Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tips to get into a runDisney Meet Up

For runDisney fans, the ultimate experience is an "official meetup".  These events are held by runDisney staff as a thank you the most loyal fans and bloggers.  They are typically the Friday before a big runDisney event.  The Meetups are often attended by celebrities and always attended by the famous Jeff Galloway. They always start with a 2-3 mile run through a Disney park, followed by breakfast and some talks by the attendees.  There are surprises galore!  They could be park tickets, rides, giveaways such as race entries and the famous New Balance running shoes.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the Tinkerbell Half meetup.  Check it out here!

I have been asked so many time--Amy, how do I get in?   I put together a list of tips to help you get into one of these super cool events.  

Follow @runDisney on Twitter.  They tweet "teasers" a few days before the official announcement. 
Write an email containing your full name. Have it ready to send to one of these email address, depending on which coast the race is at:


Disney World:

Have the email open and ready to send at a seconds notice. 
Stalk the Disney Parks Blog at  This is where the official meetup information will be posted first.  When it does, act!  You typically only have seconds to get your email in before the event is full. 

Follow runDisney on Facebook.  The announcement is not usually made there, but you never know--they may decide to change things up. 
Start watching the above media sites beginning two week prior to the race for announcements.  Announcements are typically made between Wednesday and Friday, but again this is subject to change.  

Good luck getting in!  

A dream is a wish...


runDisney Royal Family 5k 2013

On Saturday morning, my daughter and I participated in the runDisney Minnie and Mickey Royal Family 5k. She loves Minnie and Princesses, so I knew she would love this event!  She was not happy to wake up at 5 am, but she was much more happy when I told her we were going to wear our Minnie dresses.  We got to the Epcot parking lot where the event started.  Right away, we got in line for a picture with Princess Minnie and Prince Micky.  Then it was time to go to our corrals!

The corral system is a very new thing for a runDisney 5k.  From what I gathered, the corrals were assigned based on when you registered for the event rather than speed, but no one official has confirmed this.  Since we were in the stroller division, we were in the last corral--corral E.  As usual, runDisney did there best to keep the time waiting in the corral as fun as possible.  There was music, jokes, and lots of fun banter by the announcers.  Each corral got there very own special send off, complete with fireworks!

We waited about 45 minutes to start the race!  Half of the runners had completed the race before we got to start.  It was crazy waiting for so long. My daughter, along with lots of other kids, had fallen asleep in her stroller.  But finally, we were off!  The course was the same as last year.  We ran (walked) the outer perimeter of the Epcot parking lot for about a mile before entering a back stage area of World Showcase, just behind the Mexican pavilion.  This was when the fun started!

Once we were in the park is when we started to see characters.  We saw Mulan, Snow White and Dopey, Belle in her blue dress, Marie the cat, and Princess Daisy with Prince Donald.  We were also fortunate enough to get a preview of sorts of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.   We saw topiary's of Hook, Peter Pan, Tick Tock the croc, most of the princesses with their prince's, and some Toy Story characters.  It was beautiful to see them in the early morning sun light.

I very much enjoyed doing this race with my daughter.  She had so much fun!  She was a little scared of the character at first, but then she really got into it.  We crossed the finish line and a volunteer put a medal around her neck.  She was so proud!  I loved seeing her like that.  Some friends from home were waiting for us at the finish.  They are a fellow NICU grad family.  We have got to know them over the past few years, so it was so nice to see them that the finish.  I can't wait to do another event with my daughter.

A dream is a wish...


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Be Our Guest

With the opening of the all new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, "Be Our Guest" is the hardest reservation to get right now in Walt Disney World.  If you do not make a reservation 180 day out at 6 am, you will not get in.  The restaurant is Beauty and the Beast themed.  The Beast is there for pictures after your meal. I loved the character meal hybrid.  It was not crazy busy like a character meal, but you still get to see a hard to catch character with almost no line.  I hope they do something like this again with another restaurant   

My family got to Be Our Guest and checked in.  We were asked to wait on the bridge for our name to be called.  It was amazing beautiful.  The sun was just setting in the distance behind the Beast's castle.  It was a perfect way to wait for our turn.  We asked to be seating in the "west wing" section.  We had to wait a bit for it, but the wait so so worth it.  The west wing was perfect--so life like and true to the movie. In the West Wing dining room is the rose!  It looked just as it would when Belle snuck in to see what the Beast was hiding.  Pure Disney magic!

When my family was seated I could not help but notice all the attention to detail that Disney is famous for. At each setting was a rose made from a napkin.  My kids and I raved about how cute it was.  The waitress stopped what she was doing and gave a lesson on how to make the roses.  This gave the kids something to do while we waited for our food.  After we ordered, my husband and I wondered around the dining room to take it all the magic.  We were so impressed. Every few minutes, it would thunder and the lights would dim.  The room was quiet and had an eerie feeling to it.  

Our meals came in no time.  I got the pork chop, my husband got the steak and french onion soup.  The food was very good.  The service was good too.  I doubt this restaurant is ever know for its food or service.  No matter how good they may be, its ability to take you right inside a Disney movie is what Be Our Guest will be famous for.  My family loved our experience at Be Our Guest.   Don't forget to ask for the Grey Stuff--its delicious!

A dream is a wish...


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Expo 2013

On Friday, I went to the runDisney Princess Half Marathon expo.  I had been to a few runDisney expos, but I knew this one would be different because it was at a different location.  Thanks to opening day for the Atlanta Brave's baseball, we could not have our expo at the usual ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.  This year's expo was held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

I caught the runDisney transportation bus outside the resort.  I was excited to see Coronado Springs because it's one of the few Disney resorts I have not been to.  The resort looks like what you would expect to see on the Mexican Rivera.  It is Spanish style, like a different world. After I got off the bus I meet up with my friends.  We got in line to pick up our bibs.  The lines were not too bad.  In little time, I had my half bib and my 5k bib.

 New Balance runDisney shoes!
Then the shock--we were astounded in how packed the expo was!  To me, the building did not feel any smaller than the WWoS building, but it felt SO much more crowded.  I am guessing that the 10K+ more runners this year what what made it feel so much more crowded.  The tables to pick up race shirts and goody bags was on the opposite side of the building as bib pick up.  As we made our way through the expo, we could believe how packed it was.

The lines at shirt pick up was unbelievable.  We waited quite a while, but we eventually got them.  As all the runDisney races in the past, the "goody bag" was pretty empty.  We got our shirt, a Luna Bar sample, and a really cool mesh Princess Half logo mesh bag.  Instead of the usual flyers and samples, runDisney emails race participants a "virtual" goody bad.  runDisney outdid themselves on the shirt this year!  I love it! It's a royal purple color with a castle printed on it.  The fit is perfect.  I just love it!

runDisney Princess Half shirt and goody bag
After packet pick up, it was time to shop!  My friends and I very quickly got overwhelmed with how crowded each booth was.  They went to get in the 1+ hour official merchandise booth line, while I went to get the scoop in the highly coveted New Balance runDisney shoes.  The shoe line was crazy, but I hear it was so much worse a few hours earlier.  A sort of hoovered around to hear what sizes were left.  Why wait in line if my size was sold out?  I heard a NB rep tell someone that they had over two thousand pairs, so I figured I would take the chance.  After about 20 minutes, it was my turn.  I asked for a size 9.5, but all they had left was a 9.  I put them on and walked around in them for a few minutes.  Sadly, they were to tight.  The stars aligned for me because just as I was going to give the shoes back to the NB rep, another runner gave her a 9.5, asking for a 9.  We quickly traded.  The 9.5 fit me perfectly!

Royal Family 5k shirt and pin
After all the shoe drama, my friends were still in line for the official merchandise.   They were after the "I did it" shirts.  I had one of them pick me up a pin that looks like the medal.  After that, we planned to walk around again, but it was just to crowded.  We decided to go back to the resort for lunch instead.

A dream is a wish...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Question and Answer

With the runDisney Princess Half Marathon quickly approaching, lots of readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers have been asking me lots of questions about the race.  I thought I would write a post with all the questions I have been asked and share them with everyone!  

