It might seem a little early to make all these arrangements but I'm on a budget here so I'm trying to do things as well out in advance as possible and pay for them well in advance so while I'm actually there, there is a minimum of surprises.
Orlando being what it is, the options were plentiful. I read somewhere that once you cross over to the Orlando area, there is an inverse relationship between time and money. That is, you have to spend one to save on the other. I couldn't agree more. While this is my first marathon, it is definitely not my first Disney visit so I know the ins and outs of Orlando pretty well. So, I weighed all my options and made some decisions.
The first one is probably the most difficult of all: I'm going solo. We just don't have the money to take the whole gang to the Magic Kingdom. I have been struggling with this for months, trying to figure out how we could all come but frankly, we are just too many! LOL I wanted them to be there so bad and I sure could use their support but the cost and also the logistics were gonna be a nightmare. As much as my wife wanted to go, she was also scared to death about being all alone in the parks or in the marathon with three small girls while I ran. She doesn't speak English and relies on me for everything while in the parks. While she was sad, she was kind of relieved too. In hindsight, it would be easy to think that I could have waited until we could all go to run this marathon in the future but no. I have set this goal and have to see it through. It's ironic that it's in a place where every single thing you do and every single place you go reminds you of your kids but if goals were not hard, achieving them wouldn't matter.
The second decision is gonna sound weird to some since I mentioned I was on a budget: I'm going all-Disney for this one. Disney hotel (value, All-Star Movies), dining plan, everything. Staying in a non-Disney hotel would have been cheaper per night but that's not the whole story. There is also food, transportation, tickets and the expo where I have to go to pick up my bib and stuff. If I stayed off Disney property I would have to arrange transportation (rental, taxi or whatever) to and from the airport plus I have to eat at some point. Again, outside the parks, food is cheaper but that would mean (again) transportation arrangements. The dining plan allows me to stay in the property with a set amount of meals I don't have to worry about. Food in the parks is very expensive and if you are a hearty eater (like me) the dining plan can save you some dough. Plus, it gives you the chance to try some of the specialty restaurants you might not try otherwise.
So essentially, I have booked this as a fire-and-forget type of vacation with everything done in advance in a kind of all-inclusive package. All I have to worry about is what to bring the girls as a bribe so they forgive me for not taking them with me. While I'm paying a bit more to stay with Disney, I'm saving some money and hassle with transportation and food. I'm also including some tickets. I'm planning to spend some time in Epcot and maybe Animal Kingdom on Friday and Saturday. When in Rome, right?
The only thing I have not figured out is the Race Retreat. Disney offers this VIP-type tent called the Race Retreat where (for a fee, of course) you get private port-a-potties, private bag check, climate control and food before and after the race. If I was gonna splurge on something, this would be it. Especially since this is my first Marathon. I have enough to worry about and this sure sounds convenient enough. I just need some assurance that it's worth it. Anybody had any experience with this?