Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednseday

Part 3, Disney trip; the last half:)

I am on my last week of relaxation, do-what-I-want, and eat what I want. As much fun as it has been, I am ready to get back to a healthier lifestyle. This Saturday I will be running the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Atlanta with my great friend Melanie. This run will be my get back in the running mode kickstart, lol.
So today I was going to continue my Disney trip novel:)
You can read Part 1 HERE
Hollywood Studios
I was excited about going here, especially with my daughter. She is all into music,so I knew she would love it. I also knew that there was a great ride called Toy Story Mania, that I knew we had to get fast passes for as soon as we got there. After getting the fast passes we went over to Star Tours, which is a Star Wars 3D virtual ride, it was a great ride esp for my boys, they loved it. The line goes by pretty fast, so dont stress if you see a long line. The wait time was like 20 minutes but it only took about 10. After that we went to the American Idol Experience...
The way it works is they have auditions everyday for contestants to sing, they have to get in front of closed doors judges to get into the show. They have a show starting at 11:30 every hour until 5:30. Each show has 3 contestants and they sing in from of a live audience and we get to vote on who we liked the best. The winners of each show that day, go to a finale show at 7 and the winner of that gets a golden ticket to skip the line at any actual American Idol audition in the country. Pretty cool, huh? We thought so.Whats great is that they do it in the same format as the actual show, so if you are a fan, you feel like you are part of the show. Here is the 3 contestants we watched...
The girl on the right was the winner of our show. I suggest you go to this if you are a fan of the show, we all loved it. Then we went and saw the Muppets comedy 3d show, it was interactive and fun. Then we headed over to the Toy Story Mania ride, we had such a good time on this ride. You have to ride it atleast once. All of the Toy story characters were out for pictures too...
Due to a signed agreement, I cant tell you what we actually did for lunch, but I will tell you this if anyone in the park stops you for any kind of survey, DO IT! Trust me it may pay off, plus the reason Disney is so awesome is because they give us what we ask for. After our "secret" lunch, we checked out The Little Mermaid puppet show and then headed over to the Lights, Camera, Action stunt show. It was amazing, but I will say if you have little ones carry some earphones or plugs with you, it is loud. Here is a little video of the show...
Amazing right? They do it in this huge stadium that seats 5000 people, and have 2 shows a day. Make sure to see it. Pin trading was also great here too:) We ended the day with the Beauty and the Beast live show.

On our last day at the parks, we went to Epco. I think my mom and I were the most excited about Epcot, mainly because of all the things to see. We were also there during the Flower and Garden Festival, so it was beautiful. we arrived about 30 minutes before the park opened, we mainly wanted to get Soarin' fast passes, it an amazing ride. Its a virtual reality ride that makes you feel like you are flying through the is a video of the last part of it...
It is amazing. We actually got fast passes for later and then got in the 15 minute line to ride it right then. So we were able to ride it twice. Also anyone can ride it, my daughter loved it. We all know the huge silver golf ball sitting right in the middle of the park? Yeah you know the one. Well you have to ride it while you are there. It is like a very slow roller coaster that takes you through time in space. I enjoyed it but was ok with riding in once:). while you are waiting in line for this ride look up at the ball like I did and you can take a really cool abstract picture like this one...
Cool, huh?
Anyways after riding the big golf ball, we went and rode Mission;Space. its a virtual reality space ship ride. It has 2 lines one for green which is less intense ride and orange is full power. We then went ate lunch in Mexico. I would advise you to walk around all the countries before deciding on what to eat. Remember I told you that we were going to take lunch into the parks to save money? Remember I told you to take any survey you are asked to do, it might pay off? Well we were able to eat lunch on Disney Worlds tab that day:) Thats all I can tell you. After lunch my oldest son and I took on the Kim Possible secret agent scavenger hunt I told you about in Part 1. It was so much fun finding the clues, I had as much fun as he did. It did start raining on us for about an hour, we just huddled under an umbrella and waited it out and then went and rode Maelstrom in Norway. Then we took the water ferry over to France and walked the rest of the countries, got every photopass opportunity available, then went to the resort to relax.

Friday our relaxation non park day!
Friday was the last full day in Orlando, so it was one of those days that the kids went swimming with grandpa. My husband and oldest son went fishing at the resort, and my mom and I did what every mother/daughter should do, we went to Downtown Disney to SHOP! But you guessed that right? right! it was nice to get out with just my mom and spend time with her...
After a good day of shopping we went back to the resort for ice cream sundaes by the pool, did I mention how fantastic this resort was? Yes? ok!