Any good Expo Tips?
  • This questions seems to be asked all the time. My answer for this one would depend on what you are expecting of the expo. Are you looking for the least crowded time to hit the expo?  Then I would say to go late Friday morning.  That is when it will be the least crowded.  Are you looking for the hot item of the year? (the Dooney and Burke purse last year, the New Balance shoes this year).  If you are after one of the hot items, then get there early!  People start lining up super early.   The expo can get crowded on Saturday, especially in the afternoon. Most importantly--have fun, enjoy the expo, and get some cool free stuff! 

How much do you estimate the entire trip costs?
  • I am a good person to ask this question to--I am a Disney Travel agent!  A specific number is tough to say, but there are lots of ways to make it possible on almost any budget. The trip can cost an arm and a leg, or not all the much.  My number one tip to cut costs is to go with friends and share the cost of a room.  Disney offers onsite rooms as low as $150 per night.  Divide that by four and that's pretty cheap!  My friends and I like to go deluxe when we go to runDisney events together.  We stay at the nicest, most expensive hotels.  Because 4 of us split the cost, we can easily afford a nice resort.  Another tip to save money would be to stalk the airline websites.  It is not uncommon for a $200+ swing in the cost of round trip flights from one day to the next.  What about paying yourself per mile you run?  If you set aside $1 for each training mile you run, you could have a nice stash by the time training is over.  You could also ask for Disney gift cards for your birthday/holidays and use them for the trip.  
How early should I get there?  I have heard people leave their resort at 3 am? 
  • Disney races start early!  They have to close the roads and parks for runners, and then have them open again on time for park guests.  Because of this, runDisney runs the resort buses picking up runners from 3-4 am.  They ask runners to get to the race by 4 am so they have time to close the roads.  It sounds terrible to have to be at the start so early, but it is actually really fun.  You can meet up with friends, take pictures, meet new friends, dance, warm up, get excited, and take the all important bathroom trip before you head to your corral.  My advice would be to get on the resort bus early.  A line forms and it can get crowded.  Waiting at the start is so much more fun than waiting in line at your resort.  So to answer, yes you do really have to leave your resort at 3 am. 

I am wondering when I have to leave the staging area for the walk to corrals. How long is this walk?
  • Don't worry--if you are at the staging area in time, you will not miss when you should walk to your corral.  There will be a DJ there pumping up the crowd, along with characters and lots of port-a potties.  The DJ will tell you when to get moving to your corral.  The walk to the corrals feels like forever, but its really not that far.  It walk is really slow though, making it feel much farther than it really is.  
How long do the lines take to get pictures with characters? I have heard "they go fast" but like 5/10 min fast?
  • This one really depends on the character.  Last year, the most crowded characters were Minnie just outside the castle, Belle and Beast and Sleeping Beauty with her Princess and the good fairies. I would say I waited about 7-8 minutes each for those pictures.  Less popular characters can take 2-3 minutes. One picture tip I would give would be that on the highway leading to and from the Magic Kingdom, wait to hit the picture stops till the way back.  You will have a better judgement of your time, plus they will be less crowded on the way back.  Be sure to stop for a picture outside the castle, even if you stop for no others.  You will regret it is you don't.  
Where/when should I stop at the bathrooms?
  • My advice on this one is easy and simple.  I hate port-a potties!  I go in the staging area, and then I wait until the second set of bathrooms in the Magic Kingdom.  By now, lots of people know to wait till the Magic Kingdom.  Nothing beat a real, flushing bathroom.  The first set of bathrooms will be very crowded.  Pass it and go to the second set.  The line will be shorter, plus no port-a potties! 

My main concern is getting swept off the course. I've been training at an average 15 minute miles for my longer runs but still am terrified I will get taken off. Especially if I try and stop for photos.  Advice?
  • My biggest piece of advice would be to trust in your training, and trust in yourself.  By now you should know what corral you are in.  Being in an earlier corral will give you a time cushion for pictures.  Either wear a running watch, or know the clock time when you cross the start.  At each mile you can do the math and know how fast you are going.  If you stay at about a 16 minute mile, you have nothing to be worried about.  If you are concerned about sweepers, don't worry--you will have plenty of warning if you are in jeopardy of being swept.  The infamous "balloon ladies" will pass you, giving you warning that you are behind the time limit.  This means its time to speed up!  If you are still behind them at the next check point, you will be taken off the course.  Don't let the threat of being swept ruin the experience for you. You will cross the finish line and receive your medal!  Trust. 
Any good places for runners to meet family/friends after the race?
  • After you cross the finish line, there will be tons of volunteers moving you through the finisher chute. First, and most importantly, you will get your medal!  You will then get water, Power Aide, snacks, your Coast to Coast if applicable, and your official finisher photo. This will leave you to pick up your back from bag check.  You will them be at the family reunion area.  There will be big letter about ten feet in the air.  Meet at a specific letter--maybe the first letter of your last name.  This makes it easy to find friends or family after the race. 
Do you have any more questions to add?  Post them as a comment and I will add them with an edit. Have a great race everyone!

