A couple weeks ago I ran the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon and it was amazing. I also completed the Enchanted 10k the day before the half. These two races are known as the Fairy Tale Challenge and are 19.3 miles of fun and fatigue. Below is my race report for the weekend.
The Challenging Part of the Fairy Tale Challenge
The Fairy Tale Challenge was really challenging and not because of the distance, but because of:
Tired legs from a week of Disney days
Racing on a diet of Disney snacks
Heat! RunDisney issued a heat advisory because of high humidity
To complete the challenge I was up Saturday and Sunday at 3 AM. I nursed the baby, ate some oatmeal, grabbed my water bottle and dashed to the bus in a quick 30 minutes. We decided to start our Disney World vacation the week before the race so that we could adjust to east coast time. Otherwise we would have been waking at what would have felt like midnight.
Princess Half Race Weekend Recommendations
If you want a magical weekend of fun and fatigue then make sure you sign up for a RunDisney challenge. Here are a few of my recommendations:
After each race, go to the medical area and get ice packs wrapped around your legs so you can speed up recovery.
Try and have a chilled out day on the Saturday after the 10k.
Dress up for the races.
Bring some cash to your race for a Joffrey’s iced americano.
Be prepared to walk to the start line for the Half – my fitbit indicated that I walked 42 minutes from getting off the bus to stopping in my corral!
I think the 10k race was probably my favourite of the two, but only because it was my first RunDisney race in Disney World and I wasn’t exhausted. I was also in corral A, which meant I started the race within 5 seconds of the start line. As seasoned RunDisney runners know, the closer to the start of the first corral, the shorter the line-ups to get character photos. In the lead up to the race other runners had been talking about 15 minute line ups and I was nervous about that. In my Tinker Bell Half Marathon a couple years ago there was barely any wait so I wasn’t sure what to expect in Disney World.
I ran both races with my mother and we decided to only stop for characters that we knew. This meant we skipped the photo with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch since I haven’t seen the movie. The first characters we came across were just passed the 1 mile marker and it was Belle and the Beast.
The sun began to rise at the 5 mile marker, but even some of our finish line photos look like it is still the middle of the night. While we ran through Epcot the PhotoPass photographers were hard to see because it was still so dark and I hate to miss a good photo op! Haha!
I was thrilled to see Mickey Mouse available for a photo as we were leaving World Showcase and transitioning into Future World. For a “Princess” race I found it a bit light on Princess photo ops, but I am more of a Fab 5 kinda girl than a princess.
We got photos taken by PhotoPass photographers with:
Belle and the Beast
Jasmine and Aladin
Goofy in his baseball uniform
Inside Out characters
The Epcot ball
I’m not sure where my Donald Duck photo ended up since we stopped with him too.
I found the 10k race route to be nicer, but I think that is to be expected with a shorter distance. I really enjoyed running along the Boardwalk since I wasn’t visiting that part of Disney World outside of the race on this visit.
Princess Half Marathon
I won’t lie, I was bummed to be starting in corral C and not A or B. That said, I ran my qualifying race 6 months postpartum and it was the farthest I had run in almost a year at that point. I really shouldn’t have had a pity party over this since before the race started I felt like a car running on fumes. I got caught up in the need for short character line ups. In the end I had an amazing race with my mom and we finished closer to our marathon times than our half marathon times. At the 4 mile mark we acknowledged that we were having lots of fun, we were tired, and that we didn’t care about our time enough to skip photo ops.
It took us about 32 minutes to run a kilometer through Magic Kingdom. We stopped for a selfie near the castle on Main Street. In Tomorrowland, we stopped for Buzz Lightyear, which was about a 1 minute line. We waited in a very long line for Belle and Gaston and then ran about 100 metres and stopped for Cinderella which was probably 15 minutes. In front of the castle there were 5 PhotoPass photographers taking photos so this made for a fairly short line.
I was shocked that the majority of runners don’t stop for photo ops. Why not? With the bottle necks that occur when lanes on the road are reduced it would be difficult to run the race course for a PB so I would recommend getting your moneys worth and stopping for characters.
First Half vs. Last Half of The Half
The first half is exciting and fun – I felt like a puppy! It was dark out and fireworks were set off every couple minutes to light up the sky. The monorail would blare its horn when it passed by the runners. You’re on your way to Magic Kingdom and that made me feel like I was on a mission. Then you run through the Park and it is as magical as its name. However, once you’re in the back lot and making your way behind the Grand Floridian you still have another 10 kilometres to run. I felt like I’d accomplished what I wanted and suddenly on tired legs I had to run 10km. Even on the roads back towards Epcot there were a few character stops, which was fun. There were also a lot of water stations to keep us going through the humidity. Knowing my two girls, my husband, and my dad were all going to be at the finish kept us going!
