Sunday, September 15, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, Tour of LA and a Ride on the Lilly Belle Part 2

Tour of Los Angeles

After spending 2 full days in the parks, I was ready to escape Anaheim for a bit, so early Saturday morning, we left Anaheim for my "Tour of LA". We sailed up I-5 to the Griffith Observatory (Stop #1) in about 40 minutes, since there was almost no traffic for a Saturday morning. Walked around the observatory, checking out some of the great views of Los Angeles and surrounding areas. From the observatory, you can also get a pretty good view of the "Hollywood" sign.

Los Angeles Skyline

Hollywood Sign....way off in the distance
We had to make this a brief stop as we had reservations at 9am for the Warner Bros Studio Tour. I must admit that I have lived in LA my whole life and I had no idea that Warner Bros even had a studio tour, so I was shocked when we got there and there were a fair amount of people there for the tour.

World Famous Warner Bros Water Tower


We were put into groups of 10-12 and headed out around the back lot. We made stops at the transportation museum and got to see quite a few movie cars including some of the Batmobile's. We stopped at the sound stage of the Big Bang Theory and sat in the audience area for a bit. Our tour guide walked us across the road, called security to open up the sound stage and went in to turn on the lights. We followed her in and we were on the set of Mike and Molly. We headed over to the Warner Bros Costume Museum where we looked at costumes from movies for a bit. Once back at the "dump shop", we piled back into the car to continue the tour. We made a quick stop at the Walt Disney Studios headquarters in Burbank, for a quick photo.

Disney Corporate Headquarters and the 7 Dwarves Building

Walt Disney Studios main entrance

We next headed to Carney's for some world famous chilli burgers, not the greatest thing to eat the day before a half marathon, but we did anyway. After lunch, we headed to Hollywood, specifically the Hollywood and Highland center. Once there we saw the Kodak Dolby Theater and walked along the Walk of Fame. We made a quick stop at Grauman's Chineese Theater and walked across the street to the El Capitan Theater and Disney Soda Fountain and to a "tourist" store for T-Bone to buy some souvenirs. We headed back to H&H and got in the car to continue the adventure.

1 Adam 12, 1 Adam 12, see the man posing for pictures with police car use caution

Photobombed by Spidernan at Graumann's Chinese Theater

The next part of the tour was...L.A. traffic....what trip would be complete without it. We continued down the 101 to the 110 right through the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I had promised our guests a surprise stop and we were almost there. We pulled up at Fire Station 127 which was used as the firehouse in the television series, Emergency.

Station 51....KMG365
Plaque dedicated to Emergency Creator and Producer

 We got out and took a few pictures, they even have a plaque in the building dedicated to the creator/producer of the series. Unfortunately, Chet was no where to be found. After a quick stop for gas, candy & cokes, we headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool. The last few years, we have made a tradition of doing our pre race, carb load meal at Buca Di Beppo's and this year was no exception. A good meal shared with great friends. We went to bed early since we had a 3am wake up call for the race.

Disneyland Half Marathon

We met at the car at 4am sharp to make the drive over to Disneyland. Even though there is plenty of transportation before the race, we have always driven to the parking structure. I don't mind paying $15 $16 (went up again this year) to park, have my car available after the race, and get back to the hotel pretty quickly. This year we breezed right in, got parked and started walking towards the corral area. Tina, Jamie and Veronica went to the "C" corral and I headed towards "A". I met up with Melissa and Kristine at the "B" corral, so I just started there. The pre-race was typical including a marriage proposal, Sean Astin and Joey Fat-one. After the National Anthem, the race started with fireworks and away we went...well, 5 minutes later when corral "B" went. Since I had been injured and was unable to run for 5 weeks and had only 4 training runs before this race, I was going to use a 6/2 run/ walk interval. I told myself that I was sticking with the interval, no matter how good I felt, so off we went. The first mile is always fun with all the spectators lining the roads. Once in the parks, things got a bit crowded, even starting up in the "B" corral. The course was tweaked a bit in DCA and Disneyland but I enjoyed it. At one point near Toon Town, I saw Karen, who I follow on twitter, but we have never met. I ran up and said hi, we took a quick picture together and off I went. A Lot of people don't like the section of the course that takes you through the streets of Anaheim, I for one, like it as it is wide and you can get some space of your own to run in. Cheerleaders, Mariachi Bands, Marching Bands and Classic Cars line the streets and are very entertaining.  On to the Honda Center and the Santa Ana Trail, which while not enjoyable to run on gravel, there isnt really a way to get to Angels Stadium without closing down a few more streets. I dont mind it, although with some new construction, the time on the trail had been extended by about 1/4 mile. I really enjoy running through Angel Stadium, I usually walk through as to enjoy the experience of being on the warning track. The next few miles seemed to breeze right along and next thing you know, I was back on Disney property. About 1/4 mile from the finish, some guy came up to me and said lets finish this strong...I said OK and we picked up the pace a bit. He decided it was going to be a race to the finish and given my recent injury, I let him go and finished at my own pace. Crossed the line, grabbed my medal and my Coast to Coast and met up with a few friends. Official Time: 2:21:41, not my fastest and not my slowest. Given my recent injury, I'll take it!

2013 Disney Hardware

Since I didn't do a post back in January, here is a picture we took on the cruise after doing some or all (Goofy) of the races at WDW in January

My plan was to meet my friends and family at ESPN Zone after the race for a beer since they said they would be open at 9am. I, along with about 30 other people that heard they would be open stood there until a worker came out at 9:10am and said they werent open until 11am. WTF??? Big time #FAIL on ESPN Zone's part. Fortunately, the Earl of Sandwich sold beer, so we went over there for a post race beer. After everyone finished, we headed back to the hotel for a shower and then off to the parks for the rest of the day, wearing our medal, of course. Nice to see so many people wearing medals around the parks....we have never experienced that before since we dont usually go to the parks either Disneyland or WDW.

