so it was good right at 9am. Wanting to see the new Soarin’ movie was one of the main motivations for our trip to WDW last December, then our poor planning (and some bad luck) kept us from getting to do it. Finally, our turn had come! I just hoped I liked it as much as the original, that was going to be hard to beat.

The FP line was almost nonexistent this early, so we were boarding in just a matter of minutes. We were seated in the far top right corner, which I worried wouldn’t be ideal, but it turned out to be great! Oh my goodness, I have to say I was totally blown away. I didn’t think it would be possible to love it more than Soarin’ over California, but I did. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me, and worth the 8 month wait. We soared over the mountains, savannahs, oceans, and lots of cultural landmarks. (I won’t spoil the details if you haven’t seen it yet) But, so realistic and just simply amazing.

I had already gotten another Guardians of the Galaxy FP, at Owen’s request. But we still had some time before we could use it. He wanted to go to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. It was already so hot out, and Lily wasn’t interested, so she took off on her own for a bit. No doubt to find some A/C, and probably some shopping.

The boys spent some time running around on the rope ladders and nets, going down slides, and Owen did the zipline several times. There was no one else there, so the CMs just let him keep going, over and over.

It was almost time for our FP. I was having trouble getting in touch with Lily, but was pretty sure I had her location pegged on the map, and it was right on the way to GotG, so we stopped by and picked her up on the way there. (She had been browsing the fine art in Off the Page).

The second ride on GotG was just as good, except that we missed most of the stuff in the queue. But this time, Owen was just excited going through the line, not scared, which was a nice change. And we got a different song, and even a couple of different scenes this time -really cool that they mix it up!  I thought it was funny that in the first picture, you can see all of us except Owen. In this picture, he’s the only one you can see! If I was good enough at Photoshop, I could combine them and actually have a decent ride photo of all of us!

We had a FP for California Screamin’ next, but it was broken down when we got over there. We decided to ride Toy Story Mania instead. I could have used my now-turned anytime-FP for it, but when I checked, I could also get a TSMM FP starting in just 5 minutes, so I did that instead. That way we could save the anytime FP, hopefully for California Screamin’ later. The standby wait for Toy Story was 40 minutes. Brian was flabbergasted that people were waiting that long, when FPs were readily available, 5 minutes out. I do not know. But not going to complain, lol!

During the ride, several times they had to stop, probably to help someone load, and when it would cause it us be at a video screen past the allotted time, all of the targets would change to say 0 points, You could keep shooting them, just not getting anything for the effort! Owen thought that was both hilarious, and unfair. A clever way of handling delays, though. They really do think of everything.

It was almost time for our lunch ADR, but as we passed by California Screamin’, there seemed to be activity suggesting it might open again soon. We waited, and at the last possible minute before we would have to leave, they let us in! Owen had never done a coaster that goes upside down, but he was very excited to give it a try. And it did not disappoint! He LOVED it, and again, begged for another ride. I promised him one at some point during the trip. He is officially a thrill rider now, I suppose.

We checked in at Wine Country Trattoria, and I specifically asked for an inside table, when I saw they were seating people outside. Even though it was currently 103 degrees. The only reason I made a lunch ADR today was to get us out of the heat! We had eaten here last time, and knew we liked it. The kids had both turned grumpy on the way to lunch – being tired, hot and hungry. Fortunately, both of their moods improved drastically with some A/C and food. I wasn’t willing to tempt fate though, and despite some protest, declared mandatory break time back at the hotel afterwards. Again, a long, hot walk through Downtown Disney, but we made it with no meltdowns, literal or figurative.

Oh, we did stop for one Photopass picture first, though.

The boys wanted to swim again, and Lily just wanted to sleep. I stayed in the room with her for a bit, but she was quickly snoring, and probably out for the afternoon. Feeling a little restless, I went on down to the pool as well. I do really like the pool area here. There are several small, separate pools, and two waterslides, that are themed to look like the monorail. And the water temperature is just right. Not so cold as to be unpleasant, but still cool enough to be refreshing.

Owen loved the waterslide especially, and did it over and over again while Brian and I hung out in the various pools. I didn’t want to try the waterslides today. I enjoy them, but I never tend to hit the water gracefully, and often jam my foot into the bottom of the pool in my attempt to not totally dunk myself. Not and injury I was willing to risk, less than 48 hours before the race!