It. Was. Amazing.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve done a RunDisney race or if one is on your bucket list!
Recently I’ve had a lot of friends head south to Disneyland for a family vacation. Since Disney Parks are my jam I thought I’d post the top 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation. I remember going on a spontaneous Disneyland vacation as a kid and it was memorable, but the more planning you put into your Disneyland vacation the more you can get out of it. There can be fun in spontaneity, but these 5 tips will help ensure you get the most out of your Disneyland vacation.
Not What You’d Expect in a List
Below are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and I’m well aware that these 5 words may seem odd in relation to a vacation. Trust me, I’ll explain each below and hopefully you’ll realize I’m not as crazy as my list sounds.
In order to maximize your time in Disneyland, you should have a strategy. Depending on your personality you may not want to take a vacation that requires a strategy. However, a basic strategy will help you manage the Parks. Each Park has multiple “lands” that you’ll want to explore with interesting attractions in each part. A simple strategy would be to pick a land that you want to start in and then decide which ride you want to do first (ahem, Peter Pan in Fantasyland) and then you could finish exploring nearby attractions in that land before moving to the next land. I find having a plan fun and I like to memorize it, which I’ll admit was difficult when I planned our trip in 8 minute intervals starting at rope drop.
Have a starting time and a starting point.
Conquer each land instead of pinball’ng around the parks.
Decide whether to watch parades or go enjoy shorter lines on rides at this time.
Plan whether to eat your meals slightly early or late to avoid crowds at restaurants (i.e., more people in food lines equals less people on rides).
Don’t forget about Disney California Adventure – it is an amazing Park for all ages (and serves alcohol).
I mentioned Rope Drop above and it is worth mentioning again. If you want to:
Beat the crowds,
Maximize your time in the parks,
Get a daylight castle pic with not many people in it.
If those appeal to you then you’ll want to find out what time Disneyland opens and aim to be there 45 mins to 1 hour earlier (and earlier if its a holiday or a Monday). This will give you time to get through security, the ticket gates and into the rope drop crowd on Main Street.
Even on vacation you can’t escape technology. First thing you must do is download the Disneyland App. You can create an account, link your tickets, buy additional items (i.e., MaxPass), make dining reservations, obtain and view your park photos, and even order food from certain places when you’re in Disneyland.
I’m Canadian and the wifi in Disneyland isn’t fully reliable. I actually had to rely on my mother’s iPhone back in October because she had a US data plan and I hadn’t bought one for our trip. I would suggest purchasing a US data plan so that you can use the Disneyland App.
With all this technology and the inevitable use of your phone as a camera, you’re going to need a plan for how to keep your phone battery from dying. As an iPhone user I suggest using the “low power mode” for the battery in addition to keeping a portable charger with you. Or use the tag team method and use one person’s phone until it dies then move on to the next phone.
I love food and if you can’t indulge on a vacation then when can you?! Your vacation will not be complete without devouring some Mickey shaped foods, such as waffles or ice cream bars.
When we go on any Disney vacation (world or land) we always try to ensure that we have a sit down meal at least once a day. We have always been travelling with a child under 3 so we find a sit down meal important to slow the pace and give us all a much needed break. You can book your Disneyland advance dining reservations (or ADR as the cool kids say) at select restaurants up to 60 days in advance. Go crunch the dates and find out your earliest booking date and get right on it – there’s no time to lose! You can even change your mind later so book it early and change it if necessary.
Character Dining is expensive, but waiting in line ups to meet characters can be viewed as a waste of time by some. You’ll have to balance your budget so consider what option is best for you. My daughter hates characters and has continued this trend the last few trips. She finally warmed up to princesses last October. We ate at Chef Goofy’s and Goofy sort of snuck up on my toddler while she was eating a cake pop and she almost knifed him. So maybe don’t waste your money, unless you’re me and are hopeful that one day she’ll get over her fear.
I have found that Disneyland was more expensive for food than Disney World and if you want to keep costs down be aware that you are allowed to bring food into Disneyland. I normally bring snacks, but you could pack sandwiches and treat yourself to churros for a dessert.
