Combine marathon magic with the Magic Kingdom and what do you get? runDisney, the on-road subsidiary of Walt Disney World Resort. Runners from around the world flock to the theme park in Orlando, Florida, often dressed as their favorite fictional character, to compete in one of dozens of races held each year.
“A runDisney race is anything but ordinary,” says the organization’s website. “Be part of adventures that could take you under the sea, through classic enchantment, and into a springtime of surprises.”
runDisney has grown significantly since the first Walt Disney World Marathon in January 1994. More than 5,000 runners participated in that inaugural race, less than half of the 11,335 runners who completed the 2022 marathon. Over the past three decades , runDisney added more races, such as 5K and 10K, to be more inclusive for runners of all ages and abilities. For ambitious runners, Disney has added challenges that encourage participation in multiple events throughout race weekends.
Whether you’re hosting an upcoming runDisney race or considering signing up for one, The runner’s world has you covered with everything you need to know about the enchanting racing series.
Upcoming runDisney Races
Half Marathon Wine & Dinner Weekend
- Disney Wine & Fine 5K — November 4, 2022
- Disney Wine & Dine 10K — November 5, 2022
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon — November 6, 2022
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
- Walt Disney World 5K — January 5, 2023
- Walt Disney World 10K — January 6, 2023
- Walt Disney World Half Marathon — January 7, 2023
- Walt Disney World Marathon — January 8, 2023
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
- Disney Princess 5K — February 23, 2023
- Disney Princess Enchanted 10K — February 24, 2023
- Disney Princess Half Marathon — February 25, 2023
- Disney Fairy Tale Challenge — February 26, 2023
RunDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend
- Everest 5K Expedition — April 14, 2023
- Race for Taste 10K — April 15, 2023
- The 10-Miler Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — April 16, 2023
RunDisney Registration and Fees
runDisney events are exceptionally popular – as of the date of this article’s publication, all runDisney races through April 2023 are sold out – so those looking to register should do so as soon as possible.
Although runDisney registration periods vary from year to year, the organization typically announces registration dates six to eight months before race day. For the next available race weekend – the Springtime Surprise April 13-16, 2023 – early bird registration opens August 16 this year and general registration opens August 23. Early bird registration is only available to Club runDisney Gold and Platinum members, who pay an annual membership fee for additional benefits (more info below).
To register, you must first create a Disney account. If you already have one, just log in with your existing credentials. Prices vary depending on the race, but, for example, the 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon cost $218.53 and $213.20, respectively. Shorter races that same weekend cost less, at $103.40 for 5K and $146.04 for 10K. Other runDisney events stick to similar price ranges, depending on run distance.
You do not need to purchase a Disney theme park ticket to participate, but your race registration does not include post-race park admission. If you want to do both, you will have to buy both.
You must also sign a liability waiver, which runDisney sends digitally a few weeks before race day. You can either log in online or wait until you arrive at Walt Disney World and attend the racing exhibit.
Accommodation and transportation
Disney currently has more than 25 resort hotels available to guests and runDisney participants. Disney provides complimentary transportation from any of its resort hotels to the start of the race. If you’re driving yourself from an offsite hotel, there’s plenty of parking near the race start, said 2022 Walt Disney World Marathon runner David Gramlich. The runner’s world.
Distribution of bibs and exhibition
To pick up race bibs, as well as race shirts and any pre-purchased merchandise, runDisney attendees should visit the Race Expo, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. If you have already signed the digital liability waiver, all you need to do is show a valid ID to pick up your bib. Expo times vary by weekend, but it usually opens the morning before the first race of the weekend and closes the day before the final race.
Race day logistics
Gramlich says Disney pays close attention to detail, and it shows on race day: “Everything was very well signposted, with lots of signage and stewardesses making sure you’re in the right place.” If he had any questions, the staff members were knowledgeable and helpful. Bag check-in was a few hundred yards from the start line and went smoothly. As you approach the start line, officials circle you based on your entry time.
Races start early to beat the Florida heat and ensure a smooth opening of the parks afterward. But even though it was dark at first, Gramlich said the energy was high: “They had music in the check-in area, lots of lights and everyone was super excited.”
There are plenty of water and food stops along all the routes – each well marked – and plenty of aid stations in case of an emergency. Each mile marker has a clock so you can track your pace.
Regardless of distance, each course explores at least one of Disney World’s four theme parks. The marathon touches all four.
Spectators are limited to a few areas as most races take place on Disney World access roads. But when the runners reach a spectator area, it’s exciting. Gramlich’s family cheered him on at the Magic Kingdom at Mile 10: “It was a surreal experience because you’re on so many access roads to Disney and meandering through parks – and there’s no lots of spectators so it’s pretty quiet but then when you get to [spectator zones]it’s a real burst of energy.
The courses are quite flat too. Other than a few exit ramps, Gramlich said “it’s nothing next to the variables you might see in other races in other parts of the country.”
Those looking to take advantage of every racing second at Disney World can take part in one of the weekend’s challenges that encompasses multiple races. Here are the challenges ahead:
- Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge
- Half Marathon and Full Marathon during the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend
- Dopey Challenge
- 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon during the Walt Disney Marathon weekend
- Disney Two-Ride Challenge
- 10K and Half Marathon during Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend
runDisney Medals and Awards
Each runDisney race has its own special medal, usually featuring a Disney character. For example, for the upcoming Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend, the Half Marathon Finisher Medals feature Joe, the jazz pianist from Soul.
The top three overall in each division receive additional rewards. Gramlich finished second overall, so he received a trophy as well as a set of Bluetooth headphones.
Gramlich enjoyed the whole experience very much, and not just because he ran well as an elite in the race: “I would definitely do it again. You have to embrace the Disney experience… If you’re a hardcore Boston Marathon runner used to the experience… you just have to understand that it’s kind of like a vacation.
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