Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fast Pass Plus Review Revisited- Part I

Last November I spent a few days at the Walt Disney World Resort and experienced my first Fast Pass Plus weekend.  I had mixed feelings about it.  Here's the link with my previous experience.  I had another go at the Fast Pass/Magic Band process with a trip to the Princess Half Marathon in February.   Due to staying at multiple resorts I ended up with quite a collection of Magic Bands.

All mine.
And it's growing. We're going back to Walt Disney World this spring for Star Wars Weekend.

We aren't padwans when it comes to this particular event weekend.  We first visited in May 2006 and again in May 2010.  There's a pattern developing, right?  It looks like every 4 years is going to be our Star Wars Weekend.  But this time we are going with the aid of Fast Pass Plus.  Will the Force Be With Us?

A side note: let me tell you what convinced me to put money into this completely last minute and un-budgeted trip.  They almost had me when Disney announced Mark Hamill would attend one of the weekends.  My kid's name isn't Luke by accident, y'all.  But the truth is I wasn't breaking out the credit card until we had the option of Star Wars Character Meals.   Eating with Darth Vader and Jedi Mickey actually trumped meeting Luke Skywalker.  Yes, I planned an entire cross country trip during the school year because I get to eat at the Sci-Fi Diner watching Star Wars movie clips as Storm Troopers patrol my sector. 

I'm not sure what that says about me, but I know I'm not alone. 

Dear Disney,  Please make this a permanent dining option.  Oh, and add that Star Wars (Half?) Marathon at Disneyland too, will ya?   Smooches!

Back to the Magic Bands.  Today I finally sat down, linked our passes, and set to work choosing my FP (Fast Pass) selections.  I had a small, ok, HUGE fear that there wouldn't be anything worth pre-selecting. I'm a planner and would typically be making these choices at my earliest window to ensure my best choices.  Not this time.  This trip was planned on the fly.  It was getting late- surely I'd be stuck with FP for the Carousel of Progress and the People Mover, right?  (I love these rides, but they are not worth spending one of only THREE stingy and precious FP that Walt Disney World allots!)

What I discovered was a pleasant surprise.  I found Fast Pass options for every E-Ticket I desired.  Shut the front door!  A small caveat:  I didn't try for Elsa and Anna and I'm not a lover of the parades or fireworks, so I did not hope for or look for those experiences.  I did see the three mountains in Magic Kingdom, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, and It's a Small World to name a few.  Not only that, I was able to book them at decent times.  Huzzah!

The time options My Disney Experience gave me were spaced out a lot farther than I preferred.  This is where I got frustrated last fall.  I spent a lot of time trying to change times and line my experiences up in a way that works for me.  Not today!  Today was so simple I couldn't believe it.  Here's a few screen shots to show you how easy it is to make changes to your Fast Pass.

First I changed the time of the experience.
Then I decided to change the experience altogether.
Not only was it more intuitive, it was also running faster for me than it was last fall.  I was seamlessly clicking through the pages without any major hang ups or hick ups.  The streamlined steps to choosing and then modifying your Fast Pass selections is a great improvement over the last time I selected Fast Passes.  It's still not perfect, but it was a lot better. 

My biggest problem was user error.  Hey- no one's perfect!  I had Friends listed in my Family section and Family listed in the Friends section.  I also had multiple accounts for some of my friends from way back when I eagerly dove into the My Disney Experience and they had not quite set up their accounts.  When they did set up their own accounts and we were linked properly with each other, I couldn't figure out how to safely remove the "fake" accounts that had been set up.  So I left them there.

With so many Friends in the wrong places, I accidentally added my pal Sarah to one day of rides rather than my youngest son, Seth.  Oops!  Sorry little dude.  I thought it would be simple to drop Sarah and add Seth, but it wasn't.  Ah, FP, we were doing so well together, too!  No fear- Sarah actually lives near Walt Disney World and mentioned that she had Magic Bands to spare and would just bring him one if I couldn't get the system to add Seth.  She was joking, Disney.  I promise.
While this problem languished on my Saturday Fast Pass page, I went ahead and moved on to Sunday.  We planned to hit Animal Kingdom that  morning.  And here's where I made another mistake.  We have some thrill seekers who want to ride Everest as soon as we enter the park, and then we have #OhLucy and her not as adventuresome brother #OhSeth

In Animal Kingdom I decided to book the 3 thrill seekers on their rides, and then separately go in and book the rest of us on tamer experiences.  It was easy enough to book Rob, Luke and Claire on their high adrenalin rides.   And then issue number two happened:  I couldn't figure out how to book Seth and I at all.  My goal was to have all 6 of us ride the Safari first thing together, then I'd take the younger kids and head to watch Nemo or ride Triceratops Spin.  But FP wasn't having any of it.  I was stuck. 

