Resort Review – Polynesian Resort

Note: Throughout 2014 (and possibly into 2015), the Polynesian Resort is getting an extensive refurbishment. Many areas throughout the resort will be under construction, including the Volcano Pool, Great Ceremonial House, The NeverLand Club and along the beach. This can cause loud construction noises during the day, as well as affect transportation, restaurants, recreation, etc. Keep this in mind if you are considering a stay at the Polynesian in 2014.

Dreaming of the islands of the South Pacific? Then the Polynesian Resort is for you!

Polynesian Review

Nestled along the Seven Seas Lagoon, the Polynesian Resort is in the Magic Kingdom area. This deluxe resort includes views of Cinderella Castle, as well as the Grand Floridian and Contemporary Resorts. Located along the monorail line, the Magic Kingdom is never far away. The Polynesian is also offers a quick walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center which provides easy access to the Epcot monorail.  

The layout of this resort includes various longhouses. The rooms have been recently renovated, bringing a lighter decor. These rooms are among the largest on property, all offering two queen beds. Room options include standard view, lagoon view and theme park views. For those wanting the added benefits of the concierge lounge and service, those rooms include the above views as well as 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom suite options. (Concierge level includes access to the King Kamehameha Club lounge for food and beverages throughout the day, as well as personalized services throughout your stay.)

Polynesian Rooms

When it comes to recreation, there are a lot of options at the Polynesian! Boat rentals, bike rentals, fishing, pool cabanas, jogging trails, volleyball, arcade, movies under the starts – you will never run out of things to do! There are also two great pool areas. The Nanea Volcano Pool includes a water slide and is full of action. For a quieter experience, head to the East Pool. Want a night away without the kids? The Neverland Club is a great option for kids ages 3-12.

Polynesian Pool

The restaurants at the Polynesian have become fan favorites. For a quick meal, head to Captain Cook’s. When it comes to table service restaurants, Kona Cafe is a hidden gem. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the options have a south seas flair. ‘Ohana is a character meal with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto for breakfast. Dinner does not include characters, but with an all-you-can-eat experience – it does not disappoint! Enjoy wood-fired meats, great sides and an amazing dessert. (Reservations for dinner go quickly!)

Want a true South Pacific experience? The Spirit of Aloha Luau is fun for the whole family! Hula dancing, fire dancing, a tropical feast – the smiles will stay for awhile!

When it comes to race weekends, the Polynesian offers a great spectating location! For the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon events, the race course takes you along the road behind the Polynesian. Walk through the parking lot and you’ll have a great location to spot your runner! The Polynesian also offers quick transportation to Epcot for the runners early in the morning.

If you are looking for a relaxing resort with easy access to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, the Polynesian is a great option!

 

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Top 10 Tips for runDisney Challenges

It’s no secret that the runDisney challenges are extremely popular! With four challenges currently available (Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Glass Slipper Challenge and Dumbo Double Dare), they sell out within days – if not even faster.

runDisney Challenge Tips

However, these challenges are not to be taken lightly! Here are our top 10 tips (in no particular order) to prepare for and conquer your runDisney challenge!

Prepare for the training involved. The training needed to complete a runDisney challenge is quite intense. Jeff Galloway’s plans are at least 19 weeks in length and include 3 (and sometimes 4) days of running. It is recommended that you have a strong running background and base before signing up for a runDisney challenge (even more so for those signing up for the Goofy or Dopey challenge). Make sure that you can devote the time to training so you can have fun and reduce the chances of injury or burn out!

Have a great support crew. With so much time devoted to training, you need to make sure you have a great support crew in place! Talk it over with your family so they are prepared for your extended training time. Even better, find a way to involve them in your training! Having a running partner or group is an excellent way to keep you motivated as you log in the miles toward your runDisney challenge goal.

