Tag Archives: Florida

10 Reasons to Run the Space Coast Maratheon

"2015 Space Coast Marathon"

The Space Coast Marathon is held after Thanksgiving each year on the Atlantic coast of Florida in the beautiful town of Cocoa.  It is Florida’s longest, continually running, annual marathon.  The name and space theming stem from it’s proximity to Cape Canaveral and NASA.  The Space Coast Marathon is a well ran, friendly, mid-sized race with great scenery and the extra space themed fun factor.  Here are the top 10 reasons why you should register to run the Space Coast Marathon.

***As with real estate, it begins with location, location, location.***

  1. "Space Coast Marathon near Disney"

    Location:  1 hour from Orlando Theme Parks.  Cocoa Village is an easy 1 hour drive from Walt Disney.. [For full post go to our new and better site: http://www.familytravelescapades.com/space_coast_marathon/

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Staying Cool in Epcot

Summertime in Florida is HOT! And HUMID! Keeping comfortable at WDW in summer is a challenge. I have covered Magic Kingdom in an earlier article (Places to Rest In Magic Kingdom). Today, we will focus on Epcot.

Mickey-Short_StayinCool_26

First, I recommend a midday siesta or pool break during the heat of the day if you are staying on site. You escape not only the hottest, but the busiest time of day. The mugginess often begins early and drags on till late in the evening. So, even with a siesta, finding cool places to rest are still important.

ellen
The universe of energy is a great place to cool down!
epcot land
The Land is also a cool, air-conditioned place.

Finding a cool spot is actually not the hard in Future World, as pretty much everything is indoors and wonderfully air-conditioned. There are not a lot of places to sit down and actually rest, though. Ellen’s Universe of Energy is maybe the best spot to cool down. This attraction offers over a half hour of seated AC. Many people find the ride outdated, but I enjoy it. That said, it is a one the best places in all of WDW to catch a nap. The Land Pavilion is as a whole a great cool down spot. Seasons restaurant is one of the best quick service restaurants with a large, diverse menu. Grab a bite, find a table, cool down, and rest your legs. While you are there, Living with the Land and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable are great places to rest. Living with the Land is a wonderful, educational boat ride about agriculture; Circle of Life is a movie starring Pumbaa and Timon from “The Lion King.” It is mildly entertaining, but has seats and AC with no wait. Club Cool offers free, cold international soda samples, like the wildly popular Beverly,  inside climate control for a quick refreshment. Some of the flavors are good; others, not so much.

club cool
Try the famous Beverly drink. You won’t be disappointed.

Cooling-Off-at-Epcot-in-Futureworld

Kids enjoy the spray stations. If you are  okay with getting wet, adults can partake, too.  There is one near Test Track and another between Future World and the World Showcase.

plaza-de-los-amigos-00
The interior of the Mexico pavilion is cool, and often not very crowded.

America-Pavilion

The World Showcase offers less options. Most of us wander form pavilion to pavilion and spend a lot of time outside. Pretty much all of the quick service and snack options have outdoor seating only. The food and beverages are a large reason why Epcot is so popular. One obvious option is to actually go into the stores and shop. Some of us are not natural shoppers, but you do what you have to do to get comfortable. If you do not like shopping, there are still some options. Inside the Mayan pyramid of the Mexico pavilion you will find shops, crafts, a tequila bar, and table service restaurant. It also houses The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Cabelleros.   This boat ride will keep you comfortably climate controlled and off of your feet. It is an entertaining break, too. With the demise of Maelstrom and upcoming Frozen ride, likely with long lines, Norway no longer offers a good option. The China pavilion has an indoor show, ‘Reflections of China’ which rarely has a wait. As you are passing the African Outpost, pull open the lid of the cooler for a refreshing treat. Go ahead. It’s okay. In the American Adventure, there is a great show aptly named “The American Adventure” which will give you nearly 30 minutes of AC and comfortable seating. The show is educational, entertaining, and patriotic. ‘Impressions of France’ is an outdated movie in the France pavilion; but there is rarely a line, it is in AC, and the seats are comfy.’ O’ Canada’ in the Canada pavilion, hosted by Martin Short, is the best video log of any country, but you have to stand.

hm_epcot_maelstrom_01
Try and spot the hidden Mickey in this photo

O-Canada-Epcot-Attraction

Enjoy your day at Epcot! Even in the heat, and humidity of summer in central Florida, you can stay comfortable. Remember these spots as you traverse the park, and it will be a little easier.

Pongo (dad)

Running / Walking at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, and the surrounding area transport you away from Florida to the mountain west.  It is home of my second favorite running/walking trail of the WDW resorts.  The lodge is themed after Yellowstone National Park and is absolutely stunning.  The area surrounding Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness fits into the theme with a forest of towering pines all around.  The path winds through the “forest” from Wilderness Lodge through and around Fort Wilderness and back.

This is a wonderful place to run.  It also makes a great walk for the whole family.  The tall pines provide ample shade.  Most of the path is paved, but pine needles soften your stride.  You are surrounded by the fresh pine scent.  Deer, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit can be encountered as well as the horses at Fort Wilderness.  The Spanish moss, palmettos, flatness, and humidty let you know you are still in Florida, but with a little imagination, you can picture yourself out west.  I haven’t been to Yellowstone, but it takes me to the Ponderosa Pine forests of two of my favorite places to run:  Flagstaff, Arizona and the Black Forest, just north of Colorado Springs.

Maps of the exercise trail are available at the Guest Service desk.  Starting from the dock behind Wilderness Lodge, running along the path to Fort Wilderness, and then circling though campground is 2.5 miles.  Running straight back to Wilderness Lodge comes to about 3.7 miles.  The out and back is a 5 mile jaunt.  There is a small hill coming up from the docks at Wilderness Lodge.  The trail is otherwise flat.  If you want, you can wind further through the camp ground and make it an even longer run.  The trail is mostly shaded and is rarely crowded.  This enables you to enjoy the trail at any time during the day.  You do have to cross roads a couple of times and part of the run is along roads in Fort Wilderness.  So you will need to pay attention during these portions.

Pros:  Pine trees.  Shade.  Critters,  All day access.  Rarely busy.

Cons:  Road Crossing and potential traffic at Fort Wilderness.

Overall:  This is a great running trail that blends in with the wonderful theming of the resorts.  It makes a nice place to take a walk with your family, too.

I hope you give it a try.

Pongo (dad).

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Blizzard Beach Overview

Roly (son)

Hello, with summer and Memorial Day in a couple of weeks, and WDW being a notoriously hot and crowded place, I thought I would tell you about something different. Walt Disney World, as many of you know, has two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). I have only been to Blizzard Beach, but hope to go to Typhoon Lagoon soon. I will give a short review of Blizzard Beach.

Blizzard Beach is themed to be somewhere in Florida, where a freak blizzard occurred. Disney (of course) capitalized on this, and built a ski getaway. This ski resort just happens to have watersides through it. The waterslides are made to mimic ski slopes.

The symbol of the park is a ski slope, which you must get to via ski lift. Once you get to the unloading platform, there are three slides you can go down from there. You must climb stairs to get to the top, which is known as Summit Plummet. Summit Plummet is a 12 story high slide, with a near 90 degree angle. It is over before you know it, and you feel like the Hulk gave you a slap on the bum. Make sure to keep your legs together or the experience will be like the Niagra Falls of bidets. You feel like you are floating at some points in the three whole seconds it takes, and you actualy are. It levels out into a long, straight stretch at the end, and you end up swerving around as the water hits you from different angles.

Make sure to close your eyes about when you go into the short covered part, or your eyes will end up stinging.
Make sure to close your eyes about when you go into the short covered part, or your eyes will end up stinging.

This park also has a unique racing slide, Snow Stormers. Each person boards a sled and goes into separate tunnel. In most of the slide you can’t see the other racers, which is different than most racing slides. It is also much longer than any other racing slide that I have been on. There are some other very nice race slides at this park, but the one that I have told you about stands out to me particularly.

The lazy river, Cross Country Creek, is fairly long with water spouts and water falls to make it interesting. My dad and I floated up on a small snake once, but the life guard said it was harmless. The wave pool, Melt Away Bay, is unique in the winter theming being surrounded by “snow.”. It has a sand bottom and a central location. I enjoy both of these.

There is one last slide that I want to talk about; the Slush Gusher. The Slush Gusher is also accessed from the ski lift. It is to the left of Summit Plummet. This slide is at a steep angle, though not nearly as steep as Summit Plummet. You go over several hills, before finally leveling off at the end. You catch air on several of the hills. It’s a very fun slide, though not as intense as Summit Plummet.

These hills send you airborne for about 0.5 seconds before you come back. It is still noticeable, and different from other attractions, except Summit Plummet, and Tower of Terror.
These hills send you airborne for about 0.5 seconds before you come back. It is still noticeable, and different from other attractions, except Summit Plummet, and Tower of Terror.

There are many other slides, but these are my favorites. Here are the names of all of the attractions at Blizzard Beach. The tube rides are Teamboat Springs, and Runoff Rapids. The racing slides are Toboggan Racers, Downhill Double Dipper, and Snow Stormers. The normal ( on your back slide) are Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher. Other attractions are chair lift, Cross County Creek, and Melt Away Bay.There is a kiddie zone which has Tike’s Peak and Ski Patrol Training Camp. I hope this was informative. Have a great visit to Blizzard Beach.

Review of the new Polynesian Villas

Review of The Polynesian Villas (new DVC property)-

Perdita (mom) here-

We recently returned from a stay at the newly opened (opened April 1, 2015)  Polynesian Villas (a new Disney Vacation Club property). We stayed in the Moorea Building with a lake view. This will be, without something changes, our last stay in the villas at the Polynesian.

Our stay was not a very pleasant one, which I am sad to report. Our stays at the other Disney Vacation Club properties have been more pleasant. I will give the good, and the bad in this review.

I will start with the good. The villas are beautiful and large with a split bathroom plan. The refurbishment done in the Polynesian lobby enhanced the appearance of that area. The main pool was refurbished as well and is now called the lava pool. It is visually appealing. The lake view we had in our villa was nice. The resort is a Magic Kingdom area resort. It is on the monorail system; therefore a short monorail ride to the Magic Kingdom and a longer ride to Epcot. A bus must be taken to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.IMG_0278

Now the bad. ( Let me begin this section with stating I really hate giving a bad review to any Disney property or experience. I am writing this to be informative not to bash.) The experience at the Polynesian started badly with check-in. The young man was very abrupt and uninformative. I told him we had never been to the Polynesian and asked where we could get quick-service dining and I asked about the gift shops. He said all the restaurants were upstairs and seemed to indicate all of the gift shops were on the first floor. He was wrong on both counts. The quick-service restaurant was on the first floor. The expensive restaurants were on the second floor and I didn’t find out until we were leaving that there were two more shops on the second floor.Unknown

The first (and only) night we stayed was a disaster. We came back from Magic Kingdom by boat. We were leaving Magic Kingdom after 1:00 a.m. and found out the monorail transportation had ended for the night and the boat was the only way to get back to our hotel. This mode of transportation is slow; taking us almost 30 minutes to get back to our hotel. The hotel was only properly lit to take us back to the main building (known as The Great Ceremonial House). When we tried to make it back to the Moorea Building where our DVC villa was, the path wasn’t lit at all. My son thankfully thought of the flashlight on the phone to guide us back to our building. When we finally arrived it was around 2:00 a.m. There was a large boat that docked close to our room and it sounded the whistle almost constantly from 3:30 (or at least I finally fell asleep then) and awoke me again at 7:30 a.m. I am not a light sleeper, but this whistle was very, very loud and incessant. When I found I couldn’t get back to sleep, I went to the front desk to complain about the noise.

The worst part of our experience was really the response to our awful night. The manager was cavalier about the lack of sleep, and said he had heard that complaint a lot. He offered to move us but offered no compensation for the awful experience or inconvenience. He also said he couldn’t say the noise wouldn’t be an issue in the next room and the lighting would be addressed when the remodeling of the resort was finished. The lack of sleep (when that is what you pay for at a hotel after all) seemed inconsequential to him and his attitude didn’t reflect the “Disney” attitude at all. We moved to a different resort (with much difficulty I might add.)

So, in summary, I can’t muster up much good to say about the Polynesian villas.
Also, as a footnote, a website called Mouseowners (a message board for DVC owners) had 7 pages of complaints about the noise at the Polynesian villas last night entitled ” Poly boat horn thread”, so ours isn’t an isolated case.

Streetmospere

Today I will be talking about Streetmosphere, my favorite attraction in all of WDW-

Anyone who has walked down Hollywood Boulevard or Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios during the day has surelynoticed people dressed in old-Hollywood style clothes and acting oddly.street

These people are a part of Streetmosphere; an unscheduled and random event lasting from park opening to sundown. There is at least one, sometimes two or three of these shows going on at a time. There is a rare time there isn’t a show going on, but if you wait around for about five minutes, a car will drive out slowly and go to it’s spot.

You can see that one of them is not like the others.. she was pulled from the audience.
You can see that one of them is not like the others.. she was pulled from the audience.
Officer Peabody and Bon Appetit
Officer Peabody and Bon Appetit

Some of the shows require groups of five or more people, such as the “99 joke” competition. Other shows only require one person, like Mr. Bon Appetit who goes around and poses for pictures. Officer Peabody can be in shows, or just go around and joke with the people.

All acts are comedic in nature and involve the crowd most times. Many times the cast members (actors) act like they are shooting a scene from a movie, and the actor/actress repeatedly messes up. A magician may do magic acts like you would see on tv.

The Hollywood public works guys are the best.
The Hollywood public works guys are the best.

These acts include some people that I remember from my first trip to Disney 5 years ago when I was 8, and it’s fun to see them again. (The repair-men are my personal favorites. They have their various jobs, and they always find some way for the simple job to take 30 minutes.) These acts are never identical to each other, and are always fun to watch. Take some time to watch one on your next visit.

Roly 😀

Getting to Disney World from Orlando International Airport

For those of you who have never flown into the Orlando Airport and tried to get to Disney World, I will give step-by-step instructions.

The central place.
The central place.

Upon arrival, depending on what airline you arrive on, you walk past the arrival gates and come to a central area with shops and a few restaurants. You then board a tram which takes you to another building.

Here's the tram.
Here’s the tram.

Upon arrival at the main building you walk past the airport security on your left and arrive at a central area of the Hyatt hotel.

The central area of the Hyatt.
The central area of the Hyatt.

You have a choice of going to Terminal A or Terminal B. You need to veer to the left and go through Terminal B.

Terminal B.
Terminal B.

You then look for an escalator or elevator and go to the first floor where there is ground transportation (There are signs that say ground transportation). If you are renting a car this is where you would find the car rental desks. If you are taking The Magic Express (a free service provided by Disney World, which I would heartily endorse) you go to the end of the ground transportation area on the first floor and this is where you will find the Magic Express bus service to the resorts. You scan your magic band or present a ticket Disney sends through the mail to you. A friendly Disney employee then directs you to the line you should wait in. It is usually a short wait before they tell you which bus to board. The bus driver places your carry-on luggage underneath the bus.

These helpful Disney/airport cast members will direct you to the right bus.
These helpful Disney/airport cast members will direct you to the right bus.

If you do take the Magic Express bus service, you may wait on the bus for up to 20 minutes, but the time goes by fast as your anticipation of arriving at Disney World grows. The seats are comfortable and they play a video of information about Disney World and some cartoon shorts.

It takes about 25 minutes to arrive at Disney World. Depending on how many stops your bus makes before the bus arrives at your resort, it takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to actually pull up to your resort. Upon arrival, the bus driver gives you your carry-on luggage and someone at the resort greets you by name and leads you inside to the check-in desk.

Disney World! HURAH!
Disney World! Hoorah!

Another perk I must mention: if you checked any luggage, you don’t have to wait at the airport to pick it up and take with you on the Magic Express. Disney will make sure your luggage arrives at the resort and will either hold it at bell services or they will bring it to your room.