First an apology for my absence.
Buckle your seatbelts however, because from here until the aftermath of the d2008 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend we are on for quite a ride.
Thoughts on my Tower of Terror Trip
On Friday of my trip Len Testa and I took in the newly refurbished Haunted Mansion. If you plan to go to WDW soon and want to be surprised about the new enhancements to HM then you may want to skip the upcoming bulleted list, if not then read on:
“¢ The first notable change was in the stretching room. The audio seemed to completely surround me. Also as the room starts to “stretch” you could hear squeaking sounds. Oh and our ghost host showed us (with better lighting) his way out.
“¢ One more thing about the stretching room”¦are those gargoyles saying something?
“¢ Once in the doom buggies the fun really began. As we entered the corridor we saw some stairways with candelabras”¦that’s new.
“¢ The left side of the corridor/hallway has very long windows and it seems it was thundering and lightning outside.
“¢ There were many new pictures adorning the walls.
“¢ There also seemed to be eyes following us on our journey.
“¢ Then there were the stairs”¦seemed taken out of an M.C. Escher painting with footsteps appearing and disappearing at the same time”¦upside down.
“¢ The sÃ©ance room had a fresh well lit assortment of instruments and Madame Leota”¦the new Leota”¦was floating in her crystal ball about four feet higher than I recall in the past. There is a flaw in this room”¦look for it.
“¢ The attic was very different as special photographs told us about the famous Masey family and we learn quite a bit more about the Widow Masey.
From there we toured the Caribbean with some swashbuckling pirates. We noticed that this attraction has some deliberate debris placed in the water. Look for it the next time you ride this attraction.
We then strolled over to Tomorrowland and rode Buzz Light-Year.
Then while I made a few phone calls Mr. Testa rode Astro-Orbiter.
As we were leaving the Magic Kingdom I was accosted by some wild woman.
Here is one of the scarecrows that adorned Town Square.
We then took off to visit the monorail resorts”¦first stop the Contemporary“¦work coming along fine on the new DVC addition.
From there we shot over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Neither one of us had ever seen Victoria and Albert’s so we ventured over and looked into the restaurant. If you ever saunter over to V&As to check out the menu bring some smelling salts”¦ for when you gaze at the prices.
From the GF we walked to the Polynesian as were we were meeting friends for lunch.
Along the way as we past by Luau Cove we checked the Scopa family brick”¦looks worn.
Lunch was at Kona.
From there it was time to head to Pleasure Island to pick up the race packets.
I ran into many friends there.
From there I drove some friends to All-Star Sports to check on the refurbished rooms.
Check them out.
From there it was onto TMK and the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party where I ran into my friends Matt, Marissa, Sara, and Josh.
The party was just like the last two years. We did our trick or treating and did a few attractions and saw the fireworks…
…the Villains Mix and Mingle….
…and the BOO-To-You Parade.
I was kind of fading and had a race to run the next day so I headed back to my room. I did run into Batman and Robin at the Ticket and Transportation Center.
I fell asleep about 12:30 A.M.
Saturday morning I spent in Epcot with a friend who I hadn’t seen in almost two years.
One of the “Can’t Miss!” off the beaten path places everyone should visit is the mini-museum devoted to the history of Epcot. It just behind Club Cool.
Be sure to visit this exhibit, especially if you are a Horizons fan.
By mid day we each had commitments to attend to. He went to PI to get his race packet and I met a young lady by the name of Deb Wills for lunch at Fresh at the Dolphin“¦highly recommended”¦.both Ms. Wills and the restaurant.
After lunch I went looking for some pins in Epcot before going back to the room to rest before the race.
I tried to nap but it must have been the rolling thunder that kept me awake.
I headed to Disney MGM/Studios around 7 P.M. and met about a dozen of my friends at the start line.
The race was really building up”¦thought it was going to rain. The weather was mild.
The race was late in starting because of traffic snarls and runners being held up.
The race began just about 9:50 P.M. or 20 minutes later than scheduled. But if you want to be real technical the race started 50 minutes late from the originally scheduled start time.
As expected it was a dark and at times a challenging course. Somewhere around Mile 2 the course was diverted into a gravel road. Thanks to some rain a few days earlier there was a portion of this road that offered a few sections with mud.
It was along this portion of the course that the runners were provided with entertainment in the form or volunteers who were dressed as insane asylum escapees. I’m sure it was entertaining for many of the runners but for me I questioned why this entertainment was focused on this area of the course when it was most important for the runners to concentrate on the footing”¦the uneven ground”¦the mud”¦and those poorly lit portions of the course.
The 13k (8.2 mile) course finished in the MGM Studios theme park. Runners came in through near Sid Cahuenga’s then turned left to go up Hollywood Blvd and down towards the Commissary and the Sci-Fi Drive-In restaurant before heading toward the Lights! Motors! Action! Stunt Show stadium. From there we weaved our way through the Backlot Tour route.
The course also winded through some off-stage areas before coming out somewhere near Sunset Blvd. and then taking a right to go to Hollywood Blvd”¦then once on Hollywood Blvd. the course headed towards the front of the park and took a left at Crossroads and then made it’s way up the hill to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and then eventually finishing just behind the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard.
This race was described as the first Annual Tower of Terror 13K which suggests it will return in 2008.
