Star Wars Dark Side 2017 – Friday

I decided to shift my hotel nights this year since I wasn’t running the 5k. I took one of the first morning flights on Friday. I got to the airport early. Once there, I grabbed a toasted bagel for breakfast.

I also got a large bottle of water. I tend to get dehydrated on planes and hate to wait for the drink service if my throat dries out.

I checked one bag and also had this backpack as my carry on. In it I had all my electronics and my outfit for the 10k including my running shoes. I like to have one outfit in case my suitcase is lost. I decided to let my suitcase be delivered this time. I got to my gate about 45 minutes early. My plane was already at the gate.

I was pleasantly surprised that the crush by the gate was not as bad as usual for this flight. There were some blocking people, but not nearly as many as normal. I was talking to a couple guys sitting at the gate with me about it. We all ended up being in the same boarding group which was the first non-frequent flier tier and non-paying priority. When they called our group, we had to excuse ourselves through a few people but it wasn’t too bad. I was very pleasantly surprised that we appeared to be on a newer plane. The seats were not the normal cloth and didn’t have butt prints already embedded (which is a huge plus).

I had a window seat on this flight. On our taxi to the runway, I got a good view of downtown Charlotte.

I had an uneventful flight and soon found myself in Orlando. The train from the terminals was only open on one side. So, the backup was a little more than usual. However, I heard the day before it had broken down completely so I was happy it was running. I stopped in the bathroom by the TSA checkpoint. The lines are always so bad in the terminal when you first get off. I also changed into my SparkleSkirt at this point. I proceeded down to baggage claim and decided to let Magical Express get my bag. The escalators closest to the main ones were closed. I walked down to the end ones and those were working. Soon I found myself at the Magical Express line.

For the first time in a long time, I was in a line and had to wait for my bus.

We finally boarded the bus. I texted Kassady so she could meet me at the resort. Our parents were actually driving home from my house that day. I think they were going by Savannah, GA about the time I got on the bus. Once we finally left, I got a great view of the beautiful new terminal they are building.

After about a 30 minute ride, we entered Disney property by the Crossroads.

We went first to Saratoga Springs, then Old Key West. I was very excited when we pulled into Port Orleans French Quarter.

Only a few of us got off here. More people were headed to the final stop of Port Orleans Riverside. Here was the greeter at French Quarter.

Our room wasn’t ready, so I hung out in the lobby and waited for Kassady. I did find that the outlets in the lobby had 2 USB plugs in them. This came in very handy since my phone was only at 30%.

I also wandered around the resort and took lots of pictures while I was waiting. I’m working on a separate resort review. I will link it when it is complete. They had the special transportation schedule for the weekend at the front door.

Since it was Earth Day the next day, the resort employees were doing a competition. They all built something out of recycled materials. There was a cast member standing by the table getting people’s votes for the best.

Soon, Kassady texted me that she was in the parking lot. I dropped my backpack off with the bell desk. I didn’t want to be carrying that around with me all day. Since it was around lunch time, we decided to get something at the food court before we left.

I really like the new decor in the food court.

Kassady got the Jambalaya with corn bread and I got the Shrimp Po-Boy with fries.

Once we were done eating, we went out front to catch the bus to the Expo. It stopped right in front of the entrance to the gift shop. At this point, there weren’t very many people on the bus. The bus drop off is a little bit of a hike to the entrance. Soon we were in the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

We went to the Field House first to get our bibs.

It was pretty quiet in this area.

We stopped for Kassady to print out her waiver. I had mine with me. Then we went to our respective booths to get our bibs. I also got my picture taken for the challenge. Luckily, my shirts were also in this area.

I do like that they moved the 5k shirts here, too. That way if you are doing the challenge and 5k your shirts are all in one place. Once I got my shirts, we headed back out. They had the movie quotes on the walls in the hallway out.



Once outside, they had the silhouettes on the walls.

Kassady wanted her picture with Kylo Ren.


After we got back up the stairs, we went to the prepurchased commemoratives area.

Sorry for the blurry photo… There was no line at the pickup area.

I had bought a jacket for Kassady to surprise her since I knew she really wanted it. When I got it and immediately handed it to her, she was very happy. I forgot to get a picture of the jacket, though.

Next we headed over to the Expo. Inside the entrance was a DJ and 2 roving storm troopers.

This is a view of the Expo floor since you enter above it.


I stopped at Raw Threads and picked up my patch for registering for the race through the Raw Threads Club. Then I stopped at Lasting Commemorative. Since I did the Kessel Run Challenge this year, I decided to splurge and get this display with duplicate medals.

After that, we headed to the back of the area so Kassady could get her 10k shirt.

Next to this in the back was the Official Merchandise area. As you can see in this picture, there was no line.

Kassady briefly contemplated getting the 10k “I did it!” shirt.

They had Kessel Run shirts.

I liked these half marathon tanks.

They had plenty of race specific ornaments left. I had my friend, Kim, get one for me on Day 1 just in case.

I also liked this shirt.

Ultimately, I didn’t get anything since I’m currently trying to thin out my closet. Just outside the Official merchandise was custom phone cases and magic bands.

They had a refershments area with alcohol in the Expo.

We found a booth that had some great Star Wars socks.

The Senses spa had an area that was doing manicures and Jamberry application.

No runDisney Expo in FL is complete without a stop at the SparkleSkirts booth.

I actually got Kassady her first SparkleSkirt from the clearance rack. She used the portable dressing room to make sure it fit correctly. That is a great part of the SparkleSkirts booth.

