Tag Archives: Disney

Top 5 Reasons Why I runDisney

1958061_10152399341898054_1217425668_nI’ve always been someone who loves fitness and exercise…with the exception of running.  Give me a hardcore spin class, an elliptical machine, or a grueling cross training class any day.  Running is for OTHER people.  The non-top heavy who don’t run the risk of getting a black eye on the straightway (I’ll let you ponder that image for a moment…go ahead, I’ll wait).

But then one day, I saw the bait and bit.  I blame a lot of people, but mostly Amy.  Amy is the woman I walked 26.2 miles through the moonlight streets of Manhattan, dressed in a bra.  During our 10 hour walk of shame bonding session, we talked about a lot of things, including her runDisney experiences.  It was then that I decided if I could finish the crazy walk, I could do a runDisney race.  After all, there were shiny medals to be won!

Amy and I before the 10K
Amy and I before the 10K

Since this was my first race, well, ever, I wanted to take it slowly.  I signed up to do the Enchanted 10K that was being held during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  Amy was going to do the Glass Slipper Challenge, which involved running the Enchanted 10K on a Saturday, and a 1/2 marathon that very next day.  I knew I wasn’t up to that, but running essentially 6 miles was.

The trip was originally going to be just me, but somehow the kids and my mom got added into the trip.  Sarah didn’t want to run herself, but I signed Jordan up for one of the kids races.  We ended up having a weekend we would never forget, and vowed to sign up for this year’s weekend.  Why was it so amazing?  Without much effort, here are five reasons.

1. runDisney races are magical affairs with liberal pixie dust all around.  I will always remember when “Let It Go” came up on my iPod shuffle at the beginning of the race.  I ran with a little bit more spring in my step, until I thought I heard the same song at a different point somewhere else.  I pulled out my ear buds to find out, yes, it was playing off speakers.  Speakers that were attached to a gigantic truck on the overpass, where Elsa was waving to all the runners, and sprinkling snow all over the course.  I turned to a runner next to me and she looked as struck by it as I was.  That was but one of the amazing moments I experienced during the race.

I found my name on the 10K board at the Race Expo.  I was officially a runner!
I found my name on the 10K board at the Race Expo. I was officially a runner!

2. People dress in costumes – I decided to create a very simple tribute to my favorite rodent, Minnie Mouse.  But during a runDisney race, people come to play. There were heroes and villains.  Thousands of princesses.  A few Olafs.  And this costume, which I think was probably my favorite.

One little spark!
One little spark!

My friend Ashley has worn some amazing outfits.  While I loved what she’s done, I wasn’t sure about running in costume, much less running period, so I kept it simple.  For next time, I’m stepping it up and have a grand plan I can’t wait to share it with you!

3. runDisney is about inclusion – Jordan isn’t much of an athlete.  He has hypotonia, which means he can’t run for long periods of time.  So why did I sign him up for a race?  I had a lot of questions very similar to that as we waited at the finish line.

Boy is ready to run!


Parents are allowed to run with the kids, so I went out there with him.  When the starter pistol fired, he ran a little but very quickly announced he was tired.  I tried to encourage him to RUN RUN RUN, which he did.  And didn’t.  He was moving rapidly towards the back of the pack.  At the end when we could see the finish line, we saw Goofy waiting.  When Goofy spied Jordan as the last runner, he ran out and got him and cheered him (silently) across the finish line.  Jordan was disappointed that he finished last, but was thrilled that Goofy supported him.  Of course, when he got his medal, that was all he could talk about.

It seemed to take a really long time for Jordan’s race to start.  The time came and went, with no announcements other than “soon”.  I texted Sarah who was waiting at the finish line to see if she knew anything.  Then, coming from the finish line, I heard a huge cheer.  Sarah texted back right after to say the race was now over because the last competitor finished while pushing her wheelchair across the finish line.  Sarah said it was one of the most amazing things she had ever seen, and had mad respect for the girl who had pretty much won the hearts of everyone that day.  Mad props to Sarah Kate who rightly was the most amazing kid in the world that day.

4. runDisney is about supporting others – when I was done running the back loop of the 10K going around the lake at the back of Epcot, the final runner was coming out of Epcot to begin that same loop.  When I tell you that every single runner with me moved to the side to high five that runner and cheer her on, know that I am not exaggerating.

When I was finally done with the race, I could not walk.  No, really, I couldn’t walk.  My feet were killing me, and I was as sore as you can be.  I started shuffling off to the front of Epcot to meet my family.  I started to notice that someone was walking behind me and talking to me.  It was a woman named Trish, and she was telling me about all the races she’s run.  When I told her it was my first race EVAH, she insisted on buying me a latte to celebrate.  Just a wonderful act of kindness from a fellow runner.  Made me feel like I had entered some sort of special club.

5. THE SHINY MEDALS – when I tell you that I wore my medal around the whole day, I am not kidding.


Minnie was most impressed by my outfit.


So was the prince.  This year, I’m doing the Glass Slipper Challenge and when I finish, I will be wearing all three medals around my neck everywhere.  Let TSA try and pry them off me on the return trip home.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Have you run a runDisney race?  How was it?  And if you haven’t, tell me what race would you want to run?

Traveling to WDW with food allergies? Read on!

This post originally ran on Trueconfessions.wordpress.com.  

