Friday, September 09, 2011

Disneyland Half Marathon Trip Report, Pt. 1

For the last few years, I have attempted to break the 2 hour ceiling of my Disneyland Half Marathon time. For a variety of reasons (being sick, poor diet, not enough training), I fell short each race. This year, I was more determined than ever to finally be "sub 2"!

Checking into the Disneyland Hotel, I felt like I had accidentally entered the DCA construction zone. All around the hotel property there were construction walls, detours, and the sounds of machinery. Still, it didn't bother me a bit. As with all things Disney, the "problems" were alleviated with easy to read signage and friendly staff standing nearby to take care of any guest concerns that might arise.

The room wasn't ready yet (we arrived before noon), so we headed over to the Expo first to pick up our bibs and goodies. Every year, I am impressed by how organized this event is. I also loved the decor at registration featuring some of Disney's favorite characters. This one of Donald is just about how I look at the end of the race!

Next dilemma was where to eat lunch. My first choice was to check out the new Tangaroa Terrace.

Huge thumbs up for the finished product; both Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam's are a welcome addition to the Disneyland Resort. They respectfully pay homage to the park's history while providing a great place to eat and an adjoining lounge for adults to enjoy live entertainment and a tropical cocktail (or two).

Welcome to Trader Sam's!

How about these doors? Leave it to Disney to go above and beyond at the entrance.

An homage to 20K:

After checking out these new facilities, we decided that our hearty pre-race appetites needed Goofy's Kitchen. Sorry Sam & Tangaroa - but I promise to come back in the near future for a more in-depth exploration of tasting and imbibing!

I was caught during lunch; friends Walt & Dottie were in town for the Half as well (we'd met almost 2 years ago at Candlelight) and arrived just as I was trying to secretly snarf down my chicken nuggets (I'm sure there was some nutritional value hidden in there that would benefit me the next morning at the race!).

Although a bit pricey, Goofy's has a wide variety of tasty food choices as well as a number of your favorite Disney characters.

Walt & Baloo hit it off immediately.

Jasmine caught us on the way out. You'll note I am standing next to Dottie, Walt's 79 year old mother. You might assume that she was there to support Walt and cheer him on for the Half Marathon. Heck no. She was there to run and walk the Marathon herself! She is a real firecracker and an inspiration to all.

With our bellies full, we headed over to the Grand Californian to relax in their lobby until our rooms back at the Disneyland Hotel were ready. As you can tell by this photo, the weather for the weekend was perfect. Walt himself couldn't have ordered up a better day.

Our room in the Adventure Tower at the Disneyland Hotel was fantastic. Clean, well designed and appointed, it was a huge improvement over what the rooms at the resort have looked like for the past decade or so. Again...lotsa' great details. Note the Jungle Cruise artwork in the background of the room number signage:

For you Hidden Mickey nuts, the carpet was made just for you.

Mickey lights the way in the bathroom:

I loved this collage of contemporary shots of the park that hung on the wall; can you identify the location of each shot?

The headboard has a lighted "fireworks" display and plays music, too. Another nice touch.

From the room, we had a great vantage point for the continued construction of the 2nd pool area:

After a little nap (oh how I love my naps), it was time for (you guessed it) another meal. The dinner the night before the race is an important one, as it's the last chance to carb up before the race. Walt & Dottie kindly allowed us to glom onto their reservation at Downtown Disney's Naples Restaurant. An excellent choice!

The food and the service were as good as the decor, and I savored each meatball in my spaghetti!

Once dinner was over, it was dark out and time to get a good night's worth of sleep. It will probably come as no surprise that I couldn't just go to bed; I had to shoot a few nighttime shots and take advantage of the magical lighting that the Disneyland Resort is known for.

And that's it for part one! Good night all - hope the rest of you in Southern California have your power back on by now!

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Major Pepperidge said...

I've gotta hand it to you, Dave! A half marathon is no joke. Love the night photos!

Connie Moreno said...

The fact that you do the half marathon is amazing to me! EXCELLENT report and EXCELLENT photos! With your permission, would love to talk about your construction photos in a future Gazette podcast.

DisneyBabies said...

And you left for part 2 your race results? I love that Dottie is doing the race! I hope to continue doing them at her age!

TokyoMagic! said...

Yep, as Connie stated....EXCELLENT photos, Dave! I can't tell, did they leave the basic shape of the Neverland pool and just tear down everything around it, or did they dig it up too and build a whole new pool?

Mark Taft said...

Dave, did Goofys still feature the Creme Brulee French Toast? No one seems to be able to give me a solid answer- even the staff at Goofys. Before I drop big bucks for breakfast, I want to know if my fav dish from 2006 is still there! ;)

Davelandweb said...

Mark - I don't believe they have it anymore; if I'd seen it, I surely would have had some! Sounds awesome! Have you called Disney Dining and asked them?

Mark Taft said...

Yep, even they couldnt answer. Any of your readers know? It was AMAZING with a creme brulee top that was about 2 inches high on top of the toast. OMG- best thing I have ever eaten at the DLR!

M.Gracey said...

I stayed in the Adventure tower when I went down to DL for the D23 expo. I had a great view of the neverland pool construction, so day by day shots felt natural. Comparing them to the ones you took, It doesn't seem like they made much progress.