Tuesdays on the Run: When Will it End?

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It’s Tuesday, so that means I am linking up with Patty, Erika & Marsha for Tuesday’s on the Run.  This week’s topic is “Rate your November,” which is pretty hard for me since my entire 2017 has been basically a ZERO! I thought I would share my latest set back…

I did not realize how emotional it was going to be to hold this bib in my hand…

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A week prior to this moment,  I had finally conceded that I needed to listen to my body when it told me that I could not go from 0 to 13.1 in 3 months and made the decision that I would pull myself from runDisney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  My return #home to Walt Disney World was now slightly altered, taking out that ungodly 2:30 am wake-up call on Sunday morning and of course that little thing that equaled in 13.1 miles a few hours later.  

Persistent, that little voice in my head, tried her best to make me change my mind. I am not a quitter and when I say I am going to do something, I usually do at least when it comes to challenging myself to do the impossible, like finishing 17 half marathons with this pooh shaped body.  I knew if I listened to her that I could be looking at prolonging my full recovery from my running injuries even longer and continue to feel #defeated enough to the point of giving up altogether (which I had been edging closer to and closer to with each passing doctor’s appointment).  

Friday night prior to the race, Persistent was silenced by a self-absorbed fellow airline passenger who decided that she needed off of the airplane before 50 other people in front of her, one which I happened to be and had I known she was prepared to tackle anyone in her way I would have let her by.  Just as I stepped out into the aisle, she came barreling through knocking me back into my seat with my ankle going one direction, my knee going another and my torso yet another way.  The stabbing pain that shot from my calf to my hip left me breathless. It took the rest of the passengers getting off before my stubborn  prideful streak could take control of the pain and I was able to muster enough strength to hobble slowly to baggage claim while the entire holding back the tears.  When was safely alone and behind the closed door of my room at POP Century did I allowed the pain and fear take over, allowing myself to cry some very ugly tears.  

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This was the same leg that when I decided to try my first runDisney event developed (and still does occasionally) the worst shin splints possible, resulting in a stress fracture 3 months prior to the race (but I was able to overcome and still finish the Tower of Terror 10-Miler).  This was same leg that I had been my demise the previous year’s Wine & Dine Half 3-Course Challenge and that I had struggled with trying to heal the partially torn achilles and eliminate the achilles tendonitis over the last year.  This was the same leg whose hip had developed bursitis because I tried to get ready for a half marathon in 3 months due to being burdened the 9 months prior with a boot.  And now my knee….UNCLE! I was not sure what I was going to do at that moment just to walk, but hoped a hot soak followed by a lot of ice and a handful of pain-killers along with a night’s sleep would allow the cry clouds to depart to sunny skies.

By morning, I was not doing any better in fact the lack of moving during the night allowed the stiffness to settle in. I had planned this to be the #bestdayever and despite the pain and inability to maneuver, it was NOT going to turn into #worstdayever.  I had no time for this as I went ahead with my park plans before I made my way to the race expo to packet pick up telling my stubborn self, I just needed to walk it out. However back in my room as I held that bib in my hand reality of the situation set in as wave of #hopelessness washed over me and broke down. Would I ever finish a half marathon again? Would I be able to complete that full marathon goal I had set for myself the year I turned 50? I had healed a stress fracture and partially torn achilles, still dealing with resting from the bursitis, but could I handle a knee injury too or was I asking too much from this almost 50 year old pooh sized body?  Who knew a simple bib would stir up such emotion?  

180sSleep did not come easy that night once again, however I still got my early morning wake up call, only I did not head for the starting line via runDisney transportation.  Instead I was headed to the nearest urgent care clinic open at that time as a passenger in a concerned Cast Member’s private vehicle.  There was no fabulous runDisney bling at the end of my trip, but shot of cortisone to get me through the next week.