After what we deemed to be a sufficient break, we rounded everyone back up to head into the park again. I had decided that we needed to do It’s Tough to be a Bug. For some reason, we’ve never done it, even at WDW. And I wasn’t even all that sure what it was. Time to remedy that! We picked up some frozen treats to eat on the way (still surface-of-the-sun-HOT outside), and of course there was no wait. The queue area is really cute. Lots of silly bug paraphernalia, and plays on words.

As the show was starting, the bug-themed announcement said that there was to be “No buzzing, stinging, or pollinating during the show.” Lily, being a teenager and therefore assuming everything is some type of sexual innuendo, blurted out  “Was the no-pollinating thing really necessary??” and absolutely could not stop laughing about it for the first several minutes. She went around for the rest of the evening telling us “NO pollinating!”, lol! It was a cute show, with all the obligatory 4-D affects of poking us in the back and tickling us with butterfly wings. 

We hadn’t made it to the Animation building earlier, and knew that would be a cool area (literally, in the A/C) to kill some time in before dinner. We thought about doing the drawing class, but looking at the schedule, Lily decided that she would rather come back the next day to draw Baby Groot, as we had already missed him today.

So we headed down into the Sorcerer’s Workshop. I didn’t get over here last time – it is really cool! They have all of these still-art animation things that you can play with, and even make your own. We spent quite a bit of time messing around here.

Then Lily and I went on into the Beast’s library, and did an interactive quiz. She is a huge Beauty and the Beast fan, so she enjoyed seeing this part, it is really well done.

If you can read the small text on the screen in the photo above, you’ll realize why she’s laughing.

Afterwards, we looked around some more at Off the Page, then headed on to dinner at Carthay Circle. We hadn’t eaten here before, and I didn’t know too much about it. (Again, I was more interested in getting ready for the run than researching every ride and restaurant this trip) It was one of the nicer Disney restaurants we had eaten at, almost a little intimidating! Unfortunately, Owen was starting to realize that maybe he should have napped earlier when Lily did, instead of swimming, and promptly fell asleep in the booth.

The waitress warned us that this was not a quick meal, but man was the food good! I was sad I couldn’t come close to finishing it. Owen was really sleepy afterwards, and I wondered if our late-night-at-the-park idea wasn’t going to work out. But, he woke up again once we got moving.

I had succeeded earlier in my plan to acquire a nighttime FP for Radiator Springs, I was excited to ride it with everything all lit up! That whole area is so neat at night – I still think it’s some of the best theming Disney has done anywhere. And, as expected, the ride was a LOT of fun at night.

Afterwards, we stopped by Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. We all had so much fun listening to the music here, especially Mater’s song where he forgets all the words and just sings “Dad-Gum Somethin’ Somethin’ Somethin” the whole time. It is just hilarious! Lily declared it to be our family’s new anthem. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find a downloadable version of it ever since!

We were hoping to get another ride on California Screamin’ but it was closed down for the night, in preparation for World of Color. We had seen the show last time, so I didn’t think it was a priority this trip. But it was about to start and Brian wanted to watch, so we found a spot a ways back where we could mostly see. It wasn’t ideal, but considering we literally walked up to it at the last minute, I couldn’t complain too much. 

I didn’t get great pictures, but it really is an impressive show. There was a family in front of us with a little boy, probably around 2 years old, that reminded me so much of Owen at that age. He was falling asleep on his mom’s shoulder, and kept winding his hand into her ponytail. Everytime she pulled his hand down, he would just do it again. Owen always did that to me! It must be comforting to them somehow, and I got a little teary remembering those years.

Afterwards, we rode the Silly Symphony Swings and the Zephyr. As we were getting on the Swings, the CM asked Owen how old he was (they have to be 7 years old, AND 48 inches to be able to ride in the individual chairs) He at first said 6, then remembered he was 7 and changed his answer. I’m not sure the CM believed him! I wanted to interject that he just turned 7 last week, and hadn’t actually had anyone ask him his age since then. But when he easily cleared the 48-in mark, we were sent on our way without further question.

