If you missed any of my recaps from this weekend, catch them here:
When we last left off, I’d just finished the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon and earned my Rebel Challenge medal! After a quick shower and slipping into some Pro Compression recovery socks post-half, we decided to hit up Disneyland for our last full day in California – and MAN was it fun!
We’re not huge Disney fans, but when you walk through those gates and smack-dab into a parade of characters and marching band led by Mickey effing Mouse himself? You feel the love.
The plan was to make a beeline for Star Wars Launch Bay because that was where Chewy and Vader were – I wanted at least to get photos with them before we did anything else.
I didn’t know what to expect – remember, I’m a total Disney newbie, only been to WDW like twice in my entire life, and not in about 17 years – but when we walked into the Launch Bay, I went into total Star Wars overload.
It wasn’t just a place to hang out and take pics with the characters, it was like a little museum! I also didn’t realize that Boba Fett would be there and walked in on him leaving for a break. A cast member with a tiny Minnie Mouse voice informed me that “Mr. Fett has an important meeting so unfortunately he has no time for photographs now, but Lord Vader is on the ship now and accepting visitors. We have also received reports of a Wookiee being onboard, but if you find him, please report him to us immediately.” I die.
So we found the spot to wait for Vader before being invited into his inner chamber for a photo op. I put all of my medals on for the picture, but that may not have been the best idea.
Despite my best efforts to flatter our Dark Lord by complimenting his cape as I was introduced, I immediately had my personal space invaded and was accused of being “guilty by association”. I won’t lie – I really flinched, it was scary!
Mike stepped in when he sensed the danger and saved me in time for a group photo (that I still look terrified in, lol):
Once they took the picture I all but ran out of there, then discovered that Mike had some words with Vader after I left. He claims he was telling Vader that he was “on his side”, but the photos show a different story:
As soon as we left Vader’s area, I spotted the line for Chewy – FINALLY I was going to get my Chewy hug! I’ve waited forever. After the 15 minute line, I could barely contain my excitement, and by the time we were greeted by the Wookiee himself, I couldn’t help it – I burst into tears. Like full on, had to wipe them away tears. But to his credit, Chewy took one look at me and gathered me up in his arms for the BEST HUG EVER. I’ll never forget the feeling of him patting my back like I was some small child, like “There, there, tiny hairless Wookiee. It’s OK.”
No, really – if you zoom in you can see the tears in my eyes:
After my hug we got a group shot – when Mike came into the photo Chewy gave him a big hug too and that pic cracks me up just as much: look how happy I am that Mike got a hug too!
I was not ready to say goodbye, but we had to. The cutest part came when we turned to leave and Chewy reached out to play with my medals – he went right for the spinning BB-8 on the 10K medal and spun it. Mike tried to give him a high five but he didn’t quite get it, to which his handlers offered, “He’s new to earth, he’s working on it.” My heart. It bursts.
After that, I had to take a moment to collect myself, and realized just how hungry I was. Oh yeah, I had run 19.3 miles in the past 36 hours, maybe I should get something to eat! So off to the Galactic Grill we went, where I treated myself to a post-Rebel-Challenge victory lap of a Cheese-3PO Burger (I die), a Dark Side Lemonade (omg), and a Darth by Chocolate parfait for dessert (COME ON).
While we ate, the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show happened to start right behind us, so I wandered over and caught some of it just in time for you know who to show up:
My favorite part of that video is hearing the grown-ass man standing next to me shout “OH YEAH!!” when Kylo Ren comes out of the fog. Never gets old.
After the show I returned for my dessert – worth every Imperial calorie.
At that point we’d only touched a part of the park, so we made quick work of the lines at Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
It was fun seeing the original attractions that I’d only ever heard about before – and the lines weren’t TOO long so that was a nice bonus. Throughout the day I kept checking the lines for Hyperspace Mountain because that was the ONLY other ride I wanted to hit before we called it a day, and unfortunately my legs were starting to feel the effects of all the running and standing. Finally before we were about to call it a day, the line opened up again (it had been closed on and off all day) so we jumped on it and waited for nearly 2 hours.
Now, neither Mike nor I knew what to expect going into this ride. Mike especially. I knew it was a coaster, but forgot just how long it’s been since I felt speed like that. Needless to say, I screamed pretty much the whole time, between laughing and shouting out “It’s a TRAP!” when Ackbar does during the ride. By the time they took our photo on the final drop, there was virtually nothing left of us but shocked skeletons clinging to the handles of the coaster cart. No, for real:
After that, we called it a night at the park and hobbled our way to dinner at Catal in Downtown Disney for a final meal (and glass of wine).
We couldn’t have timed it better, either: the nightly park fireworks went off just as our meals arrived so we were able to watch them from the comfort of our table!
The walk back to the buses was a painful one – my legs had basically called it a weekend and decided to stop working, but we made it back to the hotel and crashed before leaving the next day.
Overall, it was an incredible weekend that lived up to all of my expectations and then some. I never thought things would go as well as they did. And I was so impressed with the whole experience that I got home and immediately upgraded my plans for the next race: instead of just doing the half in April, I decided to do the whole Dark Side Challenge instead, and earn another set of 3 medals for those races in addition to the Kessel Run medal for doing both Star Wars Halves in one year!
I can’t wait to tell you all about what happened next when I took on another 19.3 mile challenge for the Dark Side in Disney World! Stay tuned.