I returned home with the pain medication wearing off and I prepared myself for an MRI, wondering if #defeated & #hopelessness will continue to plague me or if persistent and stubborn will find a way to run that next race. The results came back, indicating what I knew…a hyper-extended knee and thankfully only a few microscopic tears that would heal on the condition I torture myself with another round of RICE (resting, icing, compressing and elevating the knee) for 6-8 weeks and that included ALL forms of exercise including pool jogging.

rice-symbolsTwo weeks into yet another imposed RICE session my only goal is to listen to the doctor, which continues to get harder and harder as I watch the training days slip away from me once again.  Hopefully I will be cleared just around the time 2018 appears on the calendar and I can begin tackling (slowly) that goal of a full marathon before I turn 51 because I certainly do not want to hold a bib in my hand that I can only look at through tears and disappointment.  Hopefully 2018 will be better…

Siesta Sunday: POP Century Refurbished Room Review

 “Experience the unforgettable fads of the 1950s through the 1990s all over again. From yo-yos and Play-Doh® to Rubik’s Cube® and rollerblades POP Century salutes the timeless fashions, catch phrases, toys and dances that captivated the world through the decades.”

POP Century resort has always been a favorite value level resort of mine, simply because of the fun theming that takes me back to fond childhood memories.

However, the theming outside was pretty much where my love affair with POP ended.  The resort rooms while they worked perfectly for families of 4 with smaller children, couples or solos who spend most of the day in the parks and need just someplace to sleep, just did not lure me in.  Frankly, they just felt like a Disney-fied Motel 6.

Currently the rooms at Pop Century are under refurbishment that is being completed in phases, building by building, and should be completed by May 2018. As of October 2017, all three buildings in the 80s and 90s sections are finished with the refurbishment, with work on the 70s section that should be completed by early 2018 and the remaining 50s section by summer 2018.

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As photographs and reviews began being leaked of the new rooms, I must admit that I was underwhelmed and a bit disappointed in what I thought was a room that was sterile, “un-Disney” and thematically lacking in attempts to make a value room more “upscale.” However, I was intrigued with the new room configuration and décor that I knew I needed to stay at POP Century on my next trip.  Did my opinion change when I saw and stayed in one of these rooms myself?

Walking into the room you are met with a lighter color scheme, mainly white with hints of orange, sky blue and lime along with lots of wood grain texture. There is Mickey Mouse pop art above the queen-sized bed and Pluto pop card above the Murphy bed.  The room feels clean and refreshing, not as sterile as the pictures felt.  However, I am not a fan of the stark white bedding and miss the runners at the foot of the bed that lend a pop of color and theme.

I absolutely love the replacement of the carpet with wood laminate flooring! Now I feel as if I can walk around the room without shoes knowing that a damp mop easily cleans any spills made.  No more gross carpet stains or just that icky dirty dusty feel.  And those that are worried about noise, I NEVER heard my neighbors and I know I had many because there was no availability that weekend.

The biggest change to the room was the new configuration of a regular bed flanked by nightstands, and Murphy bed that doubles as a table. Both beds are queen-sized, versus the double beds previously in these rooms, which is nice when you are sharing a bed with a bed hog spouse or child. The space that the pull-down Murphy Bed opens up is huge. It made the small room feel less claustrophobic, and that plus the color choices and have a place to sit down made it easier for me to spend time in the room, where in the past I just felt like the room was a place to sleep.  However, the addition of 2 queen beds, you lose a lot of space when the Murphy bed is open, after all this is a value room so space is at a premium, I am not sure if I would like this room with 2 teenagers and my husband.

There’s also a ton more storage space, including a dresser under the television, and a variety of random cubbies around the room. However, if you need to hang clothing, the small attempt at a closet is disappointing as a friend pointed out.  She likes to Disney bound and attend Dapper Days, so dresses will not fit in the closet in terms of length and width.  I did point out to her the hooks located throughout the room for hanging of coats and bags.  For those that like to live out of a suitcase, there is not much room for an open suitcase when there is more than a solo traveler in the room, but the height of the beds provides a great space under the bed for suitcase storage.

Disney has heard the call of this tech savvy world we live in and there are a boat load of USB-charging ports and outlets around the room. I think I counted 8 USB and 14 outlets. No more need to tote along that power strip bar in my suitcase as everyone should have a place to charge their devices.

In the corner, there’s a kiosk with drawers, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker! And the TV, I swear it takes up half of the wall.

In the bathroom, you have a vessel sink, illuminated bathroom mirror, and make-up mirror. There’s also an actual sliding door separating the bathroom area from the main room (instead of a thin curtain). I loved being able to shut off the bathroom vanity area from the rest of the room, since there is a nightlight that I could not figure out how to turn off near the sink.   There is ample counter space for everyone in the addition to lots of shelves.  Hair dryer, ironing board and iron as also provided in this space.

I love that you can shut off the actual bathroom area from the vanity, which makes it nice for everyone to get around in the mornings at the same time.  The bathroom has glass door in the shower/tub. And let’s talk about that rainfall shower fixture in addition to the standard one, after a long day in the park it is amazing. Best of all Disney has not cut back on the value resorts with the bathroom products, no more shampoo and conditioner combined and the same product you will find in the deluxe resorts.  And yes, I hoarded my share of shampoo & conditioner to take home so that I can feel like I am at Disney in between stays.  The H20 scent is different this time around and I must say I love it, more of an herbal smell that reminds me of my favorite hotel product, ever that came from the “dark side” of Orlando (aka Universal Studios and the Royal Pacific Resort).

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Like others I complained about the lack of “Disney” in the room, but the style goes further than before thematically. The room uses bold colors, minimalist design, sharp lines, and the contrast of wood against white. To me, these rooms feel very much like a retro design with flourishes of Disney-inspired pop art that goes perfectly with POP Century.

So, did I think of the refurbished rooms at POP Century, now that I have seen and stayed in one?  Disney has certainly hit a home run with this room and in fact it was nicer than my room at a deluxe resort that I stayed in a few days later.  But, is this room enough to book another stay? YES, POP Century will again be my go to value resort when I just need a few nights or when I am planning a rope drop to kiss of night trip (aka all day in the parks).

I am in the business of making dreams come true, contact me for a free no-obligation quote for your next Disney trip.  There is never a charge for my services and I offer concierge level planning services FREE when you book your Disney vacation with me!

Saturday Saving 4 Disney:  Let the Penny Making Begin Again

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There is no way around it, a Disney trip is expensive. At this moment, I am not certain when my next Disney trip will be, but that is not holding me back from earning few pennies through what I like to call my “Disney Penny” apps that I use to earn my Disney money while I am shopping, and yes even sleeping.  

Here is what you need to know about Disney Penny Apps

I call them penny apps, because basically you are earning pennies but over the course of time pennies add up to dollars.  In reality, you are really “points” which you turn into gift cards to popular stores. I earn Walmart/Sam’s Cards which I then turn around and use to purchase Disney Gift Cards at a discounted rate at Sam’s, saving even more money for Disney.  Making Disney Pennies does take time and effort, but can be seamlessly worked into your daily schedule or shopping routine without much disruption.  Like anything in life, you only get out what you put into things.  I refuse to spend money to make money, so unless it’s product that I am going to use, then I do not buy it just for the sake of earning “points”.  Dealing with cancelling memberships and paying attention to rules is too much work for me, so you will not see me purchasing monthly membership trials either. Identity theft is real and very rarely will I ever link a credit card to my app accounts.  

Those are my ground rules for Disney Penny apps, so which ones do I use…

While I use quite a few different app/websites the ones that make the most for me are

  • ShopKick
  • SwagBucks
  • Ibotta
  • Walmart Savings Catcher

These apps/websites, in addition to my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card and picking up a few side jobs I have been able to pay almost the entire cost of my Disney trips without ever having to dip into my household budget, since the majority of my trips are selfish ones where I am going with my runDisney girlfriends.  

Let me show you an example with my 2016 Wine & Dine Trip:

The total cost of the trip was $2765 and I paid $0 out of my household budget, in fact I came home with almost $400 to roll over to my next Disney trip.

Beach Club DVC Rental $616

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

I had already saved this from a side tutoring job that I had done in the fall of 2015 so that I could book the Beach Club at the 11 month mark.

Southwest Plane Ticket $397

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Purchased with my SW Rapid Rewards Visa card, thanks to putting my DD college tution each month and then paying it off from savings.

