Planning a runDisney Vacation

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on February 27, 2014 at 3:00 am with 25 Comments

The runDisney announcement of yet another awesome race event earlier this week just solidifies the trend of runners’ vacations at the Disney Parks.  With eight weekends now spanning the year on both coasts, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in a runDisney event.

Pick A Weekend

If you’re planning to run on the left coast, make note of the newest member of the family, Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend in November in addition to the well-established Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in August and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend in January.  Walt Disney World (currently) has a slight edge with five race weekends to Disneyland’s three hosting the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February, the Expedition Everest Challenge in May, Tower of Terror Ten Miler Weekend in October, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November and, of course, the popular Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January.

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Get Park Wise: Each weekend has its perks, but Walt Disney World’s Tower of Terror Ten-Miler weekend will coincide with Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, as well as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties (and Halloween Horror Nights if you swing that way), while Wine and Dine Half Weekend will also feature Food and Wine and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties and the holidayfied parks and resorts.  These extra events may help you get a little more bang for your buck.

Choose Your Event

Each weekend features events for every level of runner from novice (hello, ME!) to, well, Dopey and Goofy runners.  If you’re just dipping your toe into the running world consider signing up for a 5K.  You still feel very much a part of the runDisney crowd and can get a taste of running life.  For those a little further along in their training but not quite ready for the big guns, half of the weekends offer a 10K, too.  Of course, those well-trained runners will want to register for the title runs.  And you crazy hardcore athletes can even pick up an extra medal at some of the events by completing multiple races during the weekend.

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Get Park Wise: A fun bonus of race weekend is all the swag surrounding the events.  Your registration fee typically includes your bib and t-shirt as far as tangible souvenirs, but, in typical Disney fashion, other goodies are available for purchase both during the weekend and during the registration process.  Digital swag is also given to registered participants and may include discounts, coupons, etc.

Get Everyone Involved

Disney is more fun with a partner in crime (or two) or with the family in tow, and runDisney events are no different!  Grab your best friend, create a Disney playlist (Let It Go seems to be runDisney fans’ latest anthem) and start training!  Many of the 5Ks are family oriented, as well, and are fun for runners of all ages.  If your little one isn’t quite up to 3 miles (or you’re not up to a piggy back ride for the last two miles of the run), each event offers up a set of kids’ races, too.  Littles from crawlers to eight year olds can earn their own medal just like mom and dad!

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Start Training

Whether you’re brand new to running or are a seasoned vet, it’s a good idea to get a few runs under your belt with your runDisney race in mind, especially if you’re headed to Florida.  Running in that ridiculous humidity can be quite different than a run around your local track on a nice evening.  Luckily most events take place during cooler months, but it’s always good to be prepared.

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While I’ve heard of runners breezing through a 5K with no training at all, for me it was part of the fun.  My first 5K gave me motivation to hit the pavement when I was perfectly comfy on the couch scrolling through Facebook.  It was probably also the fear of fainting from the mixture of jogging and 900% humidity on a Florida day.  Either way, a couple months of practice prior to the run did nothing but good.

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Planning Your Vacation

Let’s not forget you’re headed to the Disney Parks!!  Before and after the event, there’s theme park fun to be had!  Disney offers participants special room and ticket rates, so peruse the runDisney site (or, ahem, contact your favorite travel agent!) to take advantage of special offers for event runners.  When planning your days, I definitely advise situating the race at the beginning of your vacation.  I don’t know about you, but after a week of walking the parks, I don’t think I’d be raring to run.  It’s also a pretty good idea not to plan your favorite all-you-can-shove-down-your-gullet buffet the night before the race.  Save it for the following night to avoid spilling your protein all over your new best run buddies.

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Get Park Wise: Be sure to build in some time to explore the expo when you pick up your packet or on race day.  Lots of fun vendors and usually a few freebies to be had.  This is also the spot to snag a fun pair of runDisney New Balance kicks.

