WDW Weekly News Update

This week isn’t even over yet but Disney has shared a few different pieces of exciting news with the public.  In chronological order…

February 12th: Rivers of Light show opens.  The long anticipated show that was supposed to open last summer is now ready to go.  This date is based on Fastpass+ bookings which recently were added to the system.

img_3089March 17th: Although this date was announced a while ago, I am so excited for The Beauty and The Beast movie!

May 11th: Final showing of Wishes which is the nighttime fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.
I really hope I can see Wishes one more time before it ends because it is a fantastic show and there is nothing like the soundtrack.

May 12th: “Happily Ever After” replaces Wishes as the new nighttime show.  I expect Magic Kingdom will be absolutely packed on this night.

img_3014May 27th: The opening date of Animal Kingdom’s Pandora!  We have not been able to see much of the construction, besides the one very tall tower structure so I am interested to see what Disney has done with Avatar, even though it was not my favorite movie.  I will definitely need to watch it again before May 27th.

2019: At some point in this year, the Star Wars Land portion of Hollywood Studios will be opening!

In conclusion, this summer is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World parks.  2019 will be a fantastic year to go if you are a Star Wars fan, or you can wait until 2020 when the hype decreases a little.

5K Part 2 and half marathon disappointment posts coming up soon!

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WDW 5K Part 1: 3am-6am

About two weeks ago, my friend and I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 5K.  I was also supposed to run the half marathon for my 21st birthday but that’ll be discussed later, as well as the expo.  The 5K was my first 5K (why not run 6 half marathons and then run a 5k?!) and it was so much fun!  I decided to split the morning in half so I can describe the race in more detail.

3:00am: My alarm goes off.  I had been debating whether to shower or not shower before the race and as I woke up exhausted that morning, I decided not to.  So I snooze the alarm.

3:05am: My friend’s alarm goes off and unlike me she gets up and starts getting ready.

3:10am: My friend asks me if I am going to get up and shower because I need to start getting ready.  We laid out our clothes the night before with our bibs pinned so we didn’t have to spend time doing that in the wee hours of the morning.

3:10am-3:45am: I thought I had plenty of time to get ready so I move slow as a slug at first but then start to speed up my pace.  We eat a quick breakfast in the room tip toeing and trying not to wake anyone else up (that didn’t work).

3:50am: We catch the first bus leaving Old Key West to the race.  The bus driver was funny asking us why we woke her up so early just to run a race.  She also reflected on her first Marathon Weekend where she saw marathoners board in their heat sheets and had to say “You got this!” as they tried stepping up into the bus.  We were with a lot of Dopey runners on the bus (if you run the 5K, 10k, half, and full).  There was not any traffic so we arrive at Epcot around 4:05am with two hours to go before the race officially starts and just under three before our corral starts.

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4:20am: After walking to the main area, we had our photos taken in front of the WDW Marathon Weekend banner sign and then waited in line to get a photo with Pluto (who was the mascot for the 5K).

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4:45am: The photo line for Pluto moved fairly quickly even with his quick break to get some treats.  Seeing other people’s costumes is one of the best parts of the runDisney races.  We saw a whole family dressed as the cast from Beauty and the Beast, a very convincing Captain Hook, and even two Tooth Fairies who sprinkled some fairy dust on my friend.  We joined the pump up party which is always a blast.  The announcers are very energetic even as the rest of us were still waking up.  We did the YMCA and other people were full out dancing.

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5:05am: My friend and I decided it would be a good time to use the porta potties since the corrals would open at 5:30am and we guessed there might be a long line right before then.  We did not have to wait at all to use them so then we stretched for a bit and talked, anxious to get in the corrals and get going.

5:38am: Finally the corrals opened after what seemed like forever.  Thankfully, the weather was perfect so we were not cold waiting around but it had already been 2 and a half hours since we had woken up!  My friend was in Corral E so I moved back to E so that we could run together.  Part 2 will discuss the corral waiting game, eavesdropping, and the actual race!

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WDW Half Marathon: 4 Things I Can’t Wait For (and 3 I am Dreading)

photo 4My study abroad semester has just about a month left which is crazy!  What is even crazier though is that my 21st birthday and 7th half marathon is just under two months away.

The Walt Disney World Half Marathon falls on January 7th this year, which is my birthday, and I am so excited.  As usual, I have been running a bit but could definitely be running more than I am.  I’m really looking forward to the race weekend as I’ll also be running the 5K and enjoying my time at Disney.

The 4 Things I Can’t Wait for are…

  1. Arriving in Disney and heading to the expo to pick up my race bibs.  The expo always has a bit of excitement in the air as runners walk around picking up their packets and perusing the different merchandise stalls.  I hope to get another medal to put on my Mickey Vinylmation and maybe look for another “I’m Training” shirt since I love the one I have but other than that, probably won’t buy anything.  Maybe a magnet for the car too.
  2. Anything after Mile 1 and even Mile 2 of the races.  I wouldn’t say I love running because that would be a stretch but I definitely like it a lot more than I used to.  However, the first mile or two are challenging.  After standing in the corrals, I am ready to run but then the crowds always make the start a little slow (not that I’m speedy by any means).
  3. Running or more like walking through Cinderella’s Castle.  During my first half marathon, which was at Disney, running through the Castle was SO neat.  Of course, the thoughts in my head were as follows “OMG I’m running through the Castle…Well actually I’m walking because there are so many people…Oh now people are screaming…I want to do that too…(screams)…That was fun…Oh yikes I’m not even halfway done with this and my legs are sore…Oh but this is so neat”
  4.  Wearing my medal around the parks and getting to congratulate other runners.  I won’t wear my medal for more than a day after probably although some people wear theirs the entire time they are in Disney.

3 Things I’m Dreading:

  1. The early wake up calls.  I have to get up early for the 5K and half but my sister and dad are running the 10K and I want to go cheer them on so we will see if I can wake up for that too.  I’m sleeping in on the 8th!
  2. The uncertainty of the weather.  One year it was 30 degrees supposedly and when I ran in 2013, it was perfect weather.  I’m worried the weather might be iffy or really hot or cold and I won’t know what to wear.
  3. Miles 8 and 9 of the half as those are usually the toughest for me.  Once I get to 10 then it’s just a 5K to go!

4 Things I Can’t Wait For plus 3 Things I’m Dreading makes for a total of 7!  And we are running on January 7th!  What is everyone looking forward to or not looking forward to about WDW Marathon Weekend?

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Three More Museums and Bond

I am not in London anymore as I start classes tomorrow at University in Northern England.  But, I have a few more London posts to catch up on as my blogging as been a bit sparse the past month or so!  Sorry about that!

We visited the Imperial War Museum, which I actually really enjoyed.  The museum had extensive sections on both World Wars with many artifacts arranged in an easy to follow layout.  This was the first museum that our professor told us we could explore on our own and just leave when we were done as long as we spent a reasonable amount of time there.  I figured I would be done after an hour, but I ended up staying for about two and a half hours.  The Real to Reel exhibit was the highlight of the trip for me.  You had to pay an extra fee to get in, but we had some money to use as an educational fund so I was reimbursed for the exhibit.  I spent almost an hour just looking through the movie artifacts from Casablanca, Saving Private Ryan, and more.  Walking around felt like I was in the Great Movie Ride a little and they even juxtaposed scenes from the Normandy Beach landing on a television screen with the landing scenes in films.  The exhibit was also fairly empty, probably because you had to pay extra and it was a weekday.

img_1135The next museum was the Science Museum, which I actually had to do a presentation on after the field trip.  I visited this museum with my family last summer and this visit was unfortunately not as enjoyable as I had to rush through to see as many exhibits as possible to highlight in my presentation.  You could easily spend a couple of hours here though and the museum is very kid-friendly.

I also took a trip to the Disney Store on Oxford Street this week because I stumbled upon it and had to go in of course.  I was looking for a London Tsum Tsum but unfortunately the cast member said that New York and Hawaii have them but not London yet.  I was very disappointed.  I still ending up buying a souvenir though and so did my two friends because you just can’t walk into a Disney Store and leave empty handed.  I found out that this is the largest store in Europe, but it is nowhere near as large as Times Square (but just as packed).

The other field trip of the week was to the Bond Vehicle Exhibit in Covent Garden.  I went here on a Saturday with a few friends and the exhibit made me really want to watch all of the Bond movies.  I will definitely have to start watching one a weekend of something!  We saw cars, motorcycles, and random memorabilia from the movies.  I saw Q’s ID from Skyfall which was neat but of course the cars were the best part.  And they had the movie scenes playing behind the cars, helping visitors to contextualize when the cars made an appearance.

