Monday, July 27, 2015

My First runDisney Experience – And Why I Can’t Wait To Do It Again

I am NOT a runner. Period. Never have been, I naturally walk very fast (probably has nothing to do with my being 5’2”) but run – forget about it. But I would do anything to meet my Disney BFF, Didi of Distherapy, who convinced me to try the Frozen 5K. I swear I told her I just wanted to be part of her chEAR squad for the 2015 Princess Half...BUT SOMEHOW THIS HAPPENED!
See our Wicked Awesome medals? This is post race - I made it!!
My excitement really began on registration day, I was all signed in and ready to register. It was a little crazy, who knew so many people wanted to run a 5K???, but I finally got in and was all pumped up for my first runDisney event! It was official, I had a number, I was going to be running in the Frozen 5K! This was getting real!  Now it was on to making plans and creating costumes and counting down the days.

Time went by a lot quicker than I had anticipated. As a matter of fact, I really thought I was going to have to back out after a series of personal things came up, but thanks to my two amazing friends and my boss,  we found a way to make it happen and I was headed south to FINALLY meet Didi and my new friend Stacey of Rhode Island Mom. I was going to be at Walt Disney World for a little more than 36 hours, a short but very sweet trip for sure. After a six and half hour drive, and my getting lost in the crazy Walt Disney World traffic, I finally made it to the Expo. I swear the guy who was greeting people and the door and guiding them in the right direction must have thought I was a weirdo, getting excited any time I saw a lady with long blond hair. Then I saw my two girls, and just like I knew it would be, it was as if we had done this together a hundred times before.

Photo courtesy of DIStherapy.
For you first-timers, the Expo is set up at the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex and it is where you get your race bib, t-shirt, find out your corral, ect. It’s also full of lots of vendors with great merchandise so come prepared! I am really glad I had my runDisney pros to help me navigate my way through. While we were there we got to meet Mouse Fan Diane and her kids, and the king of runDisney - JeffGalloway. If you are thinking of participating in a runDisney event he is your guy – and be sure to check out DIStherapy (she's an official blogger for Jeff), Didi has some awesome tips!!

Stacey, me & Didi
After a great meal we were off to our resort – Port Orleans French Quarter – for a little sleep. I say a little sleep because you have to be in the lobby EARLY to catch the bus to the race location. I believe we were there at about 4:15am to catch the bus and sat in front of the most adorable little girl who was running with her father.  This was not her first race either, she was inspirational. And it was COLD – I mean bone chilling cold – so word of warning just because it’s Florida doesn’t mean you don’t have to come prepared for cold weather. Bring a jacket, and if you get warmer during the race just ditch it and it is donated to a local charity. When we arrived for the Frozen 5K it was full of very cold, but very exuberant runners. Everyone was so happy to be there and so excited about the event, and we had some great entertainment to get us even more pumped up and ready to run! The camaraderie amongst participants is incredible! You couldn't ask for a more friendly or accommodating crowd - I love Disney people! 

I was admittedly nervous about the running, you see I had not really trained at all. I am in overall good health but, as I said I am not a runner, so I walked a lot of the way. My dear sweet troopers stayed right there with me every step of the way, and I have the pictures to prove it. As we entered Epcot you could hear Let It Go playing through the intercom system, a great touch was that it was being sang in the native language of every country as we ran through it. As always, Disney was taking care of every little detail. There were characters along the way, but we charged on and didn’t stop to wait in the incredibly long lines for our photo op. We did however stop at the mile markers to snap a pic. And with every mile that went by I loved by two amazing friends a little more!


By the time we could see the finish line we decided to actually run the rest of the way, and as fate would have it Sweet Home Alabama was singing me into the finish. After receiving our medals and taking a few “We did it!” photos we strolled back toward to park happily chatting along the way. We were practically alone as we strolled over to Akershus for a breakfast with royalty, but I will save our day in Epcot for a future post. Spoiler alert – I FINALLY got to meet my favorite princess!!
To Didi and Stacey, thanks so much for an amazing experience – but mostly thanks for being such awesome friends!! I can’t wait to do it all again, and next time I promise to run a whole lot more. I will send you both a Coke and a casserole. Bless your heart! By the way, these two awesome ladies ran the Princess Half and I am so proud of them!! Aren't they beautiful - inside and out! 


Anna (aka Stacey) and Elsa (aka Didi)


I highly encourage any of you who have been considering participating in a runDisney event to be the first to sign up when registration opens for the next race. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget, with two fabulous ladies I can't wait to do it with again! After you register you will need accommodations, park tickets and dining and I would love to help! Contact me at donnakay@thewdwguru.com or 877-825-6146 and I will be happy to take care of all the details of your runDisney vacation! 


Have a Magical Day!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Souvenirs

Alex & Ani Bracelets


I LOVE my Alex & Ani bracelets! They are not exactly the cheapest souvenirs but you will get your money's worth of wear out of them. I wear mine all the time and can't wait to add to my collection!

Have a Magical Day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

8 Awesome Ways to Surprise Your Family with a Disney Vacation!


Just a few more days left of Christmas in July and you know I couldn't let it go by without giving you some great ideas for surprising your family with the ultimate gift - a Disney vacation!!

1. Send the kids to search for hidden treasure -  My friends Lisa & James from Home Is Where The Mouse Is sent their kids on a fun treasure hunt to discover the true treasure was a family trip to Walt Disney World. I love their video!


2. Customized Fortune Cookies - Order customized fortune cookies (or make them yourself) with the fortune reading "I see a Magical Vacation in your future!" and see how long it take for them to figure it out. Bonus points if you make them yourself and use Mickey sprinkles!

3. Pack Their Bags - Pack every one's luggage and have the suitcases waiting at the door with a favorite Disney toy or balloons when they arrive home. 

Photo courtesy of DIStherapy.

4. Wrap It Up - Wrap up Mickey Ears, Magic Band and a Disney t-shirt. Wake the kids and tell them to brush their teeth, while they are in the bathroom sneak into the kids room and put it in a prominent place so that they are sure to see it. Leave a note with instructions to open the box and put on the contents and meet you in the kitchen/living room/downstairs. 
5. Custom Puzzle - What could be more fun that to tell the kids to go put together a surprise puzzle make especially for them and have them realize they are going to Disney? I think this idea is lots of fun!

6. Buried Treasure - Have you kids do a chore they hate (pick up toys, make their bed, hang up clothes). Under the pile of toys/covers/clothes hide a small treasure chest (I found this one on Amazon) with a note inside saying "Pack your bags! We're leaving for Walt Disney World in the morning!"
7. The Subtle Approach - Start the day with Mickey waffles or pancakes. A while later give them a new Disney book to read. For lunch feed them a homemade rendition of a favorite Disney meal or a sandwich in a Mickey icon shape. Next give them a new Disney plush, a little later a Disney t-shirt, then a new pair of Mickey Ears finishing up with their Magic Band. See how long it takes them to figure out what's going on!

Photo Courtesy of Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere


8. Don't Tell! - Just get up the day of your trip with the car all packed and tell them to get dressed, you're going on an adventure. If you are driving you can refuse to tell until they figure it out for themselves. If you are flying it's a little trickier, have a friend meet you at the airport with a sign that reads: The Anderson Family is Going to Disney!





Have you ever surprised your family with a trip to Disney? I would love to hear all about it. And be watching for a fun Disney Scavenger Hunt that would be perfect for surprising them too, hopefully in the next couple of days. Please share how you pulled it off here in the comments or on my Guru Donna Kay Facebook page! I would love to help you plan your surprise, email me at donnakay@thewdwguru.com or call 877-825-6146 ext 706.

Have a Magical Day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post - DIStherapy's Newcomer's Guide to Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

One of the great things about having wonderful friends who are also Disney Bloggers is that I have the honor of having them share their Disney knowledge at Guru Donna Kay. Today I have the incredible honor of having Donna of DIStherapy guest post. She is the Queen of runDisney (and she has the Coast to Coast medal to prove it!) and her favorite time to visit the parks is during special events - especially the Food & Wine Festival.  She is an awesome writer, hard working mother and entrepreneur and most importantly one of my best friends. You will want to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course at DIStherapy. She is here to share A Newcomer's Guide to Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival, and I can't think of anyone better to  guide you through the ins and outs of the festival!


With the complete menu released just last week, I am salivating already.  The time to plan your "reservation" for the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Presented by Chase is now!
Beginning September 25th and lasting until November 16th, 2015, there are 56 days of culinary possibilities.

For the very first time, the global marketplace experiences will expand into Future World.  However, the majority of  the offerings sit along World Showcase, where you can "eat and drink your way around the world."  These small plates and sips from over 30 countries and specialties allow for sampling of sometimes exotic tastes that we might not otherwise be exposed to.  Let me take you on a gourmand's tour:


Africa
American Adventure Coffee Cart
Australia
Belgium
Block & Hans (spirits)
Brazil
Brewers Collection
Canada
Cheese Studio - NEW
Chew Lab - NEW  (Inspired by ABCs "The Chew")
China
Craft Beers
Desserts & Champagne
Dominican Republic
Farm Fresh
Fife & Drum Tavern
France
Germany
Greece
Hawai'i
Hops & Barley
Intermissions Cafe
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Mexico
Morocco
New Zealand
Odyssey Coffee Cart
Patagonia
Poland
Refreshment Cart
Refreshment Cool Post
Scotland
Showcase Coffee Cart
South Korea
Sustainable Chew - NEW  (Inspired by ABCs "The Chew")
Test Track Coffee Cart
Wine Studio - NEW


And what to do whilst grazing and supping?  Eat to the Beat, of course.  In the beautiful outdoor America Gardens Theatre, you can enjoy some of your nostalgic favorites playing to the hungry crowds three times each evening.  Over twenty acts, from Boyz II Men to Chaka Khan to Air Supply, will perform throughout the festival.


Not full yet?  Not to worry.  Special Dining Experiences are aplenty in 2015.  Food & Beverage Pairings, Dining Adventures Around the World, Party For The Senses, Rockin' Burger Block Party, Eat to the Beat Dining Packages, Culinary Demonstrations, Mixology Seminars, and Dining with Celebrity Chefs are all available by calling 407-WDW-Fest starting July 30. 2015.  (Or enlisting the assistance of your Disney Travel Agent!)  Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents Can book these special events starting July 24th.

For the young and young at heart, the new Remy's Ratatouille Hide and Seek looks to be scrumptious fun.  Remy statues hidden around World Showcase promise to lead one and all on a festival scavenger hunt; with maps, stickers, and prizes!

Lastly, my personal recommendation is to time your Epcot International Food & Wine Festival vacation when it overlaps with two other not-to-be-missed Walt Disney World Resort special events.  Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (September 15- November 1, 2015) and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (November 8- December 18, 2015) will add a side dish of magic and wonder to any stay.





Of course, my friend Donna Kay is probably the best person to "take your order."  Tell her you are hungry for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  I know I am!!

Thanks so much Donna! I'm hungry reading about all this great food! Aren't you ready to start planning your trip to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? If so I have a great deal for you!  Guru Travel has special rates available for the travel dates of November 5-8, 2015! We have rooms at Disney's Pop Century Resort or Disney's All-Star Sports Resorts for just $88.40 per night plus tax! If you are interested in this special offer, that is only for clients of Guru Travel, just click my button to the right, email me or call 877-825-6146 ext 706 and I will take care of the details while you relax and decide which wonderful food and wine you will enjoy during your stay! 

Have a Magical Day!



Travel Tips Tuesday - Avoiding Crowds During The Holidays

It's Tuesday so that means another great Disney Travel Tip, and since we are celebrating Christmas In July at Guru Travel it's a travel tip for visiting Disney during the Holidays.

I mentioned that Guru Travel is celebrating Christmas in July and we have a  special booking offer – book your DECEMBER 2015 Walt Disney World trip, pay your deposit by July 31, 2015 and we’ll give you some awesome Mickey Christmas ears! What a great way to commemorate your trip, but with a very special gift? Every person on the reservation, ages 3+ will receive their own set of ears! Quantities are limited, so connect with me, your Guru Travel Professional, today!

We also have a free giveaway. Make sure to share this with family and friends. Just sign up and you’ll be registered to win this cute pair of Christmas ornaments. The Mickey one is all sparkly and the second one is a great frame ornament to hang anyway. What a great way to add a little Disney magic to your holiday! 


If you are thinking of planning a trip to Disney durning the Holiday Season I would love to help you plan your vacation. You can email me at donnakay@thewdwguru.com or call 877-825-6146 ext 706 for a quote today.
Have A Magical Day!

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