I’m sitting at the Charlotte airport, waiting on a delayed flight. It was supposed to leave here at 8:15. It is 10:26, and I’m still grounded. Aside from this, the long weekend was a huge success.
I arrived in Orlando on Friday afternoon. Once I got settled in, it was time for a dessert, wine, and fireworks party in Italy. (The Epcot version, of course. Last year I went to fake Italy at the Venetian in Vegas. This year I went to fake Italy at Disney. Perhaps next year, real Italy?)
I made some friends – a journalist and photographer from Brazil. Marina (the journalist) lived in Barcelona for a year, so I’m going to email her for suggestions for my trip at the end of May.
Saturday, I conducted six interviews for my story, some with multiple people at once. I still managed to get on a few rides in Animal Kingdom, including Dinosaur. I have never been so terrified in my entire adult life. Sorry, complete stranger who got stuck sitting next to me.
The Disney Princess Half-Marathon, the main reason for my trip, was yesterday. It started at 5:45 a.m. As my mom said, “Don’t they know princesses need their beauty sleep?” I had to get up at 2:30 to get to the media tent to meet the photographer who was going to shoot for me. I wanted to fit in, so I donned a polka-dotted tutu for the race.
I somehow managed to fly through the course – it was pancake flat, compared to the roads in Pennsylvania – and set a new PR of 1:41:48. Afterward, in the media tent, a guy made me an omelet and another guy made me a mimosa. I wish every race ended this way.
I spent the remainder of the day cramming in as much Disney as possible: Hollywood Studios first, then Epcot, then Magic Kingdom. It took about 11 hours. It felt like three days. I had a blast, of course, but I passed out as soon as I got back to my room.
Today, I interviewed a travel writer who ran the race, then went to the hotel restaurant for some Tonga Toast. They take two slices of French toast, put banana slices in the middle, deep-fry it, cover it in cinnamon and sugar, and serve it with strawberry sauce. Party in my mouth!
Then I shopped a bit, laid in a hammock for about 15 minutes, and began this unexpectedly long day of travel.
This weekend, I met a few people who love Disney World. One woman referred to Main Street in the Magic Kingdom as “sacred ground” in our initial emails. I couldn’t relate – I had been to Disney in 1996, and though I enjoyed it, it was no life-changing experience.
I would be lying, though, if I said there were no exceptional moments this weekend. Last night, I rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as fireworks went off above me. I noticed enough adorable, delighted kids that I began to worry that my biological clock has started ticking. (If so, I’ll be hitting the biological snooze button for several more years.) And maybe it was just the sleep deprivation, but when I turned onto Main Street during the race, with all the buildings lit up and the crowds cheering and Cinderella’s castle in the distance, I teared up a bit. You can run 7:46 mile splits, but you can’t escape the magic of Disney World.