Orlando, Florida

Friday, February 25, 2011 - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The culmination of many months of hard work by Jill was our trip to Disney at the end of February. The Disney Princess Half Marathon was the weekend of my birthday, and Jill had prepped for it since the fall of 2010, hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream of running in a marathon.

Standing in our way of New York and the marathon, though, was a snow/mixed stuff/sleet/rain storm that hit upstate on Friday. To make sure we got to Syracuse, our point of departure, in time for our flight we left Binghamton extra early. Some snow covered roads, not to mention the two snowplows we got stuck behind from Tully all the way into Syracuse, met us as we made our way up 81. Arriving there mid-afternoon, and with a couple of hours to kill, we made our way to the 'Brooklyn Pickle' for lunch. Another keeper in the 'cuse! Had some lunch there, and then went to the airport.

Jill booked us on JetBlue for this trip, mainly because it was a direct flight to Orlando, and a lot less chance of our luggage being lost. Me being the extra paranoid person I am, though, I carried her marathon running 'stuff' in my carry on bag. Our flight from Syracuse to Orlando was uneventful, and we arrived 'home' around 9:30 or so.

We stayed at All-Star Sports for this trip (Hoops Hotel, room 2327), and we headed straight there after we took care of the rental car. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches from the counter service there, and settled into our room. Shortly after getting there, a beer basket was delivered! Jill bought me a basket with eight different beers, as well as pretzels, tortilla chips, and a pirate hat and eye patch! This one would last me for the rest of the trip and beyond!

Our first order of business on Saturday morning (after stopping to get a yogurt parfait of course) was to head over to Disney's Wide World of Sports. There was an expo there at the Jostens Center where Jill had to pick up her race bib, as well as other race goodies, and I picked up my ChEar squad stuff (cooler seat, t-shirt, mickey clapper hands, and my wristband to get into the reserved areas). We wandered around the expo for a bit, before going across to Champion Stadium. We were suprised when we got in there to find some of the Atlanta Braves doing batting practice - including Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, and Dan Uggla! Very cool, even if we aren't Braves fans. Made our way back to the car after that.

Decided to hit our first park of the trip at this point, and what better place to spend part of my birthday than the Magic Kingdom! There were a couple of rides we didn't get to go on a couple of weeks back (Peter Pan and the Haunted Mansion), so we wanted to make sure we hit them this time, as well as going on my favorite of them all - the Carousel of Progress. We had lunch at Cosmic Rays somewhere in there too. We headed out of the MK mid-late afternoon to go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner.

For my birthday dinner, we had reservations at the 'Flying Fish' at the Boardwalk - one of our faves at Disney! They even had a special menu for me that had 'Happy Birthday' and Mickey balloons on it! And, for dessert, Jill ordered me a great birthday cake from the Boardwalk Bakery! It lasted us the rest of the trip, and boy was it yummy!

After dinner we went back to All-Star Sports to try and get some sleep - 3:00 would come pretty early! We tried to crash out around 8:00 or so, but both of us didn't sleep very well at all, guess the nerves were getting the best of us! We both got up before the wake up call came, Jill got ready and I took her down to the bus around 3:30 or so. I ran back to the room, got ready myself, and was off to Epcot!

Never, and I mean NEVER, have I seen so much traffic at Disney. The fact that it was 4:15 in the morning is what made it so much more amazing! I parked near the finish line (as close as I could get at least), and wandered around the store and start line area before deciding to head to the Magic Kingdom. Boy, was I glad I made that decision. The line for the monorail - literally a mile long at one point! I waited about a half hour for the monorail, and made my way to the special reserved section in front of Cinderella's Castle. I was able to see Jill run down the walkway next to the castle, which was awesome!

At that point, I figured I needed to beeline it to the finish, so I scooted out of the Magic Kingdom, back to the monorail (bit of a shorter line this time), and to the ChEar Squad reserved area at the finish line. I made it there in enough time, and was able to watch Jill run triumphantly over the finish line! Just under three hours for her first marathon - great job!!

We went back to All-Star so she could shower and change and rest a little before heading back out. We spent the rest of the day at Epcot, having lunch at the Coral Reef, and then dinner at Chefs de France, a spot we had been wanting to get to for quite a while. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and crashed out for some much needed sleep!

Monday morning brought a rarity - we left property! For a good reason though, we were off to our first baseball game of the 2011 season, and our first new ballpark of 2011 as well - Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie, Florida, spring home of the New York Mets! Surprisingly, this was our first trip to watch the Mets play at home in the spring. We made the hour or so trek from Central Florida to the coast, and arrived at a stadium that looked very much like our own here in Binghamton! Jill scored us some great seats in pretty much the same spot as we sit at home as well. It just felt good to be back at a ballgame again!

We left around the 8th inning, and the Mets ended up losing to the Nats by a score of 9-3. Bad loss, but it didn't matter - it was baseball season again!!

At night after getting back to Lake Buena Vista, we ended up going to Jiko for dinner - yet another of our favorite's at Disney (we have quite a few!). Had a few drinks at the bar, then we sat and had dinner. Afterwards, we walked around outside before leaving and going back to the hotel and calling it a night.

Our gameplan for Tuesday was simple - get up, have breakfast, take on the Yeti! One problem with that plan though, it was raining when we got up. We went with the original plan though - and got SOAKED in the process! LOL! Expedition Everest hurts a bit when it's a downpour! After riding, we waited in the store for a bit before purchasing a couple of rain ponchos and heading for the front. Next up, Epcot!

One of the main reasons we headed back to Epcot was to go to Via Napoli, in Italy in the World Showcase. It was a 'newer' eatery there, and one we hadn't tried before. We weren't disappointed, and the salad, pizza, and pitcher of sangria we had were delish! A keeper!

Some more touring around Epcot doing our faves, and then we drove to the Wedding Pavilion to park and take our chances trying to get into the 'Spirit of Aloha' dinner show. We tried to get tickets for the later show whilst in Epcot, but customer service there was told it was full. Not believing that (because you just can't trust Disney ticketing), we walked over to the show venue while the earlier show was going one, and lo and behold there was room for us at the 8:00 show! Grabbed up those tix, and with a bit of time to kill we went to the Magic Kingdom for a bit before heading back to the Poly.

The show was good, with performers doing dances, chants, and songs from the various islands in the Pacific. Our dinner was good as well, topped off by the flaming chocolate volcano!

Wednesday morning brought with it 'the day' that Jill and I always hate - travel back to New York day. Packed the room up, and headed back to Animal Kingdom where we rode the Yeti (less the rain this time thank goodness!) a couple of times, before going back to the Magic Kingdom. Seemed only fitting that on this magical trip we finished it by visiting the Kingdom. Did all we could do there, including lunch at Casey's! Into the car, back to MCO, and our direct JetBlue flight back to Syracuse. We drove home from Syracuse, stopping at The Spot for a late night dinner, before finishing our trip.

Trip Notes: