A little over five years ago, I completed my first 5K race. To some this may not have been a big deal, but to me it was huge. I had just had major knee surgery two years before and really had to train and work hard to be able to complete the race in close to the “required” 16 minute per mile pace.
Why do I bring this up now, you ask? It was a Halloween themed race, the inaugural Mickey’s Halloween 5K, and to my knowledge, the only 5K to go through the Magic Kingdom. Plus, we are on the verge of back to back runDisney race weekends starting next week. This was also one of the most fun races I’ve ever done out of my almost twenty races to date.
So, I thought I’d share some of my pictures and memories from the race since it is almost Halloween. It started at the Transportation and Ticket Center, then the race course went on World Drive under the water bridge and up to the Contemporary. The course took a left along the bus loop and into the Magic Kingdom.
Stepping onto Main Street for the first time as a part of a race was magical to say the least. Cast members greeted us and cheered as we approached the castle. There were even a good amount of characters like Chip, Dale, and Goofy dressed up in Halloween costumes meeting guests along the course. There were also villains like Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, as well as Tweedles Dee and Dum, Buzz, and Woody.
I loved running down Main Street, through Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, the Hub, and out through Tomorrowland. My second favorite part of the race aside from running through the park was seeing the Haunted Mansion grave diggers posing with runners pretending to be dead in front of a grave on the ground complete with headstone. One of my biggest race regrets was not stopping for this photo op. Luckily, I was able to do it a few years later during another 5K.
I don’t know how many others of you got to experience this 5K through the Magic Kingdom, but it was definitely my favorite 5K here. Happy Halloween!
Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival once again plays host to the Party for the Senses in World Showplace each Saturday night in October. This Grand Tasting Event is one of the most popular events of the entire festival and has been for years now. This past weekend was my first chance to experience this party first hand. The event is from 7:00 until 9:30pm and does require admission to Epcot in addition to the party ticket. It is a sensory experience, with the party focusing on smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. From dozens of different food and beverage offerings to music and performances by Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba cast, your senses will certainly be stimulated by the Party for the Senses.
Some things to know before you go to the party that might be helpful: There are three types of tickets to this event. First is general admission, which runs $169. including alcohol for guests age 21 and up and taxes. This gives you access to the party starting at 7pm, but no seating guaranteed. There are high top tables, but not necessarily seats to go with them, so if you are going with this option, get here early so you can be first in line to get in. Guests were checking in around 5:30pm when we arrived, so be prepared to stand and wait for a couple hours before the party starts if you want to be first in line to get a table. The next option, which is what I’d recommend, is to get a reserved table for $199. per person. In addition to guaranteed seating, you also get early access at 6:45pm, and a cocktail to kick off the party. The third option is the Wine View Lounge, which is a separate section in the middle of the floor, right in front of the stage. These tickets are $319. each and include early access at 6:45pm and the special cocktail to start. Also included is a private reserved table, premium bar access, and an artisanal cheese station.
My guest and I were seated in a reserved section just adjacent to the main stage where we found it to be convenient to the stations spread out around the World ShowPlace building. We decided early on that we would attack this like we do Food and Wine kiosks where we pace ourselves and split all of the tastes between us. This allows us to enjoy more and not fill up since we are doing half of everything. We then went back for some favorites to get seconds since some were that amazing.
The party features prominent chefs from all over the country as well as Disney chefs from all over property to showcase individual tastes. Some were quite simple with just a taste of one or two items together, and others were magnificently constructed compilations of almost a dozen ingredients combined. If you get a chance to go, remember to pace yourself. This is a two and a half hour event and I didn’t see any of the dozens of stations run out of food or drink.
One thing that we found extremely helpful was the menu that we got that was color coded to the location on the floor, which made finding specific items you hadn’t tried yet easier to track down. We tried every main food item, missed one of the cheese stations, the dessert with pistachios was skipped since I’m allergic, and I think I skipped the chocolate station. Other than that, we tried everything in the way of food at least once. Since I was driving I limited my alcohol intake to the cocktail at the beginning, which was a nice dry white sparkling wine, and a fantastic strawberry-lime cider from Sweden. My guest on the other hand, took it upon herself to sample quite a few of the wines.
For those who have any food allergies, it is very important that you ask at each individual station if you have any concerns. I mentioned I avoided one of the desserts since it was labeled on the menu with pistachios, but I did find one other location that didn’t list them as an ingredient, but I saw green nuts and figured I’d ask. I was glad I did because they were able to make me the dish without the pistachios and it ended up being one of my favorites of the night.
We grazed through the night sampling dozens of great food items and eventually musicians from Cirque du Soleil took to the stage to sing and perform selections from La Nouba. Later into the evening some of the clowns and other performers mingled on the floor interacting with guests. Towards the end of the night, about six or so of the La Nouba gymnasts and acrobats joined the clowns on stage to replace the musicians. They put on parts of the show, if you’ve ever seen La Nouba or commercials for it, the section with the trampoline and gymnasts going into the house facade with windows, bouncing in and around them and up to the roof. It is quite amazing to see them perform this inside the smaller height of the World ShowPlace building compared to their auditorium at Disney Springs.
Once we had completed the list of all the bites we wanted to try, we went back for a few of our favorites before heading out. The party allows you to take home your wine glass, which is the 20th Anniversary edition for the Food and Wine festival. We felt completely full, but not overstuffed with the many appetizers we had tried. Some of our favorites were the Lobster Lo Maine, the roasted cauliflower, the bison, and the lamb with roasted potatoes.
Overall it was a fantastic evening of friends, food, fun, entertainment, and trying new things. I am not particularly a fan of lamb or cauliflower, but these ended up being two of my favorite dishes of the entire night. I got to try a sip of the Chewtini that is being offered at the Food and Wine kiosks to celebrate the show the Chew. The music was great, and I didn’t get too scared of the clowns since I knew what to expect having seen La Nouba before.
This is a fantastic way to spend an evening with friends or family enjoying sips and bites from different restaurants all over the country and even world. We even timed our exit just right to come out a few minutes before Illuminations started, and if you come early, you also get the chance to see the Eat to the Beat Concert. I highly suggest that you try to book this soon if it isn’t already sold out, and if it is, add it to your calendar of must dos for next year. The Party for the Senses is a great way to experience Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival in a unique way where you can sit in air conditioning, and enjoy many different offerings for food and beverages while being entertained by the Cirque du Soleil cast.
While in MouseGear at Epcot, I noticed a nice item for sale by the MagicBands, a MagicSlider watch.
I’m sure there are quite a few of you out there who have checked their MagicBands for the time more than a couple times. I especially run into this challenge since I usually wear my MagicBand on my left wrist where I typically wear my watch. It seems the touch points at all the guard gates are more conducive for guests wearing bands on their left too, so a lot of times I find myself not wearing my watch.
The MagicSlider is $17.95 plus tax and slides very easily onto a MagicBand like any other slider. The color matches the gray trim exactly, so the watch will coordinate with any color MagicBand you have. It is lightweight and not bulky at all. The watch has three display modes: time in hour:minute format (both 12 and 24 hour options), date with the month and day, and seconds.
I tested the MagicBand with the MagicSlider watch at touch points in Epcot. It worked great without any change in how I used the MagicBand for charging without the slider. I also checked to make the band functioned at the resort gate to get in, the door to my room, and also for charging at my resort food court. I had no difficulty whatsoever using the MagicBand with the watch attached.
I am happy to see this great addition to the MagicBand for its practical use. My mom and I both bought one as we’ve been saying for months and months that they needed to add a watch to the MagicBands. I hope they eventually add more fun watches like they have for MagicSliders, MagicBandits, and CoverBands.
Yesterday marked the anniversary for both Walt Disney World‘s Magic Kingdom (43rd) and Epcot (32nd). I had the great fortune to be able to celebrate these parks’ respective 40th and 30th fireworks celebrations. For the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom in 2011, a group of friends and I had a spectacular experience renting out the Grand 1 Yacht from the Grand Floridian for a unique perspective of these special fireworks. In 2012, I also had a great view of the fireworks at Epcot thanks to friends from the upper level of the Japan pavilion. To commemorate these two great parks and their anniversaries, I’d like to share some of the fantastic fireworks pictures I was able to capture.
First, a few shots of the Grand 1. If you aren’t familiar with this beautiful yacht, it is docked at the Grand Floridian and guests may reserve it for a fee for a specialty cruise scheduled in the evening for the fireworks, for a private lunch with a butler, or just a cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. The yacht can accommodate up to 18 guests plus the captain and deckhand. If you get a chance to do this at any time, but especially for a special fireworks occasion like Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, I highly recommend getting a group together to experience this awesome vessel. We had the yacht for a couple hours before the fireworks, so we cruised back and forth around Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, the Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian before settling in to watch the Electrical Water Pageant just feet in front of us. We then were positioned almost directly in front of the train station for the fireworks with some slight drifting with the current it was a magnificent view!
Epcot’s 30th was a fantastic combination of Illuminations and then paying homage to classic Epcot attractions and music with gorgeous fireworks.