***Fair warning: this one is long and has LOTS of photos. I’d put the kettle on and make sure you have snacks!***
Week 2 of the holidays was a full week of Florida time and with me feeling much better, I managed to run a couple of times. I could maybe have done more, but getting up super early to run after a long day (and late night) at a theme park really isn’t all that appealing (and your legs don’t thank you for it, trust me) so my running volume was down, but I was happy to just go with it and know that I could get my mileage and fitness back up to scratch once I was back home. Here’s the rundown:
Monday – rest
Tuesday – Disney day
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 30 mins
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 2k
I confess I had considered a run on the Monday morning, but having arrived home fairly late after The World’s Longest Theme Park Day I knew that it probably wasn’t the best idea to get up early (you have to run early in the Florida summer to beat the heat) so opted for a chilled day reading and dozing by the pool. Just the thing to set me up for the following day when we were hitting the theme parks again. My folks were actually out for part of the day with my sister, so we just did our own thing and hung out. Perfect.
Our theme park plans were constantly evolving. As I mentioned in my previous post, I off-loaded all the thinking to my sister and she mentally recalculated things based on making sure we managed to do all the things we wanted to do. I was really keen to ride Flight of Passage again so we decided to start there at rope drop, do a couple of other quick things then spend the majority of the day over at the Magic Kingdom. After FoP we really only rode one other thing (Everest) and took a little time for some photo ops, but were in the Magic Kingdom around mid-morning.
Our visit to MK was really successful too and we knocked off everything we wanted to do bar one thing – I even embraced the instagram thing by posing, a little tongue-in-cheek, at the Purple Wall.
A highlight of the day was our dinner. My sister found a reservation for a character meal in the park so off we went to have dinner with Pooh, Piglet, TIgger and Eeyore at the Hundred Acre Wood. And thanks to the headwear I had bought Steve, colloquially known as “duck butts”, I now have approximately eleventy-million pictures of assorted characters pulling them off his head and messing around with them! Seriously, every single character we met involved them in the interaction!
And we met princesses.
Another highlight was meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the end of our evening. Since Mickey and I share Big Birthday years (we both celebrated in 2018 and made kind of a big deal about keeping the celebrations going!) I was keen to visit the Big Cheeses in their celebration outfits (having allowed enough time for them to change out of the safari outfits they had on at AK that morning!). Of course the “duck butts” got lots of attention again and our character encounter quickly turned into one of the funniest moments of my life!
After two busy park days close together, Wednesday was another day reading on my sun lounger. My legs definitely knew they had been in use a lot and with the cutdown in running thanks to being unwell, resting was a much better idea than a run at this point. So a restful day and mum’s home cooking it was.
I did, however, finally get out for my first run of the trip on the Thursday morning – only a week late! I decided just to do 30 minutes on one of my fairly staple local routes. More than enough to get back into it a little after a break.
Once we were cleaned up and had breakfast, we jumped in the car with mum and dad to get a lift over to Disney to join my sister for the rest of the day. She likes to build a couple of nights at a Disney resort into her trip and invited Steve and I to join her for the afternoon/evening. To make things easier around security getting into resorts (they’re super tight on this, quite rightly) and to avoid lots of driving around for mum and dad, the easiest thing to do was to drive to the Animal Kingdom car park, where mum and dad put us on one of the free Disney buses to head over to meet Linsey at the Coronado Springs. Mum and dad then spent time in AK before heading over to the resort themselves for their dinner reservation then met us to head home again.
Linsey’s room was cool with a typical Disney touch visible right away:
And the pool, where we planned to hang out for the afternoon, was pretty amazing. We had a great view of the new Gran Destino Tower which only opened a couple of days earlier. There was a water slide (of course I had a go!) tucked behind a kind of Mayan temple with a waterfall running down it and a hot spa pool off to the side.
We did have a bit of a rain break back in the room, where we availed ourselves of the Keurig to make some coffee, then headed back to the pool again and grabbed a snack.
There were a few entertainments going on by the pool and my sister and I ended up going over to the arts & crafts activity where we made a pop socket for our phones. For a few dollars you got the socket and could choose 2 stickers to put on it. I was quite pleased with my efforts.
Once showered and changed we went to have a look around the resort, starting with toasting marshmallows over by the pool.
Then popped into the Gran Destino Tower, which smelled unmistakably new, and took in the amazing views from the top floor.
Finally a visit to the quick service restaurant for some food before meeting mum and dad again.
Yes, I did order a kids meal.
All in all, a fun day in Disney without actually going to a park.
I got a little sleep on Friday morning, then we were off to do some shopping. We started at one of the outlet malls as there were a few specific shops I wanted to visit and had lunch at the food court. Steve’s a sucker for food court Asian food!
Then it was over to Disney Springs. I always love spending at least an afternoon here wondering around. I spotted this novelty cat bed, although I suspect my kitties prefer to sleep on MY bed so it would be purely decorative in our house!
I also visited The Dress Shop to check out all the beautiful dresses I can’t afford. This one was in the window. Isn’t is gorgeous!
