Monday, December 1, 2014

New Fantasyland: Part 2

So, at one point I started a blog series about New Fantasyland with great intentions of doing a lovely 3- or 4-part series.  And then I promptly got side-tracked with other posts (and life - thus the month long hiatus from blogging!).  So, much later than anticipated, here is part 2! (If you need a refresher on Part 1 on Storybook Circus, click here!)

In addition to the Storybook Circus section of New Fantasyland, there are many other fabulous additions.  Let's start with the section inspired by "Beauty and the Beast".  In addition to the Be Our Guest Restaurant (click here for more info on this!), there is much more!  Off to the left, you can see Maurice's cottage.  This building hosts the new version of "Enchanted Tales with Belle".

As you wind through Belle's childhood home, you eventually make your way to Maurice's workshop... and inside that room is where the magic happens.  You really have to see this for yourself, and I won't spoil the surprise, but let's just say that you are magically transported to Beast Castle, where you encounter many of Belle's friends...

...and of course, Belle, herself!

I was absolutely stunned by the special effects and animatronics in this attraction.  It is definitely a step up from the old version.  Children still get to participate, though, and so it retains all the charm of the original.  This is a must-see!!

Just past "Enchanted Tales..." and Be Our Guest Restaurant, you come to the main square, which boasts Gaston's Tavern and a gift shop (oh, and restrooms...).

You may just encounter Gaston while there - but even if he's out hunting (his Tavern is largely decorated with antlers, after all), you should definitely try LeFou's Brew!

Not to be outdone, Ariel and Prince Eric have taken up residence in New Fantasyland.  As you approach Eric's Castle, you see the remains of a shipwreck.

The queue is just lovely, and it takes you through several rooms as you head toward your Clam-Mobile for a Journey Under the Sea.

Does anyone else want to sing "Kiss the Girl" after seeing this?
Hop aboard, and you literally watch as you dive deep into the ocean for your journey.

After the ride, head over to Ariel's Grotto - where you can meet Ariel!

Another aspect of New Fantasyland is actually a bit closer to the old part -- and those are the Rapunzel Tower-themed bathrooms.  Yes, I am indeed blogging about bathrooms (that is just a bit strange...)

But to be fair, these are seriously cool bathrooms.  Completely themed to the storyline of Rapunzel, there is much to see.  

So, I felt like I could really take pics INSIDE the bathroom, so this is the best I could do....
Apparently, the guys have lots of frying pans on the walls.  I myself obviously couldn't go in to see personally, but I believe my hubby's word on it.  And if you look carefully, you'll notice that Maximus has made his presence known.

After using the facilities, you can head across the way to the "enchanted stumps" (ok that's my name for them, not Disney's).  These marvelous tree stumps house charging stations, and it's a nice place to rest your feet while you recharge your electronic devices (just be sure to have your power cord handy!).  And in true Disney style, you can pass the time by searching for hidden Pascals!

 And that's not all... but I think I'll save that for next time.  Stay tuned for info on the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tower of Terror 10-Miler

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably saw some of my posts from the Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.  I have done runDisney events before, but they typically center around the WDW Marathon Weekend in January.  This year, we decided to branch out and participate in the 10-Miler; since it is themed after one of our favorite rides, it only made sense, after all!

As an added bonus, we got to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and check out Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival.  More on those in another blog, though...

I am SO glad we decided to try this race.  It was my first nighttime race, and so required a totally different type of prepping.  If you are a runner and want to know more about that process, check out my post on the Running at Disney (RAD) website!

So let's start at the beginning.  On Friday morning, we headed to the ESPN Sports Complex for the Race Expo; here, we picked up our race gear and of course, did some shopping. :)

There were also some great photo ops!  After posing with our race number (hubby forgot to grab his for the pic), we headed to the Josten's Booth for a special photo, which was a free download for following runDisney on Instagram.

What a fun start to the weekend!  Of course, the race wasn't until Saturday evening, so we spent time touring the Magic Kingdom on Friday, then spent the early part of Saturday at Epcot.

Since there was a race in our very near future, we had to be careful not to overdo it in the parks (quite a tall order!).  We made a good move and stayed at the Boardwalk, so we only had a short walk to head back to our room for a nap.  We prepped our gear, rested for a couple of hours, and then it was time to get ready!

A running tutu is a must for me.  After all, where else can you wear such a thing without getting strange looks??

