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Julia’s Best Week Ever, January 12, 2017: Best (Week) Plans?

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Happy New Year, wonderful readers of the Best Week Ever. This week, I was going to gush all glorious about Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend, and specifically the Saturday events of the half marathon and kids’ races.

Nothing like being out at dinner on Friday night and seeing this message come across Twitter.

Although disappointing, Disney really did make the right call on this. Thunder and lightning woke me up Saturday morning around the time volunteers would have been out setting up, and heavy rains and more lightning continued throughout the morning hours. Around 5 AM when everyone would be getting ready to start the half marathon, the local weather was clear-ish, but more bands of heavy storms were bearing down on the area and hit when most runners would have been in a place with no easy access to shelter.

And even though Disney technically didn’t have to do anything for the participants (as the contract says that races can be shortened or canceled for reasons like weather with a no refund policy), Disney offered several ways to try and make the cancellation more palatable, including refunds of race fees, two-day tickets, deferments to other races, or upgrading to the marathon. As this was going to be my husband’s last half marathon, he opted for the gift card refund, and that meant we needed to take a trip to Wide World of Sports with thousands of our new best friends.

We decided to wait until 1 PM to go, because we figured it would be a zoo in the morning, with long lines and all the logistics of getting everyone in and parked. I had to joke with my husband that it probably was much easier to drive past cone alley than it was to run past it.

I had heard horror stories that morning about long lines, but when we arrived, it took about 10 minutes to get in and parked, 10 minutes when we were ready to leave, and no lines inside the Expo building. The greatest time spent was walking from what felt like the back side of Art of Animation all the way in.

Everyone at the Expo was incredibly friendly and helpful. The Volunteers really went above and beyond in what was a challenging situation, and the participants that I saw were in good spirits and very understanding. Different lines were set up for the options that you could have selected. We had to enter two lines (one for the half marathon and one for kids’ races), but we didn’t have a wait at either.

Because I wasn’t running this year, I hadn’t been to the Expo, so I didn’t see any of the merchandise. On the way out, I must admit I fell in love with the new series of running shoes based on attractions. It almost made me think I should start running again….almost.

Some entertainers such as DJs and balloon artists and a lot of character greetings were available at Wide World of Sports. Because we were all feeling the chill in the air, we just enjoyed seeing the sights as we headed back to the car.

On our way out, we saw Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Dopey posing for pictures.

With a gift card in hand, we now needed to figure out what to do with it. Part of our New Year’s resolution as a family is to be more fiscally responsible at Disney, but since this was unexpected money, we figured we could use some of it for a splurge. Talking it over, we decided a meal out would be great, and we selected a dinner at Cape May Café.

Each of us has a favorite item at Cape May. For our daughter, she loves the fried clam strips. For my husband and I, it’s the salad. Seriously, the Cape May House Salad is crazy good, and the other salads are also unique and delicious. The fried shrimp are the same types of ones that are available at Crew’s Cup Lounge (read: delicious!), and there are plenty of other dishes to help fill in the plate.

One “new to me” item they had was Wensleydale cranberry cheese on the cheese board. I much prefer this to some of the strong blue cheeses they’ve had in the past.

And since I was starting a six-day sugar fast the next day, I had to take advantage of the amazing desserts at Cape May. I do enjoy the flan, and the berries on top were amazing. The Oreo Cheesecake was delightful, and I had to get the Key Lime cake because I loved the chocolate shavings on top that looked like green onions. For some reason, this just cracked me up. (Our daughter much preferred the Hidden Mickey on the cheesecake.)

During the course of the meal, I do love looking at the little touches around the restaurant, like the old-timey bathing suits.

And we were lucky enough to have a table with a great view of one of the many sand castles.