I have one more week in London to recap and then I’ll almost be caught up to the present!  Plus hearing about a boring orientation week isn’t too interesting and classes start tomorrow so I have to draw out my exciting travel posts from London, Spain, and Germany!

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Greenwich, Gin, and Gulls

img_0949Well the title is an alliterative quick summary of the past week here.
Last Wednesday we went to Greenwich (not the preppy Connecticut town, but the one here in England) to the National Maritime Museum.  The museum had a variety of exhibits, but I enjoyed seeing Nelson’s coat from the Battle of Trafalgar
the most.  img_0945 It was the one he was wearing when he got hit, and then later died from the wound.  They also had his blood stained stockings.  It’s a bit crazy how blood stained stockings have been saved for more than two hundred years.    img_0975
On Thursday, we took a toimg_0978ur of the Beefeater Distillery Tour.  We definitely were able
to see more when we toured the apple cider mill in France and I believe we did as well at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.  We did see much on this tour other than the ingredients they use to make the gin.  They gave us a free gin and tonic but I was not a huge fan.

img_0983Sadly for Friday, I couldn’t come up with word beginning with “g” for our Sherlock Holmes walking tour.  We saw different sites all around the city and heard about how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the short stories in the Strand magazine, which then made the magazine very popular.  One of my classmates mentioned “The Great Mouse Detective” on the tour and now I really want to watch the movie again!  The voice of Sherlock Holmes in the movie is actually voiced by an actor who went on to play Sherlock Holmes in many different mediums and his name is Basil Rathbone.  And we learned about the origins of Holmes’ hat and pipe.

Our second all day field trip was on Saturday and we took the train to Brighton where we saw sea gulls.  img_0993The day started out sunny and bright when we arrived at the beach town.  We had a few minutes to take photos of the beach before we started our sewer tour.  Yes, sewer tour.  Sewer tours are a thing and supposedly you have to book them way in advance because they are so popular.  I was shocked that vacationers actually did this.  Our professor had signed us up so we had no choice.  img_0996We wore hard hats and gloves (because there are rats in the sewers…yay).  First, the workers/tour guides gave us a quick introduction about the sewers and we saw a short film.  They gave us advice to take a deep sniff to numb our senses as we walked in but it did not really help.  We walked through different overflow areas (which had been hosed off before the tour but just use your imagination on how well that worked).  After an hour and a half, we were ready to head back into the sunshine so we climbed a staircase and we emerged from a manhole (like Amy Adams does in Disney’s Enchanted).  You should’ve seen people’s faces walking by as they asked what we were doing and we said “a sewer tour.”  After the tour, we had a pub lunch where I had a good pulled pork sandwich.  My friends and I then went shopping around town and stopped for ice cream, but unfortunately the weather had turned and it was now pouring.

I spent Sunday meeting up with family friends and going on a tour around London led by a family friend/connection and that was really fun.  I walked 11.68 miles on Sunday!    Monday, we went to the Alexander Fleming Museum at St. Mary’s Hospital (where many members of the royal family have been born).  This hospital looked very old and different from the hospitals I’ve seen back home.  We couldn’t believe that royals had been born here.  The museum was up a few flights of windy stairs and not air conditioned.  The last week or so has been brutal without air conditioning, especially when you are listening to a tour guide or packed in with lots of Londoners on the tube.

Yesterday, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is my favorite museum in London but unfortunately our tour guide got the time mixed up so we started the tour late and were all hot and exhausted.  I am hoping to head back to the museum if I have time this weekend, since I was not able to see much.  I met up with two friends from high school who are also studying abroad in London for dinner and we got a great deal at an Italian restaurant with 10 pounds for two courses and wine!

Hope everyone’s week went well!

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Bank of England and A Visit to the Countryside

Thanks everyone for reading about all of my museum visits and following along during my time in London. Enjoy the exciting posts now because once I get to the university in October, I do not think my daily life will be as thrilling!

On Monday we had an afternoon free, as yesterday was an all day field trip and our professor offered to give us some time off before the busy day.  So Monday afternoon, I went to the Bank of England to exchange some old notes.  I also went to the Bank of England Museum.  This Museum was very well done.  I read through (almost) everything in 45 minutes but it was very interactive and made the financial system easy to understand.

I was able to touch a gold bar as well which was neat and they had how much it was currently worth in pounds right above the gold.  I touched gold worth 350,000 GBP!  The museum is free, easy to get to, and was not crowded.  I would definitely recommend visiting this museum.

Yesterday we had our all day visit to Faversham in Kent.  We took an early train out of London Victoria and headed into the countryside.  I slept (as I always do in any sort of vehicle) but kept an alarm because unlike my summer trains into the city and back, I was not getting off at the last stop.  We started off the day a little tired and wondering how this all day trip was going to be.  Surprisingly, I did not look up anything about where we were going ahead of time.

When we arrived in Faversham, we walked to the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre.

This centre exceeded my expectations.  I thought it would be a small exhibit that we would spend at most an hour at before going to lunch.  However, the Centre took up three older houses and we split into a few groups so that tour guides could lead us through the exhibits.  The centre is very hands on with a record player we could adjust, rotary telephones to call each other on, and air raid helmets we were able to try on.  The items here go back to the spearheads of the ancient times all the way to the World Wars.  The tour guide even sounded an air raid siren for us.  We heard a variety of stories from a woman who murdered her husband on the 7th attempt and dragged him through the snow and was immediately discovered as her footsteps gave her away, to a story on a real life pirate.  Our tour guide was fantastic, as were the rest of the guides for the day. We stayed at the volunteer run museum for two hours before having a lunch break.

I went with a few friends to the Vault, a small pub in Faversham.  I had Shepherd’s Pie as well as some chips.  I had just enough time to run to the second hand bookstore in town before we had to meet back up as a class.  I HAD to purchase the Winnie the Pooh stories in the photo below.  Plus the book was only a pound.  The bookshop was run by volunteers as well and the elderly lady ringing up the book said to me “Oh you’ve found one!” very excitedly and then asked which one and all.  While Amazon is convenient, I really enjoy small bookstores. img_0937   Since our class is focused on chemistry and the relationship of this science with the public, we headed to the Chart Gunpowder Mills next.  The walk there was over the river and through the woods.  Okay, not quite, but it was through a few neighborhoods and then by a river which bugs just loved.  I had to put on my sweater in the heat in order to avoid blowing up with mosquito bites.  I was expecting something different, as the Mills were tucked away and it was only one small building.  The guides, similar to the one at the Heritage Centre, knew a LOT about the mills and were very passionate volunteers which was great.  I was in the group that went on a forty five minute walking tour first (so glad I wore my sneakers this day).  We learned more about Faversham and saw old sites from the time of the Gunpowder Mills.  Our professor almost got attacked by a duck when we stopped near a pond as the ducks came up to us easily hoping for food and then flew over us to others who had brought bread.  Along the tour, residents we passed all said “Hiya” or “Cheers” to us so I felt like we were very welcomed even though we took up half of the narrow road at times.

After returning from our walk, we switched with the other group and went inside the Mill.  I know Britain does not get that hot all that often, but I would’ve really appreciated some air conditioning (or a huge ice cream cone) at that point.  It’s been in the 70’s and 80’s here!  We heard more about the actual gunpowder making process with the tools right there in front of us.  Our guide also told us about his recent travels and quizzed us on British currency. img_0925  Overall the day was one of my favorites so far as Faversham is the cutest town and I highly recommend it as a day trip out of London!  We were all exhausted at the end of the day and barely scraped together a cooked dinner, but the trip was definitely worth it.

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7 Days Done, 7 Lessons Learned

  1. Bring your own bags when you go grocery shopping.  It is 5 pence for each bag you use.  So unless you are buying meat or something that really needs a plastic bag, bring your own reusable bag.
  2. They do not seem to have applesauce in the grocery stores, which is devastating.
  3. Items expire sooner.  Nothing we buy lasts for more than five days, other than Oreo cookies 🙂  Okay, maybe a few other items but it seems food is bought more often here.
  4. When crossing the street, the loud beeping means you can cross now.  Definitely startling the first time you hear it.
  5. The regular M and M’s are made using a different kind of chocolate or are just different over here, but still very good.
  6. The tube is not air conditioned.  So this summer in NYC, I was sweating standing on the platform but then cooled off once in the car.  Here, I am fine on the platform but sweating once I enter the car as it has been in the 70’s here most days and has barely rained.
  7. Most of the grocery stores only have one cashier and then 20 self service check out machines.  I love self checkout so this is lovely.  And if you don’t want to spend time sorting coins, you can just put them in the machine to pay and it tells you how much you still need.  If you put in a Euro by accident, it will spit it back out.  IMG_0838.jpg(Photo is from King’s Cross station)

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