We had a wonderful time in Orlando, but our vacation wasnt over yet. Instead of coming back to Mobile on Saturday we decided to drive to the East Coast and do a little surfing. The end of my vacation coming tomorrow in my 4th and last post. Stay Tuned...

QOTD...Have you ever been surfing on the East Coast? if so where? And if not, have you ever been to Hollywood Studios or Epcot and what was you favorite part?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Disney Part 2 Arriving...

Part 1, you can read HERE
Like I said yesterday, I have been taking a much needed break from training schedules this month. Its been nice and fun and all those wonderful things, but it has also been busy. So today I am going to tell you some of the things we actually did the first 3 days we were in Disney.

We arrived in Orlando around 6pm and checked into the Westgate Lakes Resort, it was easy to check in and the way they had it set up made for an easier checkin from the rentals and the owners. Trust me this place is like a small city, its busy. Once we got our keys we headed to our suite to change and hit 1 of their 7 heated pools. HEAVEN! On Sunday nights they set up a huge screen by the pool and show a movie, they were playing Puss n Boots the night we arrived. So we hung out by the pool ate pizza and enjoyed the movie in the heated pool. So much fun and a great relaxation night before we hit Magic Kingdom the next day...

One thing I forgot to mention in yesterdays post was about the Photopass. Disney has photographers all over the park set up for pictures. They are always in the best spots along the parks and they also are with just about every character meet.They will give you a plastic credit card that has Photopass on it and will scan that card everytime you get a picture done, then you can view those pics online when you get home. If you prepay for the photopass before your trip, its around $119, which includes a disc of all the pictures that were taken. It was $99 for me, it has since gone up. It sounds like alot but the quality of these pics are unbelievable also the amount of pics they take. Each photographer will take 2 to 6 different pics and will take as many poses as you want. What I did for it to be cheaper is found other people in my area that were also going around the same time as me. I had a friend going and my sister knew 2 people going, so we split the cost of the prepaid Photopass. Which made it $25 a piece. The way you can do this is one person buys the pre-ordered Photopass and sets up the account. Then you can add as many Photopasses on your account that you want to. We ended up with 4 different photopasses just for my family. So yes you will have other people families pictures on your account, but once you get the disc and make copies for everyone else, you can pull the pictures you want off the disc. Its a great way to have professional pictures done and a fraction fn the cost. Also a tip, whenever you get a photopass from a photographer take a picture of it with your camera or phone, that way if you lose it, you still have the numbers to download on your computer. We had lost one and luckily had taken pictures of the backs of the cards. So we were able to get those pics. We ended up with about 300 pictures through the photopass.
Lunch in the parks
We had also decided that we would take our lunches into the parks everyday except to Animal Kingdom, Ill tell you why in a second. If you have ever been to any amusement parks, fairs, concerts, etc. you know the food is not cheap. Especially food in Disney World. So we opted to make sandwiches for lunch and pack lots of snacks for the day. As far as drinks go, any place at Disney that serves founatin drinks will give you free ice water. And it is a very large cup of ice water, so I packed the individual Crystal Light packs in my bag and so we were able to get free ice water all day and make it lemonade, tea, and koolaid. As far as carrying lunch, I carried the snacks and sandwiches in one of those drawstring backpacks everyday.Because we didnt have drinks to lug around it didnt weigh much and we always had snacks to eat anytime. My sister and her family do the same thing except they used a soft sided cooler, which is the only type cooler allowed in Disney Parks, and they rented a locker at each park for about $7 a day. We didnt use them, its your choice.

 Now at Animal kingdom, you cannot bring a cooler in that park, however I did still bring my bag with snacks in. We had decided that would be the one place that we actually ate in the park and decided on the Rainforest Cafe and here is why. I found coupons for 99 cent kid meals on Ebay HERE. Now if you have kids buy them now if you are planning on going in 2012 they sell out quick and for $3 you get 4 coupons. Kids meals at Rainforest cafe start out at $5.99, so it is a $5+savings. Donald got a burger and I got a veggie burger, both were around $10, so having the coupons I saved about $15 on lunch. It is also a really cool place to eat also. 