Post race at DCA

A Ride on the Lilly Belle 

I had read about a week before the Disneyland Half, a blog post about getting a ride on the Lilly Belle. Being a life, long train guy, I was surprised that I had never heard of this before. I must admit I was curious and wanted to see if it was something that we could do. On Friday night, we scoped out the Main Street Train Station to watch the fireworks. Whe we arrived there, we noticed all of the benches were roped off and the benches were reserved. We chatted with a train conductor that was manning that station and he told us they were reserved for Club 33 members and VIP's. After the fireworks, we were invited to ride the Lilly Belle....I cant go into details, but let's just say...right place, right time, a wonderful Disney castmember, and sheer dumb luck got us on the Lilly least that's the story I"m sticking with! :)

A Ride on the Lilly Belle

Once on the car, it was only the five of us, we were all amazed, it is beautifully decorated by Lillian Disney herself. Our conductor, told us the story of the car and some of the amazing vip's, dignitaries, etc that have ridden in the car. At one point, he pointed out that the seat that my wife was sitting in, was Johnny Depp's favorite seat and he rides in the car almost every time he comes to the park. At one point, we were handed tickets (see picture below) that Lillian Disney used to give people so that she didnt have to come down to Disneyland to ride in the car with them. He then told us that the tickets were ours to keep...a very cool souvenir! Sadly, our round trip tour of Disneyland was coming to a end. With that, we got off the car, shook his hand and said Thank You for a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. We went right over to guest services to find out how we can let his supervisor and let him know that he went above and beyond in making our experience at Disneyland. We were told to write a letter and they gave us the address...which we did.

Smoking Jacket given to Lillian Disney

A picture of Walt and Lillian Disney

A photo album with some original Disney family pictures

Our Conductor

More of the Lilly Belle Interior

More of the Lilly Belle Interior


It was such a great weekend, not only being able to show our friends our wonderful city, but meeting new friends and having a unique experience of being on the Lilly Belle.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, Tour of LA and a Ride on the Lilly Belle Part 1

I know, I know...I haven't written in a while...well, actually...a long while. Honestly, I havent really felt that I had anything to say. I did want to share about the fantastic weekend we had with the Snyder's running the Disneyland Half Marathon, our Tour of LA and a rare ride on the Lilly Belle.

Part 1

The Snyders flew in on Wednesday and once we picked them up at the airport, we headed off to Huntington Beach "Surf City" for them to get a look at the Pacific Ocean. We walked down to the end of the pier and took a few pictures, then headed back towards Main Street. We stopped for a quick lunch then headed for Anaheim, the place we would call home for the next 4 days. After checking in, we walked over to Downtown Disney to pick up our park hopper tickets, do a little shopping and relax a bit. We headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool to cool off.

T-Bone, Veronica, Jamie Snyder

After an early breakfast, we walked over to California Adventure and sat and waited for them to open the gates. Once in the park, we started riding rides and aquiring Fast Passes for certain popular rides. By 10am it was already extremely warm and the humidity level was way up. We spent the rest of the day looking for "air conditioned, sit down" rides, which there are plenty of. At one point I tweeted that I was on a Tour of all the DCA bathrooms, since that was some of the best AC in the park. After dark, we got into place to watch the World of Color show, which was spectacular. After the show, we got the bus back to the hotel and crashed.

Tower of Terror - Best Ride Ever!

Uncle Bob & T-Bone

Radiator Springs Racers

World of Color

Friday started with a quick breakfast, walk to Disneyland, go on a ride and head off to the Disneyland Hotel for the expo to pick up our race packets. We got to the DL hotel at 10am and all you could see were people everywhere. There was a lack of Run Disney employees and no one seemed to know what line was for what. I think after Run Disney took a beating on social media, they started sending people out to direct people where to go. We found the line that went down stairs to pick up your race bib and waited about 15 minutes. After I got my bib and Coast to Coast wristband, I found my wife and she had an issue with her registration...they didnt have her down for Coast to Coast (turns out that a lot of people had that problem) We were directed to the Runner Relations line where we waited for about 45 min. When we got to the counter, we explained the situation to the very nice woman and she started to look up the results from WDW 1/2 in January. After about 4 minutes, she said that their computers were slow and or down. I whipped out my phone, brought up the results and insisted she accept that and give my wife the wristband. She did and off we went. By the time we left Runner Relations, that line was well over 200 people deep. We headed upstairs to the expo and yet another line. There were a few Run Disney employees shouting directions by that time, but it was still a "ClusterF*%K (Im sorry, but green tape on the ground doesnt tell me anything!!!! After about 20 minutes in line, we were let into the expo. We got our shirts and stopped by the New Balance booth to see my friend Monica. My wife even tried on a pair of the Disney shoes, they were a bit snug on her and Monica informed us that they are coming out with more styles of the Disney shoe in January. We walked through the merchandise area and all my wife wanted was a 13.1 car magnet. I saw the line (heard up to 2 hour wait to thanks!) I ordered the magnet online and should have it soon. We high tailed it out of there and back to the park to meet our friends. We capped off Friday night with fireworks and something very special....I'll save that for the end.

To Be Continued...

Tour of LA, Disneyland Half and the ride on the Lilly Belle