Focus on the back-to-back training runs. The key component to the runDisney challenges is that you are running two or four days in a row, doubling your mileage each day. Therefore, it is extremely important that you train your legs and body for this! Make sure that your training includes multiple back-to-back training runs. These can be two days of run/walk or straight running, or you can walk the first day, then run/walk or run the second day. The most important part is to get your legs used to going a longer distance when they are fatigued from the day prior.

Do a (mini) trial challenge. Once you have put in a strong amount of training, it doesn’t hurt to have a trial run of the challenge itself. You don’t need to run the exact same mileage as the challenge, but a good portion of it. A recommendation is a 6 mile followed by a 12 mile run for Glass Slipper Challenge or Dumbo Double Dare. Many Dopey runners completed a 3 mile, 6 mile, 10 mile and 20 mile “mini” challenge as part of their training. This should be the peak of your training, so approximately 2-3 weeks before the actual event. It is a GREAT confidence booster!

Bring two pairs of shoes. In fact, we would even go one step farther and say to train in two pairs of shoes! Rotate your shoes as you train, then bring both along for the races themselves. Not only do you have a back-up if needed, but you also allow your feet to recover a bit from the day before. Not to mention, you don’t want to run in a wet pair of shoes if it rains the first day!

Pack for all race conditions. Unfortunately, Disney cannot control the weather during a race weekend. Both coasts have seen many weather systems during races, so prepare for anything! Pack for hot and humid, cool and windy, rainy, cloudy – you name it. Make sure that you are packing double (or quadruple for Dopey) for each race condition since it could be the same or completely opposite during the challenge days. It is also wise to check out the Weather Channel before traveling, but know that it still can change.

Take the first race(s) easy. Even if your plan is just to run all the races for fun, make sure you take the first race (or races) easy. You want to make sure your legs are somewhat fresh for the longest distance, which will be the last race! Go at a slower pace, walk more and take in all of the entertainment around you!

Refuel and recover between races. When running multiple races, you need to make sure that you properly refuel after you run and let your muscles recover. Be sure to get in some carbs and protein within 30-60 minutes after running and fuel your body throughout the day. Also, rest those legs! Even though the parks may be calling your name, be sure to take it easy and allow your body to rest!

Prepare for the (very) early mornings. The current runDisney challenges all occur during morning events. That means you need to prepare for some VERY early mornings. At Walt Disney World, you will need to be on a bus by 4:00 AM – and not just once, but twice – and possibly FOUR times! Be sure to get to bed early and take a nap during the day if needed.

Have fun! Once you’ve put in the training, you can head to Disney and ENJOY the races! Make new friends. Take photos with the characters. Smile as you cross the finish line a couple times! Let the magic take over and have fun!

 runDisney Challenge Tips

Any experienced runner can take on these runDisney challenges with the right training. It is a great way to take your running journey to a new level! Enjoy those magical miles – you will get to experience many of them!

Do you have any tips to add? Let us know the in the comments!

 

 

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MyMagic+ During a runDisney Weekend

Recently, a new experience has been added to your Walt Disney World vacation – MyMagic+. This includes MagicBands, FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app. Together, these aspects can make your vacation even more magical! Let’s take a quick look at what these include.

MyMagic+ runDisney

My Disney Experience 

Using your Disney account, you can log into the website prior to your vacation. Here you can make dining reservations, customize your MagicBands and select your FastPass+ options. However, the website is just part of it – you can also download the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone or tablet! This is where My Disney Experience shines. While on your vacation, you can click on the app and see what dining or FastPass+ reservations you have for the day. You can also see a map of the parks, check the wait times of your favorite attractions and even see what character meet and greets are nearby!

MagicBands

MagicBands have replaced your Key to the World cards. These bands act as your Magical Express ticket, Disney resort room key, park tickets, dining credits, room charge option and FastPass+ tickets. These bands have a similar feel to a Garmin or GPS watch. 60 days before your trip, you can begin the process of customizing your MagicBands which includes choosing a color (gray, red, blue, green, orange, yellow or pink) and choosing a name to inscribe on the band. The bands will be delivered to your home (unless you don’t customize them or make your resort reservation too close to check in). While they can be slightly annoying to wear on your wrist, they allow you to ultimately bring nothing with you to the parks!