Even though there was no official half-marathon or Saturday kid’s races, many runners (my husband and daughter included) went out and ran/walked their mileage to truly earn their medals. Seeing many of the stories of people running at resorts was truly inspiring, and we saw many runners along the sidewalks of Hotel Plaza Boulevard and 535 as well. Everyone really made the best of a difficult situation. Over dinner, I heard some stories in the buffet line of people who were planning to do the half marathon but took the option for the full marathon and completed it. I can’t imagine what it took to pull that off, and for everyone who participated or volunteered for the entire Marathon Weekend, well done everyone!

On a personal note, my family had two achievements over the winter months. First, was a visit from my grandmother. My grandfather passed away in December 2015, and my grandmother set herself a goal of coming to visit me for the holidays this year. Even though she had some major medical setbacks this fall, and has been admitted into hospice, my family did a gargantuan effort to make it so that she could visit for New Year’s. Her health didn’t permit us to do much of the tourist experience, but we were able to take her for an hour over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to see the decorations, artwork, and animals (oxygen, wheelchair, and all).

Trust me, she had a great time. (This is her smiling face in true New Englander style.)

The other holiday accomplishment was our daughter finishing assembling the Lego Cinderella Castle kit. She started in September, and with very minimal help, she put the whole thing together. Given that I got stumped this weekend putting together an Ikea table with less than 20 parts, words cannot express how proud I am of her for that.

I’ve mentioned it once before, but one of my favorite quotes is Randy Pausch’s “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” For many people, this wasn’t the week they had planned–but I saw so many stories of personal achievements and much laughter and community coming together over the weekend that I know many good memories were made. That joy, truly, makes it the Best Week Ever.

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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

5 thoughts on “Julia’s Best Week Ever, January 12, 2017: Best (Week) Plans?

  • Best wishes to you, your family and especially your brave grandmother !!! I’m from New England and I know a happy face when I see it. She is a beautiful lady and I am happy she could spend time with her family over the holidays.

  • Sounds like you made the right call in going to the Expo at 1:00! My friend and I showed up right at 11:00 with all of the other tens of thousands of resort guests, and it took us an hour to get our gift card refund, and then another hour to get out of the Wide World of Sports because the traffic was so bad. I will say that all Cast Members were working very hard to move people through the line as quickly as possible and to keep people out of the rain as best as possible. And Chip and Dale even showed up to do photos with everyone standing in line!

  • Hi Julia, great article! Thanks for sharing the stories about your husband, daughter and grandmother. Great work by your daughter on the castle, she should be very proud of herself! On a non-Disney note… how is your sugar fast going? I’m intrigued by the idea but scared of what my mood might be if I try it 🙂

    • Hi Jillian,

      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      The sugar fast is going remarkably well. It’s no sugar, honey, stevia, maple syrup, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, etc. I’ve allowed a couple exceptions–I’m allowing myself two slices of bread/day and one serving of a creamy-style salad dressing/day, both of which do have sugar added. I also am eating fresh fruit, but no fruit juices. But compared to what I’d normally eat in terms of sugar, it’s a huge cut back. (Sugar in my tea multiple times a day, pastry for breakfast, a spoonful of frosting from the fridge for an afternoon pick-me-up, an occasional soda, leftover Halloween candy, a PB&J, etc.) I’m on day 4 of 6 today, and I honestly don’t think I’ve noticed much of a difference in how I feel (neither bad nor good). The first day, I had some pretty annoying cravings, and I coped with those by having a bowl of chopped cantaloupe in the fridge and a bag of almonds to grab a handful to snack on. By day 3, it wasn’t a conscious thought of “I will not eat sugar”. I just didn’t do it. Truth told, I had been a bit of a chicken about doing it hearing so many people talk about how it is like detoxing from something more addictive than hard-core drugs, and the talks about intense cravings and headaches and such. At least for me, none of that happened, thankfully. 🙂

      • The best change I notice after doing a major sugar cutback is no more hunger pains. No more empty stomach feelings. Glad it’s going well for you. Your daughter should be proud of her impressive LEGO castle. Well done!

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