Friday started around 3:00am. No, seriously, it did. Between the time change and just all around eagerness I was up before the crack of dawn silently shuffling around the room waiting for everyone else to wake up. By 5am, people on the East Coast were awake for me to text and call, but for awhile there I was going stark raving mad. I was literally going bonkers.
Finally, at 9am I got my mother out of be and dressed so we could go to breakfast. The plan had been that I wouldn’t go into the park until I got the discount tickets at the expo. I registered through Hsubu, one of the travel agencies that handled the Disneyland 1/2 (but doesn’t do anything with the Disney World races). Their deal was registration and a 1 day park ticket which came to $250.00 and that worked out to be more or less what I would’ve paid for them individually. Stephanie was kind enough to mail me my ticket (at no extra charge), but I didn’t have one for my mother and even though she would not go on a single ride and hated the crowds/lines/music/smells etc. she insisted on coming with me because apparently Disneyland is inherently unsafe and dangerous.
So to get my fix without going into the park, I packed my mother up and we headed back to where we had been the night before for a character breakfast at the Grand Californian Storytellers’ Cafe. The hotel itself feels a lot like the Wilderness Lodge and it has a theme! It was very Disney in that respect. It’s in a very Stickley style that I personally liked but of course you-know-who said it was too dark and depressing looking. The front desk has beautiful stained glassed lamps as did the lobby, and the courtyards had pretty colorful flowers growing. If it didn’t cost a first born without any kind of discounts I might have actually ended up booking it for the weekend, but alas it does. The convenience of the hotel can’t be beat though, so if you must be close to the parks and Downtown Disney it’s a great option.
Back to the story… We walked to the Storytellers’ Cafe and I was surprised to see that the restaurant was pretty quiet (you know, by Disney standards). I’m used to character breakfasts filling up fast and having a long wait but none of that here. We walked in and sat down in about 5 minutes. The Cafe offered two options: a menu and a buffet. I decided on the buffet and my mom ordered an egg white omelette with the full intention of eating off of my buffet plate.
Now before we got there, I had to have “the talk” with my mother. We were taking pictures with characters so she needed to shut up, smile and keep her negative thoughts to herself.
So immediately after we sat down, and Pluto showed up, I gave her the “just shut up and smile” look. And our photos with Pluto, Chip and all the other little critters were a resounding success.
Moving on from the characters to the next most importation element, though: the food. I casually walked (okay, ran) to the buffet and guess what amazing disappointment befell me there? NO. MICKEY. WAFFLES. You read that right, I said NO. MICKEY. WAFFLES. Now I know how Maleficent felt when she realized those idiots were looking for a baby for 16 years. I keep pacing the buffet trying to figure out where they’re hiding the waffles behind all this b.s. fresh fruit and some kind of orange cake (which was good, by the way). I fill up a bowl with oatmeal, a dish with bacon, and some other stuff and head back to the table none too happy. When I saw it… The waitress was bringing me Mickey waffles!!! Hand to god there was a ray of sunlight spotlighting that sainted woman as she walked across the floor. Apparently they keep them hidden in the kitchen? I didn’t really ask any questions, I was just so excited to have my delicious waffles and guess what… some things may have changed, but the Mickey waffle in Disneyland is as delicious as the Mickey waffle in Disney World. The buffet here was $23.99 per adult and it was indeed good, it had a lot of options and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You know, once I got my waffle.
So anyway, we hung around the restaurant eating until about 10:30 and then walked around the hotel looking in the gift shops and lobby. A lot of people were checking in and things appeared to be picking up. For those of you who like to pool hop in the World, don’t bother trying in the Land: they lock up the pools with gates and you have to use your card to get in. We meandered through the Grand Californian and walked across the street to the Disneyland Hotel for the Expo.
The Disneyland Hotel looks like… a regular hotel for the most part. The pool had a really interesting monorail design and despite not having a room key to get past the dueling monorails that blocked my path a very nice lifeguard actually opened the door for us. We hung out by the pool for a little while but I was getting antsy and I wanted my race t-shirt and to get some shopping done. There are essentially two entraces to the expo in the Disneyland hotel: one off the lobby that goes into the exhibition floor with all the vendors and t-shirt pick up and such and then a second that is basically a parking ramp that goes down into a parking garage/bib number pick up. Once someone told us this, and I was unable to shake my mother by telling her she could just hang out in the lobby, we headed outside to wait in line for the numbers to open… and we weren’t alone.
Fortunately I got a spot in the shade and listened to other people chatting (one woman had done every single Disney World marathon) and we made Disney jokes about how exceptional we were at waiting line.
When they finally let us in (and it was essentially a stampede) I was the first person in the 7000s to get my number! I tested my timer, picked up the tickets from the travel stand, and then exited back outside to go to the expo and get my t-shirt. Now, when people talk about “race swag” and the little offers and coupons and samples you get in a race bag… I saw none of that. I mean nothing. I got my bib, turned in my voucher and got a t-shirt. Oh yes, and a plastic bag for bag check. There wasn’t even anything in the bag. I exchanged the shirt for a medium which turned out to still be too big… But there were plenty of choices for exchanging. Anyway, I was a little hummed by the lack of, you know, stuff, but I had gone through the program the night before and had a plan to check out what I wanted. I went to the Sparkle skirt booth and got my pink Minnie Sparkletech, at Injinji I got deeply discounted socks, and got some samples from the Jelly Belly people. But guess what? I was brutally rebuffed by runDisney when I asked for a Mickey re-usable shopping bag. “You have to register.” “But, I already registered for all the races.” “Oh, well, then that’s too bad.” …….a reusable shopping bag was the least you could do for me runDisney!
But fear not–the people at lasting commemoratives did not disappoint me! I got an adorable, quite high quality poster when I turned in my poster voucher that I got from my igoody bag. Now one last note on the expo… If you’re getting a race t-shirt… Bring your wits, your cunning, and you aggression with you because you are going to need it to elbow your way through all the people there buying shirts. You would think that shirts had never before existed. No, seriously, these women were crazed and walking around with their arms FULL of clothing that they protected like it was the last stitch of clothing EVER. So yeah, I can understand why it is that things aren’t left over by the second day.
So around three hours later I finally gathered my stuff to leave the expo and finally found and waited on the line to get my picture taken in front of the giant castle. Of course some obnoxious woman interrupted the girl mid photo so the whole thing is blurry and the part that says Disneyland 1/2 Marathon is cut off but whatever…
Up Next: Lunch and California Adventure!