At this point I broke down and admitted defeat.  I settled in for a long call to Disney IT to help me figure out where I had gone wrong.  

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second part of this post.  A sequel if you will.  Our hero, Mayling, from the IT Helpline solves all my problems.  And by extension, yours.  Not only did she fix the hotmess of  My Disney Experience, but she talked me through how she was fixing it.

Have you noticed the changes to the Fast Pass Plus booking processes?  What are your thoughts?  Are you slowly growing to like all the planning?   Or are you still unimpressed?

ps- don't forget I have a giveaway going on until next week!  Be sure to check this post for all the details on my Marathon/Goofy announcement, the DietBet going on, and the Amazon Gift Card I'm giving away! You have to enter to win- and we know you want to win! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Remember Yesterday When I Said I Was Running A Marathon? I Left a Little Something Out...

Today is Walt Disney World Marathon weekend registration day, and I won't lie, I'm freaking a little bit out.  Since it's currently 4:31am and I'm WIDE awake (and have been for an hour,) clearly it's weighing on me.  The funny thing is, it's not what you think.

I'm actually EXCITED.  Not just to register for my first marathon, but I'm going to do something pretty Goofy.  You knew where this was going, didn't you?

Today I'm going to right an injustice.  Injustice?  That's a little extreme isn't it Shenanigans?  I don't think so.   I realized this weekend that I have run every half marathon at runDisney except for one:  Donald's race.  I asked myself the ever burning questions: Why doesn't Donald get any Shenanigans love?  What exactly do I have against Donald?

The basic answer is timing and logistics. The Princess Half and Donald share the exact same course and are a little over a month apart.  Plus you guys know how I feel about running Tinker Bell.  In recent years, Tink's race fell right after Donald's and going coast to coast in a week is not high on Shenanigan's list!  Plus I had to work and scheduling time off to make it all happen was pretty dicey.

This year though... ahhhhh, I'm looking at a whole other scenario!  No day job, possibly no Princess Half (#whompwhomp), and Tinker Bell has been moved to May.  Oh... and I'll be there anyway for the Marathon. 

Don't you think I need this medal too?

photo: runDisney
I've always said if you are going to run WDW Marathon, you might as well run Goofy.  I naively assume that once you put the training miles and time in for the big Daddy run, doing a half will be child's play!  Just walk it, my buddy Jeff Galloway says.  It will be fine, he says. 


I fully recognize the stupidity of my logic and can hear you previous Dopey and Goofy runners laughing your cute little bootays off.  But I'm going to trust in Jeff for this one.  And for the record, getting up early two days in a row doesn't bother me.  (Side note: staying out of the parks to save my legs:  that bothers me.  I simply love the parks.)

I won't lie: it's the allure of the accomplishment.  And the bling.  For sure it's the bling.  You've seen the Goofy medal, right?  It's gorgeous!  It spins. 

And I'll be relying a lot on my faith to keep moving one foot in front of the other during training and during the race weekend.  This verse will be on a constant loop in my head while I undergo this task.

Are you running Goofy?  Have you run it in the past?  I'd love to hear your tips and strategy for these two races!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I'm Running A Marathon And Need YOUR Help #NoGuiltNoGut *Giveaway*

I know, I know.

I pretty much blew the surprise announcement right there in the headline.  But this is a long post, so I figured I'd get to the point.  Can't be anymore clear in my intentions than that, right?  The answer is YES:  I've decided to take the leap and run the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2015.

In the end, it all came down to Nemo and Dory.  Words to live by, right?  I have mine.  Most of the DisBroads will be there, and Mr. Shenanigans and DisBroad Julie and I will be sticking together.  With those two by my side, and a crapton of training, I know I can finish anything.

I need to give a special thanks to everyone on Twitter and Facebook who sent encouraging quotes, blog posts, personal experiences, etc.  I read them all.  Jen sent me this one. She wrote it last year, but like she pointed out on Twitter, she might as well be talking about me this year.  It resonated.

I also paid attention to those NOT encouraging running a marathon.  There were a lot of great reasons out there to not do this crazy thing.  I especially took a moment to digest April's post on why she is not running the marathon this year.

And then closed it quickly before I changed my mind.  Ahem.  #KeepingThingsReal

My original running crew, the ladies I ran the first Princess Half Marathon in 2011, have heard me talk about this for years.  Through the births of 3 children and the death of 1, they stand by me through thick and thin.  True #BRF and awesome #MotherRunners.  They were kind enough NOT to point out that I've been saying this since we ran our first Princess Half Marathon together in 2011.

Let's discuss one of the biggest issues with me running a marathon:  my weight.  It's a proven fact that the less you have to carry over 26.2 miles the faster (easier?) you will complete the race.  I've never claimed or even aspired to being fast.


I do want it to be as "easy" as possible.  Training properly will go far in this endeavor.  So will losing some weight.  Carrying around an extra 70 pounds isn't doing me any favors in life and certainly isn't making that marathon training or racing as "easy" as possible.

Am I going to lose 70 pounds in 9 less than months?

I highly doubt it either.  Historically, it's been very hard for me to lose weight while in half marathon training.
However, I recognize that if I don't start doing something different, I'm going to be on a whole new planet of suck come next January.   That's one planet I want to avoid at all costs.
Go to the DietBet game by clicking this image.
Enter my partnership with DietBet.  I'm working with the company to host my first pre-marathon training weight loss efforts.   And you're invited to join me in the No-Guilt No Gut challenge.  This game starts May 5 and will challenge us to lose 4% of our body weight in 4 weeks.  Never heard of DietBet?  This video explains it all.

Social media is powerful and social dieting is too!  I've participated in 2 DietBets in the past and won both of them.  The threat of losing money works for me.  Just like when I make the commitment and pay for a race, I know I'll finish it.  I'm not leaving without that pretty and expensive bling, yo!  Same with playing DietBet.  I'll be happy to share my experiences and answer any questions you might have- give me a shout via email or in the comments below. One important thing to note:  as long as you make the weight, you will NOT lose any money.  You are guaranteed to win... as long as you lose the weight required.  Make sense?

My goal is to have 500 people participating in this game.  Can you help me by sharing the link even if you are not personally interested?  The more people that play, the more money we all stand to win.  Tweet it, Pin it, Facebook it... whatever you can do to encourage others to join in will make it more fun for all of us!  Here's the direct link to share:

And in case you are wondering, no, this is not turning into a diet or weight loss site.  I'm still a mother runner blogger who loves Disney and margaritas. Maybe just fewer margaritas though.  Sigh.  This is simply another aspect to leading My No-Guilt Life: have to stop making excuses and letting guilt & shame keep me from my goals. And I'd love your help.  Community started me running, and keeps me going back race after race.  I'm calling on that same community to help me with my weight loss goals.

To thank you all for reading this (long) post and to encourage you to play along with my DietBet, I'm hosting a giveaway.  One $10 Amazon e-gift card can be yours.  Contest is open from April 21 to April 29 at midnight.  Entry for US citizens only.  (Sorry Canada! It pains me to do it I swear!)  Winner will be posted and shared on this blog.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'd love to hear what you think.  Is a marathon in your future?  Are you signing up for the Walt Disney World Marathon tomorrow or have you already signed up?  Want to join my DietBet?  It's going to be fun, y'all!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

3 Easy Steps To The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

This is one of those posts I'll file under blogger prerogative.  I know my usual readers are saying... whaaaaat?  Is she SERIOUSLY posting about hard boiled eggs today?

Yep.  I sure am.
There's a couple of reasons for this.

1.  I like eggs.  I particularly like hard boiled ones I can grab quickly and eat quickly.  One egg gives you all kinds of good stuff, most importantly for me is the protein.  As a mom trying to lose weight and stay running, protein is essential in my diet.  And I confess- I suck at eating enough of the nutrient.

2.  It's topical.  It's Easter weekend and of course I'm just now getting around to dying the eggs for my kids.  I can't be the only one, right?  And if I am... so be it.  #MyNoGuiltLife 

3.  I ALWAYS have to look up how to boil an egg.  Every. Single. Time.  Maybe- just maybe- writing this out and posting it to my blog will help the EASY steps sink in this time.  And if it doesn't, well, I know where to look next time, right?

And that, my friends, is the extent of my cooking abilities.  I can boil water.  And a few eggs.  

Happy Easter and Passover to my friends who celebrate.  My family will be counting blessings at church and eating eggs for breakfast.  And lunch.  And probably dinner.  Because I made a crapton of hard boiled eggs, y'all.  

What's that one recipe or tip you always have to look up?  Come on... I know you have one!

Friday, April 18, 2014

#AvengersHalf Runners: Training Plans Assembled

And I really hope this is NOT the Avengers Half Marathon medal.  Frankly, it's not very Super (Hero), y'all. 

Even as a logo on merchandise, I'm not that impressed with the efforts on this one, runDisney.  In fact, I'm pretty disappointed.  #WhompWhomp

What do you think?  Are you also hoping for something more fitting of folks saving the universe?