Other than those few differences, a runDisney vacation is pretty similar to any other trip to the parks.  Oh, except you get to look fantastic sporting that medal down Main St. USA.

Have you done a runDisney vacation?  What are your best tips?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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25 Comments

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  1. Thank you Jessica!

    I’m really curious about these runDisney events, but somewhat out of shape and without much time to train.

    Can someone recommend the perfect Disney race for me? Which one would be the most fun for someone who really can’t spend more than a couple of hours a week training?

    • Dusty-

      I ran a 1/2 marathon on hills (tougher than flat Disney races). i used the the runDisney Jeff Galloway training on their site- essentially 2 30 min runs a week for maintenance training and one run on saturday for distance.

      5k you could do with minimal training as its 3.1 miles

    • I agree, you could do a 5k with minimal training.I’d also recommend looking up “Couch to 5k” as it’s a 3 times a week, 9 week training guide that is about 30 minutes per training session. There is an app for that, not surprisingly!

      And yes, Jeff Galloway’s walk-run training worked for my first 5k… I went from hating running, to doing every 5k race I could find in So Cal a few years ago! But this training schedule takes about 15 weeks I think? And it requires you to do something Sunday through Friday. Saturday is your off day, but this training regiment actually causes you to change your lifestyle as well! I actually cut back on a lot of TV because of running for half an hour a day.

      You can doooo iiiit! The Disney Races are totally worth the extra money you spend on a race. They are well organized, lots to see during the run, and you get to run through the parks! There have been a few hiccups in some of the races I’ve done, but nothing that would stop me from doing them again. Just a few rude people working that don’t seem to be CM’s, but contracted workers just for the event.

    • Any of the 5Ks would be great!! Training for my first one had me jogging about three or four times a week (more if I could squeeze it in between school, work, kids’ activities, etc.), so it wasn’t a huge time commitment. Many have mentioned the apps, and we used Ease Into 5K, but all the apps are fairly similar. Definitely a fun thing to add cross off your Disney list.

  2. I started running 5 years ago to train for the Disneyland 5K. The race was so much fun, and of course the training, that I got hooked on running. I have since run 4 Disneyland Half Marathons (registered for #5 this year), the Walt Disney World Marathon and several non-Disney runs. I can’t wait for the Avengers Half Marathon and am planning on running the Goofy Race and a Half in 2015.

    The runDisney races are very well planned and a lot of fun.

    Dusty, I’d recommend starting out with a 5K. If you follow the Couch to 5K training plan, they get get to running a 5K in 8 weeks with only 3 runs a week. It starts out with run/walk intervals and gets you up to running the full 5K.

    Happy running!!!

    • Thanks for chiming in this week! I signed up for my first runDisney 5K just as a personal challenge, but now I can’t wait to do more!

  3. I now have three Coast To Coast medals as of January. I love Disney races.

  4. I got serious about running because I wanted to run through Disneyland, and I just ran my first half-marathon at the Tinker Bell race. FYI, in 2015, the Tinker Bell weekend is moving to May, for Mother’s Day.
    Dusty, there are tons of Couch-to-5K training programs that you can easily find online. Use Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method, and you’ll be trained easily and in a short time. I’ve heard that the 5K races in CA are the best because they are completely contained in the parks.

    • That would be a really fun mom’s day experience!

  5. I’ve always wanted to be part of this Run Disney culture. But I am so out of shape and fat it’s not even funny. I feel like the Run Disney people are so fun and lively and I want to be like them and to do these events. But I am such a slug and am about 70 pounds overweight at the moment. I lost ten pounds by cutting out all pop and drinking only tea or water but I can’t seem to lose anymore. I feel hopeless and hate myself some days because I am not being a good mom to my boys and not setting a good example. I always hear about the Run Disney and think about becoming someone who does that, but then I never get further than the thinking about it part. Has anyone else out there ever been like me but turned it around somehow? I want to become a Run Disney success story but I don’t know how.

    • The best way to start is a little at a time. I never thought I would do a 1/2 marathon but I have done it. Start by going for a 10 minute walk and then gradually build from there. Some people think they need to start out as king of the mountain. It takes months to train for races especially if you are not currently in shape. Don’t get discouraged and get the boys to join you. I do ride out for a lot of running races in Sacramento and I have talked many people to the finish line. My best story happened last year during a 5k. We had a 92 year old woman walking the race. We kept encouraging her but in the end we were going to offer her a shorter way to the finish since we were not sure she would make it. She was determined to do the whole course and she did. One of my helpers made them keep up the finish line for her and I was so proud of her I gave her a big hug. There is a commercial out now with a guy doing a race and them leaving the finish line up for him. It reminds me of that day and that determined little old lady. Your brain is the thing that will usually stand in your way more than your body. Just don’t talk yourself out of doing it. I wish you the best of luck.

    • Don’t let weight be a deterent. When I started running I weighed 270 lbs. Through running I lost 100 lbs. It is a great weight loss tool. The best way to start is to follow either the Couch to 5K or one of Jeff Galloway’s plans. It combines running and walking. The plan I followed started off running 1 minute and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes. After 8-9 weeks, I was running the whole 5K and haven’t looked back.

      Congrats on the 10 pound loss by the way. Keep it up.

    • The “trick” is just to start. Thinking and talking and wishing about it isn’t going to work. Instead of beating yourself up, beat the pavement! I don’t know if you’ve seen me in some of my pictures in past articles, but I’m a chunky gal. Size is not a limitation here. Get out there, girl!

      • I wish I was more like you Jessica. You have such a great attitude towards like. I need to start doing things more “Jessica Ma’ilo Style” and start thinking “What Would Jessica Do?”. I’m going to try harder, I promise.

  6. Im excited for this fall. I am running in the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon, which will be my 1st running event. Then hoping to do the Wine and Dine, stay in WDW for the week, then fly directly to Disneyland, as the Avengers 1/2 is the following week.

    • Good luck on your ambitious shcedule.

    • November will be awesome! Have a blast!

  7. If you pick up the registration packet on the day of the event, what time do the races start ? My kids are DYING yo buy the disney shoes, but it would seem like we would need to buy the shoes first thing in the morning. They would be so disappointed if we went later in the days, and there weren’t any left in their size. Seems like it could be a very long, but fun day,!!

    Does anyone know how the scheduling, expo times, and runs are set up time-wise? I could spend the whole day shopping :)

    Thanks !

    • Oregonmom2-

      The races are really early in the morning (5:30am). You need to hit the expo the day before the race. I haven’t been to a race this year, but last year a lot of shoe sizes sold out on the first day. I heard they are doing it different this year to give everyone more of a chance to get them.

    • If you want detail scheduling information, go to rundisney.com. They have the schedules on the site. You can also look at one of the past races and view the Race Program for a sample of what goes on at the expo.

    • The expo runs for several days. I am looking at the program from the WDW marathon weekend. The kids race happens during the expo. If you are doing the family 5k that race is done early morning so it is ahead of when the expo opens. The longer races are also in the early morning so there is no day of the race packet pick up for those races. I would go earlier in the expo to get the shoes since they are very popular and the size availability would get more limited as the expo goes farther along. I hope this helps.

    • The expo is usually open the day prior to the events, as well. That may be a good time to grab a pair of shoes. I was able to get a pair last year after the 5K, though. The shoes are getting more popular, though, so I’m sure they’ll be in high demand this year, especially with all the new designs.

  8. Thank you Jessica for another great article and photos ! yay !
    Park wise is one of my favorite columns at Mice Chat and always makes me smile.
    Your sunny personality really shines through in you writing.
    You have inspired me to go for a Disney run…or at least start training…so I’ll be ready for it when it coincides with a family vacation.
    I keep hearing Mickey Rooney’s voice sing “Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door”

    • Thanks so much for reading!! I truly appreciate your kind words. You will not regret getting in on the runDisney action, I promise. Happy training!