Why I Love Disney Part 1: runDisney Tips!

This is part 1 of a two part series! Check back next week for tips for runners going to Disney just for vacation, without a race!


Disney has been on my mind this week! I’ve been talking with Kate (we went to the Wine and Dine Half together in 2016! My post on that is HERE) and we’re thinking about making a trip back to Orlando for the Wine and Dine Half in 2019.

My favorite Disney experiences are always ones that involve my family, because again, Disney Family. But I do LOVE runDisney races. They’re a nice mixture of mostly-flat road running and fun park running (things you don’t notice until running: Animal Kingdom is up hill from the entrance to the Tree of Life) and the organization is top-notch. The medals are fun, the shirts are nice, and the expo is fantastic.

That said, there are a few ways to better enjoy both non-running and runDisney trips that I’ve picked up the past few years. I’m no expert; there are plenty of people who have been many more times than I have. But I did want to share a few fun things I’ve found (or others have shown me) about the Happiest Place on Earth!

First thing is first: Disney recently migrated the runDisney experience into the My Disney Experience account system. So now, everything will tie together with the My Disney Experience App! More info on this very welcome change can be found



2018 Virtual Running Shorts (Summer 2018)

  • June 29, 2018 – Registration for the Virtual Running Shorts Series ends
  • June 28, 2018 – July 5K & August 5K virtual races on sale

2019 Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna (Jan. 9-13, 2019)

  • July 17, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • July 19, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (Feb. 21-24, 2019)

  • Aug 2, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • Aug 7, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Star Wars™ Virtual Half Marathon (Jan. 3 – March 31, 2019)

  • August 23, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • August 28, 2018 – General on-sale date

2019 Star Wars™ Rival Run Weekend presented by OtterBox (April 4-7, 2019

  • August 23, 2018 – Pre-sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members and Golden Oak residents
  • August 28, 2018 – General on-sale date



  • Sign up for Sign up Notifications! runDisney will email you about signup dates if you register for the notifications here!
  • BUDGET. Disney is no cheap vacation. A full vacation for a family of four at a moderate resort costs almost as much as a used car. Save up! If you use Chase, look into their Disney DEBIT card. It's for your normal checking account but gets you points towards a Disney gift card that can be used in the parks. Consider a meal plan Disney offers--food can be expensive! The bottom line, is set your expectations. There are jokes about how expensive Disney is for a reason!
  • Stay on park. The buses make getting to the start and finish lines of races easier and you don't have to stress about parking! All Star Sports was a great option, as it was really in the spirit of race weekend. Highly recommend it.
  • Buy Photopass. It's not only your race photos, but also your park photos! They're always worth it. Photos are always my favorite souvenirs!
  •  Decide how to approach this race ahead of time. Are you running for time? Do you care about the character photos? My advice on this is this: you paid over double the price of any other half marathon to do this. Don't focus SO MUCH on character stops that you get swept by the bus and don't complete the race. While the characters along the course are secret and always vary, maybe decide you'll only stop if you see specific characters. You paid money and trained--make sure you can finish!
  • Arrive at the expo on day one. The best gear disappears quickly, due to eBayers scooping items up to sell at a markup. Disney doesn't seem to care much about people buying 50 pairs of Glass Slipper 2017 leggings to sell for $200/pair on eBay, so you're gonna have to arrive early and cross your fingers. If you arrive super early to stand in line, be patient and kind to those around you. Even the eBayers. I usually arrive first day but after the crush of opening. This goes back to budgeting, but make sure you only buy what you know you will wear/use. The items are Disney Priced. I got tipsy at the Princess Half expo in 2017 and spent $385. A kind cast member applied a Passholder discount and saved me about $100 because I was nice and chatty to her, but still.
  • Buy special edition items in advance. The princess races offer Half Marathon specific Dooney and Bourke, and if you pre-order, you can choose from several patterns upon arrival and have the comfort of knowing they aren't sold out. Some races do Dooney, some do other items. One of my favorite purses/wallets is my Princess Half wallet
  • TRAIN. Train train train. Because if you don't, you'll be miserably sore. Every ride will be painful and waiting in line for rides will be killer. And it's Disney so...there are lines for everything. It's part of it.
  • Have fun but be comfortable. And by this, I mean wear whatever festive gear or costume makes you happy! I personally am not a tutu girl, but I did wear a pair of Blackmilk mermaid leggings and purple-ish top for the Enchanted 10k! I also wore a black top, green shorts, and Toy Story Alien Socks for the Wine and Dine half. It's up to you! Wear what makes you feel comfortable and happy, and if costumes aren't your thing, don't feel pressured. I suggest Disney Bounding (photo below of mermaid leggings, purple tank, green shoes, red bow)) if you aren't super in to costumes but want to be festive!
  • Consider running for charity. American Cancer Society's Team DetermiNation has started being involved in Disney races, and I have LOVED running for smaller charity Sophie and Madigan's Playground. Running for a charity is truly rewarding. I wrote about it HERE and HERE!

So these are pretty general, but they're things I wish I'd known going into my first race. I was unprepared for the insanity of the expo, the sheer cost of things, the characters on course, etc.