MagicBands

FastPass+

The normal FastPass tickets and kiosks are going away, making way for the new FastPass+ option. Using the My Disney Experience website or app, you can choose 3 FastPass+ options a day, in one park. You will be given various hour-long time periods for each of your selections, however you can change them if needed – even while in Disney! One thing to note is that Hollywood Studios and Epcot currently have a tiered system, meaning that you can only choose one of the “headliner” attractions, then choose your next two from the lesser attractions.

FastPass+

But how can they enhance your runDisney race weekend? Here are our thoughts!

- With early (or late) race times, MyMagic+ allows runners to still enjoy the parks without long waits at their favorite attractions! You are able to schedule your FastPass+ options for the afternoon, which is wonderful. Prior to FastPass+, runners were at the mercy of possible long wait times or had to arrive at a park to secure at paper FastPass and then wait for their ride window.  Experiencing a headliner attraction using FastPass was almost impossible prior to Magic Bands.

- MagicBands allow you to walk through the parks and resorts with ease. Along with your band, all you need to bring is a camera (and possibly an ID)! You can charge purchases to your room, enter the park and use FastPass+ with only your band.

- Want a photo with a certain character after receiving your runDisney medal? Using the My Disney Experience app, you can find out where that character is in the parks! (Added bonus, with all the hydrating you are doing – you can find the closest bathroom quickly as well!)

 

What are your thoughts regarding MyMagic+? Let us know in the comments!

 

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runDisney New Balance Shoes – Virtual Queue

During the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, we had a chance to test out a new way to get the coveted runDisney New Balance shoes!

In 2013, New Balance and runDisney began a partnership that included shoes with a Disney twist. There was a Mickey-inspired men’s shoe and a Minnie-inspired women’s shoe. Both shoes were New Balance’s 860v3 model, which is a stability shoe. They were first unveiled during Marathon Weekend, where they sold out in a matter of hours. Each runDisney Health & Fitness Expo throughout 2013 offered these shoes for those interested.

2013 runDisney New Balance Shoes

A few weeks ago, New Balance and runDisney unveiled the 2014 shoe options. Along with the 860v4 (in Sorcerer Mickey for men and Pink Polka Dot Minnie for women), they also released the 890v4 – which is a neutral shoe. The men’s shoe was Goofy-inspired and the women’s shoe was Cinderella-inspired. Along with these, they announced that there would be kids’ options – similar to the 860v4 adult options!

Before Marathon Weekend, runDisney stated that there would be a virtual queue at the Expo. We were able to give this new experience a try when we arrived at the Expo EARLY on Wednesday morning.

Upon entering ESPN Wide World of Sports, we followed the New Balance shoes on the ground. Even 2 hours before the Expo was supposed to open, a line was already beginning to form in front of Champion Stadium.

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

The Expo ended up opening early (around 9 AM), where we were led into Champion Stadium. Here New Balance representatives manned computer stations where you entered your name and cell phone number. We were told that when it was our turn, we would receive a text and would have 20 minutes to get to the booth for our “appointment”.

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

Since we had gotten in line so early, our text came within 15 minutes. Instead of following the normal entrance into the Josten’s Center, we were told to go down the stairs (there was New Balance signage) and be led directly into the New Balance booth. Along the way, we had to show our text message to multiple New Balance representatives, ensuring we actually had a legit appointment!

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

Before entering the booth, we gave our confirmation number to the New Balance reps in front of the booth, where they checked us off the list. We then entered the land of chaos. The virtual queue did only allow so many shoppers in the booth at once, but it was clear that these shoes were a VERY hot item!