As a parent I’m constantly trying to manage expectations and that’s important on your Disneyland vacation. Before you tell your kids how amazing Splash Mountain is you’ll want to check if any rides are closed for refurbishments. This information can be found on the Daily Event Schedule on the Disneyland website. I was heart broken my baby missed out on It’s A Small World when we visited in October.
All the minimum height requirements are also listed in the Disneyland App (seriously, what are you waiting for – get this App!). We kept a growth chart for my daughter and specifically marked 40″ as “Splash Mountain” and now all the neighbour kids know they are tall enough to ride it when they do a Disney vacation.
Not only do you need a strategy and technology for this fun family vacation, but you also need to learn the lingo of Disney. Are you sure you haven’t just signed yourself up for a business conference? All of this work is actually fun and your family will have no idea all the time and effort you put in behind the scenes to make sure this Disneyland vacation feels effortless.
You’ll need to decide if you’re going to be a paper-based (free) FastPass user or upgrade (for a cost) to MaxPass. This debate deserves it’s own blog post, which the Magic Kingdom Mamas have already done here so check it out.
Depending on your family dynamic you may be utilizing Rider Switch or Single Rider lines. I do not advocate for families using Single Rider lines to avoid waiting in the main line. Riding as a family is fun and waiting in line as a family can be fun too (there’s even an App for that).
Single Rider lines are for singles – like when I went back to the park when my baby and hubby were sleeping and I didn’t want to wait in line. Rider Switch is for when hubby and I can’t leave the baby unattended.
Other lingo you may encounter is listed below:
DCA = Disney California Adventure
DLR = Disneyland Resort (the hotels, Downtown Disney, and 2 parks)
ADR = Advanced Dining Reservations
FP = FastPass
GOG = Gaurdians of the Galaxy
AP = Annual Passholder
CM = Cast Member [employee]
PH = Park Hopper
That’s All Folks
Those are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and it will certainly be a memorable trip. Remember that even with all the pre-planning, there will be meltdowns, there will be chaos, there will be surprises, but there will also be magical moments that make it all worth while. Have fun and please let me know how your vacation goes– I’d love to hear about it!
When my daughter (the Munchkin) was 16 months old we made a spontaneous decision and went to Europe for a week. My husband and I had booked 1 week off work and had planned to enjoy a few days at home and a few days a few hours away in Parksville, BC. About two weeks before this was to occur, we checked flight prices and found a deal too good to pass up. Soon we were off as a family of three to Europe for one week.
Today I’m giving an overview as to how we planned for this spontaneous trip and why we thought flying 11 hours with a 16 month old was a good idea.
Upcoming Posts on Rome
This post is the first in a series of posts about travelling with a toddler in Rome. Upcoming blog posts will include key highlights from our trip and cover how to successfully tour the Coliseum and Forum. I’ll also share how to use Rome’s public transit system instead of the hop-on-hop-off busses. We also had a successful beach day that I’ll discuss. Stay tuned for these posts in the weeks ahead. Also, if you have any specific questions please email me and I’ll try to address them.
Past Toddler Travels
We had traveled six months earlier with our Munchkin to Florida for a two week trip in three different cities. I had also taken her for a weekend to Ohio. On both trips the Munchkin enjoyed airplane rides and was in a pleasant mood most of the time. She could sleep in her baby carrier and never had any issues with time zone changes. Given her successful track record with flying and time zones we thought we could handle the trip. Also, the departing flight was scheduled for 1 hour after her usual bedtime so we had hopes that she’d sleep.
Our Munchkin had a couple months of walking under her belt. She also had a few teeth and was a good eater. The Munchkin loved pasta, bread, and tomatoes, which was a good match for Rome! Naps made us worrisome as she was still at the two naps a day stage with a 9:30am nap and a 2pm nap.
Packing for a Week in Europe
We filled our suitcases with summer clothes and focused on bringing as many outfits for our Munchkin as possible. We knew she may go through double the outfits as us. After all, she was a messy eater and known to get herself really dirty! We also estimated 7 diapers a day and were able to pack enough diapers into the folds of our clothes and the crevices of our bags. We know what diapers we like and since we had space we decided to bring them along. I also packed food pouches so she could have a snack on something familiar. Our daycare suggested we bring any and all drugs from home so we had baby Advil, baby Tylenol, baby Benadryl, teething gel, and a super duty diaper rash cream. We never used any of it, but it did give me piece of mine knowing we had it just in case.
As for Mom and Dad packing, we each packed one nice outfit that would be suitable for the Vatican – you know, in case Pope Francis wanted to chat over coffee…
I called our travel company (Transat) to inquire about our airport transfers. I was advised it was a bus transfer and based on this advice I did not pack a car seat. We found out in Rome that it was a minivan and they didn’t care we had no car seat. That was pretty stressful, but we had a safe ride.
We decided to bring a hand-me-down umbrella stroller. The stroller had seen better days, but it still worked! From all of my pre-trip research we heard that the cobble stones of Europe could wreck a stroller. So from this research I then researched baby stores and found PreNatal chain of baby stores. They had a great selection of umbrella strollers so the plan was to buy a brand new umbrella stroller when ours broke. Fortunately/unfortunately (?) our stroller never broke so it returned home with us.
We also traveled with our Ergo Baby Carrier. Recognizing it was above 34 degrees Celsius most days we also bought cooling towels that could go around our necks, over the Munchkin’s legs in the stroller, or in between our body and the Munchkin’s body when in the carrier.
Thanks for reading! If you’re planning a family vacation to Europe, I’d love to hear your comments.
This is a guest post by Mouse House Mom’s own mother, Marg. While Marg isn’t the Disney enthusiast that her daughter is, she is a huge Avatar fan. Since Marg recently returned home from Walt Disney World, she’s guest posting to share her Pandora – The World of Avatar experience with you. I hope you enjoy it.
My husband and I recently returned from a 5 day, Walt Disney World vacation with our son, his wife and their 3 kids (17, 11, and 9). This was our second trip with my grandkids in Walt Disney World and what made this vacation extremely special, was being able to experience the newly opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. While I booked this vacation unaware of Pandora, I certainly felt blessed that it was able to be a part of our vacation.
I’m a huge Avatar fan and in the lead up to our trip I made a special granddaughter date night to watch Avatar with my two granddaughters who were toddlers when the movie was released.
Animal Kingdom is the perfect spot for Pandora. You would think the Tree of Life at the entrance was put there years ago knowing Pandora would one day come along to compliment it.
Prepare to be truly amazed with the floating mountains, entertainment, and attractions. My personal all-time, favourite attraction was the Flight of Passage. I have never experienced such a true to life ride experience. The seat is like getting on a motorcycle, but it is soft and your legs feel the movement of the bird breathing. I have been on many 3D rides that felt realistic, but none compare to the reality of this ride. It didn’t hurt that my favourite part in the Avatar movie was where Jake Scully takes his flight of passage. In addition to Flight of Passage there is another major attraction: Na’vi River Journey. This is a slow ride and has no height restrictions, unlike 44 inch height requirement for Flight of Passage
Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony
While walking through Pandora, we came upon a live show, the Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony. The performers in the show got my grandkids involved in playing drums and we all learned a new song. Thanks to the advice of my daughter, we had purchased a Memory Maker and were able to take advantage of the PhotoPass photographer to capture some great shots during this experience.
Recommendations to Maximize Your Pandora Experience
Having been fortunate to experience Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom in its first month open, I recommend the following to maximize your experience:
Book FastPass ASAP
Watch the Movie
More on each tip is provided below.
1. Book FastPass ASAP
Book your 1 Pandora FastPass the moment you get access and book it for early in the day. Learn from my confusion (I had to call Walt Disney World), when you book your FastPasses for Animal Kingdom, keep in mind you only get 1 Pandora FastPass (per day) for the 2 attractions available (i.e., Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey). You can use your other 2 FastPasses on some of the other amazing Animal Kingdom attractions. Don’t book another FastPass too soon because you’ll probably find it hard to leave Pandora! Although Cast Members do a good job shading the lineups it gets very hot spending up to 3 hours in line is tough for kids and adults.
2. Bring Snacks
Bring water and snacks for the lineups. It’s important in the Florida heat to stay hydrated. We found munching on snacks kept us from getting grumpy and hungry between meals.
3. Watch the Movie
Watch Avatar before going so you can fully appreciate how true to the movie Pandora is. A word to the wise, Avatar was playing every night on the TV in our Walt Disney World hotel.
Everyone has a favourite Disneyland attraction and for me, it is Splash Mountain. When I was a kid on Disneyland vacations, we’d always enjoy the queue and the ride as a family. It was our “final attraction” tradition. I’m not alone on this since I can see that this very minute (July 3, 1:20 PM) there’s a 75 minute line for Splash Mountain.
My 3 Splash Mountain Tips:
FastPass or ride it during a parade when lines are shorter.
On a cooler day, ride it before you leave so you can get into warm clothes sooner.
Ride it as a family and make it a tradition.
Don’t force your family to do the shorter “single rider” line – you need the family picture!
Sing a long to the music.
Even if you aren’t alone, sing and wave those hands to the music!
My Disneyland Has Always Had Splash Mountain
Being a Canadian, child of the 80’s meant that my first trip in 1989 was after the opening of Splash Mountain. As a 5 year old, I have no memory of Splash Mountain from my first Disneyland vacation. However, I know all of the words to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, which was recorded almost 40 years before I was born. This leads me to hypothesize that the memory of riding Splash Mountain didn’t stick, but the experience stayed with me in my love of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.
Final Attraction Tradition
Growing up, we had a family tradition of making Splash Mountain our last attraction of the day. Now that my husband and I have a couple Disney vacations under our belts as parents, we’ve started our own final attraction tradition with It’s A Small World.
In my last family Disneyland vacation as a kiddo (not a parent), I recall complaining that the ride was too much build up until the exciting drop. To this day I think Brer Rabbit heard me utter those words and made sure I’d regret them. As we rode one of the little drops that I found “too slow”, we plunged down it and I got absolutely soaked. This caused roars of laughter and I’ve never again thought or said anything bad about Splash Mountain!
Famous Splash Mountain Photos, or Not
One family trip we were in Disneyland on New Year’s Eve (20 years ago) and we decided we wanted to be the last people to ride Splash Mountain for the year. We planned to get the photographic evidence to prove we rode it at the insane time of 2AM. Everything was working fine and we got on the final log with a young couple in front of us in the log. When the ride was over my parents went to purchase our photo, but it turns out one of the people in front of us flashed their ta-tas at the camera and we weren’t allowed to get a copy. In the end we got a funny story that has lived longer than any picture souvenir would have lasted.
Splash Mountain – Not Just a 52 Foot Drop
Earlier this year, after my munchkin was put to bed, I ran back to Disneyland for just over 1 hour. In that hour, I had to use my Space Mountain FastPass and see everything else I wanted. After Space Mountain I crossed Disneyland to “single ride” Splash Mountain. There was zero wait for “single riders” and I joined a group on their ride. Exiting the ride I noticed that there was no line. I got my picture code, came back and went to walk up and around in the “single riders” line, but a Cast Member told me to just hop on since the loading area was vacant. You may be wondering how the ride, which can boast 2 hour line ups was empty. Lucky for me, the Electrical Parade had just begun and that’s where the masses were. I rode Splash Mountain twice, completely alone, in my own log.
Lonely or Amazing?
Riding Splash Mountain in my own log, by myself was amazing. They asked me to sit in spot “3” and I asked a Cast Member if that meant I would be getting soaked. The response back was, “You should be ok” and I truly was. All the thrills and fun, without getting soaked! In the moment of riding Splash Mountain all by myself I realized that I should have had that on my Bucket List and then did a celebratory dance in achieving this newly added, and newly achieved Bucket List item. I was able to ride and sing along to the music without my brother or my husband complaining about my singing voice. This also had the benefit of nobody ruining my coveted Splash Mountain picture!
January or February Vacation
If you have a January or February vacation to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, be warned that Splash Mountain is typically closed for a short while in these months for routine maintenance. When we went mid-January to Walt Disney World it was closed.
There is a 40 inch height restriction on Splash Mountain. We are hoping by the time my Munchkin is 4 1/2 years old she’ll be tall enough to experience this attraction with us!
Last month we enjoyed our Disneyland Vacation over Mother’s Day weekend.
To be honest, the trip was planned around the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the dates collided in a magical way! While we didn’t seek out a Mother’s Day vacation it was really special spending it on vacation. A full week of not having to wash dishes sounds good to me!
Planning Mother’s Day
In planning how to spend Mother’s Day in Disneyland, I considered our itinerary carefully. I knew we would be going hard at Disneyland on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and another day might be too exhausting. Mother’s Day became our day for brunching, baseball, and pool time. I also wanted to keep the Disney magic alive so I added a Character Meal and time to explore Downtown Disney. I was also running a half marathon on Mother’s Day and didn’t want to over-extend myself.
Restaurants and Dining on Mother’s Day
Disneyland accepts reservations 60 days in advance, but in March when it was getting close to booking there was no Mother’s Day specific dining information available. Mother’s Day specific information is usually released closer to Mother’s Day on the Disney Blog. However, a quick Google search told me of past Mother’s Day events. These dining related events were typically a tea or special dessert being featured on a menu. I felt that obtaining a reservation 60 days in advance was more important than waiting for the information to be released.
I had reminders in my calendar to make my dining reservations exactly 60 days in advance. I’m up at 5:30AM for work, which was the perfect time to log in and get my reservation. Reserving this early allowed me to obtain the exact time I wanted (9:30AM) at Disney’s PCH Grill. I picked Disney’s PCH Grill because I knew I wouldn’t be in Disneyland or California Adventure that day and I wanted to keep the Disney magic alive. Disney’s PCH Grill is located at the Paradise Pier Hotel and upon arrival in the restaurant you are greeted by Mickey Mouse!
Mouse House Mom’s Mother’s Day Tips
My Mouse House Mom tips for a successful Mother’s Day at Disneyland are as follows:
Slow it Down (unless you’re running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon)
Ditch the fast paced park day schedule for a laid back day outside the parks.
Character Meal at a Disney Hotel
Keep the Disney magic alive when not in the parks by dining with characters.
May was hot! Go lounge in the pool. My munchkin loved jumping off the pool deck!
We added a baseball game to our Mother’s Day and I’ll talk about that later this week when I highlight Father’s Day fun.
If you are looking for a magical experience and an opportunity to get your family excited about your half marathon training then stop reading this and go sign up for a RunDisney race. I ran my first RunDisney race at the 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Mother’s Day and it was amazing.
This post is going to focus on the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race itself – future posts will include planning a RunDisney vacation (i.e., how to enjoy the parks without wearing yourself out), the registration process, having your kiddo in a Kids Race, and the race expo. For now, I’ll focus my attention to the actual race day.
Three Key Points for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
If you only take away three things from this post about the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, make sure they are:
Smile every step of the way and buy the Disney PhotoPass for your vacation.
Throw away your time goals.
Have someone at the finish or along the route to cheer you on so that you’ve got another reason to smile.
Getting to the Starting Corrals of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
On Sunday, May 14, 2017, at 4:10 AM, my alarm clock woke me from the sofa bed in my hotel suite. My toddler was fast asleep in her crib in the bedroom, as was my husband. To not wake them, I slept on the sofa bed in the living room. By the light of my cell phone, I got dressed, opened my mother’s day gift (a Mickey Mouse backpack!), and exited the room. As I walked the dark streets, other runners were exiting hotels and joining in on the pilgrimage to the start line.
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon final instructions brochure indicated that I should plan to be in my corral one hour before race start, which meant 4:30 AM, but I felt that was too early. The corrals and starting areas were very clearly marked, but getting to my corral involved a lot more walking than I had anticipated in order to get to the security check points. Even without line-ups at security, it still took 35 to 40 minutes to get from hotel to corral, which would have been a 12-minute walk most days.
I wasn’t cold waiting in my corral, but I’d have been more comfortable had I worn a long sleeve top. I typically wear a top on race day that I throw off at the start and a charity group picks them up, but I didn’t see any of that at this race.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon Pre-Show and Race Start
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon pre-show was energetic and achieved its purpose of getting thousands of runners pumped up about the miles ahead. I was actually feeling nervous and dreadful standing in my corral. All of my training was complete, but in the days leading up to the race my knee had started to ache and I hadn’t been eating as healthy as I normally do. I tried to stay positive by repeating the mantra, “no expectation, no limitations.”
For the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I was in corral B and we started about 1 or 2 minutes after corral A. When Tinker Bell fluttered across the big screen above the start line and we broke into a run, I realized that it was going to be hard to pace myself as I was instantly overwhelmed with excitement and adrenaline.
Entering Disneyland at Start of Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race
Entering the back lot of Disneyland at about 1 mile was very emotional. I’d dreamed of running through the park and it was finally going to happen. When we turned left in the back lot, I could see that our entrance into Toontown was only a few strides away. It was finally happening – I was running through Disneyland! I’d been in Disneyland twice in the days before but we hadn’t visited ToonTown so it had been almost 20 years since I’d seen it.
