Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

As spring begins, an event blooms in Epcot – the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

From March through May, garden spaces blossom throughout the theme park. From vibrant colors in Future World to various topiary displays in the shape of your favorite characters, there is much to explore. A recent addition to the festival are outdoor kitchens throughout World Showcase, including fantastic food and beverage options. (Similar to a smaller version of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.)

If you have a green thumb, you will want to partake in the various seminars and demonstrations. Disney horticulturists and garden experts share tips that you can try at home. There is even an “Ask An Expert” series where the audience can ask their flower and garden related questions.

Want a little break from the sunshine? Head to the America Gardens Theatre for the Garden Rocks Concert Series! Previous performers have included the Village People, Georgia Satellites, Gin Blossoms and The Spinners. Shows typically occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

This festival is not only for adults, as there are play areas available for the kids as well. Take a stroll through the butterfly house or the English Tea Garden. Kids can also enjoy the interactive play zones, themed to their favorite Disney movies. There are even areas that will illuminate at night for a whole new experience!

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

If your race plans include Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side, be sure to set aside some time to enjoy the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. There is a lot to explore!

Magical Miles Buy Now 2016

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Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Hidden Secrets

There are many perks to staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel during your runDisney race weekend. Transportation, Extra Magic Hours, parking, and much more – along with the Disney magic throughout your stay. Yet many don’t know about some of the “hidden secrets” that these resorts also offer!

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Hidden Secrets

While some of these items may be known to the Walt Disney World veterans, there may be an item or two below that your family wasn’t aware of. Take a look!

YeHaa Bob Jackson

At the River Roost Lounge at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside resides an entertainment fan favorite – YeHaa Bob! He combines his fantastic piano skills with comedy for a skit that the entire family is sure to enjoy. Be sure to ask the front desk for his schedule.

Grand Floridian Orchestra and Piano

Upon entering Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, you can’t help but enjoy the gorgeous lobby area. In the evening, it becomes even more magical as a pianist and orchestra take turns playing music that flows throughout the lobby. From ragtime, Dixie, jazz, and even a few of your Disney favorites, it is a great place to relax and listen to the sounds.

Deluxe Resort Lounges

Looking for a place to get a quick bite to eat or enjoy an evening cocktail? The lounges at the deluxe resorts are a great way to do just that! Reservations are not needed and a spot at the bar is usually available. The menus are actually pretty extensive and offer a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the parks.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Cast Members

There is no question that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a fantastic place to stay, or even visit. Heading outside to see animals roaming the Savannah is an experience like no other! However, during your visit, be sure to talk with the cast members as they offer incredible information about the animals, culture, art and much more. For another great experience, visit the resort in the evening and take a look at the Savannah through the night vision goggles!

Resort Tours

Many are aware of the many tours available in the parks, however there are also tours at a few of the resorts! Disney’s Boardwalk Inn is one resort in particular that offers a tour that explores the history of the original boardwalk in Atlantic City, as well as artifacts, artwork and architecture unique to the resort. (Other resorts with complimentary tours include Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.) Check with your resort’s concierge desk for more information.

Tri-Circle-D Ranch

Nestled near Fort Wilderness is the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, where your family can not only explore the area, but take horseback trail rides, wagon rides, carriage rides and more! Watch as the blacksmith makes horseshoes and even meet the horses that parade through Main Street USA.

Flag Family of the Day

At Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, a lucky family is chosen to help raise the flags that fly over the resort. This family, known as the Flag Family, accompanies a cast member to the roof of the resort to raise the American flag, Florida State flag, Walt Disney World flag and two Wilderness Lodge flags. While there is no guarantee, be sure to ask to see if there are any openings when you check into the resort.

Princess Promenade

New to the line up is a special experience at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Every day at 3:30 PM, Cinderella and Prince Charming descend the grand staircase and dance in the lobby, where guests are welcome to join in. This is a great opportunity for the littlest of princesses!

Tri-Circle-D Ranch

This is only the beginning when it comes to fun you can enjoy at your Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Movies on the beach, Electrical Water Pageant, hula dancing, fan favorite resort greeters, campfires and s’mores – the possibilities are endless! Ask the cast members at the front desk or concierge desk at your resort for more information. On your next runDisney race weekend, be sure to check out a few of these (and many more) to make your vacation even more magical!