And one last thing is called a fast pass, if there are rides you really want to ride but dont want to stand in the line. you can get whats called a fast pass. You stick your Disney passes in these machines and they spit out a time for you to come ride without standing in line, so if it says 9:40 to 10:40, you have anytime in that hour to come back to the ride and skip the line. The main places you want to go and get fastpasses for as soon as you arrive at the parks are for Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios, Space Mountain and Splash mountain in Magic Kingdom, Expedition everest and Kali River Rapids in Animal kingdom, and Soarin' in Epcot. The fast pases for these rides are usually gone within an hour of the park opening and you will have to wait in the long line to ride it. And yes parents youll want to ride both these rides they were fantastic. We had just as much fun on the toy Story ride as the kids did.

Day 1 Magic Kingdom
We had decided that we would arrive when the park opened around 9. it wasnt supposed to be terribly busy, so we knew we would beable to ride alot of the rides without having to rush. I had also downloaded the aps on my phone that had all the wait times and maps for Disney World. These were a life saver. The 2 that I used were Disney World Wait Time by VersaEdge Software and Disney World Wait times by Phunware. They were both very helpful when moving onto the next ride or area. Also I had googled how busy it would be the week we were there and this great WEBSITE had the weeks of 2012 in order from the slowest to the busiest. The week we were there was 14, so we knew it wouldnt be tooo crazy. Anyways Magic Kingdom was beautiful and BIG! Once we parked we rode the ferry over instead of the monorail, it takes the same amount of time and it was a wonderful way to arrive. We decided to just follow the maps and go to each "land" in order. If you try to go back in forth it will take forever. The first thing we did was Stitchs ride with the kids, yeah that was a disaster, it was pitch black most of the time, loud, and they blow water and air in your face, kids were screaming and crying. Not a good ride for little ones:( We were there for the market street dancers to come out, it was awesome the kids loved it. Then of course we hit Space Mountain and Astro Orbitor. The Railroad was closed so we missed that one and opted out of Splash Mountain we didnt feel like getting wet. We also love walking in the Swiss Familly Robinson treehouse it was neat the way they built that in the trees. The character meets were alot of fun here and we did some pin trading. The great thing about Magic Kingdom is that there is so much going on all the time, its constant stimulation.

We were here for 11 hours and exhausted!

Day 2 Animal Kingdom
This park was probably the kids favorite park.We had decided to go early in the week because rain was expected later and we knew the animals wouldnt be out in the rain. So the first thing we did was get fastpasses for Expedition Everest, its the rollar coaster built like a mountain and got fastpasses for Kali River Rapids, they are close to each other so grab the fast passes. Then we headed over to the Kilimanjaros safari. Let me tell you it was amazing, all of the animals we saw and the way they have it set up, you ride in this jungle truck and you feel like you are on an Afrikan safari.These are some of the pics I took...
then we took advantage of our fast passes to Expedition Everest, ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, then went straight to the Kali River Rapids and used our fast passes. Its great not having to wait in line. You can go do other things and come back. no time is wasted waiting in lines. As we were walking around we saw this interesting creature, tree-woman, check it out...

Do you see her? look close at the tree behind us, youll see her face. You will see some very interesting things while in the parks. They also had character spots here. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy have a section that they are always at, so you can get good picture with them and autographs. And so does Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore.
Another mist see is the Lion King show it plays every hour and is near Club Mickey and Minnie.
it is an amazing show, the kids loved it. Try to get there early to be first in because they pick kids to be in the finale of the show and they pick from close to the front.

Also this is a great park for pin trading, almost every employee had pins to trade. Just look on their belt loop or around their neck on their lanyards. (FYI, make your Rainforest Cafe reservations in the morning when you get there and that avoids a wait at lunch too:))
We left the park around 6 and went to the resort and grilled out and relaxed.

As you can see we had a great time at both parks, and it was very hectic but fun.
 Part 3 Hollywood Studios and Epcot coming up tomorrow.
Oh and I did not run while I was in Orlando, but I had to have walked 20 miles a day easily, so that counts for something right? :)

QOTD? Have you ever been to Magic kingdom or Animal Kingdom and if so what was your favorite thing there?

Monday, April 23, 2012

How I have spent my time off running...Disney planning part 1

Sometimes we just need a break to re-focus our brains. I had mentioned before that I was going to take the month of April off from "training". Mainly because I had spent a year pretty much on a training schedule every week. That schedule helped me to lose 50 lbs and run 15 miles non stop. However with my next venture being the Marine Corp Marathon on October, I knew I needed a non schedule break to regroup and refocus my goals. So I chose in the month of April to run when I wanted and go to the gym when I wanted, making sure that I still run one long training run a week. And man that is exactly what I have done. So let me catch you up to speed on my fun non schuduled month...

