Allo all you Princes and Princesses!

Yeah…I am still a little giddy about the fact that I finally got to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  Despite not feeling my best due to injury, illness and lack of sleep, it was still one of the most fun races that I have ever ran! 🙂

Where to begin…well…I think I will start with pre-race things like the discounted Disney passes for racers, hotels, race expo, transportation, etc.  Part 2 will have info regarding the race itself.

Disney Passes:

To take advantage of the race discounts, you have to book them before you leave.  I did this last-minute on the day I left and it was a really great discount.  Must do this again in the future as we saved nearly $300 on our 3 day park hopper passes.  I missed the online deadline to order, but if you call RunDisney, they will still offer you the deal.

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Hotels:

Since I am doing the coast to coast this year, I was really trying my best to save some $$ and stay off of the resort and in the strip of hotels near Downtown Disney on Hotel Plaza Boulevard.  I stayed at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista.  It was not worth the cost savings on another of levels.  The hotel is currently undergoing renos and is very dated with old fixtures–wand the age is really noticed in the bathrooms.

The first room was covered with wet towels, melted ice in the ice bucket and even had a half drunk beer.  We went down to complain and only had one other room as an option–and it had wet carpets because they just steam cleaned out some stains on the carpet.  They were then going to move us to a new room while we were out that day (they didn’t move us until we got back and we had to physically move our bags). Our compensation for this drama was eliminating the $10/day resort fee.

The house keeping was intermittent at best.  At one point, we went 2 days without sight of the cleaning staff.  When they came, they did an alright job, aside from the fact that they never replenished our drinking glasses.  We also made an effort to keep all of our recyclable items in a paper bag so what we could recycle all the cans, papers and water bottles, but they took it.

The positives of this hotel, however, are its proximity to Downtown Disney, (about an 8 minute walk), the amusement park shuttles (but even those weren’t the best but they are free, which is nice) and the fact that it was cheap.

Oh and one more negative their poor and costly attempt at a race shuttle.  They booked a van, last-minute, to drive the race participants.  For one way, it was $16/person….so it cost my dad and I $32 to get to the race.  Plus, the last driver of the van they booked, took out the back seat and didn’t return it to its rightful spot.  Thus my dad and one other race companion had to ride, crouched in the cargo hold in the back of the van. It also had an early call time–riders must be in the lobby by 3am, despite the fact that you didn’t have to be in your race corrals until 5:00am–leaving racers 2 hours to do essentially nothing but sit around and get stiff/tired/etc. I am unaware of what other hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard did for their guests who were running, but I would advise any runners participating in future races that opt to stay there to ask.

For post race, you had to use the regular theme park shuttles that the hotel offered as they would be running by that time–this was a huge pain as they were really late (I had to wait 50 minutes for the shuttle that normally cycles through every 25 minutes) and hard to get access to after the race as one had to cross the race course.  Getting to the spot for the shuttle was also difficult in terms of navigation–staff were completely uninformed of where these bus stops were, the finishing area in the Epcot parking lots was insanely busy and these bus stops were really far away from the finish–which isn’t the most fun when you are tired, and sore from running 13.1 miles.

Race Expo and Transportation:

Welcome to the Race Expo

Welcome to the Race Expo

This was a mixture of great and annoying.  Finding the bus stop on the “west side” of Downtown Disney was a bit of a pain–especially since many of the staff had no idea where to direct us.  Fortunately, one bus driver got on her radio to help me and several other runners find the right bus stop and actually drove us there.  Getting into the expo was orderly and finding my race bib wasn’t much of a problem–though I found it annoying that you didn’t get both your bib and your bag of goodies in the same general place.

I went right for opening of the expo on the Friday as I really wanted to get myself a t-shirt/jacket.  In retrospect, this was a bit of a mistake as it was INSANE at the expo.  People were going nuts in the store they set up with race swag and it was close quarters and made the general shopping experience pretty miserable and just plain old difficult to find stuff because everything was snapped up before you could even  contemplate whether the cheeky running for Prince Charming t-shirt was what you wanted.  When I run in California, I will take my chances on getting swag and simply just go later in the day.  Hopefully I will still be able to find my coast to coast t-shirt that I want to buy.

Return shuttle from the expo was an easy breezy process.  Absolutely no complaints there.

Transportation:

Now, as I had mentioned, transportation was hit and miss overall.  If you stayed on the Walt Disney Resort proper, you had easy access to shuttles to and from the race–and they were free.  It was shocking to see how many buses they had waiting for tired, sweaty runners post race–made me wish I had opted to pay a bit more and stay and a proper Disney resort. This is a MUST for any future Disney Races I plan on running in Orlando.

I’m not sure what they offered for the race shuttle, but I’m sure it was equally as convenient.  Unlike the aforementioned shuttle experience from my hotel.

There were cabs (wish I took one) waiting at Epcot to take people back to their hotels, but the race materials asked that you try to keep cars out of the area–and rightfully so with 22,000 runners and walkers participating in the race.  I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare that many cars would make….especially with all the road closures in and around the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for the race.

So that is essentially my pre-race recap for the Walt Disney World Princess Half 2013.  Stay tuned for part two, where I talk about the race and my overall Florida recap. 🙂

Much luv,

Leesah

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