 

Magical Miles Buy Now 2016

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Jennifer Serna wins first place running her first runDisney race; Tinker Bell Half Marathon celebrates fifth anniversary; More than 24,000 runners celebrate a pixie-dusted Mother’s Day Weekend at Disneyland Resort

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend 2016

Photo: © Disney

ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 8, 2016) – With faith, trust and plenty of pixie power, Orange County, Calif. resident Jennifer Serna flew in first place in the fifth annual Tinker Bell Half Marathon presented by PANDORA Jewelry at Disneyland Resort on Sunday. The 31-year-old runner dashed by her competition, finishing in 1:25:49. Kellie Nickerson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, fluttered in as the second place female finisher, clocking at 1:29:41.

“It was a surreal experience. All the cast members and locals were supportive,” Serna said. “Running through the park was really fun and exhilarating, I didn’t even feel like I was running.”

A resident of Fullerton, Calif., Serna works for a running shop and participated in the race as a Mother’s Day celebration, running in honor of her daughter and to support her local running club.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at the Disneyland Resort is one of the top three largest women-focused races in the nation. Approximately 950 runners participating in this year’s race have run all five years. In 2015, Southern California resident Lenore Moreno set the Tinker Bell Half Marathon record, completing the race in 1:15:55.

Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts and nieces were some of the 10,700 runners who spent their Mother’s Day racing along an entertainment-filled 13.1-mile course through Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Parks, as well as by several Anaheim landmarks.

Runners competed in various events during the weekend that included the Never Land 5K, the Tinker Bell 10K, runDisney Kids Races, a health and fitness expo and the second Pixie Dust Challenge, which involved runners completing the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

In total, there were more than 24,000 runners from across the nation and 32 countries. Finishers received a commemorative Tinker Bell “wings’’ medal. The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend is one of eight annual runDisney events and one of two women-focused events. The other is the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which takes place in February at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. Both events are designed to celebrate and promote women’s empowerment, women’s health and an active lifestyle. And both are among the nation’s largest race weekends geared towards women.

Runners can register for any runDisney race weekend at www.rundisney.com.

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After a lot of speculation, runDisney officially announced the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend in early 2015.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend

During the announcement (and many months to follow), the only information given were the dates – September 23-25, 2016. Many runners were anxious to learn more about this first international race weekend, especially as the cost would be substantially higher due to travel.

Slowly, more details were shared. The weekend would include an Expo, Kick-off Party, 5K, Kids’ Races and Half Marathon. At first, the registration details were a little vague, in that the first round would be for those purchasing travel packages, including race registration, hotel accommodations and park tickets. A few months later, race registration only would be available.

While this race wasn’t originally on Megan’s schedule, it soon became a mother and daughter adventure. The easiest option seemed to be getting a travel package, not only because we planned on staying near Disneyland Paris for the race weekend, but also to ensure we secured our race registrations. The original registration date in early October 2015 was pushed back a week at the last minute. It appeared this race would be quite the interesting saga. (Race registration only was also pushed back, and became available in mid-February 2016.)

When the next registration date came, Megan got on the phone to Disneyland Paris early in the morning. (Travel Provider packages were also available, but did sell out very quickly.) After a 45 minute wait, the package was booked, with full payment due at booking.

Megan was told that additional information regarding the race registrations would be sent later. Two months later, another email arrived stating there were steps they needed to take in order to officially register for their races (5K for both, half marathon for Megan). A username and password were provided, and all information needed to be entered. Along with your birthdate, etc., Megan had to provide additional information as a half marathon participant. This is where she gave her proof of time link, but also had to upload two certificates:

Castle to Chateau

In order to receive the Castle to Chateau medal, participants must run a half marathon or longer distance at Walt Disney World or Disneyland in 2016, as well as the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. Since Megan had run the Walt Disney World Marathon, she uploaded her finisher’s certificate (found in the race results section on the runDisney website).

Medical Certificate

This was something that was definitely new! Those participating in the half marathon are required to have clearance from a doctor prior to participating. A medical certificate can be downloaded from the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend website, and must be signed by a doctor (including their license number). This signed certificate must be uploaded to the registration area by June 1.

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend

Once Megan uploaded both of these certificates, along with additional registration information, a confirmation was sent to her email. They were officially registered for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend!