I have been planning a 7 day Spring break "surprise" trip to Disney World for my kids for quite sometime. And let me tell you it is hard to surprise my nosy kids, they have found Christmas gifts every year:(! LOL. Ok so this is going to get long and be a couple of different post, so bare with me and hopefully yall will get some tips on how I planned my trip.

My parents were going with us, so I had a total of 7 people to plan for 4 adults and 2 kids. Park tickets were the main focus at first. My stepdad is military so we were able to get half off 4 day park hopper passes, which cost my around $1021. You might be thinking WOW, thats alot. Regular price for one 4 day park hopper pass cost $292 times that by 7, $2044. So it was definitely a savings. I suggest taking someone with you that is military when you go:)! Once we had purchased our passes. The next step was where to stay...

Because my father n law works for Choice Hotels International, we are able to get a pretty good rate through his hotel, usually ranges from $39 to $69 a night depending on where you stay. I knew we would need 2 rooms, so I did the math, Even if we stayed in the lower end hotel, which is usually Econo Lodge or Quality Inn. It would have cost us roughly $468 for the 6nights/7days. Now thats not a bad price, but we are talking about a hotel rooms which means limited space to move around and function. 1 or 2 nights ok, but not 6 with 3 small children. So I decided to look into timeshare. Now we have done a timeshare presentation before in Las Vegas and it was great, you sit through a 90 minute presentation in return for something. So I came across a timeshare resort called The Westgate Lakes Resort. It was only about 9 miles from the park and di offer free shuttles to and from the parks, and the pictures were fantastic. The resort had everything and more we would need for our vacation. They were running a special for 3 days for $99 in a studio suite, however it said they had specials for 1,2,3,and even 4 bedroom suites, to call for rates. Donald called and inquired about the 2 bedroom 1250 square ft suite for 7 days. I was surprised at the rate, $399 for the whole week. Thats crazy, look at this place...

All we had to do was sit through a 90 minute presentaion on the last day we were there. Of course we jumped on that. So we booked right then for 6 days 7 nights in a 2 bedroom suite for $399. That was a much better deal than staying at the hotel for the week and saved us $70+ and now we had a full kitchen, living room, 2 huge bedrooms and a beautiful screened in patio, check out the view on our 5th floor suite...
(The presentation lasted about 2 hours and it was a not a pushy sell at all, we all shook hands and went our ways. Its a great way to stay at resorts you wouldnt normally go to. Also they have free supervised kids club that the kids can go to while staying there, kids activities, mini golf, paddleboats, fishing, basketball coaurts, shuffleboard, sunday night movie by the pool, ice cream sundaes by the the pool, and activity center for arts and crafts, and lots more. All free:))

So we spent $1021 for tickets and $399 for the suite. We had figured out that for us 2 drive our truck, we would need about $350 for gas round trip. Tickets to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios for 4 days, resort cost for 7 days, and gas cost us roughly $1770. Now when you do the math on that, we are at $36 per day per person. CHEAP for Disney World.

I also had planned some surprises for the kids while we were there. I had heard of some people buying cheap Disney things at home to wrap and give them while at Disney, to cut down all the "I wants" in the park. My kids are 5,7, and 10, so I came up with making them travel bags. I went to the thrift store here in town (Americas thrift store on Govt blvd in Tillmans Corner, if you live here:)), and found 3 Disney small backpacks, for the last month, I have been filling them up with disney coloring books, water bottles, pens, pencils, markers, any cheap disney things I could find that would travel well in the car and keep them busy, remember I have 3 kids that only like each other every other 5 minutes, so car rides for 8 hours are NOT fun! lol...
I also had come across these really cool free downloadable Mickey heads that I could could print onto iron on sheets (Walmart $9) and make them shirts. So what I did was I went to the dollar tree and bought each of them 5 shirts, 1 for the surprise and 1 for each of the 4 parks. And I made them a surprise t-shirt that the "Disney Fairy" left for them every morning along with a note. I bought 4 of the transfer packs $36 and 15 shirts at $1 a peice, so it was a $51 investment, but each of them got 5 shirts. 1 shirt at Disney World cost around $18 and up. They loved seeing what shirt the fairy was going to bring them the next day. Here is a couple of the shirts I made...