The park was open for a little longer afterwards, but there was nothing nearby that didn’t have a long wait, and I thought it best if we head on back, as it was almost 10pm, and we had been up since 3:30am. I warned everyone that they had better not wake me up early in the morning! I was fully planning to sleep in, and anyone who deprived me of that luxury did so at their own risk! Hopefully the intimidation would work 🙂 But, another really fun day, with no major issues, was in the books!

Day 3. Saturday, 9/2

I first thought my whole sleeping-in plan was doomed, when shortly after 5am, we were all up within a few minutes of each other getting a drink, using the potty… Lily was randomly sitting at the desk on her computer. But I went back to bed, thinking maybe I could at least rest for a bit longer. When I opened my eyes again, I could hear the shower running… and it was 9:25am! I got my sleeping-in wish after all! Brian had been a bit restless and hungry, but had stayed true to his word and hadn’t woken me up.

We all got ready quickly and headed down to Tangaroa Terrace for breakfast. Unfortunately, the Kids Races (part of the half marathon weekend) had just finished up, and the disadvantage to our hotel being the closest to the race area, was that TT was swamped! In hindsight, we probably should have gone somewhere else, but we didn’t realize just how bad it was until after we had ordered. At least we found a table, even if it was outside, and only partially shaded. But it took almost 45 minutes to get our food. Oh well, we weren’t in any particular hurry, and everyone was being reasonably patient.

(We passed the Uva Bar going through DtD -it was open breakfast here, but deserted! We’ll know better next time.)

We were headed back to California Adventure today. We had done most of the important stuff yesterday, but we had missed a few things, and of course wanted to do our favorites again. We didn’t get into the park until after 11am, though. We made a quick stop by the Animation building to check the schedule – just like yesterday, Baby Groot was on the drawing schedule for 1:30. I suspected he would be popular, so we would need to get back here a little after 1pm. Then we stopped for a quick Photopass Picture. The pictures were included with MaxPass, but I hadn’t been taking advantage of that as much as I should have been.

Them it was time to fulfill our promise to Owen of another ride on California Screamin’. And we got lucky – were given the first two rows! So of course we let the kids have the front. Owen said it was “Soooooo crazy” up there, lol!

We hadn’t made it to the Little Mermaid ride yesterday, so we did that and another ride on the Silly Symphony Swings. This time Owen did mess up his age, at least! It was so hot already! I knew being here in the middle of the day was going to be rough – the forecasted high was 106 degrees. But, I also knew that we needed to sleep in, and staying out late wasn’t an option with the race at 5am tomorrow. So, we were going to have to tough it out.

We did another quick ride on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree as we passed, hoping to hear our “anthem” from last night. We didn’t, but were treated to a couple of other fun songs.

Brian played in the fountains in Bug’s Land for a few minutes, then we tried to go for another ride on Monsters Inc, but it was down.

On the way, we had passed a pretzel stand with these really cute Baby Groot cups, the kids had been begging for one, so with nothing else to do at the moment, we went back and got one. And some Mickey Pretzels, because you know, we’re still “carb loading”, ha!

We sat on the curb eating, and watched the trolley come by a few times, with Mickey Mouse waving out the back window. The kids aren’t really into meeting characters anymore, so I’m always glad when we at least spot one from a distance.

We did another Photopass shoot in front of GotG, and the photographer hinted that there would be  “surprise” in the photo. Sure enough, Baby Groot showed up in Owen’s hand!

It was still a little early, but we headed on over to the Animation Building, thinking we could look around at other stuff until we needed to get in line for the drawing class, it wasn’t even quite 1pm yet. But when we walked in, the holding area for the class queue already had about 30 people in it! So we went on in to hold our spot. Apparently this was going to be more popular than I had even anticipated.

While we were waiting, I was “babysitting” the Baby Groot cups, and several people asked me where we got them. They were quite a hit. The class was totally full, of course, I’m not even sure if everyone got in. There had to be over 100 people in line when they let us in.

The CM leading the class was a lot of fun, and even if my Baby Groot came out looking nothing like him, it was still fun. The kids both did really well! I was especially surprised at how realistic Owen’s looked – he has developed an interest in drawing lately it seems.