Now, the wait continues. At this time, no new information regarding race weekend has been provided. Stay tuned as the preparation for the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend continues!

 

Magical Miles Buy Now 2016

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Oshkosh runner easily wins after second-place finish last year at another runDisney Star Wars-themed race at Disneyland Resort; Katie McGrath is top women’s finisher; More than 43,000 runners take part in the race weekend

Star Wars Half Marathon Dark Side 2016

Photo: © Disney

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (April 17, 2016) – After finishing second at the runDisney Star Wars half marathon at Disneyland Resort last year, Jason Ryf summoned even more of The Force on Sunday to win the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side at Walt Disney World Resort.

Ryf, 45, from Oshkosh, Wisconsin won the 13.1-mile race through Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1:13:39. Marc Burget of Jacksonville, Florida was second (1:14:38) and Chris Trebilcock of Tampa, Florida was third (1:15:27).

Katie McGrath was the first female runner to cross the finish line, covering the course in 1:24:05. Elizabeth Meadows-Harland of Nashville, Tennessee was second (1:26:36) and Kim Hunger of Antelope, California, was third (1:28:36).

For Ryf, conquering the race from a galaxy far, far away held a lot of sentimental value. Ryf said he grew up watching the Star Wars saga and is a real fan of the franchise. He finished second at the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort in 2015 with a time of 1:10:56. His time Sunday was a tad slower, yet he managed to land in the winner’s circle.

“I love Star Wars. I saw the original movies in the theaters. Ever since I was a kid, Star Wars has just been awesome,’’ Ryf said. “So coming here and winning is pretty good. Being able to celebrate Disney and Star Wars and the race all together is a pretty nice time.’’

The race was the newest addition to the runDisney series which involves nine races at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and, for the first time later this year, Disneyland Paris. The next runDisney race weekend is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA Jewelry (May 5-8) at Disneyland Resort.

The Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side involved several family-friendly events, including a Health and Fitness Expo with the latest in fitness apparel, running gear and high tech gadgets, the Star Wars 5K, the Star Wars 10K and the Dark Side Challenge, which involved running the 10K and the half marathon on consecutive days. There were also Star Wars characters along the course and opportunities for runners to pose with them before and after the races.

 

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New Balance Running Trails at Walt Disney World

Even though most of us head down to Walt Disney World for a runDisney race (or four), there may be a time when you visit and a race is not involved. There also may be the need for a quick shakeout run before or after your big race. Thankfully, Walt Disney World has many fantastic running trails for you to use!

Walt Disney World Running Trails

New Balance teamed up with Walt Disney World to create running trails for visitors to enjoy during their vacation. Located at most Walt Disney World Resort hotels, you can enjoy a few miles before hitting the parks for the day. Be sure to look for the signage, which will direct you in the paths to take. Let’s take a look at a few of these trails!

Walt Disney World Boardwalk Running Trail

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Beach Club & Disney’s Yacht Club

A portion of this trail will be quite familiar to those who have run the Walt Disney World Marathon or Wine & Dine Half Marathon courses! The path takes you around Crescent Lake, as well as toward Hollywood Studios. Once around the lake is just under a mile, as is the path to Hollywood Studios and back. For those wanting to add more mileage, run along the path of Epcot Resorts Boulevard and Buena Vista Drive.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

If you are looking for a more trail-like experience, then head to the wilderness! This 2.5 mile path is nestled in the wooded area between Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. It is sure to be nice and quiet, which can be a wonderful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Need more mileage? Take a detour and run around the campground.

Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Village

Take the path that connects these two resorts for a great one mile run, while enjoying views of the Seven Seas Lagoon. If you time it right, you may even get a wonderful sunrise view as well! If you need to add more mileage, you can run around the various buildings at each resort.

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Run along the Sassagoula River between these two resorts for a nice mile-long journey. The paths are quite peaceful in the morning, and you can always add on some mileage by exploring the paths around the buildings as well. (Not to mention, you can stop by the quick service restaurant for a beignet to enjoy post-run!)

Walt Disney World Polynesian Running Trail

These are just a few of the great trails available throughout Walt Disney World. (Bad weather? All deluxe resorts have a fitness center that includes a treadmill.) Be sure to ask the front desk or concierge for a map of the running trail at your hotel while staying on Disney property!

 

Magical Miles Buy Now 2016

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