My mom, Soccer Girl, and I just got back from a one week vacation to Walt Disney World. It’s certainly among our favorite places to visit, and not just because of all the great rides and attractions. Most visitors walk around Disney in amazement, marveling about how they think of just everything. Thankfully, that goes for food allergies too. One of the reasons that I enjoy going is the great attention they pay to the needs of those with special diets.

Soccer Girl has a food allergy.   As such, the world can be a scary place. Ever since she was diagnosed 6 years ago, we’ve put an allergy plan into place for her. It’s kind of a like a “WWSGD” that helps her cope with any situation where food is involved.

Disney too has it’s own food allergy action plan. Based on my experiences, during this trip and prior ones, it works and can make your vacation a whole lot more relaxing.  I’ve put together a list of do’s and dont’s for anyone planning on going to Disney who has to deal with food allergies.  I hope you find it helpful in planning your visit to WDW.

DO be sure to tell people at any restaurant that you have a food allergy. The Disney protocol seems to be to have you talk directly with a manager or chef, and this works fairly well.

DO read lists of ingredients, just like you do at home. At the counter service places, the front desk cashiers have “the book” that lists ingredients for all menu items, and in some cases has ingredient lists and nutritional information pulled directly from the packaging. Yes, this is one sad way to learn that Toy Story Pizza Planet serves frozen pizza from distributor, but you know with confidence that you are getting food that works for you.

DO plan in advance. You can make restaurant reservations (currently) 90 days before your visit. Tell your reservationist that you have allergies so it’s noted on your reservation. In most cases, they will have access to the phone numbers so you can call the restaurant directly and talk to the chef about any special needs you might have. This is important because…

DO call restaurants in advance if you are visiting because of a certain menu item. For instance, at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion at EPCOT, SG was prepared to have the dish she had last year, their most yummy Portobello Mushroom Ravioli. However, when the chef came out during the meal to go over menu options, this was off her list because the dish now contains pine nuts. She was most disappointed, and while she willingly had the prime rib, it really wasn’t what she wanted. Lesson learned, I walked into the Morocco pavilion a couple of days before our planned meal there to ask if the dish she’s been obsessed with was ok to eat. Wouldn’t want to take the chance of breaking her heart again, so in the future, I will definitely call ahead to discuss menu items. I assume this is the way you would want to go if you had more complex allergy issues because they can do things for you if you give them enough advance warning.

DON’T assume that there is not a menu option for you. I met a woman from Venezuela on line at Pizza Planet who had a son with celiac. She had been relying on food she brought from home or bought locally, supplemented by fruit and other things on the regular menu. Unfortunately, that night she forgot to bring something for him, and was anxious about having him see pizzas for everyone and not being able to partake. She had no idea that you could get a gluten-free pizza there if you specially requested it. I knew because I saw the Amy’s label in the allergy book there. I got to chat with her and give her some advice about how to find gluten free items for him. The boy was so happy to find a pizza he could eat – a pizza, I might add, that looked way better than the ones we had.  Ask at every counter service, and when you make dining reservations, call ahead and see what the options are.

DON’T be surprised when hiccups happen.   At Pizza Planet, I assumed the front cashier needed to mark “allergy” on our order. However, because the manager and I agreed there were no nuts/chance of nuts in the pizza, and they didn’t have any nut products in the restaurant, eliminating the chance for cross-contamination, we were just going to get a regular pizza. By marking allergy, I ended up spending time waiting for a special pizza that wasn’t coming. But that was my fault as much as anyone else’s!  We also had the experience in the Germany pavilion where SG decided she wanted a pretzel. The woman working at the pretzel cart wouldn’t confirm or deny nuts in the pretzel, insisting I seek out a manager, who was working at the back of the pavilion. I headed back there, and looked for him, but he wasn’t around. They called him on walkie-talkie, but after 10 minutes, he was a no-show and I gave up. She ended up with popcorn, and was just as happy.  In one counter service place, the chef made a special batch of chicken nuggets for us, and told us to only take the food from him directly.   A staff member kept trying to place nuggets on our tray, but we told him no, and another staff member corrected him, reminding him of the protocol.   Thankfully, these hiccups showed that Disney tends to err more on the side of safe, avoiding sorry wherever possible.

DO bring your epi-pen, benadryl, or whatever other medical precautions you have to deal with a reaction.  Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you give up following your usual protocols for your allergies.

DON’T be rude.  Be pleasant, say please and thank you.  This may sound stupid and obvious, but these people are going the extra mile for you.   Let them know their efforts are appreciated.   We got wonderful service at some of the counter service places, the aforementioned Le Cellier and Restaurant Marrakesh, Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (where the chef walked us through the buffet and offered to make a special dessert for SG) and Fresh at the Dolphin.  Special mention must be made of Kona Grill, where the chef made a special “Big Kahuna” for our little Kahuna, and Tutta Italia at EPCOT, because they didn’t give up in helping SG find a dessert that worked for her.  They seemed happy to do it, and I was certainly happy to have it happen.  So often kids with food allergies feel alienated and left out at mealtime.  It was great to have her feel special at mealtime.

DISCLAIMER: There are my experiences at WDW, and mine alone. Your mileage may vary. I encourage you to do your own research to help meet your own individual needs.  For more inforomation on food allergies, visit the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.  Disney also maintains their own food allergy page you can check out for more info.