First Encounter with a Disney PhotoPass Photographer
Exiting Toontown I saw my first Disney PhotoPass Photographer of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race and I was sure to smile my widest smile to them. Just outside of Toontown was the first character stop. I’m not up to date on all of my fairies even though the Tinker Bell Half Marathon is all about Tinker Bell and her squad. Since I did not actually know who these fairies were I decided to keep going.
In the first miles, I was still wrestling with how I was going to run the race. Only two weeks prior, I had run a half marathon and had been just over two hours so I knew I could break that today. I ultimately decided to embrace the magic of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race and not worry about my time. I was going so smile, wave, and get lots of pictures. To anyone thinking about running a fast race you ought to reconsider.
Fantasyland in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon course hugged right at Storybook Canal entrance and continued into Fantasyland. The attractions were running and I could see Dumbo in flight. Time for a selfie! Then I ran between King Arthur’s Carousel and Pinocchio and followed the path to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I was warned that while there were photographers capturing us running through the Castle, you could not actually stop running for them to take your picture. To try to guarantee myself an awesome Tinker Bell Half Marathon race souvenir, I slowed down and ran through the Castle with the biggest smile. I felt like a kid again, and as for the souvenir pic, I have 13 from that moment to choose from (two different angles included below)!
I went to the right of the roundabout and I saw a Cast Member holding a picture frame cut-out. Nobody was stopping so I jumped over and got a picture of myself in this memorable spot.
First Stop for my Character Photo in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
Next I was on Main Street and I almost ran right past Chip and Dale! My first characters of the race! The line was short, maybe one minute. Each character spot had multiple Cast Members that paired with people at the front of the line so they could take your phone and snap pictures while the Photopass photographers also snapped your pics.
The Disney firetrucks were even on display and as we passed by City Hall, we could see Peter Pan and Wendy waving at us. I had a mental checklist of who I should be on the lookout for during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon since it was themed for Tinker Bell. I was too scatter-brained to notice during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race that all of the non-Tinker Bell related characters were actually dressed with pirate accessories.
Running through Disney California Adventure
As the Tinker Bell Half Marathon exited Disneyland and dashed across to Disney California Adventure, I was actually able to connect to wifi so I sent my husband a text letting him know that my knee pain had vanished! As a Canadian, without wifi my phone is as good as a paperweight in the USA. Knowing my body wasn’t breaking down was a positive sign for the rest of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race.
Running between park entrances resembled a finish line area, as there were dozens of people lining the way, screaming and cheering with every step I took. I entered Disney California Adventure through an unofficial entrance, which was beside Soarin’ Around the World. There were pirates lining the way up towards Grizzly River Run shouting their best “Yarrr!” at us. I enjoy running on trails around Vancouver, BC, so it was nice to run through all the trees in Grizzly Peak – it felt like we were really in nature.
Take Me to Paradise… Pier
Soon I was running past the entrance to The Little Mermaid, which happens to be one of my favourite attractions because I can sing all of the songs. Combining memories and nostalgia makes running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon race seem not as daunting. I was constantly smiling and trying to soak in the whole experience.
With my two year old along on this trip I didn’t have the opportunity to stay for World of Color (bedtime was much earlier than start time), but fear not, as we entered Paradise Pier, the fountains of World of Color were dancing for all to see. There was not an official photographer here so I stopped for a selfie instead.
As I ran down towards California Screamin’ I was starting to realize that in-between selfie stops, I was running at a pace that would be difficult to maintain. It was also difficult to talk myself into slowing down when I was overflowing with excitement [see picture below as evidence].
The Lost Boys Need a Mom
King Triton’s Carousel was nearby and I wanted to get a picture of it for my daughter. The closer I got I realized that it was the Lost Boys from Neverland riding it round and round. One of the Lost Boys asked me if I’d be his mother and since it was Mother’s Day I told him yes.
This got loud cheers from all of the Lost Boys and as I ran away [bad new mom] they were shouting for me to read them a story. What a hoot! Having the attractions all operating and characters peppered around kept me looking forward to each mile. Pluto was posing for pictures before I exited Paradise Pier and entered a back lot.
The Remaining Lands of Disney California Adventure
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon course ran through another back lot and then it popped us to the start of Cars Land by Radiator Springs. More smiles for photo ops!
I was pleased to stop in for a photo with Mater and McQueen – probably the only characters in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon not offended by my sweaty odour.
After a quick run through “a bug’s land”, we were into Hollywood. Running down the main drag here I almost missed a photo with Captain Hook. My Munchkin ran into Captain Hook a few days earlier and he scared the beejeezes out of her – later I learned any character would have that same effect. If my Munchkin saw me posing cordially with her arch nemesis it could upset her even more, which is why I struck a “mean momma” pose.
