VANDI FAM RUNS DISNEY

vandi-fair-disney-tripIf you follow me on instagram, you may know that my family and I recently went on a trip to Walt Disney World to run the Princess Half Marathon. Disney World is one of my favorite places (shocking, right?), and being there with my family was nothing short of magical. Although my sister and I went in July (you can see tales from our adventure here), we hadn’t been together as a family since 2000, so as soon as we were registered for the marathon, I began making plans. Thanks to the Disney Magic Band system, I made our restaurant reservations and fast pass selections far ahead of time so we had complete schedules for each day in every park (which were printed, laminated and placed in a Frozen themed lanyard for everyone). I was also excited to run the Princess Half for my second year in a row and share my sister, brother and Cole’s first-ever half-marathon with them. Read on to hear stories and see photos from our trip.

PS- if you want to run 13.1 magic miles in the Disney Princess Half in 2016, be sure to sign up on the first day of registration August 4, 2015, because they will sell out!

coronado-springs-bedBecause we waited until the day after registration to sign up for the 2015 Princess Half, we booked through a travel agent at Cruise Planners, who offered packages including a stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs. I highly recommend staying at a Walt Disney World hotel, because free and easy transportation directly to and from the airport and to all parks is offered.coronado-springs-topiarymargarita-coronado-springs-disneyWe left early on Saturday morning and made our way to the Mexican-themed hotel’s bar for some margaritas to get the day started.

vandi-fair-family-disney-tripcinderella fountain disney worldlauren-vandiver-disney-tripOur first stop was in Magic Kingdom, strictly to eat at the impossible-to-get-reservations-at Be Our Guest Restaurant because I had scored Fast Pass passes for lunch (something they were experimenting with and will likely bring back full-time). Thankfully, we had some time to snap some photos in front of my favorite Disney parks icon, Cinderella’s Castle.

be-our-guest-restaurantBe Our Guest is a restaurant themed after Beauty and Our Beast and offers amazing French cuisine, including the Grey Stuff as a dessert option (and yes, it’s delicious!) It’s also the only place in Magic Kingdom park that you can enjoy alcohol.

be-our-guest-restaurant Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset be-our-guest-beast-room Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThere are three beautiful rooms you can dine in – the Grand Ballroom, the West Wing and the Castle gallery. It’s truly an amazing Disney dining experience, but if you want to dine here, I recommend making reservations 180 days in advance.

elsa-anna-disney-world-charactersWe timed our first visit to Magic Kingdom perfectly to see the afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade, where many of our favorite fairytale characters greeted us on beautiful floats.

disney-world-parade-belle-beastrapunzel-parade-disney-worldtiana-princess-frog-parade-disney-worldthe-little-mermaid-festival-of-fantasycinderella-float-disney-world-parademerida-brave-disney-worldpluto-float-disney-worldmerryweather-fairy-disney-worldtinkerbell-float-disney-worldhook-peter-pan-disney-worldpinnochio-festival-fantasy-float-disney-worldwendy-peter-pan-festival-of-fantasymaleficent-dragon-festival-of-fantasymickey-minnie-balloon-disney-world-paradeOkay, that was a lot of photos, but I just couldn’t get over the amount of detail put into each of the costumes and floats – I loved every second of it! We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening picking up our running packets/bibs and then in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (where we had no time for photos since we had to pack the whole park into just a few hours).

frozen-running-costumesOur alarms were set for 3:45 to get ready for the run because the last bus to pick up at the hotel came at 4:00am. It wasn’t fun waking up that early, but once our Disney adrenaline set in, we were ready. olaf-running-costumeWe dressed as the cast of Frozen- Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf (tutorials for the costumes coming soon).

disney-princess-half-running-costume-frozenrun-disney-elsa-anna-costumeOLAF-ELSA-PRINCESS-HALFMy little brother Jayson and I ended up finishing the race together, while Tiffany and Cole crossed it side by side a little later. It ended up being perfect since Cole and Tiffany were dressed as lovers (Anna and Kristoff).

kristoff-anna-elsa-disney-world-charactersSpoiler alert – the half way mark of the race is through Cinderella’s castle and all of Magic Kingdom, where there are plenty of sights and character stops for photo opportunities.

vandiver-family-belle-akershus-restaurantFor the day of the run, I’d made reservations at Royal Akershus in Epcot, a beautiful Norwegian restaurant where you get to meet five princesses in their ballgowns, including a photo opportunity with Belle.

cinderella-royal-akershus-banquet-hallmulan-character-royal-akershussnow-white-royal-akershusThis restaurant was obviously a dream for me, but the menu included a buffet and entrees for everyone, so we were so thankful to have unlimited amount of delicious food after our 13.1 mile run. germany-disney-worldWe spent the rest of the day exploring the World Showcase (and enjoying alcoholic beverages from around the world) and riding our favorite Epcot rides.

11021186_10206290484327755_2204059208901536551_nsnow-white-topiaryEpcot was getting ready for its International Flower and Garden festival while we were there, so we got to enjoy some of the beautiful character topiaries.

UK-Disney-World-Epcotmary-poppins-character-epcotchina-epcotlady-tramp-epcot-topiarujapan-epcotmorocco-world-showcase-disneyvandi-parents-canadaI absolutely love the Epcot World Showcase! The gorgeous 1.2 mile expanse includes 11 countries, each featuring restaurants, shops and shows, and you truly feel as though you are immersed in that country when visiting. What’s even cooler, every cast member (that’s what all Disney workers are called) who works in a particular country happens to be from that country. It’s truly an amazing part of what makes Disney World so unique.

san-angel-innWe ended our very long day with an amazing meal at San Angel Inn – if you like margaritas and Mexican cuisine, this place is a must-try at Disney world. It also is gorgeous inside!

epcot-ball-nightI don’t know if it’s because my favorite ride is there (Soarin’) or because of the amazing restaurants and drinks in the World Showcase, but Epcot is my personal favorite Disney park.

vandi-fair-mickey-pretzelThe third and last full day my family was at the parks, we spent our morning at Animal KIngdom and headed to Magic Kingdom for the afternoon. Somehow everything Mickey-shaped tastes better to me, including this pretzel my family shared.

tree-of-lifevandi-family-animal-kingdomAnimal Kingdom is also one of my favorite parks. You truly feel as if you are immersed in the jungle right when you walk in, and the beauty of the Tree of Life always takes me.

elephants-animal-kingdommonkeys-animal-kingdomanimal-kingdom-giraffeKilamanjaro Safari is one of my favorite Disney attractions because you get to see the beautiful animals of Africa in natural environments rather than behind bars. This is always the top fast pass priority at Animal Kingdom. Thanks to the new Fast Pass Plus with Disney Magic bands, between the rides at both parks, we used a record 8 fast passes on this day!

10888580_1563489317268135_2326155235866847839_nOur afternoon and evening at Magic Kingdom was the perfect way to end my family’s stay at Walt Disney World. We rode all of our favorite rides, from Splash Mountain to Space Mountain, and even got to meet Ariel in her grotto (with absolutely no line because we waited until after the fireworks show!) Our absolute favorite part of it all was the Celebrate The Magic Show, where the castle transforms before your eyes. Hint – always go to the second showing and you will get a front row seat!

vandi-fair-ariel-charactervandiver-family-erics-castlemexico-epcotCole and I got tickets for a fourth day because our flights didn’t leave until 7pm, so we spent it in my favorite park, Epcot, and enjoyed drinks and an amazing buffet-style German lunch at Biergarten Restaurant (complete with a very entertaining live show).

IMG_1058cinderellas-castle-nightThat’s a wrap! If you made it through all of these photos, you must be a Disney lover too! Every time I leave, I’m a tiny bit depressed, but thankfully, I’ve already started planning my next Disney trip. Next time, it will be with my best friends for my bachelorette party. I CAN’T WAIT!!

Fair-well xx,

signature-lauren-vandiver-vandi-fair

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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    lonestarlauren
    March 9, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Oh, it looks like ya’ll had so much fun! We just went over Christmas break and I already cannot wait to go back. I’ve always thought about doing the Princess Half, I might have to look into it more now!

    1. Reply
      Lauren Vandiver
      March 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Oh my goodness I have never been to Disney during the holiday s- it’s definitely on my bucket list. But yes, every time I go, I am counting the days until the next time I can go! There’s no other place like it. 🙂

      Fair-well xx,
      -Lauren

  2. Reply
    Kelsey Lee
    March 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Love your pictures & tips! I just got back from Disney World yesterday and it was so magical but I’m so sad to have left. Luckily we were there during the flower festival at Epcot as well, it was so beautiful. Next time I go, I’m definitely going to make plans further in advance so I can hopefully get a reservation at Be Our Guest (from your pictures it looks completely worth going to).

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