I’ve got a couple of emails from folks asking about how next Sunday’s Walt Disney World Marathon will affect crowds and touring the parks, so I thought it’d be a good subject for a quick blog post.
Here are a couple of facts and assumptions I’m making, based on last year’s event and my experience running the race:
- The race starts at 5:30 AM outside Epcot
- Because of the size of the field, the last group of runners will get started by 6:15 AM
- The slowest runners need to average around 3.75 MPH not to be disqualified and removed from the course
With that, it’s straightforward to map out where the runners should be at various points of the day. Here’s the course map showing when the last group of runners should be past the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
The Magic Kingdom is the first park visited on the WDW Marathon route. If the race pace goes according to plan, the last group of runners will be around mile 7, past the Magic Kingdom, by 8 AM. Crowd diversions should begin to be cleared around 8 AM, although traffic diversions will remain on World Drive until late afternoon.
The last of the runners should reach Disney’s Animal Kingdom by around 9:30 AM, and should be out by 10 AM. That’ll allow Disney to start clearing crowd diversions from inside the park, and traffic diversions from the west side of property. There’ll be runner traffic in Africa when the parks open, but the runners should be pretty spread out by then. You shouldn’t have any trouble walking around.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is at Mile 23 in the course, so the tail end of the runners pack should be arriving around 12:30 PM, near peak lunchtime at the Studios. They’ll be out of the park around 1 PM, and cleanup can begin.
Epcot, of course, is going to be busy all day. It hosts the start and end of the race. The last of the Marathon runners should reach Epcot no later than 1:15 PM, and it’s traditional for families to meet the runners at the race. Expect larger than normal crowds outside of Epcot all day.
Roads throughout property will be heavily diverted, especially around the parks. It’ll probably be faster to take Disney transportation from most resorts to the parks, rather than drive.
If you’re wondering what crowds will look like inside the parks during the race, there’s good news. We’re anticipating lower-than-average crowd during the marathon, with crowd levels around 3 on our 1-to-10 scale. For reference, here’s what the crowds looked like for last year’s Disney Marathon, held on January 12, 2104:
- Magic Kingdom: 4 out of 10
- Epcot: 3 out of 10
- Hollywood Studios: 2 out of 10
- Animal Kingdom: 4 out of 10
Finally, no blog post about running at Disney would be complete without mentioning the Mickey Miles Podcast, run (ha!) by my dear friends Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean. They’ll be running most of the events during marathon weekend, so say hello if you see them.