Star Wars Dark Side 2017 – Half

I believe my alarm went off at 2:15 am since the first bus was at 3 am. I tried to get ready behind the pulled curtain. I was attempting to recreate my General Organa outfit from the 10k at Light Side in January. I was having some trouble with the hair piece. Finally, I looked at my watch and saw it was getting close to 3. So, I ditched the hair piece and just pulled my hair into a bun. By the time I got to the front, I think I had just missed the first bus. I was on the second bus, though. It ended up only being 10 min behind the first. So, the character lines were relatively short. I first got my picture with Boba Fett (and Han Solo in carbonite).

Here’s the official photo

I still had time, so I jumped into the Jabba the Hut line as well.

The official photo

By this time, all the lines were super long. So I decided to wander around a bit. I found the long line of Port-o-potties in the staging area (not by the corral entrances).

This was a look at the staging area (beyond the character photos and stage area).

This was the start line.

Soon it was time for the mass migration to the corrals.

Once again they had a huge area with water at the corral entrances.

I was in Corral E for the half. After using the port-o-potties by the water table, I made my way to the entrance.

Since I was there when they opened the corrals, I was right at the front. It was still quite a while before race start so a lot of people were sitting and saving their legs.

This is a look back towards the staging area and the 2 huge corrals next to me. My corral was the last smaller corral. I use that term loosely since my corral had 2000.

To get an idea of how massive the corrals were, this was the view of my corral entrance from where I was.

Eventually, the storm troopers came to the stage by the start line and gave us another talk. Then the National Anthem was sung. Finally, the race officially started.

Like the 10k, they did waves inside of the corrals. That is why the corrals were so massive. I was in the first wave of corral E. Slowly we made our way towards the start line. I did get a good view of the fireworks for the start of the corral D groups.

Finally, it was our turn at the start line.

Rudy gave us his usual great send off.

Then we were off. The course started running by the staging area.

As usual, my pictures at the start of the race are terrible. We veered right towards the entrance to the parking lot.

There was a marching band in this area. They were playing Star Wars music.

R2D2 was doing character photos.

Up to this point, the course was the same as the 10k. When we got to the parking entrance, that changed. We went to the right before we got to the parking entrance.

We made what amounted to a sweeping almost U-turn.

We ran parallel to the start line and could see the fireworks from the groups just starting.

I was trying to keep tracks of how many groups were behind me. I eventually got too far away to hear them even though I knew there were still groups starting.

We ran by a gas station.

Just after the gas station, we reached Mile 1.

The route turned left onto a side road.

This road was pretty dark. They did have the speeder bikes from Endor in this area.

Eventually we found a medical tent. I wonder how many scrapes they had to patch up from the dark road.

Soon we found the first water stop. This area was well lit.

There were not so well lit port-o-potties following the water.

They did take advantage of the dark stretch to use lasers and sound effects to make you feel like you were in a battle.

Mile 2 was just after the battle area.

They did a good job of lighting this bridge we had to cross.

Next came an Ewok picture stop.

Official photo

Next we came to the place I heard a lot of people complain about during marathon weekend, the water treatment plant. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad.

In that same area we passed the turn for the compost facility.

Soon we found Mile 3.

Next came more of the plant facilities.

In this area, we passed the 5k mark.

Towards the end of the buildings we found the next water stop.

There were port-o-potties with this stop.

We ran through some gates with a security person. I assume these keep guests from getting to the facilities area.

Just after the intersection was a medical tent.

Followed closely by a screen playing Star Wars clips.

A little further down the road we came across the greenhouses.

Then I found the trash compactor scene and had to stop.

Official photo

If you couldn’t tell by my face in the last picture, I was really feeling the heat and humidity at this point. Then we entered the backstage areas of Animal Kingdom. We found Mile 4 in this area.

We had to cross some railroad tracks.

Beside the track we found the homes of a couple animals.

Very soon after that, we found some port-o-potties

and a water stop.

One interesting sign I saw in the backstage area of Asia.

Some people were waiting for bathrooms in the back of this building.

