Everything You Need to Know About runDisney Races

rundisney race overview

RunDisney races are popular events held throughout the year at Disney World. These events give you the opportunity to run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or full marathon through the Disney parks.

Here I'll discuss the different races, how to register, what you need to do when you arrive, crowds at the parks during race weekends, what to expect at the races, and more.

What is RunDisney?

rundisney finish line

RunDisney are a series of races held at the Disney parks throughout the year. At Disney World you will find 4 different race weekend events. Each race weekend is made up of multiple races. The race weekends include:

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
  • Star Wars Rival Run Weekend
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Each race weekend offers different races and themes (which I will go in to more detail about below).

These races are extremely popular, and they tend to book up quickly due to the unique courses, fun character interactions, and photo opportunities.

Transportation During runDisney

If you are heading to one of the runDisney events, you'll need to make sure you have transportation to and from the race, and also to the runDisney Expo. Disney does a great job of providing buses to get you too and from both.

Buses to the Expo at the ESPN center run from each Disney resort. Typically they will run the day before the first race through the weekend. Buses to the races will typically start running about 2 hours before race check in.

In my experience there will be multiple buses lined up the morning of the race at the resorts. The buses fill up and leave quickly in order to get everyone to the race on time.

How Are Crowds During RunDisney Weekends?

Because of the popularity of the runDisney races, you can expect registration to open and book up fairly quickly. This is especially true of the Princess run races. They can fill up quickly, and typically sell out.

With that in mind, it is important to note that crowds during race weekends will typically be higher. If you are planning on visiting the parks during race weekend, prepare yourself for high traffic on the roads in the morning, and longer wait times for rides at the parks.

The Epcot and Magic Kingdom Resorts may see disruptions in the mornings due to the courses.

runDisney Races

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

This race weekend is held in January, and offers a wide variety of race options. The race options include:

  • Walt Disney World 5k
  • Walt Disney World 10k
  • Walt Disney World Half Marathon
  • Walt Disney World Marathon

If you are looking to run multiple races, you can sign up for Challenge Packages. This will give you access to multiple races, individual race medals, and a special challenge medal. The packages include:

  • Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (this package includes both the half marathon and full marathon races)
  • Dopey Challenge (this package includes all 4 races)

If you have kids who are looking to participate, there are special races that are just for kids. The kids races on this weekend include: 

  • runDisney Kids Dashes (parents can participate)
    • Diaper Dash for crawlers ages 12 months and under
    • 100 meter dash for ages 1-4 years
    • 200 meter dash for ages 5-8
  • runDisney Kids One Mile Run

Princess Half Marathon Weekend

This race weekend is held in February, and offers a wide variety of race options. The race options include:

  • Disney Princess 5k
  • Disney Princess 10k
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon

If you are looking to run multiple races, you can sign up for Challenge Packages. This will give you access to multiple races, individual race medals, and a special challenge medal. The packages include:

  • Fairy Tale Challenge (this package includes both the half marathon and 10k races)

If you have kids who are looking to participate, there are special races that are just for kids. The kids races on this weekend include: 

  • runDisney Kids Dashes (parents can participate)
    • Diaper Dash for crawlers ages 12 months and under
    • 100 meter dash for ages 1-4 years
    • 200 meter dash for ages 5-8
  • runDisney Kids One Mile Run

    Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

    This race weekend is held in April, and offers a wide variety of race options. The race options include:

    • Star Wars Rival Run 5k
    • Star Wars Rival Run 10k
    • Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon

    If you are looking to run multiple races, you can sign up for Challenge Packages. This will give you access to multiple races, individual race medals, and a special challenge medal. The packages include:

    • Star Wars Rival Run Challenge (this package includes both the half marathon and 10k races)

    If you have kids who are looking to participate, there are special races that are just for kids. The kids races on this weekend include: 

    • runDisney Kids Dashes (parents can participate)
      • Diaper Dash for crawlers ages 12 months and under
      • 100 meter dash for ages 1-4 years
      • 200 meter dash for ages 5-8
    • runDisney Kids One Mile Run

    Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend

    This race weekend is held in November, and offers a wide variety of race options. The race options include:

    • Disney Wine and Dine 5k
    • Disney Wine and Dine 10k
    • Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

    If you are looking to run multiple races, you can sign up for Challenge Packages. This will give you access to multiple races, individual race medals, and a special challenge medal. The packages include:

    • Disney Two Course Challenge (this package includes both the half marathon and 10k races)

    If you have kids who are looking to participate, there are special races that are just for kids. The kids races on this weekend include: 

    • runDisney Kids Dashes (parents can participate)
      • Diaper Dash for crawlers ages 12 months and under
      • 100 meter dash for ages 1-4 years
      • 200 meter dash for ages 5-8
    • runDisney Kids One Mile Run

    This race offers an exclusive post race party. You can purchase entry to a party at Epcot after the park closes.