Unfortunately, as we were getting up to leave, he somehow leaned forward and smacked his head on the seat in front of us. From the sound it made, I know it had to hurt, and he cried about it for several minutes. He is a sweetheart, but still the clumsiest kid I have ever seen, lol!

Afterwards, I had collected two more FPs, for Soarin’ and Guardians, at almost the same times (the app warns you if there is a conflict, but doesn’t prevent you from booking it.) We had just a couple of minutes before they started, so we looked around in the flight shop across from Soarin for a few minutes.

We ended up in the middle of a row this time, which I actually didn’t like quite as well. But, it was still so much fun and I’m glad we got another chance. Then we made a beeline for GotG for one last ride there. We ended up in exactly the same seats all three times we rode it, oh well! Still such a great ride and I’m so glad Owen ended up loving it.

It was dreadfully hot, and there was nothing else we really felt like we needed to do, so we headed back to the hotel for a bit. I wanted a chance to shower and clean up a bit before dinner, anyway.

Dinner tonight was at the Grand Californian hotel. I wasn’t entirely sure how to get over there, I could see it on the map, but wasn’t sure if the route I had in mind would work out. But it was very easy, actually from Frontier Tower, the GCH is very close. Though they actually keep a security guard at the street corner, he questioned us heavily about our “business” there before letting us pass. Guess they want to keep the “riff-raff” out. (I’m making a slight, virtual eye-roll here)

Storytellers Cafe was in a bit of chaos when we checked in, but we were seated rather quickly. Tonight was special – we were celebrating the kids’ birthdays! Owen had just turned 7 last week, and Lily would be turning 14 right after our trip. We’ve never had a trip that was even close to anyone’s birthday, so I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by!

Kind of an ironic side-story. Several years ago, when they started the policy about kids under 7 having to ride with someone 14 or older, the kids were bummed that they could no longer ride together. I reminded them that it would only be a few more years until Owen was 7, and then they could again. But quickly realized that right after he turned 7, Lily would turn 14, so his age wouldn’t really matter anymore. Unless we happened to make a trip during that two week gap, where he was 7 but she was still 13, but what were the chances of that??? Ha! I clearly jinxed it, because here we were.

BUT, for the purposes of our trip, we were declaring her already 14 (we were celebrating tonight, so close enough, right???) Because they do have to be 14 to enter the park alone (or be with someone who is) I know, I know, setting a bad example to my kids that little white lies are okay, but I wasn’t going to make them miss out on park-time in the morning, because she was a week too young. Flame me all you want, lol!

Anyway, the meal was pretty good. I got more spaghetti. I could pretend I was still “carb-loading”, but the reality is that it’s my go-to staple food pretty much everywhere. After the meal, our server brought out the custom cake I had ordered for the kids, and several CMs sang a Zipp-a-Dee Do Da version of Happy Birthday. They seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, even though the attention makes them a little shy.

The cake turned out way better than I was hoping. The pictures I had seen online from people that ordered similar ones didn’t leave me with much hope that it would look much different from an off-the-shelf white birthday cake. But I thought it was really nice. Of course I picked the Star Wars theme, thinking that was the only thing they could both agree on.

Our server kept giving Brian a hard time for not eating any. He hates cake. And most sweet things, actually. It’s a problem I desperately wish I had! He joked with us that they couldn’t give us a box for it, so we’d have to finish the whole thing there. (It’s supposed to serve 5-6, and only 3 of us were eating it!) But a box magically appeared a few minutes later 🙂

Nothing else to do now, except get back to the room and try to sleep. I had thought we were all settled in for the night, when I felt a pair of small arms around my shoulders. Owen had gotten out of bed to come give me another hug and kiss, and wish me good luck on my race tomorrow. This kid just melts my heart, every single day.  

Alarm set for 3:30am again. After months of planning and training, the moment we had been building up to was now only a few hours away. Hopefully we could sleep at least a little first!