I also did the same on some small pillow I found at target for 75 cents...

This is what the bags looked like that we actually gave them on surprise day...

There are lots of things that kids can do at Disney world that has nothing to do with riding rides and sightseeing.

Pin Trading
Disney has a really cool thing called pin trading, you collect these pins and trade them with cast members, characters, disney employees, etc. This being the first time we have taken the kids wanted to do this so I ordered some pins from EBAY, now you have to make sure that you order from an official disney pin seller, there are alot of fakes out there. This is who I ordered from HERE, she sent me 100 different pins for $62, the cheapest pin at Disney World is $6.99 for 1. I know that some people may not agree with ordering them in bulk off of Ebay, however I would never beable to afford enough pins for trading with 3 kids. And Disney people are ok with it, I asked of course;). So we did buy them each 1 new pin while we were there. Here are the pins I bought...
Out of the 75 pins you see (25 went to a friend of mine), I didnt come back with a single one like them. they traded all of them for different ones. I think they had a better time trading pins in all 4 parks than they did riding the rides, lol! it was great. My mom even got into and started a collection. Its a really cool thing to do, and we were able to come home with a 75 new pins. including some older retired collection pins. whats great is you get to pick the one you want AND you pick the one you give, so its easy to start a cool collection of pins. AND the employee has to trade, so look for the cool ones. Def something I suggest you do if you are going. SO MUCH FUN. (FYI, Animal Kingdom and Epcot had the most pin trader people. Also they have kiosk that are for buying pins and alot of them actually have a book of pins that you can look through for trading, but you have to ask for it. Also alot of the Disney merchandise store have pin boards that they bring out and you can trade too. In Epcot there is a big board downstairs in the food court by Soarin'.) ENJOY!

Autograph books
All of the characters will sign an autograph on pretty much anything as long as you arent wearing it. So if you have a boy, a hat would be cool or even a tshirt. I chose to get them autograph books it was easier to carry. I found these on clearance at Walmart for $2 and put there names on them. Also if they have a friend or a cousin that likes the characters and cant come, you can get autographs for them too. I thought that was cool. The books were cool and a great keepsake for them.

Kim Possible scavenger hunt
At Epcot, find the Kim possible secret agent recruitment area. it was inside the futureworld and also right past Mexico in the around the world section. They give you a real cell phone and when you start it, it gives you clues to go to specific countries and find these differnet clues. Each clue you find does something. Like one of Peytons made us stand on this balcony and look across at this restaurant and when he got there and pushed the button it made the volcano go off in the restaurant across the building, it was awesome. It does last around 20 minutes, but def fun thing to do while you are there. You can also get a passport and get a stamp in every country that is there, we didnt do this but would be cool for your scrapbook.

So as I mentioned earlier, we surprised our kids, so the planning was crazy. Also the packing was crazy, this is how I packed for us...
When you have a truck you have to pack for elements, like rain, lol! So I packed us completely in 5 totes. It worked out great because I packed us up and the kids didnt think anything of the totes in our room. So on Sunday morning we loaded the truck with totes and a big ice chest and woke them up at 5:30am to go "yard selling", I told them we were on the look out for plastic chairs for the backyard, lol! it worked! Well you always think that its gonna be this great reaction and everyone will run around crazy and be so happy. Well that didnt really happen for us. they were more massively confused than crazy happy...heres the video


Yeah they were more excited in the parking lot when they realized we were really going. LOL

I know that is has gotten long but i hope you got some pointers from it.
 Part 2 coming soon, arriving in Orlando!

QOTD...Do you have any other cool things you do while on Disney Vacation?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dirty Girl Run going down in the ATL!

I had some awesome news in my email today from FitFluential. I sat in on a Twitter party hosted by and a couple days ago where they were giving away some entries in to the Race. They asked specific questions and based on your answers, they were giving 5 entries to this years Dirty Girl Runs. I was so excited that I was able to get a spot in Atlanta on April 28th. The race is $75, so I am crazy excited to beable to run it, thanks to these great companies. So now the weekend after I come back from a week in Disney World, I will be headed to Atlanta to get extra dirty and chill with my husband and hopefully some of our friends. Either way I am super excited, and on that note...this will be me in a couple weeks, stay tuned!

Oh and if you have a minute head over to my bloggy friend Heather @, she is trying to win a spot on the Hood to Coast relay team with NUUN. Check out her post HERE!