Let me start by saying, I am a Disney fan. Let me also say, I’m not sure I’m a fan of Disney runs. At least, not the half marathon. I don’t have a ton of complaints about organization – funneling 22,000+ runners to a start line is no easy feat. However, I will say – as a person who actually likes to run – this is not a race to do.
I want to qualify my critique by saying this is a great race for rabid Disney fans. A fair amount of characters line the course for you to stop and have a photo with (if, of course, you are willing to wait in line). I applaud Disney for holding the races and encouraging so many first-timers to get out and run.
First, the negatives:
- Long Bus Ride: The race begins (gun goes off) at 5:30 am – meaning you have to be on the bus at 4am or you are SOL. We got on the bus at 3:45 and arrived at the deposit area at 5:10 am. Traffic was unbelievably horrible — coming home (basically from the same locale as the deposit area) took less than 10 minutes.
- Long Walk to the Corrals: A long, crowded walk to the corral/start line occurs after the bus drops you off. I’m not kidding, it is really long. I was supposed to leave in the first corral (which probably would have made the whole experience better), but did not get to the corrals until 5:45 – so had to depart in corral C at 5:50-something. I did not dilly dally to get there…it took at least 30 minutes to walk along with 22,000 of your best friends after you get off the bus to the start area.
- Walkers: Not everyone can run the whole way. Totally get that – but as a result, you had lots of folk following a run/walk protocol. You’d be running along at a nice pace and then you hear “WALK” and a wall of folk in front of you comes to a near standstill. If you manage to stay on your feet, so do you.
- New Runners: I welcome new runners into a race. Love to see it. Hate to see poor etiquette. Cutting, pushing, poor lane changing (which implies there were lanes) – it wears on you over time.
- Not Enough Park Time: Only a short stint in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. A lot of time was spent running through parking lots or side roads (or along the grass beside the side roads).
- Pricey: It cost $140 to register. The medal is cool and so is the shirt – the experience was mediocre. I think I’d rather save that to pay for another day’s park entrance. That cost does not include entry into the parks.
- Port-o-Potties a Plenty: I did not feel deprived a potty before, after or during the race. Runners, you know this is a major plus.
- I Get to Say “I ran Disney:” All the “cast members” (aka Disney employees) are incredibly supportive. A clerk at the resort gift shop even collected runners’ autographs. It’s just fun to be part of the club.
- Inspiring: To see people who ran the half, full or the Goofy (both races – one on Saturday and one on Sunday) walking around the parks with their medals and shirts – just plain fun. I also love the wide varieties of bodies, ages and capabilities that run – frankly, this is what running should be about. My husband and I were so inspired, we thought very seriously about running the Goofy in 2013…then we saw the $310/person registration fee and thought again.
Deep down, I am very glad I ran the race or else I would have always been curious. I am not ruling out a Goofy or a Disney marathon in the future. By time the race got going and I realized it was just a fun workout – I got into it. I admit – I felt a little giddy when we ran under the sign announcing we entered the “Magic Kingdom.” I even stopped for a shot or two with characters along the route. It is fun to run your best, but there is also something to be said for just running for fun.
It was also a great excuse for a fun family vacation. You can’t beat that.