    How Do You Register for RunDisney Races?

    Registration for runDisney events opens up typically 8 months before the race. You can sign up for registration notifications at runDisney's website. You can register online, but several of the races fill up almost immediately. If you are interested in a race I suggest you be online and in the online queue at the time registration opens.

    If you are an annual passholder or DVC member you are eligible for priority registration. You'll be able to register for races before the general public.

    Starting in 2020, if you use a Disney travel agent, they can book runDisney packages for you, and you'll be able to register BEFORE registration opens. This is especially exciting for some of the more popular races that fill up immediately. The only requirement is that you pay the $200 package deposit plus the race registration fee at the time of booking.

    Get a free quote on a runDisney package here.

    Registering for a Sold Out runDisney Race

    If you have your heart set on a specific runDisney race, but that race sells out before you can secure your spot, don't worry! You can still participate if you register with a participating runDisney charity.

    To do this you will head to the runDisney website, select your race, and go to the option to register through a charity. You pick your charity and are asked to register through the charity.

    You will then be required to pay a registration fee and raise a certain amount of money in order to qualify. The fee and donation amounts depend on the race that you chose. See runDisney's website and the charity website for specific details.

    Preparing for Race Weekend

    When you register for a runDisney race, you'll receive a training schedule to help you get prepared for race weekend. But don't worry, you are not obligated to run the entirety of any of the races. Just know that you will need to keep a 16 minute mile pace on the course. For most people, that can be accomplished just by walking.

    The week before your race you will be emailed important race information. This will include a schedule for the race expo, start times and check in times for your race, and registration forms that you will need to have printed and ready to go for the race.

    At least one day before your race, you will need to head to the race expo at the ESPN center. This is where you will turn in your final registration paperwork and get your shirt and race bib (more on the expo below).

    The runDisney Expo

    ESPN runDisney expo

    The Expo for runDisney races is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (near the All Star Resorts). To get to the expo, Disney provides free buses from each Disney resort during race weekend. You'll want to check with your resort for a schedule of times.

    When you arrive at the Expo you will first want to complete your registration. Disney will email you final registration forms that you will need to print and sign. If you don't have a printer, there are print stations at the Expo that you can use, or you can head to the concierge desk at your resort to print your forms.

    You'll use the information on your form to locate your check in station. There will be signs everywhere directing you to the check in locations. There you'll turn in your forms and receive your race bib.

    After you get your bib you can head over to the Expo. The Expo is where you can pick up your race t-shirt. You can also shop for running gear. There be exclusive runDisney gear, including shirts, sweatshirts, cups, purses, pins, and more.

    rundisney expo

    If you are interested in the gear you might want to consider purchasing ahead of time through your runDisney account. Once you register for the race you have the option of purchasing race gear that you can then pick up at the expo. Many of the exclusive items sell out fast, so purchasing ahead of time guarantees you get the exclusive gear you want.

    You'll also find other vendors selling all sorts of running gear. Everything from running shoes and sports bras and leggings to tutus and costumes. If you forget any item that you think you might need for the run you will find it at the expo.

    Spectator Options at runDisney

    If you aren't interested in running, but want to cheer on your friends or family, you can purchase a ChEAR Squad package. Most packages include a fleece blanket, grandstand seating at the finish line, hot chocolate or coffee, and access to port-o-let bathrooms.

    You can definitely still cheer on your runners without purchasing a ChEAR Squad package. Spectators are often lined up on the race courses at spots like the Boardwalk, The Yacht and Beach Club, The Polynesian or Grand Floridian, or the parking lot of the parks. I would suggest checking the course map before you decide. Have a plan, and have a backup plan just in case. I would also suggest signing up for runner tracking (which you can do for runs 10k or longer) so you know where your runner is at. This can be done in your runDisney account.

    Even if you are cheering on your one specific runner, having signs and cheering for all runners as they run by is a huge boost! Being a spectator is a fun and important part of runDisney races.

