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Recap: Royal Family 5k and our day at Epcot

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I am the first to admit that I’m totally undertrained for running three races in three days. But for me the 5k – especially when run through a Disney park – is the sort of distance that feels like a warm-up or chance to shake all the cobwebs out of my legs.

It also helped that the 5k didn’t start until 6:15, a full 45 minutes later than the 10k and half marathon will start. Combine that with a lot fewer people running and a starting line that’s closer to our resort, and we actually got to wake up at a semi-decent hour. Tara isn’t running the 10k, but she ran the 5k, so I got to have a buddy for my first experience with the Disney race shuttles and whatnot (much different than just walking out the front door of our hotel at Disneyland).

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I recycled my Minnie Mouse costume from the Tink 5k – runDisney races aren’t cheap, so I’m not going to invest in one-time use costumes – and Tara was Wendy from Peter Pan (NOT Cinderella, so stop saying it, other runners). Thanks to the magic of Disney’s 5k corrals (hint: it helps to register early), we were both in Corral A for the start. Which felt a little more badass than it did at Tink, to be honest. The corrals were queued in a big parking lot and then led to the starting line in a group, so we got to parade past the other corrals waiting to line up. I felt like a celebrity.

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Hi, Cinderella. You’re pretty.

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The starting fanfare wasn’t as grand as the half marathon will be, but at 6:15 we were promptly off! And at 6:15 and three seconds, Tara and I waved goodbye and she headed off to run her 8-minute-per-mile pace or whatever crazy fast (to me) pace she runs.

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Ignore the purple lines; that’s the 10k course, which I’ll get to later. The 5k and 10k start at the same spot, but today we turned right and headed into the wilderness for a mile or so before entering the pretty parts of Epcot. And by “wilderness” I mean the back of a parking lot, followed by a brief run on a evenly paved road with trees on either side. While in “the woods” I bumped into Princess Atta from “A Bug’s Life.”

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The backside of Epcot wasn’t nearly as interesting at this point as the backlot parts of Disneyland. Probably because they have so much space to spread out in; Disneyland is packed like a can of sardines! But before long we headed into Epcot to run through all the different countries. The course popped us out between Mexico (margaritas!) and Norway (where Anna and Elsa live!). And it becomes apparent just how sprawling some of the parks are. The ball seems so far away!

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There were a few characters along the course I didn’t stop for, just because the lines were getting long. But I did manage to snag a selfie with a proxy Snow White. The course had several garden sculptures of characters; I don’t know if they’re always there or if they’re getting ready for the Flower and Garden Festival (Snow White was alongside all seven of her bush dwarves).

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Another girl ran by while I was taking my selfie and offered to take my picture if I’d take hers. I told her I was fine with a selfie and ran off. Then I realized that I still could have taken her photo and immediately ran back. Rude, much? Running Julie – unaccustomed to being nice!

I also had to stop for a very handsome man; since I’m running as Belle on Sunday and Belle is the princess I picked for my bib, I couldn’t very well skip seeing Beast!

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This 5k was a lot of fun. Like Tink, it felt low-key and totally not competitive – the perfect way to kick off a race weekend. And I felt great; it was humid, but not super-hot so I didn’t feel like death. Just like I was getting a little workout.

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After leaving France, we took a turn and headed back behind Epcot again instead of running through the United Kingdom and Canada. But then we pretty quickly were back into the main part of the walkway. So – just a weird detour?

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We left the World Showcase and headed toward Spaceship Earth, which is what that ball is really called, at around mile 2.5. This part of the course got pretty treacherous, just because everyone wanted to stop for a photo with the ball. I stopped early at a pretty clear spot where there was actually a cast member there to take photos. But lots of other people waited until the ball was RIGHT THERE and then stopped in the middle of the course without signaling to take their own photos, which is not cool. And more than a little dangerous.

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But at last we left Epcot for good and were back to the parking lot where we started. I felt great, my time was slow because of the stops but not terrible, and I was ready to get cleaned up and conquer a day in the parks!

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Tara found me in the finish area, and we took a shuttle over to the Polynesian for breakfast at Kona Café. We had a later reservation, but the staff seated us right away. Tara beelined for the Tonga Toast, a fairly famous treat there from what I could gather, and I had their creamy grits, which were amazing. I wish I could have boxed them up to go.

We took the monorail and then a shuttle back to our resort and leisurely got cleaned up and changed before heading… back to Epcot! Unlike the Magic Kingdom, which only has beer and wine in one reservation-only spot, Epcot is filled with yummy foods and alcoholic beverages to accompany them. And we wanted some booze.

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And when I last visited Disney World in high school, I had purchased a little passport that I had stamped and signed in every country; I wanted to do the same thing again if it was still available. When we got to Epcot we headed straight for the World Showcase and I found my passport right away in one of the first gift shops – score! It was $10, came with stickers for each country and a pin-on Epcot button, and had pages for each country in the World Showcase. Best souvenir ever. All the country stations were in a location called “Kidcot” because they had activities for kids (and grown-ups who act like kids). Tara and I would spot the sign for one and yell “KIDCOT!” Yep. We’re those people. We also would randomly yell “Bill!” to imitate the people who yell across the park at a friend or family member.

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Early on, we stumbled into the super-short line for meeting Alice, so we decided to get pictures. All the “people” characters at Disney are so tiny! A line was also forming for Mary Poppins, who is Tara’s must-see character, but she was in a hurry to get to alcohol and expected to see Mary on-course at the half.

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We hit all the countries in the World Showcase, sprinkling in trips to the rest of Epcot for rides we had FastPass+ reservations for, including Captain EO (where I dozed off thanks to my fatigue and alcohol consumption) and Journey Into Imagination with Figment, where Tara had some fun in the post-ride play area.

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I also enjoyed Living With The Land, where we got to explore some of the ways Disney scientists are working to make feeding the world more sustainable.

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We stopped in Norway to see what the line for Anna and Elsa was like, and it was crazy – like, three- to four-hour waits and no FastPass option. But we discovered that the place where they have their photos taken is only separated from the Norway gift shop by a velvet curtain. So we peeked in on other people’s photos.

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One of the highlights of the day for me was our fixe prix lunch at Les Chefs de France. My appetizer was an amazing lobster bisque that I could not get out of my mind all day (and there was wine, of course, right on the heels of a wine flight at another France stop).

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I was so obsessed with this lobster bisque that when we passed France again later in the day, I asked the hostess if getting a to-go container would be possible. But alas, no. So we headed to the quick service restaurant in the back of France to get desserts to snack on during the evening fireworks show, and lo and behold – lobster bisque was on the menu! For half the price of the table service place! And since they’re right next to each other, the odds that the bisque was exactly the same in both places was high. I got my to-go container and slurped it down before the fireworks even started. So good. As were the evening fireworks! We had great seats on the water between France and the UK.

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Early on I also managed to snap some more photos around our resort; while the inside of the rooms are just your basic hotel, the outside areas are themed by decade. Pretty cool.

All in all, an awesome day!

 

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