I thought that, since there is a runDisney event coming up this weekend, this would be a great week to talk about Disney’s race weekends.
This year, Disney is hosting a grand total of seven running event weekends at its parks – the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, the Expedition Everest Challenge, Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, and the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. All of these events have sold out, with the exception of Tower of Terror and Wine & Dine. At time of posting, Tower of Terror is 50% full, and registration for Wine & Dine has not yet opened.
In the last several years, Disney races have really increased in popularity. I registered for the 2013 Princess Half Marathon in October 2012, and registration had been open for a couple months. I recall the race being about 70% full when I finally committed. For 2014, this race sold out in a matter of hours. When registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon in late August opened a few weeks ago, it sold out in less than 12 hours.
Within the last year, runDisney has added a 10K to almost all of their event weekends, combining them with the 5K and half marathons already in place to form some sort of challenge. For the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, it’s the Dopey Challenge – that’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon run in four consecutive days for a total of 48.6 miles. Last year, the worst you could do was be “Goofy” and run the half and the full marathons back to back for a total of 39.3 miles. The Princess Race weekend has now added the Glass Slipper Challenge, where you run a 10K and the half marathon within two days. The Disneyland Half Marathon weekend added a 10K last year, adding the Dumbo Double Dare if you finish both races. The addition of the 10K races and challenges seems to have amped up the race weekends’ popularity by leaps and bounds.
If you want to runDisney, you have to plan ahead. Way ahead. If you visit the runDisney website, each race has an e-mail signup where you enter your e-mail address and receive a reminder in your inbox with the date and time registration will open for that particular race. You need to be at the computer the moment registration opens if you want to guarantee a spot.
However, if you forgot or didn’t get to the computer fast enough on registration day, there is still another way to participate in runDisney events. If you click into the event you’re interested in and choose the “Registration” tab, there is a subcategory that says “Charity Groups.” Here, you will see a list of charitable organizations that have reserved bibs for the race. Each has its own set of requirements for how you can run as part of their team. Usually, it’s a dollar amount that you commit to raise in funds for that charity in exchange for a spot in the race. The upside is that you are guaranteed a bib even if the race sells out. Most of these teams will also have special room discounts for the event weekend as well. Some will even pay for your room if you raise enough money for their cause.
I love runDisney events. As compared with other races, they are much more light-hearted. There will be some serious competitors, but most of the runners you’ll see on the course are mostly there to have a good time. I love the excuse to wear a fun Disney costume, and running through Cinderella’s castle cannot be beat. There are characters stationed along the route, so if you’re not aiming for a certain finish time, you can stop and take pictures. There is music and laughter. The spectators are having as much fun as the racers. It’s just wonderful.
I also love there are so many events to choose from – kids’ races, 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, marathons…there is really something for every kind of runner (or walker! as long as you stay ahead of the balloon ladies) out there.
If you have cheerleaders traveling to the race with you, I highly recommend the ChEAR squad packages. I brought a friend with me to the race last year, and I bought her the Gold ChEAR squad package. She got a t-shirt, blanket, Mickey clappers, reserved seating, private restroom access, and drinks. I figured it was the least I could do, since she was venturing out at 3:30am with me. 🙂
My biggest tips for future Disney runners?
1. Train, but don’t take yourself too seriously. It is Disney.
2. Wear a costume. (Definitely makes it hard to take yourself too seriously.)
3. Stay on property. Traffic on race days is super crazy. It is so nice to get on the bus from your resort and not have road rage by the time you arrive at the start line.
Need a room for your upcoming event? You know who to talk to. 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org