Finally, we made our way out of the Expo. The little room on the way out was set up like an outpost with more refreshments. They even had a menu on the wall.

This was the banner over the exit.

To save time, we got a Lyft from the Expo over to EPCOT. If you haven’t heard of it, Lyft is similar to Uber. I discovered Lyft during my trip to Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco last October. The app gave me the estimated wait and alerted me when he arrived. It was nice to sit on a bench until his arrival and not have to walk far. The drop off in EPCOT is kind of in the middle of the bus area. We walked to the bag check area. Once through, we saw almost no line at the entrance.

The Flower and Garden festival was going on.

Since we had so many things from the Expo, we decided to get a locker. The rentals are done in the gift shop just to the right when you get to Spaceship Earth. The lockers are just beyond that. They had 2 sizes and we got the larger just to be safe.

These are older lockers so you will get a physical key. Because of this, there is a deposit that will be returned when you turn the key back in to the gift shop. Kassady changed into her SparkleSkirt before stowing her things.

At this point, I can’t quite remember the order we did everything. I guess that’s what happens when you wait over a month to write things up. I know we headed over to the old Wonders of Life pavilion where the festival headquarters are located. Along the way, we saw this Buzz Lightyear topiary by Mission:Space.

They also had the Fab 5 by the pavilion entrance.

The building at this point of the day was pretty dead. There were very few people here. It was getting close to 5 pm on Friday. Here are a couple photos around the inside of the pavilion. I can still see where some of the former attractions in Wonders of Life were housed.

When we came out, we saw the single rider line for Test Tracks was only 30 minutes. So, we decided to wait for that.

Even in the single rider line, you can make your own car and link it to your magic band. This was mine.

Eventually, we were each placed in different cars. You step into the waiting area. When you are the next up, you touch your magic band to the circles you see in this photo.

This seemed different than the last time I rode it. I think I like the previous version a little better. There’s nothing wrong with this version, though. I felt bad for the people behind me in this picture since my hair was blowing around so much you can’t even see the face of the middle person.

They had some cars on display on the way out and a few places to get your picture made.

Next we went to Spaceship Earth. I miss the old song, but do like the video at the end created from choices you make on the ride. Here is ours.

The picture is taken at the very beginning of the ride so make sure you have your head up. At the exit of Spaceship Earth are a bunch of fun things to do. We almost waited for the shuffleboard-type game pictured here.

Then it was time for Soarin’. I had been on the new version in January at DCA. However, Kassady hadn’t seen it yet.

There is an interactive trivia game you can play on your phone in this line. I thought that was a great touch. I think when we left there we stopped by the butterfly area. I really enjoy walking through there. Then we went to Norway and walked around. Kassady didn’t remember ever being in the Stave Church building before. We also walked through the shops. I think we might have ridden the boat ride in Mexico, but I can’t remember. We did find these guys by Mexico.

I think we also visited Beymax sometime between Soarin’ and dinner. Joy and Sadness from Inside Out were also in this area but had a long line. Kassady loved meeting Beymax. We got a lot of good photos.

We also stopped by one of the PhotoPass stops leading out to World Showcase.

Soon, it was time for dinner. We had reservations at Coral Reef. The entrance is to the right of the Living Seas pavilion entrance.

We checked in and had to wait another 20 minutes before we were finally seated. We spent most of that time outside. There is an area inside to wait but it was full. They did have water and cups available in the inside waiting area.

Once seated, we were in the front table of the second tier of seating. This meant we had a pretty good view of the aquarium without being right against it. There were several viewing windows like this one closest to us.

We were given a main menu

and a special menu

along with the drink and dessert menu that was on the table.

They also left a fish viewing guide on the table.

Kassady and I both opted for the Smoothie drink our waitress told us about. It tasted kind of like a non-alcoholic Pina Colada. We were on the Dining Plan and it was included. They also brought out a basket of rolls with the drinks.

Kassady’s meal came with a soup or salad. She chose the potato soup they had on offer that night.

I tried it and it was quite tasty. Soon, our main course arrived. Kassady got the Mahi-Mahi.

I got the Salmon.

We both really enjoyed our meals. Once we were finished, they brought us a dessert menu.

Dessert is included on the Dining Plan. Kassady opted for the Coconut-Mango Chiffon Cake.

I got the Chocolate Wave.

It was a hard choice since we had been watching desserts come out to tables for a bit and many of them looked really good.

After finishing our meal and putting the gratuity on my Magic Band, we made our way to the buses. We were hoping to leave before Illuminations started. As we were getting to the bus area, our resort bus pulled away. Shortly after that, Illuminations started. We could see a few of the fireworks from our first place position in the bus line. A few Port Orleans Riverside buses came and went before we finally got another French Quarter bus. By this time, Illuminations had concluded and the line was long enough to completely fill the bus. The ride to the resort was short. There is only one bus stop at French Quarter.

We went straight to our room since I had received a text with the room number.



I had requested first floor which we did receive. We were also in the building to the right of the lobby area. The only drawback was a designated smoking area on the path from the lobby to our room. My suitcase was waiting in the room. However, my backpack was still being held. I went up to Bell Services and retrieved it. Kassady grabbed her things from her car. Once we were back in the room, we set out our things for the 10k in the morning. Then we both got in bed. I don’t know about Kassady, but I was asleep pretty quickly.

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About kristincooke

I am a mother of 2 that started running in 2012. I also enjoy baking and some crafts.
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