A dream is a wish...


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Great Advice After a Very Tough Week

Strength for Climbing

Thank you for hills and strength for climbing.

January 31, 2013
Media: Love Those Hills
This week the unspeakable happened.
A friend lost her son.
You know the kind of moment where you hear news and you have to sit down for a few minutes, your equilibrium gone? It wasn't even my news, but the shock waves reverberating from her heart through the concentric circles of friendship that brought word to me were high enough on the emotional Richter scale to sink me slowly into a chair, head in my hands. Breathe. In. Out.
The unspeakable. The unplanned. The unimaginable. The sucker punches thrown by life, when we don’t even get a breath to squeeze and brace for it. How do we fathom news like this? How do we go on with the routine of life, aware of someone’s devastation? How do we muster the courage to love deeply when love can cause so much pain? How do we best share our strength to ease another’s burden?
There was no mistake that our training yesterday morning was a hill workout. I arrived early and parked my car at the base of the hill. I warmed up, occasionally glancing at the hill, not really feeling it but wanting to give myself time to make peace with the effort ahead – 5-7 climbs. This particular hill is such a beast, the kind you love to hate, hate to love. Hills, when properly recognized and tended to, can be like good friends - spending time together simply makes you better.
Since I was early, I ran the first 5 alone - just me, God, and the trashcans.
When I am alone on a hill, without the banter or panting of my comrades to distract me, I need a mantra. I need to find my zone, my rhythm. I need to distract myself from the suffering, but not from the effort. The effort I need to feel. One of my favorite hill mantras is, “Thank you for hills and strength for climbing.” The syllables are just right, the rhythm works, and it gives me the dose of gratitude I need to find pleasure (sort of) in my purpose. Five ascents, I said it over and over and over. Then I ran it twice more with comrades, still grateful, perhaps even more so because I had good company.
Later when I got the news, sitting in my kitchen with my head in my hands, the same words came to me, like I was having a flashback. Thank you for hills and strength for climbing.
No, we can never prepare for sucker punches. No, we will never be ready when a left hook jabs us out of nowhere and renders us windless and reeling. But we can make a deliberate decision to get stronger. We can choose the challenging route. We can choose friends who call us higher. We can surround ourselves with growth minded people, seekers, try-ers, lovers, and adventurers. We can choose to nurture and nourish our spirits. We can fix our minds on worthy thoughts and pursuits. We can take steps in the direction of fortitude, even before we are called to endure. Our resulting strength can offer shelter and respite for others.
Training is never in vain.
Thank you God for hills, and strength for climbing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Valentine's Day Virtual Run to benefit the LLS

Hello friends!

I am once again raising money to fight cancer.  I am fundraising with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  My goal is to raise $2000 by April 1st, 2013.  To do this, I am holding another virtual race!  This time, you get to choose your distance.  Some of us are training for half marathons, some of us run a few miles at a time.  You can do your run when ever is convenient for you--anytime in the month of February.

Welcome to the Valentine's Day / Princess in training virtual run!  Since February is the month of love, why not register to run with someone you love--a spouse, a friend, your child--anyone you love.  As a thank you, I will send each person register a finisher medal!  No proof of time is necessary -honor system here.  The event is less about your time or distance, but getting moving with people you love!

To register, visit my TNT donation page at here.

A picture of the medal! 

To register one person: donate $20

To register two people:  donate $35

To register three people:  donate $50

To register four people: donate $60

All funds go directly to the LLS to fight cancer!  Thanks so much for you support!


If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at