We kept left at this split.

The entertainment building was on the route.

There was another port-o-potty line just before leaving the backstage area.

These open gates led us into Animal Kingdom.

The first real bathrooms had a line.

We stayed left towards Dinoland.

I stopped at the cast member taking pictures for us with Everest in the background.

Another line for more real bathrooms.

We ran in front of Everest.

Some storm troopers were out by the Finding Nemo theater.

Then we entered Dinoland.

If I remember correctly, I stopped at these bathrooms since they had a shorter line.

We went backstage on the other side of that building. Mile 5 was in this backstage area.

We found the first group of cosplayers in this area, too.

After the cosplayers, there were a few port-o-potties.

There was also a water stop.

We ran around the pond. It’s always amazing when you can see the runner in front of you and realize just how many people there are.

A medical tent was at the other side of the pond.

We came out in the parking lot and ran around to the front entrance.

There were a few spectators here.

Security was ready for the guests arriving early (the man pushing the stroller on the right).

We ran by the front entrance and around the rest of the parking lot. Spectators with great signs were in the parking lot.

There was a screen playing clips in the parking lot.

They had the Hoth scene here, but the line was too long for me to stop.

Mile 6 was over halfway through the parking lot.

If you couldn’t tell, the parking lot is a large chuck of the race. I must say it didn’t feel as bad this year with the distractions and going the opposite direction. The 10k point was on the road to the parking lot.

There was a bank of port-o-potties beside the bridge.

A water stop was just on the other side of the bridge.

I did stop to get my picture in the emperor’s chair. I will give a huge shout out and thank you to the cast member working this line. He had a towel and wiped the chair down between people. We were all sweaty at this point.

Once we were out of the parking lot, we only had half the road. They needed the other half for people leaving the Animal Kingdom Lodge area.

Mile 7 was on a bridge.

There was another screen playing clips on the second bridge.

The McDonald’s beside this bridge smelled heavenly.

There was a medical tent on the other side of the McDonald’s bridge.

Further down the road was a DJ in a neon-lit car.

We finally left the road on this ramp.

Mile 8 was on the ramp.

We did a U-turn onto the next road.

The Clif Shots were here.

along with some port-o-potties

and a water stop.

I was actually running with Julie and her husband at this point. We could see the entrance to Hollywood Studios.

The Star Wars Rebels were taking pictures here.

Mile 9 was along this road, too.

There were so many cones we weren’t sure if we had one lane or 2.

Then we did a U-turn onto an exit ramp.

The 15k mark was on this long, sweeping ramp.

There was a medical tent at the top of the ramp.

Here’s a pretty good look back at the runners behind me from the bridge.

From the bridge we went downhill.

We turned right at this light to the backstage of Hollywood Studios.

Once again Darth Maul’s line was super long. So, I just took a selfie.

I think there was a water stop in this area.

Mile 10 was after the left turn.

Then we had to go up this ramp (you’ll notice just about everyone is walking).

You enter into the Fastasmic area. There must not have been any cosplayers here this time because my next picture is of the real bathrooms.

Then we ran down and out by the Tower of Terror.

We ran down Sunset Blvd with some cast members cheering and giving out high fives.

They got a good shot of me running in this area.

At the road end, we turned left onto Hollywood Blvd.

This part of the course is the same as the 10k. I must have put my sunglasses on at the turn because they got this nice shot of me running on Hollywood Blvd.

At the crossroads, we turned left and ran between the photographers. All the people you see to the right were guests already in the park.

These cast members were giving out high fours.

I once again stopped at these real bathrooms.

We continued around behind the buildings.

There were a couple storm troopers posing for pictures here.

We continued around through this break in the wall.

It led to the front entrance.

We ran through one section of the security area.

They got a good shot of me running on the other side.

Some park guests made signs and cheered us on.

We ran beside the parking lot and onto the trail again.

The trail wasn’t quite as crowded today, but that might be due to where I was in the corrals.

They had the lights and sounds under the bridge.

A water stop was just on the other side of the bridge.