Time to walk over to Hollywood Studios!  It was a beautiful evening, and the walk helped to warm our muscles.  Plus, it was nice not to have to wait for a bus; we were able to arrive with plenty of time to enjoy the pre-race festivities.

Signing the "Guest Book" for the Hollywood Tower Hotel

There was also a DJ, and I will unabashedly admit to dancing to "What Does the Fox Say?" in addition to doing the Cha-Cha Slide -- all in my tutu.  

There were lots of fun photo-ops, which we took advantage of before heading to our corral to wait for the start of the race.

The race began right on time, and I was pleasantly surprised that the corrals were released only 2 minutes or so apart; I had expected a 5 minute lull between.
Fireworks for every corral!

And off we went!  Much of the beginning of the race was on the highway; we left the studios and headed toward Animal Kingdom.  In true Disney style, there was constant entertainment throughout the otherwise empty stretch of road. There were also lots of fun decorations.
Ordinarily I hate spiders, but... well, it's a Disney spider!
 Each mile boasted a different Disney Villain.  Of course, runners were welcome to stop for photos.  My husband and I prioritized who we would stop for, since we wanted to finish with a somewhat decent time! :) On the first stretch, we saw the Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and Dr. Facilier (from the Princess and the Frog).  At that point, we had made it to Animal Kingdom!

Time to loop back... we had to head toward the ESPN Sports Complex for the next leg of our run.  We passed some more Villains, notably the Hyenas and Jafar, and then it was time to take a shortcut via the Haunted Trail!

Yup.  Rib bones... yikes!
It was on this trail where I found my first photo op: the Old Hag (Evil Queen) from "Snow White"!  I have never seen her anywhere except Fantasmic, so there was no way I was going to miss this photo op, even if it meant a 5-minute line!

Why yes, she IS holding an apple...
The trail broke things up, it was a totally different change of scenery, and we were running on packed dirt rather than pavement, so it was a little softer on the joints.  At the other end of the trail, we emerged into the ESPN Sports Complex.  And it was here that we stopped for our second photo-- with the Haunted Mansion Grave Diggers!  Many of my followers know that my hubby and I are in LOVE with the Haunted Mansion.  So we definitely had to stop...

You can't see the shovel... but he's dragging it and creating sparks.  CREEPY!  And amazing...

We wove throughout the complex, around the track, past the creepy Zombie football players (no pics here!), and on to the last leg -- and back to the pavement. 

Next up?  We saw the Big Bad Wolf.  There was absolutely no line, so hey, why not?

Ever since I saw him dance to "What Does the Fox Say?", I've had a soft spot for this villain.
We thought we were done with photos, but then we came across the ballroom dancing ghosts from the Haunted Mansion!  I was SO torn.  There was quite a line for the ballroom "couples", but I found a ghost with no line... so how could I resist?

Back to the race!  We were headed back toward the Studios, having just reached an overpass, and we looked up and saw Hades, who was heckling the runners (all in good fun, of course).

We next got to run through the set of "Lights, Motor, Action" and then the now defunct Backlot Tour space.
Lights, Motor, Action!
Flight of the Navigator, anyone?
Hats! Or more technically, a millinery.
Around the bend, through the Studios, past the Tower, and then... SUCCESS!!  The icing on the cake was getting a shout out from famed runDisney announcer Rudy Novotny, who as you will notice, shares our last name.  

Ah, the sweet feel of a medal.  But the fun was just starting...

A big part of the 10-Miler is the Villain's Bash.  If you love the Disney Villains, this is the place for you!  The shops were open, replete with fun merch and sweet treats:

Of course, the rides were open, so we paid a call to the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

The are near the Sorcerer's Hat boasted a DJ, and also meet and greets with Cruella De Vil and The Queen.

I found out that there were many other Villain greets throughout the park, so I went searching and found:

Shan Yu (from "Mulan") tried to intimidate me; but I wasn't having any of it. :)

Pain & Panic from "Hercules"
Darth Vader & the Storm Troopers

I missed Gaston, Boba Fett, and Cruella, sadly, but by this point, the party was starting to wind down.  Time for a walk back to the Boardwalk. 

I would absolutely run this race again.  Although it is not scheduled for 2015, I'm hopeful that they will bring the race back after the renovations are finished at Hollywood Studios.  I'm guest blogging on the RAD website again on Monday, so if you want to know more about the Villain's Bash, stay tuned via Facebook or Twitter for the link!