The Last Park Hop of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
I crossed between the parks again and entered Disneyland for the last time – it is a blur to me where we were in Disneyland at this point, but I know I hit the 5km marker in a back lot near Tomorrowland. We ran from the depths of Tomorrowland towards the Castle and then veered away from the Castle and towards the Matterhorn. I assumed this is where Tinker Bell would be since it was right by Pixie Hollow and after all, it was the Tinker Bell Half Marathon! The line to meet Tinker Bell was the longest, but still only about four minutes for me (corral B).
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the Streets of Anaheim (9k to 18.5k)
After meeting Tinker Bell the course curved into more of the back lot and it never returns to the accessible areas of Disneyland after that point. In a sense, you are off to never, neverland… on the streets of Anaheim. While you are in the restricted areas, you catch a glimpse of Cast Members moving about as they start their day.
For me, I knew nothing about Anaheim and at this point of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I realized I had 14 more kilometres to run and for the first time my body was starting to not match my all-smiles appearance. This was my dilemma part of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon – I wanted to walk because I felt out of steam, but that meant it would take me longer to get to the finish line and get to brunch! I did not find Anaheim to be the most exciting place to run, but there were porta-potties, bands, and spectators along the way to keep me going.
The Finish of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon (2.5km)
The last kilometres of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon dragged, but it was nice to be in a restricted area of Disneyland – it felt like I was an insider. This was the only part of the course that I had been on before and as I looped around the Disneyland Hotel I finally felt like I’d really accomplished something huge: running a half marathon after three days of walking and eating my way through Disneyland! As the Tinker Bell Half Marathon course entered the home stretch, I could see my husband and my Munchkin. With 100 metres to go, I kissed my loves and finished strong to the finish!
Thank you for reading my Tinker Bell Half Marathon race report. I started strong, smiled a lot, and then reflected on the joy of the first part of the race to get me to the finish line. I would most certainly run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon again. I’ll gladly answer your questions in the comments below.
After many months of contemplation and research, I’ve decided to start a blog to connect with other like-minded people. I’m at the point in my life where I’m constantly juggling all of my passions and my responsibilities. It is more than the cliché “work-life balance” because for me it is learning to manage all of my passions:
Spending quality time with my family
Advancing in my career
Maintaining fitness through half marathon training
Cooking delicious meals and baking treats
Planning vacations and travelling (e.g., DISNEY)
There’s a steep learning curve managing it all, but I’m having fun and I can’t wait to share it with you. Below is a bit more about me and what to expect on the blog.
I have a full-time career in regulatory policy that I find very rewarding and fulfilling. Returning to work post-maternity leave meant it would also be the first time in a year that I’d need to shower and get changed out of my pajamas for five consecutive days. It wasn’t all bad though, I enjoyed being back at work where I could solve problems, converse with adults, write, and not get spit up on. While I was on maternity leave I was actually promoted (feminist high-fives all around!) so upon my return I was learning new things and taking on new tasks. After three months, I had a routine that I was becoming more comfortable with and my parents were helping us out with a couple daycare pick-ups a week. I even made it home in time to see the Munchkin’s first steps. I’ve now been back at work for over a year and while there have been some crazy times (e.g., working 60 + hour work weeks), I’m glad that the Munchkin can see her mom pursuing her passions in a pant suit.
In 2015 I gave birth to my daughter (the Munchkin) and since I’m Canadian, I was fortunate enough to have a one year maternity leave to bond with my baby. During this time we enjoyed a two week vacation to Florida (e.g., Orlando, Naples, Miami) and spent that last few days of our trip in Walt Disney World. I think this is where I contracted Disney fever. Last summer, we made a last minute decision to abandon our Parksville vacation plans and instead fly 12 hours with a 15-month old baby to Rome for a week. Best change of plans. Ever.
Last month I completed the Tinkerbell Half Marathon hosted by RunDisney at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. It was an amazing experience. I spent the six months leading up to our Disneyland vacation researching and planning all aspects of our trip. Listening to various podcasts, reading Disney books, and joining Disney-related Facebook groups, which inspired me to start the Mouse House Mom blog.
This is where I’ll be sharing my experiences as a working mom who also loves running, food, and all things Disney. I think it is important I remain connected to my own community by posting local events and activities as well vacation planning tips and suggestions.