Hopefully the feedback the race organizers get from this race will provide some improvements in next year’s race.
If in fact this race returns next year here are some suggestions I have for the race directors.
“¢ Regardless of whether packet pickup is at Pleasure Island or Disney’s World of Sports the setup should be such so that the line flow should be packet pickup, shirts, and tickets. This year there was some backtracking involved and people were bumping into one another. I truly think the pickup should be at the WoS.
“¢ Begin the race earlier in the evening. I would suggest moving the start time to 9 P.M. or even 8 P.M. Most of the runners struggled because let’s face it, it’s Walt Disney World and curbing your daily activity to save energy for a nighttime race doesn’t work for everyone.
“¢ Also, for those participating in the race, there was little time to enjoy the party afterwards. With an earlier start there is more opportunity to enjoy those attractions which are open for the party.
“¢ Some consideration should be given to the medals. The 13K participants and the 6.5K participants both received the same medals even though the 13K participants ran twice the distance and paid more for registration. At least maybe change the ribbon color and dÃ©cor to identify the course covered by the medal wearer.
“¢ Regarding the course, there should be two corrals at the start with the 13K corral up front and the 6.5K corral at the rear. When the race started there were 6.5K participants in the midst of the 13.5K participants. This made for an awkward start.
“¢ I’m sure I speak for most of the 13K participants when I say to scrap the gravel road portion of the race. It is difficult enough to run at night without worrying about an uneven surface. A slight adjustment in the course still allows the finish line to remain where it is.
After the race several of us had a late dinner/early breakfast at Picabu’s at the Dolphin Hotel“¦at around 2:30 A.M.
I got back to my room around 3:30 A.M. and after a much welcomed shower hit the pillow about 4 A.M. but never really got into a deep sleep.
I was up at 7:30 and spent the morning strolling around Pop Century in search of information regarding the beginning of the Legendary Years Phase for this resort. All I could find was some refurbishing of the Generation Gap Bridge.
I called up Disney Dining and was surprised that I was able to make an ADR at Boma for dinner that evening. I was planning to dine with some friends from the United Kingdom who favor the restaurant.
I headed into Epcot and had lunch with Beci Mahnken of MEI & Mouse Fan Travel®
At the Garden Grill in the Land pavilion. It was a very enjoyable and restful lunch.
I then went on a search to locate a special Halloween pin for my wife but came up short.
In the late afternoon I left Epcot and drove over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge where I met my friends for dinner.
We checked into Boma and waited to be called.
When our little gizmo buzzed and flashed we went to the podium where we were surprised to be announced as “Boma Family of the Night.” This meant we were escorted into the restaurant serenaded by drums and were seated at the front center table and made our way to the food before everyone else.
It was a nice final meal for me as Boma is one of my favorite restaurants and my company was exceptional
We then went to Epcot with plans to watch Illuminations before finishing the night at Beaches and Cream where my companions had visions of attacking the Kitchen Sink.
However after seeing the Oh Canada! film I felt the fatigue suddenly hit me. The past two days were finally catching up to me. I knew that sleeping just seven hours over two days while touring the parks and putting in an eight mile race would lead to fatigue at some point. This was that point.
I bid my friends farewell and would see them again in January for the WDW half-marathon.
I passed through the International Gateway and made my way along Boardwalk, stopping to capture my last photograph of the trip.
It was one of my shortest yet most intense WDW trips because of many factors, mostly of trying to squeeze so much into a few days. If I could have done it over I would not have done the MNSSHP the night before the race. I hope someone besides myself learns from this experience.
However, I came away from the trip with the satisfaction of knowing that I made each moment count as I spent 90% of my time with friends and it seems that more and more that seems to be the most important part of my WDW trips”¦to share the joy of the Disney culture with those with whom I care about.
One thing for sure”¦.it made me even more excited to look forward to Mousefest.
Speaking of Mousefest
Are you ready? We are less than a month away and those on the Mousefest Organization Committee, Sponsors, and everyone else are working very feverishly to get everything in place for this annual event.
I’ve been making a list of things I have to do and this is the week I need to complete some tasks.
One of my tasks is to prepare for a new meet this year. It takes place on Thursday, Dec. 6th at 1 P.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace in the Magic Kingdom. The meet is called “Mousefest 101″ and it is geared towards helping first time Mousefest attendees understand what Mousefest is all about and how to get the most out of the event. I will be joined by Mark Goldhaber who is co-hosting the event with me.
If you are coming to your first Mousefest please try and attend this meet. I’m sure it will help you enjoy Mousefest.
A Word about January
We are about eight weeks from the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.
Where should you be? Well, I’m thinking that for those of you planning to run in your first half-marathon that you should be in the 8-9 mile mark right now.
At this point you should be taking note of your pace.
Over the next few weeks we’ll talk about what you should consider as we close in on the race, be it your first half or full marathon.
For now as you get into the 8 or 9 mile workouts consider giving yourself an extra day or two of rest between these workouts. Your body will appreciate the gesture.
Sometime in the next few weeks we will all be receiving race information from the race organizers. This information will include a waiver sheet and a booklet that explains just about all you will need to know about the race.
Keep your eye out for that chunk of mail.
I’ll be back in a few days, and that’s a promise!