Mile 11 was towards the end of the path in the Boardwalk vicinity.

There was a medical tent at the end of the path.

We turned right on the other side of the medical tent. This is where the course differed from the 10k. We ran through the Boardwalk area this time.

There were spectators at the right turn in the Boardwalk.

Photographers were set up on the Boardwalk.

Many people were enjoying breakfast.

More photographers were set up by ESPN.

They must have been the ones to get this shot of me with the margarita stand in the background.

We found some more cosplayers before getting to EPCOT.

I stopped for one selfie.

I took some more as I ran by.

The course went slightly uphill towards the International Gateway.

The downhill was on the other side of the bridge.

Just before the International Gateway, we turned left.

Chewbacca was in this area.

We entered the backstage area next to Chewbacca.

Another water stop was in this backstage area.

We exited the backstage area in the United Kingdom section.

We turned right to run through the United Kingdom. This was the opposite of the 10k route.

The Canada cast members stood along the turn with their flag cheering us on.

There is an uphill section once leaving the United Kingdom.

The course goes back downhill into France.

I believe this picture was taken in the France section.

Mile 12 was in the Morocco area.

More PhotoPass photographers were in the area by Japan.

Cast members in Italy were also cheering us on holding thier flag.

I loved this view and the topiaries in Germany.

The trains were running in Germany.

I think there were bathroom in this area.

I believe this picture was taken in the Germany area.

We finally got to the 20k mark.

There were a host of people cheering us on in Norway. This is also the first place we encountered guests since Norway is open for a character breakfast.

We ran by Mexico.

Then turned right towards Spaceship Earth.

They were taking official photos with “the ball”.

There was a cast member outside Mouse Gear blowing bubbles and another being a great cheer section.

There was a guest crosswalk area on the other side of the fountain.

We ran to the right of Spaceship Earth and went backstage at the usual spot at its base.

They had some cosplayers in this area again. I stopped this time for a picture with a Wookie. I have to be honest, I don’t know how they stood the heat that long.

I got a selfie with these interesting characters.

We turned left to head out towards the parking lot.

This security guy was attmepting in his own way to encourage us to the end.

Mile 13 was just before we got to the main parking lot area.

There were stands in the turn and the normal photographers by the small split.

They got this nice picture of me with Spaceship Earth in the background.

Finally we got to the finish line flanked by Storm Troopers.

I got a good finish line picture this time.

I took a post-finish selfie.

Here’s a look at the finisher’s chute from the finish line area.

I got a good shot to show the enormity of the medical tent.

We got cooling towels along this part of the chute. After you turn left at the end of the first part of the chute, there are tables with water and Powerade.

After those tables, I veered to the right towards the challenge tent.

Inside, they checked me against my picture in the system with my bib number. I got my challenge medal and then my Kessel Run medal. I had my 10k medal in my pocket. I put that one on too since the picture spot was next. Here is my official medal picture.

After the picture was the snack boxes and bananas. Since my sister was waiting back in the room, I headed straight for the bus. I did manage to get a decent selfie with all 4 medals.

After it was available online, I downloaded my race certificate.

Overall, I really liked the change in the course. The cosplayers seemed to be in good areas this year with minimal clogging. The path between the Studios and the Boardwalk will always be a clog due to the narrow width. I think having it towards the end of the race did help a little. The stretch on the roads didn’t seem as long and boring this time. That might be from only having to do the road to/from Animal Kingdom once. I hope they keep the changes for next year. I will be back again.

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Star Wars Dark Side 2017 – Saturday

After the 10k, we headed back to our room at Port Orleans French Quarter. We showered and changed. Then we decided to head over to Disney Springs for a little bit. The boat is a nice, relaxing mode of transport and one of the unique things at the Port Orleans resorts. We made our way to the boat dock.

The boat was already being loaded when we got there. The captain let us join the passengers.

The ride to Disney Springs is very laid back. Soon we spotted the Boathouse.

I think this was my first time seeing Paddlefish without any construction.

As we were getting off the boat, we spotted some of the local wildlife.

We walked away from the boat and entered Disney Springs.