Day 4. Sunday 9/3

I had a horrible dream that I wore the wrong pair of shoes to the starting line, and in trying to go back and change, totally missed the race! I should have known such worries would haunt my dreams, lol! But, I easily woke with my alarm, or maybe a couple of minutes before. I forced my nerves to the background so that I could be focused and efficient. I had a very specific order of how to do things to maximize my time – needing to eat my (granola bar) breakfast, put some e-stem on my legs and feet, wrap a few problem areas in KT tape, and bandage up a couple of heat rashes / blisters I had acquired over the last few days. (Yes, my skin literally rebels against heat and humidity. It’s not my fault I hate it so much! But I was sure not going to let them slow me down today, if I could help it.) Oh, and chafing cream of course. Lots and lots and lots of chafing cream, lol!

We were easily ready and out the door shortly after 4am. I hadn’t been too optimistic that we would be able to get ready in the room without waking the kids, but they both seemed to still be snoozing soundly when we left, so hopefully they would get several more hours of sleep.

We took a few pictures and got in the LONG porta-potty lines. I didn’t really need to go, but figured better safe than sorry later. Although maybe not, it was so hot and stuffy in there, it made me queasy, and I felt sick for several minutes afterwards.

We were in different corrals for this race – Brian was all the way up in Corral B, while I was in H. Because of course, he’s way faster than me, so had a great proof-of-time from last year’s BolderBoulder (he ran with Owen this year) to submit. Mine was, let’s just say, significantly less impressive! But I actually wasn’t in quite the last corral – there were 2 behind me. Which would give me a small head start on the sweepers, at least.

During the pre-race entertainment (which I could only hear, not see, as our corral was much too far back from the screen) they repeatedly talked about the heat, and how potentially dangerous it was going to be. (It was already 82 degrees, and 90% humidity, before 5am). They went over the flag system they have in place for weather conditions – green flags mean all is well, yellow is a heat warning, red means you really shouldn’t be out here, and black means they are calling the race off immediately. We were already at yellow. If it went to red, they would consider course changes or closing the finish line early. Really hoping they could stay at yellow!

Finally they started releasing corrals just after 5am, but it took almost 40 minutes to work their way back to us. The first part of the race was identical to the 5K. Once in California Adventure, we ran all the way around Paradise Pier instead of just past it, though. They were really going all out with the course entertainment. Tons of character stops, and lots of parade floats parked around the course with characters dancing to loud music. Really a fun environment to run in. If I hadn’t been so worried about being able to maintain my pace with the heat, I might have stopped for a photo, but I figured it best right then to keep going.

(I’m including Brian’s race photos along with the timing in my report, though remember he started running 40 minutes earlier than me, so we were not together at any time)

We took a different route into Disneyland this time, going in through Frontierland. We ran through most of the park, of course ending with the Castle and running down Main Street. We exited the park on the side, onto Harbour Blvd. That was around the 4 mile-mark. The rest of the race would be on city streets.

So of course it got quieter now, and I relied more heavily on my music from my phone (and bluetooth earbuds, so glad I discovered those earlier this summer. Love not getting tangled up in the cords!)

Overall, things were going pretty well at this point. According to my Garmin watch, I was actually a little ahead of the pace I had been training at. I was trying not to think about how hot it was, and was making sure to stay plenty hydrated. I had water bottles with me, in my running pack. I had decided at the last minute to add an electrolyte mix to my water, which everyone said was a good idea in the heat. But it was making me gag, so I poured it out and got my bottle refilled with plain water at one of the water tables, which they had set up about every mile. And my leg was hanging in there. Definitely letting me know it was there, and slightly unhappy, but not enough to really bother me.

It was starting to get lighter now, but as it did I wondered why is wasn’t seeming much hotter, then I noticed it. CLOUDS!!! Most of the sky was covered with clouds!! That hadn’t been predicted at all! Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. At the very next water station, I saw that they had changed the flag to green – they were optimistic with this new development as well, apparently. Not that it wasn’t still unpleasantly warm, but so far not seeming undoable. The green didn’t last, it was back to yellow by the next water stop, oh well! The clouds stuck around for almost an hour, so that we were in full sun by the end, but I was grateful for the short reprieve they gave, at least.

We wound around street after street, corner after corner. Some areas had lots of spectators cheering us on, some even had displays set up with classic cars, or street performers. I kind of wish I had taken some pictures, but at the time it just seemed like too much effort to dig my phone out and deal with it. Things continued on like this for about another 5 miles. During this time, my pace had been slowing down gradually, I was now a bit below my training pace, and for the first time in the race, started feeling like I was running out of steam. We were just past 9 miles now, much more than halfway. I tried to dig deep to find the willpower to keep going. But I was alternating between feeling dizzy, tingly, and queasy.

We ran through the Angels stadium, lots of people there cheering us on, which helped. But there was a steep ramp we had to go up afterwards, and that just about did me in! I hadn’t needed to take any walk breaks yet, but I finally conceded here, and walked for about a minute.

The next 4 miles were a total slog, and the part of the race I am least proud of. I was so hot by now, a hot like I had never felt before, from the inside-out, and I just couldn’t cool down. I was dumping multiple cups of water over my head at every water station, but it wasn’t enough. I switched from my steady-pace run, to doing heart-rate intervals. (My watch alerts me when my heart rate gets over 175.) I would run until I got an alert, and then walk until it got down to around 150 again. So, little by little, I made it.

As I was coming up to the last water station, the flag had changed to red. Noooo! I had just barely over a mile to go – don’t make us stop now! That may have been the motivation I needed to pick up my pace again, I was determined they weren’t going to shut us down before I got to that finish line! (I found out later that they did close down the stadium part of the race at the red flag, glad I was a couple of miles past it by that point!)

Finally, we were coming back into Downtown Disney, which meant the finish line was near. It’s kind of a surreal experience to cross the finish line, and just be done. A little anticlimactic, like you’ve been fighting this battle for every step, for almost 3 hours, and then it’s like, okay, you can stop now. I got my medal, picked up a cold bottle of water, and a bag of ice. Then stopped for a quick picture before heading back to the room.

My time ended up being 2:54.29. I had initially been hoping I could make 2:45, because that would have given me a proof-of-time to get into an earlier corral next time (if there WAS a “next time”), but realistically, I knew that 3 hours was probably a more likely goal. So, not too bad. And I later saw plenty of people on FB “bragging” about their 3 hour + finish times, so I guess I have nothing to be ashamed of! Especially given the challenges I had faced in training. (And I read later that more people got swept from the course than ever before, over 300, almost certainly because of the unusual heat.)

Unfortunately, to get back to the hotel, I had to cross the race path, and ended up having to walk a ways past our tower before I got to a place that they were letting people cross. Brian was calling and texting me by now, having seen on the tracking that I was done. He was already at the pool and wanted me to come meet him there. I went by the room first – man it looked like a bomb had gone off in there! I guess that’s what happens when I’m not around to control the chaos in the morning!

I found him by the pool. It was right around 9am when I got there. He of course, had rocked the race and finished in just under 2 hours. The heat didn’t seem to have phased him at all, lucky! We spent the next couple hours lounging, alternating between the pool, hot tub, waterslide, and relaxing in our chairs. At some point we went over to the bar to get our “adult beverage”, the one I had been dreaming about all this time, lol! I ordered the Hippopota-mai-tai, mostly because it came in a cool tiki mug. Except that, you don’t get the mug if you are taking it to the pool. Oh well. It was still pretty good.

We heard from the kids a couple of times. They were at Disneyland. Apparently when they rode Indiana Jones, all the lights stopped working, and they rode the whole thing in pitch dark. Lily thought it was terrifying, Owen thought it was awesome, go figure. And then later, a picture of them meeting Darth Vader showed up in my DL app. Glad I showed Lily how to use the photopass link – should have known the only time they met a character would be when I wasn’t there! But they seemed to be having a good time, so all was well.

A few other pictures Lily took while they were there:

I had imagined sitting at the pool all afternoon, maybe heading back to the park around dinner time. But I should have known we wouldn’t last that long. Shortly after noon, we started getting restless. We just aren’t sit-at-the-pool-all-day people! I booked us a last-minute ADR at EPSN Zone for lunch, and told the kids to meet us there. (They were ready for a park-break by now anyway)

At lunch, Owen was very excited to show us the droid he had built that morning in one of the stores. It was basically like R2-D2, but red. And he had on a Mickey ears hat. He named him O2-D2 (for his initials). He had been wanting to spend what little allowance he managed to save up on a Ridemakerz car, but he was only going to have enough for the base model, with no accessories, so this was probably a better choice. Glad Lily was able to talk him into it.

Brian was ready to head to the park afterwards, but I talked everyone into going back to the room first, at least for a little while. (ESPN is the closest building to our hotel, so we were only a couple of minutes away). I hadn’t really packed for a park afternoon yet, and my phone was almost dead. Foolishly, I had forgotten to charge the extra battery pack as well, so I was about to be completely cut off.

Back in the room, I let my phone charge for as long as I could. But everyone was getting anxious to head back, so I went into the park with only 50% charge. 

I had convinced Owen to leave O2-D2 in the room, because I had a feeling he would end up lost otherwise. He agreed, but on the way there, declared that he had left O2-D2 with a phone, and that he had one too. All throughout the evening, O2-D2 sent him messages and pictures on his “phone” (which was just his hand, he has quite an imagination!). Apparently they were throwing a wild party back in our room, and playing Minecraft. And building all of Disneyland in Minecraft. It was quite the source of entertainment. What a kid!

We had absolutely no plan for the next few hours, and wandered mostly aimlessly, riding Astro Orbiter, Mad Tea Party, Pinnochio, Snow White, and generally wandering around Fantasyland. When we were almost to the end of Snow White, literally the next car to unload, the ride broke. After a few minutes, a CM came and manually unlocked it so we could get out. At least we weren’t farther back in the ride!

Owen was wanting to do Indiana Jones again, hopefully with the lights working this time, so we headed over, FP ready. The lights were mostly working, but it did seem a lot dimmer than usual in the last couple of scenes, so I think it was still having some issues.

We did Jungle Cruise, right next door. It was closed last time we were here, so we hadn’t tried the DL version yet. I think it’s a little better than at WDW. Our skipper was perfect, and the jokes were as corny as ever. You can’t help but laugh, they’re so bad.

We wanted to go to Tom Sawyer Island next, and Brian spotted some canoes out in the lagoon that he was excited about. Unfortunately, poor planning, both had just closed for the day. The Disneyland “special forces team”, dressed in all black, was loading the last raft over, presumably to get things set up for Fantasmic. (The show here is done in the lagoon in front of the island) That will have to be a priority next time. I didn’t even know about the canoes.

We continued on to ride Pooh.  I think some of the scenes in this one are better, but the ride doesn’t have the bouncy part. I had to put my Pooh ears back on for the ride though, of course 🙂

Several times throughout the evening, usually while we were waiting in line, Owen gave me a hug and thanked me for bringing us the Disneyland. Later tonight, and over the next couple of days, he would cry about how sad he was that it was over. Poor kid, he really wears his heart on his sleeve.

We decided to do the Tiki Room, thinking we had just enough time before dinner. The kids really wanted a Pineapple juice from the Dole stand right outside, but before we got to the front, the doors opened and we left the line, worried we would miss the show. It turned out that it didn’t start for several minutes, so I wish we had just stayed in line. Oh well.

The CM running the show was so cool – he totally got into character as a “Tiki Man”, and gave a long and entertaining string of announcements in his tiki voice, and even had the facial expressions to go with it. You can tell he loves his job, for sure!

It had been raining a little when we got there, and hadn’t let up at all when we left. We did get our pineapple juice, even though we were headed straight to dinner. I had a Fantasmic package reserved at River Belle Terrace. When we checked in, they warned us that the show might get cancelled because of rain, and offered us the chance to leave with no penalty. We opted to stay anyway and take our chances. But, it was taking a horribly long time to get seated. I suspect because they had to close the outside tables due to the rain, causing a backlog inside.

After about 15 minutes, we decided to give up and move on. Which left us scrounging for snack bar food, which no one was very happy about.

Owen wanted another ride on Big Thunder Mountain RR. Standby was only 20 minutes, but I could get a FP good in 5, so I did that, and we killed a few minutes at the shooting range. Owen was sad he only managed to hit a target once, but those were my results as well. Lily got 4. And Brian hit one with Every. Single. Shot. Show off!

It was at this moment that my phone blasted through its final 8% of charge, attempting to take one picture, and shut down. That was that. So, no more photos from tonight, sadly. Brian and Lily each only had a few percent left on theirs. I really should have remembered to charge that battery pack! Oh well. Next time I’m bringing my real camera.

So, with no pictures to jog my memory, I’ll do the best I can. I know we did go on to ride Thunder Mountain, and Owen loved it, even in the dark. We all agree that it’s better than at WDW. That seems to be the case with most of the rides. I know at some point we did another ride on Matterhorn, in the rain. I think we were on the other side from last time, and it did seem rougher. Not too bad though, and still lots of fun. We tried to ride the Storybook Canal boats a couple of times, but could never seem to get over there when they were open. I missed them on the last trip too. This is going to be my Expedition Everest at DL I suppose – I wonder how many trips I’ll have to make here before I get to ride it! 4th time was the charm for EE.

We did get to ride Autopia, which was closed last time. I’ve always hated Tomorrowland Speedway at MK, which this looks a lot like. But I didn’t mind it as much here. The cars aren’t quite as loud and stinky. And there’s lots of cool stuff set up on the course to look at as you drive by.

Then we headed back to Frontierland, hoping to catch Fantasmic, even though we didn’t have our reserved seats that I had been planning on. It was totally packed everywhere. We finally managed to find a spot way off on the far left hand side, almost all the way to Critter Country. It was standing room only, and still some heads in the way, but the show was starting and it would have to do.

They have just re-done Fantasmic here, and it’s really good! It has some of the same elements as the one at WDW, but some different stuff too, including a Pirates of the Caribbean sequence where they bring out a huge pirate ship with people performing acrobatics on it. And of course, there is lots of fire. Lots and lots of fire!

After it was over, we started to wander away, but heard several people near us, who were still facing the water, start gasping and yelling. We turned to look, and one of the trees on Tom Sawyer Island was on fire!! (I told you there was a LOT of fire in the show!) More and more people started gathering near the railings, watching as the fireball grew bigger, high up in the tree.

Several CMs working at snack carts nearby were talking frantically into their walkie-talkies. I wondered if they had anyone over on the island or not, but within about a minute we saw a herd of flashlights over there, obviously running toward the tree, and then the water screens (that they had used for the projections during Fantasmic) turned back on. That must have been enough to douse the flames, because they quickly went dark. Whew! I was afraid we were about to watch the whole island burn down.  

The fireworks were starting already, and this seemed like as good a place to watch as any. They even had projections to go along with them (using the Fantasmic water screens again). It reminded me a lot of World of Color, actually. Really good though, glad it worked out that we got to see them.

The park was still open for a couple more hours, but I was zonked. And it seemed like the kids were too. Owen asked to take the train back. We decided that if we took it to Tomorrowland Station, it would put us right by the Monorail, which we could then take almost all the way back to our hotel. I had kind of been hoping to get a Photopass picture at the front of the park, but at that point, minimizing our walking seemed more of a priority.

We stumbled our way back to our room, barely awake, and all fell asleep without even realizing we had left the fireworks going on the headboard. I think it’s safe to say we squeezed every last bit of fun out of this trip that we possibly could have, lol!

The next day was pretty uneventful, so just a quick recap. We had breakfast at Rainforest Cafe, then Brian went back to the hotel for one last swim while the kids and I spent an hour in Downtown Disney souvenir shopping. Lily got a couple of Beauty and the Beast prints. Owen got a Tie Fighter and a Rocket Raccoon picture. I got a jacket and a Christmas ornament. Then we frantically got our room packed up (making out within about a minute of 11am checkout time), and hopped in a taxi to the airport.

Security was being extremely uptight for some reason, and we had a bit of an ordeal getting though there. I’ve never been singled out for so many extra checks before, we must have looked suspicious!

All in all though, it was an extremely successful trip! The run was a lot of fun, and we really love Disneyland a lot. There is much uncertainty about whether runDisney will do any west-coast races next year, especially half-marathons. Both the Tinkerbell and Light Side race registration has been postponed indefinitely while they figure it out. Several rumors I’ve heard have them only doing 5Ks and 10Ks, which I don’t think we would bother making the trip for, as they are a dime a dozen around here. I really hope they continue, because we would probably strongly consider returning if they do. For now, I guess it’s a wait and see game. But if nothing else, I’m really glad we got to do it while we had the chance!