    What to Expect at RunDisney Races

    I have run several different races, and runDisney races are by far the most unique. Everyone can participate in these races. You'll find serious runners starting out the race in the first corrals, and people who prefer walking the race in the later corrals. All are welcome!

    The courses for the runDisney races will vary based on which race you are running, and on which race weekend. You will find that the races are run through at least one of the theme parks, typically starting and ending in a parks parking lot.

    Park tickets are not required to run in a race, but you will not start or finish inside any of the parks. So if you plan on visiting a park after a race, you will most likely want to take a bus back to your resort and then head to the park from there.

    You will be emailed the week before your race with information on when you must check in to your race. Typically you must be checked in at least 1 hour before your race starts. Keep in mind that you will need to go through security before you can enter the race area.

    When you register for your race, you are asked for your approximate pace (or mile per minute). This will help determine which corral you will be placed in. Runners who have a faster mile per minute time will be placed in earlier corrals, and guests who plan on walking most of the race will be placed in corrals near the back of the race. Keep in mind you may be asked to provide documentation on your pace to get in to the first corral. This can be done by submitting your time from a previous qualifier race that is USATF certified. See runDisney's website for more information.

    You will be asked to arrive at least an hour before the race starts. When you arrive there will be live music, food for purchase, booths to purchase last minute gear, port-o-lets, and more. 

    You'll find your corral printed on your bib, and that is where you'll head to start the race. Each corral will be split in to smaller waves, and each wave will have their own start (complete with fireworks) every couple of minutes. This will space out the runners for safety.

    rundisney starting line

    You will be required to wear the bib for the entire race. Your bib will also be used to capture photos of you as you run. Photopass photographers will be on site to take photos of your running, posing with any characters, and crossing the finish line.

    One of the special things about runDisney races is that you get a chance to take photos with characters that you would never find around the parks. These meet and greets are much faster than any other character meet, and you are in no way required to stop if pace is your priority. Characters wont be announced ahead of time, but you can see them as your run the course. Wait time for characters are typically 1-10 minutes.

    runDisney characters

    A good portion of your run will probably be outside of the parks, but during any of the runDisney events you will run through at least one of the parks. Photopass photographers will capture your photos while you are in the parks. These photos can be linked to your My Disney Experience account by using your bib number. Instructions will be printed on the back of your bib, and can also be found on the runDisney website.

    You can purchase individual photos from the race, or you can link your account to your Memory Maker package to get all of the photos included.

    rundisney photos

    When you cross the finish line of the race, you'll be handed your race medal. The medals are different for each race. If you signed up for one of the challenges that include multiple races you will find booths where you can pick up your additional finisher medal.

    rundisney medals

    After the race is over you'll be given complimentary water bottles, sport drinks, bananas, and a snack box. There will be live music and photo opportunities as well. It's a time to celebrate your big accomplishment!

    rundisney photos

    runDisney FAQ

    Can I wear a costume?

    Yes! Costumes are a big part of runDisney events. Feel free to dress up and have fun. You'll find several fun costume accessories at the Expo.

    Can I discard clothing on the run?

    Yes. Because the runs start very early in the morning, the weather is often unpredictable. If you have to discard clothing on the course you can, but please do it safely. Move off the track and discard any clothing to the side so that no other runners trip.

    Can I wear headphones?

    Yes. You are allowed to wear headphones, but it is discouraged. Not only will you miss the fun music and entertainment, but you could also miss important safety announcements. Since much of the runs are done on the street there will be warnings about things like sharp turns or speed bumps that could be hazardous.

    Is water available?

    Yes. Volunteers will be set up throughout the runs at water stations. They will hand you cups of water as you run. Be sure to stay hydrated! And don't forget to toss your cup in the garbage cans placed after the water stations.

    Are bathrooms available?

    Yes. There are bathrooms available before the run, and also there are stops along the run where you use the restroom.

    Will the event be cancelled if it rains?

    No. The events are held rain or shine. The exception would be if the event coordinators feel the weather would cause a danger to the runners (lightning for example). Runs may be cancelled, but most likely would be postponed until the weather clears.

    Is childcare available during the race?

    No. There is not childcare available at the races. However, you can use Disney's in-room babysitting service, Kids Nite Out. I have used them and highly recommend them. Just note that they will charge extra for the early race times. You can read a full review of the in room babysitting service here.

    Ready to Book Your runDisney Trip?

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    Still Confused or Need Help?

    I am happy to help! Contact me.

    See you at the parks,
    -Julie

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