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

It was around 9:40 AM when we started trying on shoes for ourselves. (Keep in mind, the Expo was not supposed to open until 10:00 AM, and we were one of the first groups into the booth.) Megan was told that a size 7 in men’s for the Goofy shoe was already sold out! We do not understand how this was even possible, but the rep did tell her that they were holding some shoes back for later days in the Expo. Considering how early it was, they did find her a pair on the truck.

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

The representatives were very helpful as we tried on various sizes. (Note: The Cinderella shoes did run a half size small.) Along with the shoes, there was other merchandise available, including shirts that matched the personality of the shoes, as well as shoe inserts specific to the race weekend. The shoe inserts were pushed quite frequently, although we personally don’t understand them since they go INSIDE your shoe and no one will ever see them.

For Marathon Weekend, each person could purchase 4 adult shoes and 2 kids shoes. And many people did.

As for availability, New Balance announced that they were better prepared this year. However, we disagree. By 11 AM on Wednesday, the virtual queue had already been closed. Throughout the weekend (starting on Thursday), New Balance was already stating that certain sizes were sold out.

However, the virtual queue was a nice option. It allowed us to explore the Expo and pick up our packets while waiting for our text message that it was our time to get shoes. Yet being there early made a huge difference – we heard at different times throughout the weekend that the line to just sign up was hours long!

2014 runDisney New Balance Shoes

We are very interested to see how New Balance and runDisney handle the obvious popularity of the shoes at upcoming Expos. It is very common for the first Expos to have the biggest draw as the shoes are new. (We heard that getting the 2013 shoes at the Wine & Dine Expo was very easy.)

Let’s hear it – what are your thoughts regarding the runDisney New Balance shoes? There is also some great conversation on our Facebook page!

 

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Training for a race takes a lot of time and dedication. For the past several months (or maybe even longer), you follow your training plan – running in various weather conditions, during early mornings or after work or even on the treadmill. You work toward one goal, crossing the finish line and getting your runDisney medal!

After all the training and finishing your race, it is time to CELEBRATE! Here are some great ways to celebrate at Walt Disney World.

Celebrate runDisney

Spa Treatment – You’ve put in the miles, so get pampered after your race! There are many wonderful spas to get a massage, facial, body treatment, manicure or pedicure. The newly redone Senses Spa at Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs are excellent locations to enjoy some relaxation.

Character Meal – With that medal around your neck, why not celebrate with some of your favorite characters! You can dine with the princesses, Mickey and the gang, Winnie the Pooh and his friends and more. Make a reservation at a character meal and get some great celebration photos.

Fireworks Cruise – If your friends or family came along to celebrate with you, then splurge on a fireworks cruise. Set sail on a yacht and watch Wishes (Magic Kingdom) or IllumiNations (Epcot) for an extra special celebration.

Conquer the Mountains – Are you a thrill seeker? Then celebrate by riding every mountain at the parks! Take on Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain – or even add in some of the fun thrills from the other theme parks.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour – There are some fantastic tours that immerse you in the Disney magic while experiencing some backstage fun! Plan a tour and learn about the parks, scuba dive with the fish, walk above the African savannah and more.

Dinner at Victoria & Albert’s – Celebrate in true elegance with a special dinner at this Five-Diamond award winning restaurant. Dress up in your fancy attire and enjoy a celebratory evening meal.

Shopping in Downtown Disney – Another great way to celebrate is to shop! Head to the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district and shop until you drop. The Marketplace includes Disney-themed stores and the West Side includes stores like Fit2Run and more!

A Day at the Pool – Enjoy some time off your feet by celebrating at your resort pool. Take in the sunshine and relax as your goal is completed!

runDisney Celebration

There are many ways to celebrate your runDisney accomplishment while at Walt Disney World! Share how you celebrated your race below or email us a photo!

 

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The 2013 runDisney Season!

2013 has been full of magical miles! Here is a look back at the magic of the 2013 runDisney season – enjoy!

 

 

Here’s to 2014!

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