Of course we made sure to take some refreshment breaks since it was hot. First up, an ice cream at Ghiradelli:
And later, a frozen margarita by the water. One of my favourites:
On the way back to the car we popped into the bakery to see the beautiful cakes. I wanted them all but they tend to be pricey.
And I was happy to see loads of Skyliners. I can’t wait to try these out once they open up.
After all that, it was time for a little rest and one of mum’s delicious dinners.
We were up sharp on Saturday to head over to Clermont for parkrun. No way was I missing it again! They were on their alternative course within the preserve (I ran on this course once last year) and although it was hard going thanks to my recent lack of running and lots of time on my feet, I actually went faster than last year to score a course PB.
A smaller parkrun means a much higher finish position!
Steve was busy chatting so it was “instagram Dad” to the rescue for this photo 😂
As ever, everyone was super friendly and we chatted to lots of lovely people, but by far the most memorable part of the morning was that I saw a CAT ON A LEAD during the course of my run. Sadly I don’t think the cat was actually taking part in parkrun, simply out for its morning constitutional, but it was still a cat. On a lead. On the parkrun course. I wish I could tell you that I had backup for this one, but it all happened so fast as I came around a corner so had no chance to get my phone out without causing a pile up. At first I naturally assumed it was a dog, but then realised that it was walking like a cat (yes, it is different) and then the wee floof turned to look at me and it was most definitely a cat. Unfortunately, neither Steve nor my dad can corroborate this as Steve never notices anything when he runs (I mean, he failed to notice the EIFFEL TOWER that he ran right by in the Paris marathon!) and my dad just figured it was a dog and didn’t really look. Useless! But it was a cat. I know it was a cat and I’m telling you it was a cat. Life. Made!
Once home it was time for a very important outing as Steve and I had yet to visit IHOP for pancakes. We had a coupon for a free stack, so Steve used that and ordered a couple of sides to go with it, while I opted for my favourite breakfast there, the Split Decision: sausage, bacon, eggs, french toast and a short stack of pancakes. Yum!
We then spent the rest of the day on our sun loungers until it was time for dinner. This time, with dessert!
If you go to Florida and don’t have key lime pie, did it even happen?
Sunday we went heavy on the Disney again, starting with a resort run. I had found out maybe last year that some of the resorts have regular short runs on selected mornings and the one that really caught my attention was the Beignet Dash over at Port Orleans French Quarter. I think ’ll write a separate post on this one, but the gist is you turn up/book ahead, pay $15 to run a couple of kilometres then get a voucher for 3 free beignets from the resort quick service location. I will definitely run for beignets!
We actually opted to wait until later in the day to claim our beignets as we had a breakfast reservation at the Polynesian resort. I had noticed my sister went there on her last visit and was keen to go. Why? Well it was a character breakfast at Ohana, and if you know your Disney then you’ll know that “Ohana” means “family”, therefore this had to be Stitch (and if you don’t know your Disney then sorry, we can’t be friends!). I do love Stitch. Unlike the previous character buffet where we took multiple trips to the self service buffet, at this one the buffet came to you. They started you off with the most delicious pineapple bread, then a fruit platter, then the cooked parts of the breakfast. All served with lots of “POG” juice (passionfruit, orange, guava) and any tea/coffee you wanted. And you could ask for more of anything that you wanted. We had a second platter of the cooked food and a few bonus waffles at the end.
Rather than the standard Mickey waffles, here we got Stitch waffles (but there was a rogue Mickey in the second batch!).
And we had a great view while we ate. That’s the Grand Floridian in the distance.
While eating, we were visited by Lilo, Stitch and Mickey (sporting a fetching Hawaiian shirt).
On the way out we were able to meet Pluto with a nice lei around his neck.
I definitely recommend this breakfast the next time you’re in WDW.
From there Linsey, still in charge of all Disney-related thinking, had planned a resort day for us using mostly Disney transport. Using a combination of monorail, boats and buses we visited the Grand Floridian for some shopping, The Wilderness Lodge to do the Hidden Mickey treasure hunt (good fun if you’re looking for something to do outside the parks), the Fort Wilderness campground to see the horses at the Tri Circle D Ranch and returned to the Polynesian to visit Trader Sam’s. This is a little hole-in-the-wall bar, but with a twist. The best way to explain it is whatever drink you order, a different “thing” happens in the bar. Some of it causes the lighting to change, the decor to move/react in some way or the staff to shout different things or spray water around. It’s hilarious and well worth a visit if you get the chance. The detailing is amazing and there’s always something going on. Finally we headed back over to POFQ to pick up our beignets. The original plan had been to get them to go since mum was expecting us for dinner, but when we realised they were served warm we decided to have one before we left. And then, when we discovered how tasty they were, we “accidentally” had a second. Oops!
It amused me that the horses had the same type of name tag as the cast members!
It’s ok, we still managed dinner and I had a bonus beignet left over for breakfast the next day.
So there you have it. A pretty busy week and a LOT of Disney time. I was definitely in my happy place during this week and the trip wasn’t over yet.
Where’s your happy place?
Ever seen a cat on a lead at parkrun?