Thursday, April 30, 2015

Disneyland, Party of One

As many of you know, I love an adventure and trying new things. I recently had an opportunity to do both. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was scheduled to work for an entire week in Los Angeles, with the exception of Tuesday. I took that as an opportunity (or should I say excuse?) to explore a little or to do something fun. I checked Yelp and Trip Advisor for some ideas, and of course Disneyland was one of their recommendations. This got me thinking. Since I have an annual pass, why not head down to the parks for the day?  I decided to call a few people to see if anyone was free, but unfortunately, no one was. Ugh. Time to look for a Plan B.

Or was it? Hmm, what if I just went by myself? 

Wouldn't that be weird, though? I wanted to get a second opinion, so I went back online and read a few blogs from people who had done Disneyland solo. They all recommended it. Between that and with a little encouragement from my fellow Disney nut/wife, I decided it might be worth heading down to Anaheim to spend a few hours in the parks and have lunch. I mean, it beats hanging out in the hotel all day, right?

So the next morning, I braved the L.A. traffic and took the 40-mile drive to the Happiest Place on Earth. It took me well over an hour, but finally I arrived, parked the car, and began walking towards the gates. I quickly became very aware of all of the families and couples around me, and started to have second thoughts. Perhaps this was only a good idea in theory. Awkward or not, it's a little late now. Besides, worst case scenario is that I head to Downtown Disney, grab some lunch, and drive back if it wasn't fun. 

I decided to check out California Adventure first. Any awkwardness I felt quickly went away as I strolled from the main entrance to Radiator Springs Racers and observed that there were a lot of people walking by themselves. I assumed that they had temporarily separated from their group to pick up a Fast Pass, get a drink, maybe use the restroom and were now headed back to meet up again. And that was when the light bulb above my head lit up! Other people who see me will probably assume the same thing (that is, if they even notice me at all). Alright, I'm ready to do this!

Now Radiator Springs Racers, one of the newest attraction in California Adventure, is notorious for having long lines, and today would be no different. The wait was 80 minutes. Weak. But alas, this ride has a line designated for single riders, and it was much shorter. (FYI- it was 29 minutes. So much better.) 

With one ride down, I recalled that California Screamin' was close by, so I decided to go there next. (Side note: this is one of the perks of going solo- no long discussions to get everyone to agree what to do next. You want to do something? You do it.) Using the single rider line again, I was able to board the coaster in only 27 minutes (as opposed to 35 in the main line). To pass the time, I struck up a conversation with the guy in front of me, an entertainment lawyer from L.A. He had finished work early and since he was an annual passholder, decided to spend the afternoon at Disneyland. How cool is that? Afterwards, as I exited the ride, I was greeted by a Disney cast member who was handing out readmission tickets. Apparently, the ride had broken down while we were waiting and to compensate us for the "inconvenience", we were all given a front-of-the-line pass to whichever ride we wanted to go on next. Really? It was only twenty-sev... uh, nevermind. Thanks. 

I used my pass to jump the line onto one of my favorites, Tower of Terror. It was while waiting in line for this ride that I had the most memorable moment of the day. For those of you who have not been on the ride, you start out by watching a short Twilight Zone video giving you the back story on how the service elevators became haunted. Afterwards, you head to the boiler room to wait for your elevator. It was there that this 7-8 year old little girl turns to me and out of the blue the following conversation takes place:

Girl: (in a reassuring voice) "Just so you know, that service elevator, it's not real."
Mom: <smiles and shrugs her shoulders>
Me: "I sure hope so. That video was pretty scary."
Girl: "Nope. It's not real. It's all juuuust pretend." (I'm guessing somebody needed a little pep talk to get her to go on the ride.)
Me: "I'm so glad you told me that. I was getting nervous. Will you remind me again if you hear me screaming on the elevator?"
Girl: "Ok. I will." (Turns back and resumes conversation with little brother)

Kids crack me up. 

After having lunch at Carthay Circle (opting for the firecracker duck wings of course), I walked across the way to the Disneyland side where the trend continued- short lines, easy decisions, and random conversations with complete strangers. It was such a different, but great way to experience Disney! In addition to the lawyer and the brave little girl, I also met a newspaper editor from New Orleans and a lady from Salt Lake City whose nephew is an axe murderer. Yes, you read that correctly. To call It an over-share would definitely be an understatement, but I have to admit, it certainly was a fascinating story and made the time pass quickly while waiting in line!

Although I only planned on going to the parks for a few hours, when all was said and done, I ended up spending the entire day there. And I realized on the drive back to the hotel that I had managed to get on a total of ten rides, waited for an average of only 16 minutes per ride, and wanted to add my name to the list of bloggers who would recommend that others try Disneyland solo if the opportunity presented itself. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Adventures in Learning to Fly

"Think of the happiest things, 
it's the same as having wings!!!"

RunDisney’s countdown clock reads 25 days to the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend. 
This means my trip to Disneyland is getting closer and I get to spend some time with my “kids”.  I haven’t seen Aly and Bill since Christmas.   I’m even taking an extended vacation and visiting them in Vegas for a bit.  I registered for the Hot Chocolate 5k in Vegas the following weekend, but it was postponed.   (That was my “safe” race so I could come home with a medal in case I didn’t finish the Tinkerbell 10K.  Yes, I have decided that if I do not finish, I am not taking the medal.   It’s a personal choice and it wouldn’t mean anything to me unless I finish. )

Training has been tough in the northeast. I'm not motivated to run outside since the weather has been so cold.  It seems that when it warms up, it rains.   Alyson told me “it might rain on race day” so I should just go for it.  I won’t have a choice on race day. I have a choice when I’m training. I keep choosing the treadmill.

The treadmill and I are not friends.   I hate running on it.  And, the treadmill let me know it’s feeling for me a couple of weeks ago.  When I took my phone out of its case, my driver’s license (which wasn’t properly tucked into its pocket) went flying out and disappeared into thin air.   We looked underneath, moved the treadmills and couldn’t find it anywhere.   I’m thinking it conveniently fell between the belt and frame.  So thank you, treadmill, for making me stand in line at the DMV on the last day of the month!! 3 hours later, I had my new driver’s license in hand.   

Last weekend, I did my 4.5 miles on the treadmill, again (the temp was only 28 that morning).   I’m hoping it warms up one of these days so I can do my runs outside.  I’ve even tried switching up the training plan Alyson gave me to fit the forecast, but alas, on those days, the forecast was wrong (or at least was way off for the times I had to fit in my run).  

This week, as bib numbers and corral placements came out, it was like everything fell into place!  The gym called this morning and the treadmill finally “coughed up” my driver’s license.  I no longer fear the finish line.  I actually say “when” instead of “if”.  I realized that I did my 4.5 miles and it didn’t bother me.   I’m actually looking forward to my 4.5 miles outside this weekend.  And, hopefully the next few weekends of mile increases will also be outside.  

Yes, things are looking up.  My costume will be simple because I need to comfortably get through my first 10k. Alyson and I will be dressed alike.  I'm honored that she's planning to move back from corral A to run with me!!  I’m looking forward to “flying” across that finish line.   And then, proudly wear my medal as Bill and I watch Alyson complete the Pixie Dust Challenge!

Will we see you wearing one or more of these medals at Disneyland?  We'll be looking for you on the course!

Monday, April 6, 2015

An impromptu trip to the Happiest Place on Earth

If you follow along on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen that this past weekend Bill and I made an impulse decision to hop in the car and drive to Disneyland for 24 hours.  It's one of those "only when we have an annual pass" kind of trips...and it was a BLAST!

First, clearly I'm a Disney planner!  My parents taught me at a young age to plan each and every Disney moment to get the most out of each trip.  I generally follow that rule; dining reservations, packing lists, hotels, schedules...I do it all!  This time, though, we literally booked the hotel as we were on our way, picked up a sandwich for the road, and didn't even take a bathroom break.  It was very out of character for me!

We were a little worried about it being Easter and Spring Break, but we were pleasantly surprised at the low level of crowds on Saturday night.  It helped that all passes except Premium were blacked out and we stayed until park closing at midnight (we arrived at 5pm).  It also helped to have some Starbucks after dinner to perk us up for the late night.  In all honesty I haven't been to the park when it was this empty in a long time...maybe ever!  We walked right on Haunted Mansion with zero wait, even to get in the buggy.

Easter was a little busier, but we were still able to get on tons of rides.  If we had gotten up a bit earlier it would have been even better.  Carthay Circle was almost empty, but we still made reservations just to be sure.  I had to drive home alone, but even the drive was fairly short with almost no traffic.

Happy Easter from Disneyland!
This was seriously one of the most fun times I've had in Disney!  I think it was the spontaneity that made it just a little more fun!  If you're a passholder that isn't quite local, drop everything, get in your car, and go for a day.  The planner in me didn't even realized what was going on before I was back home and back to work.  Have you ever done a trip like this?  Tell me about it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Race Report: Princess 5k

Oh Disney, you really took “theme-ing” to a whole new level with this year’s Princess 5k!  I don’t know how they do it, but wow…the Frozen 5k was really FROZEN!!!!!  Funny now, but it was definitely NOT so funny on the day of the race. 

We were in for freeze warnings, but being from Vegas, I didn’t really know what to expect.  This was literally the coldest I’d ever raced in.  28 degrees when we left the hotel, to be exact.  I ended up having to scrap my Olaf costume and opt for a little Disney under all the layers; my hubby snapped a picture for proof, but that was the last anyone saw of that tank!  I put on everything I had and headed out for the bus. 

When we arrived at the pre-staging area, we huddled around the heat lamps, or as close as we could get to the heat lamps.  We were really, really cold…have I said that yet?  My hubby ended up staying at the heat lamps the whole time and I headed off to run.  This race was, from what I could tell, the same course as the January races, which meant about a mile on the roads before entering Epcot under Test Track.  I was going to walk this race, or at least run slowly, but it was so cold I just couldn’t hold back.  I just ran!

When entering Epcot and running through World Showcase, “Let It Go” was on repeat in different languages.  It was pretty cool the first two times, then, to be honest, I just had to turn my music back on.   We headed through future world, and I was sure to watch my footing, as there was water that I suspect was a little icy too on the course.  We looped around the entrance, and finally, done!  I have to say, it was COLD!  It was all I could do to keep going.  I was still able to see my breath when we were done.

I met up with Bill and he was still huddled around the space heater.  We headed back to the hotel and both took hot, long showers.  We also had a little nap before heading out to the parks.

It was a fun race, but I can’t ignore the cold.  Not to say I wouldn’t do it again, because this was a fluke, but I can’t say I was “happy” that I signed up for this race, this year.  What can I say?  I’m not a cold-weather runner!  All that being said, the medallion was super cute and Disney did a great job with theme-ing!  I loved all the Frozen stuff…well…except for the cold!  They do a great job with the 5k races.  I would highly suggest them to anyone, anytime…but hey, I’d suggest ANY Disney race to anyone! 

Have you ever done a Disney 5k?  How does it compare to other races you’ve done?