Wine & Dine 2016 2-Course Challenge Registration, plus 5K $352

  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Purchased by writing a couple extra professional development sessions for my school district during the spring of 2016 and then presenting them in the summer.

But here is where my Disney Penny Apps came into play…

Expenses   $1400

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party $91
  • 6 Day Park Ticket $378
  • Food & Spending for 7 Days ($125 a day) $900
  • Actual Cost Out of Pocket $0

Earned through Disney Penny Apps

  • Swagbucks $700
  • Walmart Savings Catcher $82
  • ShopKicks $100
  • PerkTV $175
  • Ibotta $275
  • Check Out51 $15
  • PACT $70

I was totally stunned that I was able to make over $1400 simply by putting my insomnia (thanks to a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome) to work and learning a to use a few apps while doing what I am already doing, shopping in the span of 11 months.

Over the next several weeks/months I am going to show you how you too can earn a few Disney pennies by putting your computer and smartphone to work for you.

 

#(almost)WordlessWednesday: T-H-A-N-K-S

It’s Wednesday so that means linking up with Focused on the Magic to share some of our #disneyside vacation photos on the Wordless Wednesday blog hop…which makes me so excited since I have a whole new album to share!

The theme this week is Thanks + Giving and is loosely based on a word game  where someone picks a word that’s related to Thanksgiving. Then, going around the table each person says what they are thankful for using the letters in the word chosen.

Looking at my pictures,  I decided to share from a new experience that I encountered in the Magic Kingdom…the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  I had never had the opportunity to see this parade and during this past trip I made it a priority to view and I am so THANKFUL I did.  It is simply BEAUTIFUL!

So, here’s my Disney spin on the game in pictures from the Festival of Fantasy parade…

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T-Tiana (& Prince Naveen)

HHero (Prince Phillip)

AAriel

NNeverland’s Lost Boys

KKilts & Kuteness with Brave

SSnow White

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Wishing you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving!

-Tammie

 

 

 

 

#hakunamatata & #heighho: A Tale of 2 Days at Walt Disney World

Yesterday and today could not be more different in terms of Disney attitude.

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Yesterday was my #hakunamatata day.  After 3 very lone days of early morning, lots of walking and late nights, I gave myself a day of no worries, translation no real hard plans.  I made a list of things I might want to do, but did not hold myself to a schedule or park expect for the dining reservation at Be Our Guest with a couple of runDisney friends.  Make sure you follow along when I write my trip report so you scan see that I actually did on my #hakunamatata day…it was fabulous.

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Today is starkly different as it is time to #heighho and get down to the real reason for this trip…Academy Travel and mickeyvacations.com Agent Education Program-On Site Training for Walt Disney World  I am so excited to meet up with fellow agents, members of the home office staff and Cast Members from the Disney Travel Agency all with the sole purpose of making your next Disney vacation even more magical.

I do have a couple of fun and new things scheduled both before and after AEP tonight, so it won’t all be formal work.

rules.jpgDon’t forget about my #heighho contest…your chance to win some great prizes and up to $200*  in Disney Vacation credit.  For complete details…

#heighho Conetest Rules & Details

 

#thefoodandwineitcallsme

I am feeling a little down this morning, but a whole lot better than my mental state yesterday over the carelessness of another passenger on my flight.  Right now I should just about be ready to start the 2017 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon…“wine over” 

I am going off to have a great day checking off experiences from my bucket list and let the #thefood&wineitcallsme.

Today’s bucket list

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The bulk of my day (and evening) will be spent in Epcot at one of my favorite events, Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.  I am on a mission to visit each of the 35 marketplace booths and sample something from the menu over the course of the next few days.  I came close last year…I love the chance to bring out my inner foodie and be adventourous in my eating.

Remember that I am taking you along on this “working vacation” will full out social media blitz.  Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

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Don’t forget, I am giving everyone*  following along and interacting, a chance to win a up to a $200 Disney Vacation Credit as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  For complete rules and details…

 Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho Contest Rules & Details

I will also be doing a give away today, head over to my Facebook business page for complete details…

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TammieRaefVacations

I can’t wait to get the day started, so I will C U Real Soon and remember that life is always better in ears.

