Friday, February 24, 2012

Princess Expo and Pasta Party

by Meghann on February 24, 2012

Expo time!

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This afternoon the RunDisney blogger crew hit the Princess Half Marathon Expo at the ESPN complex.

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If you go at the right time, collecting your bib and running packet at any RunDisney event is relatively painless. We went at 1:00pm on a Friday and didn’t have any problems with crowds while collecting our stuff. However, I’ve been to one of their expos at 1:00 on a Saturday and it can get pretty crazy. My advice is to get there early and come prepared with your waiver.

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The bulk of the line usually comes from runners wanting to take photos with the carriage that sits outside the expo entrance. If you have time to wait for a cool photo – go for it – otherwise it’s just as easy to skip the photo opt and go around the line. ;)

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Once inside, everything is a little more spread out and relatively easy to get to.

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I’ll be running the Tangled 5k (my first Disney 5k!) on Saturday morning and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Two race = two bibs.

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It’s hard to tell, but there’s a little pink sticker on my Princess Half bib that references an earlier corral. Disney races are usually pretty strict with their corral placements. When you register online, you’re asked what your predicted finish time will be and to provide proof for that time. However, if you ever feel you are placed in the wrong corral (I was in the last!), then it’s super easy to fix at the runner’s relations booth. They still ask that you provide proof that the predicted finish time is possible, but all you do is flash them your latest finish time and they’ll usually give you a new sticker without a problem.

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Once we collected our bibs – it was shopping time!

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Disney expos are some of my favorite – they’re so big and full of enthusiastic runners!

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Surprisingly, I left pretty empty handed – just a couple things of Sports Beans and a handful of free Larabar samples. Not bad, not bad. If I hadn’t made my costume already, I could have been talked into a tutu, which – now that I’ve attempted to make my own tutu – I realize are just as expensive to make as they are to buy pre-made. Live and learn.

Before the group headed to expo, we all had lunch at the quick service restaurant (The Mara) in Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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Someone in my comments yesterday recommended the falafel sandwich, so that’s what I went with.

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The falafel pita came with a side of cous cous and was really good. The sauce gave it a nice spice that was hot, but nothing crazy.

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Our meal voucher included a dessert, so I grabbed a fruit cup that I didn’t end up eating and am saving for later in the weekend in my in-room fridge.

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Half of my tablemates had grabbed the Zebra Domes that just looked amazing.

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Luckily, they were happy to share! I had two and they were a little different than I was expecting. I thought the outside would be hard (like a cake ball shell), but it was actually soft, like a mousse. It was pretty good.

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After the expo, Fitz, Callie, Brittany, Christie, and I headed out to explore the parks.

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We only had a small window of time and decided Epcot would be our best bet.

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I nibbled on my stash of apple slices from the Chiquita booth at the expo.

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We hit up all of the best that Epcot has to offer – Soarin, Mission to Space, Test Tracks, so on and so on. :)

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We ended our night with the traditional Pasta in the Park Party that RunDisney offers to all of their half marathon and/or marathon weekend guests the Friday before all of their races.

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I’ve run three RunDisney races, but this was the first time I’ve attended one of their pasta parties. It’s very pricey ($50 per ticket) and – to be honest – I’m not a huge pasta fan. I’ve been very disappointed with pasta parties I’ve attended in the past at other races and wasn’t sure what to expect for this one.

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A Pasta Party ticket grants you all the pasta you can eat and access to the Epcot park for the remainder of the evening.

The spread of food was surprisingly incredible.

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Or maybe not so surprising considering this is Disney World?

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I piled my plate with a taste of everything the buffet had to offer.

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My favorite was the gorgeous salad that came with a cucumber-yogurt dressing and was piled high with olives, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

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I also really enjoyed the herb potato salad. So, so good.

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Psstt… my friend Brittany is gluten-free and Disney has been doing an AWESOME job this weekend making sure she’s been wall taken care of at all the restaurants/events with delicious gf options. The thing about Disney is they’re very allergy and vegetarian/vegan friendly – all you have to do is ask. Check out Brittany’s blog for more details on what she’s been eating!

The spread wasn’t terribly pasta heavy, which I really preferred. It was a good mix of protein and carbs – perfect pre-race fuel And the food was really good. Much better than I was expecting and enough to keep me toying with the idea of seconds, even though I was full. I didn’t want to stop eating it!

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The food was good, there were no lines, no crowds, pretty good music, and princesses to pose with.

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However, the atmosphere was lacking and I thought $50 was still very overpriced for what this event was. Would I pay for it on my own? Probably not, but it was nice to have the total experience for the weekend.

One bonus of the evening was speaking with Michelle Maready (who is head person for the Princess Half marathon) and being able to pick her brain on all things RunDisney.

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Did You Know…

  • This is the 4th Princess Half and – before the Princess Half – they offered a ‘Minnie Marathon Weekend’ that offered a 15k as the main event.
  • 19,500 runners will be running Sunday
  • 6,000 runners will be running the 5k on Saturday
  • They order medals at 100% of their cap to ensure they never run out of medals – everyone gets one no matter what.
  • The eldest runner on Sunday is 78 and the youngest is 14
  • Men start in the 3rd corral at the earliest, to ensure a female winner (a man has won it in the past)
  • There will be 600 port-a-potties on site this weekend
  • They’re always working on the next surprise – can’t wait to see what it will be!

I love fun facts like that. I probably could have picked Michelle’s brain all night, but my bed was calling my name.

I have an early alarm set and a 5k fun run to run in the morning.

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Good Night!

{ 27 comments }

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