Kassady wanted to stop at one of the newest stores, The Dress Shop.

They have a lot of great stuff for Disney Bounding and Dapper Days.

We then wandered through the Disney shops which are full of Star Wars

… and Guardians of the Galaxy.

I finally went in to Amorette’s.

Everything looked amazing!

I loved being able to watch them making things.

I did not get anything even though I was tempted. Next I saw the Poutine shop. I got a picture of the menu since it wasn’t open yet.

Kassady wanted to stop in Uniqlo.

It does have some Disney themed things for a good price. It also has non-Disney items.

By this time, Kassady and I were both really hungry. We decided to visit Earl of Sandwich and use a Quick Service credit.

Kassady and I both opted for desserts instead of sides.

I ordered the Chicken, Bacon, Avacado wrap.

It was very good but I ended up not being able to eat all of it. The Chocolate Brownie Crème sandwich was pretty good as well.

I had to get a picture of my shirt for Shelly who made it.

Part of the reason we came to Disney Springs was to go to the Origins Event. I had been invited to attend as part of the Influenster program. I had received samples of some of their new products to try ahead of time. The products I did try I loved. Here are a few pictures of the event and the things going on.

Since Kassady had been a trooper waiting for me to attend the event, we went back to Starbucks and got the limited time drink to try.

It was okay, but not something I’d get again. Once we had our drink, we made our way to the buses. We decided to take the Contemporary bus and walk over to Magic Kingdom. We had to wait quite a while for the bus. However, it was the closest we could get to the Magic Kingdom. Once there, we found the walkway.

We encountered our first new security point on this walk. I will admit it was nice to have so few people going through the security. This was a look back after we had been screened.

The other security point was moved to right after the boat and bus exits. It made the lines to get in to the park much nicer. The railroad was running as we entered into the park.

Since the lines were so long, we decided to ride the Carousel of Progress.

We also had Fast Passes for Space Mountain

… and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We ended up in the very last seats in the Mine Train.

We also stopped to get our castle medal pictures.

They thought Kassady was my daughter and not my sister. So, they wanted this shot which turned out pretty good.

These two were my favorites.

We caught a band coming down the parade route when we were trying to cut over to Frontierland.

Another band was coming behind them so we cut through Adventureland.

Eventually we made it to Thunder Mountain. Luckily, we had FastPasses so we got to skip this long line.

Since we knew there would be no PhotoPass pictures from this one, we got a selfie on the ride before it started.

In case you were wondering, here was the stand by wait when we exited.

We had some time (and snack credits) so we made our way to Aloha Isle and got Dole Whips.

I prefer the regular soft serve to the float with pineapple juice. We then took our treats into the Tiki Room to enjoy.

I love having that option and I’ve never found a wait for the Tiki Room. Then it was time for our early dinner reservation at Skipper Canteen. I was excited since I hadn’t tried this place yet.

We waited inside in a nice little alcove area. I didn’t get a picture of it, though. Before long, we were being led to our table.

We were seated in one of the side rooms. I think it was the SEA room. The table setting was in a unique position.

We were handed a menu.

This was the view from our table.

They brought bread with honey to the table.

I got the Tastes Like Chicken

Kassady got the Noddle Bowl.

We were both happy with our choice. When we were done with our meal, they brought the dessert menu.

I got the Kungaloosh

Kassady got the Quick Sand

I love the nod to the old Adventurer’s Club from Pleasure Island. Our server did a great job with the corny jokes.

As we were leaving, I made a point to see the bookcase and the trigger to opening the secret door to our room.

At this point, we were ready to head back. However, when we got to the hub, the Move It, Shake It dance party was in progress.

So we stopped to enjoy that.

We grabbed a quick medal selfie beside the castle.

Then decided to head out.

I did get a nearly empty picture of the ground in front of the entrance on the way out.

We caught the bus back to French Quarter. Then I set out all my stuff for the half in the morning. My intent was not to wake Kassady when getting ready. I also made sure my bib was already fastened. Once that was complete, I got in bed and tried to sleep.


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