 

#bestdayever Regardless How it Started

Today is supposed to be the #bestdayever, and in the most important way it is…because I woke up at “home”, Walt Disney World’s POP Century Resort. But the shirt that I planned on wearing to announce that it is the #bestdayever is no wear to be found along with the entire contents of my suitcase and the suitcase.  It never arrived to Orlando early this morning when I arrived.  So I have my carry on bag, my Vera Bradley Disney cross body bag and the clothes literally on my back.  On top of it all, if I was wavering about still trying to run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Sunday morning, all hopes are completely dashed.  As I went to exit my row, apparently a lady behind me several rows could not wait and made a rush past me and I lost my balance and fell sideways in to my seat twisting the entire knee down the back of the calf, on of course my bad leg.  The pain was so sharp that it took my breath away and I had to wait for the many of the other passengers to leave before I attempted to hobble off the plane.  As long as I walk stiff legged I am okay, for the most part…not the most magical start but it is going to be the #bestdayever even if it has not started out that way.

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I know you are looking at date stamps from my social media posts and this blog entry and wondering why I am up ready to go at 6:30 am after arriving well after midnight, after all I am on vacation (even if it is a “working vacation”).

Disney Vacation Tip:  When on a Disney park’s vacation, RESIST THE URGE TO HIT THE SNOOZE BAR!

Mornings are the very best times to visit a Disney park if you want to avoid crowds which result in long attraction wait times as well as lower temperatures for those times of the year when heat is a factor.  You can get so much done in a morning if you will arrive at your Disney Park 30-45 minutes prior to rope drop (official park opening time).  In most cases you can get more done in the first 3 hours then you can the entire rest of the day, simply because many park guests are in the typical “vacation” mind set of sleeping in.

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But Tammie, 6:30 am?  Yes, but today is a little different as I am headed to Animal Kingdom for Extra Magic Hours.  Extra Magic Hours (EMH) is bonus time in select Disney parks each day, either before or after regular operating hours, for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.  Today, Animal Kingdom’s rope drop is scheduled for 9 am, but for EMH the park opens at 8 am.

 Disney Vacation Tip:  Avoid Disney Parks with Extra Magic Hours UNLESS this not your first Disney vacation and/or you have Park Hopper tickets.  Why?  Basic psychology…  When people see Extra Magic Hours they think they need to be there.  Crowds will build first thing in the morning and stay heavy throughout the day defeating the whole purpose of getting to the park early for low crowd levels.  However, parks with evening EMH are not dramatically impacted because the majority of park guests have been there all day and/or have young children who are ready to call it a day.

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Clearly it’s not my first vacation and I have park hopper tickets so Extra Magic Hour crowds are not going to affect my plans…just the opposite, they are going to work in my favor for 3 simple words…Flight of Passage aka the hottest FastPass at Walt Disney World.  At my 60 day booking window for FastPasses, I was not able to secure a FP for Flight of Passage which means I have to use the stand by line.  Disney Imagineers do a great job making lines fun and interactive, but after reading lots of trip reports the stand by line for Flight of Passage within 30 minutes of rope drop has a wait time of 2-3 hours.  So the need to be at Animal Kingdom by 7:15 am is imperative if I want to experience Flight of Passage and not waste much of my morning waiting for a few minutes of fun. Disney park buses begin running approximately 1 hour prior to park opening so I intend to be on the first for bus to Animal Kingdom to be towards the front of the line for entrance into Animal Kingdom when it opens and then head directly to Flight of Passage using the tips that I have gathered from various posts and blogs (one of those perks you have access to when we plan your Disney vacation together).

In yesterday’s blog post I shared my confession of being in a “rut” doing the same things on my Disney vacations and how since this is a “working vacation” I am challenging myself to a daily bucket list of new experiences that will help me assist you in planning the most magical vacation possible.

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Remember that I am doing a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

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I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  The more you interact, the better chance you have to win.

“Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho It’s Off to Work I GO” Contest Rules & Details

There is so much magic waiting for me that I need to get going, I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears.