Category Archives: Resort Reviews

Disney Princess Half Marathon

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A little over two years ago, we did something we never knew we were capable of.  We ran a half marathon!

#DisneySide Princess Half Marathon

Mind you, we weren’t runners – yet, and Isabella was due a mere two months before the race.  These things didn’t faze us because it sounded like fun, so we sent in our registration and booked a resort.

We started running and walking more and more, including about 6 miles of hospital halls the day Isabella was born.   Obviously, there was no half marathon training plan that takes into account having a baby 8 weeks before the half marathon, so we just did the best we could and had a longest run of only 6.5 miles before we left, figuring that we’d do the rest of the mileage by walking if necessary.

There are a lot of recaps of this race already online and things might have changed since 2012, so we’ll just give a brief synopsis of our experience, along with a few tips we learned.

First, be prepared for it to be VERY CROWDED – at the expo, on the buses, in the corrals, and along the whole race course.

Second, read as many trip reports as you can so your expectations are in line with your experience.  And try to read the reports from people who pay their own way and aren’t given extra perks (eg race retreat tent) by Disney (unless you are lucky enough to be receiving them or are paying the extra fees for them).

Third, buy some throw away sweats and gloves to put on over your running clothes.  It can be really cold standing in a corral for an hour or two waiting to start.  As the race starts, shed the thrift store priced sweats and they will be donated.  Along with the sweats, bring one of those silver emergency blankets.  It was the key to keeping the night chill off of us while we waited to start.

Fourth, have someone at the finish line with warm clothes and food.  You will receive a banana and a little snack box, but the food inside was kind of odd.  Dried edamame, hummus, dry tasteless crackers.  We had quite a wait to get on a bus to leave and got chilled and hungry standing there waiting.

Fifth, just because everybody else is standing outside in a line with hundreds of people in it at 3 AM doesn’t mean you need to.

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We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside.  The buses pulled up right outside the main lobby.  We stood inside the lobby and watched person after person go out into the cold and stand in that line for over an hour waiting for a bus only to then stand in the cold in a corral after getting to the start.  We waited inside watching until the line got down to a few people and then headed out and got on a bus.  As long as there was still a line that hadn’t been transported, it seems inconceivable that Disney would stop the buses even if it got later than the 4 AM cut off time.

Sixth, bring your own coffee/food/etc. for the pre-race morning because Port Orleans did not have anything that early if you needed to purchase a beverage or food.

Seventh, be prepared to surprise yourself!  Although neither of us had ever run that far before and Elizabeth was a brand new Mama, we ran all but about 1 mile and finished much faster than we expected.  While you are not running through the parks for much of the race, there is still a lot to see and an energy  boost from running with 15-20,000 other Disney fans that is hard to match.

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Would we do it again?  Absolutely, but maybe next time, we will try for 26.2 instead of 13.1!

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Bay Lake Tower Resort Review

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We loved Bay Lake Tower!  The Christmas 2013 trip was our first time staying at BLT, and our first at a Disney Deluxe resort!  Check out this entrance:

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For those who aren’t familiar with Bay Lake Tower, it is the Disney Vacation Club property at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  We arrived at BLT around noon.  Check in was very smooth.  We pulled up and immediately were greeted by cast members with iPads.  They unloaded and stored our luggage (Tip: they will refrigerate perishable items for you!  We didn’t know this until we got there.) and took us inside to check in.  I had done online check-in for this trip, so there was not much to do.

The whole resort is beautiful, in my opinion.  I like a very modern, sleek style, and this resort appeals to that style.  The lobby has some very cool woodwork  and a bubble chandelier that I loved.  While we waited for our room, we wandered outside and ate lunch in the bamboo courtyard.

Our villa was ready fairly quickly even though we arrived before our check in time.  We had rented points for a 1 bedroom villa through David’s Vacation Club.  Renting points allows you to purchase points from a Disney Vacation Club member who is not going to use their points for the year.  It can be way cheaper than booking the same room directly through Disney.  Our experience was easy enough that we are renting points again for our next trip!

Here our some pics of our villa:

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The one bedroom villas have a full kitchen, pull out sofa and chair, and master bedroom with a king size bed.  The villas at BLT also have two bathrooms which made the mornings run very smoothly!

The villa was a lot larger than we had expected.  We had a lake view, so we could see the Electrical Water Pageant, as well as some Epcot fireworks, at night from our balcony.  We could hear the fireworks and the pageant, but the room was soundproofed enough that we could not hear any other guests in other rooms, even though we were visiting at the busiest time of the year!

For all of this, the best part of BLT was being able to walk to Magic Kingdom.  We were able to get there early in the morning, stroll back and eat dinner in our villa, and return for the evening.  The walk took about ten minutes.  So easy!  We also were able to take the monorail to Epcot.

We liked being able to walk over to the Contemporary building and shop and see the Christmas displays.  We ate both from the Contempo Cafe and at the California Grill (watch out for our review coming soon!).  The Contemporary has a huge gingerbread tree on display in the lobby during Christmas.  We were able to get a picture with Chip and Dale dressed as toy soldiers.  On Christmas Eve, Santa was there!  Isabella had already met Santa several times, but since there were only two people in line, we hopped right in!

If you are staying at Bay Lake Tower, there are several places to watch the fireworks.  We liked watching from the sky bridge that connects BLT with the Contemporary Tower.  The music is piped in, and it is not crowded because only BLT guests are allowed on the bridge.  It was awesome being able to watch the fireworks in our pajamas!  You can also see the fireworks from the Top of the World Lounge if you are staying on points.  The lounge serves drinks and small appetizers.  Although the lounge was higher, I preferred the sky bridge.  Check out this view from the bridge:

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Overall, staying at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower resort made our trip so magical.  Being able to walk to Magic Kingdom, eating meals in our villa where we were able to relax and be comfortable, and watching the fireworks were the highlights of our trip.

What is your favorite resort?  Which Disney resort made your trip magical?