Dates: January 6-10, 2016
While there are many running events at Disney World, the big dance, the show, the main event is the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. With more races, more distance, and more participants than any other runDisney weekend, the Marathon is a runner’s paradise.
Walt Disney World Marathon
The centerpiece of Marathon weekend is the marathon, which hopefully comes as no surprise. As the only full marathon run on Walt Disney World property, this event brings out the serious runners but maintains a loose, fun, low pressure atmosphere that invites many amateurs and first-timers as well.
The course starts and finishes in Epcot. In between it winds its 26.2 miles through the Magic Kingdom, all the way down into the Animal Kingdom, on a quick tour of ESPN Wide World of Sports, and finally, a trip through Hollywood Studios.
The entire race is punctuated by favorite Disney characters along the course, including some rarely ones. There is also on-course entertainment and there are always plenty of spectators who serve as excellent motivators. Since the start time is 5:30 am on a Sunday, you also get the opportunity to see all the theme parks at times when guests are not allowed in.
Like most runDisney events, the price of registration is tiered based on the date you register. For the January 2016 race it cost $175 if you register by May 19, 2015, $190 between May 20 and June 9, 2015, and $205 on or after June 10, 2015.
For the price of that registration you not only get the privilege of running for several hours, but you also get a Champion long-sleeved tech shirt, commemorative finisher medal, access to a Family Reunion area with live entertainment and characters, and entry to the Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney (see below).
If you have ever wanted to see all four parks in one day but you feel like motorized transport is too restrictive, the Walt Disney World Marathon is the race for you.
Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Is 26.2 miles just a little out of your comfortable range? What if we told you that you could get many of the same benefits in an easy to carry half-size? Great! It sounds like you and the Walt Disney World Half Marathon are perfect for each other.
If our math is correct, the half marathon is a 13.1 mile event that leads you through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot at the invigorating hour of 5:30 am on the Saturday of Marathon Weekend. As with the full marathon, the course is sprinkled with Disney characters and entertainment.
For the 2015 Half Marathon it will cost you $175 if you register by May 19, 2015, $190 between May 20 and June 9, 2015, and $205 on or after June 10, 2015. Note that the Half Marathon is half the distance, but all of the price of the full marathon.
For the price of that registration you get a Champion long-sleeved tech shirt, commemorative finisher medal, access to a Family Reunion area with live entertainment and characters, and entry to the Cool Down Party at Downtown Disney (see below).
Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge
We know what you’re thinking, that marathon sounds like a blast but it’s just not enough running for one weekend. Don’t worry, runDisney has you covered with the aptly named Goofy Challenge. To be considered truly Goofy you need to register for the Challenge then simply run both the Half Marathon and Full Marathon in the same weekend. Easy peasy.
If you can successfully complete all 39.3 miles you will receive the two finisher medals for the separate races as well as a special Goofy Challenge medal. Similarly, you also get three Champion tech shirts as well as the other add-ons listed above for the separate events.
Registration for the Goofy Challenge is separate than the registration for the Full and Half Marathons and runs a little more than the price of the two combined. For the 2016 Challenge it costs $360 if you register by May 19, 2015, $380 between May 20 and June 9, 2015, and $400 on or after June 10, 2015.
Walt Disney World 10k
For the shorter distance runners, Disney has you covered too. At 5:30 am on Friday of Marathon Weekend is the Walt Disney World 10k, a 6.2 mile race that snakes around Epcot and the Epcot Resort area. Like the other races, Disney characters and other entertainment are found all along the 10k course.
The prices and registration deadlines were as follows for 2015: $110 if you register by May 19, 2015, $125 between May 20 and June 9, 2015, and $140 on or after June 10, 2015.
Disney Family Fun Run 5k
If you are eager to participate, but feel like the 10k is still a little too far, the Disney Family Fun Run 5k might be just your thing. With a course through Epcot highlighted by Disney characters, this 3.1 mile jog is run in the wee hours of the Thursday of Marathon Weekend.
For the 2015 5k it cost $65 if you registered on or prior to June 9, 2015, and $75 after that. For that price you also get a t-shirt and a special finisher medallion.
So let us get this straight…you read the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge above and thought that sounded too easy!? Okay, well it seems like you are ready for a dopey challenge…or more to the point the Dopey Challenge.
Holy cow, this is a lot of running: to finish the Dopey Challenge, runners need to finish ALL FOUR OF THE ABOVE RACES! That’s right, participants run a 5k on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and finish with what is surely a pleasant full marathon on Sunday. Finishing that whopping 48.6 miles in a long weekend not only garners you respect (and probably some testing for mental illness), but an equally whopping six medals! One each for the four races, plus the Goofy medal and a special Dopey medal.
In addition to garnering so much neck metal that Mr. T would recommend scaling back, Dopey runners also get 6 shirts and all of the added benefits listed for the individual events above. As you may imagine, the registration cost for the Dopey Challenge is a little on the steep end.
To participate in the Dopey challenge in 2016 it cost $550 if you registered by May 19, 2015, $580 between May 20 and June 9, 2015, and $610 on or after June 10, 2015. For that price you also got a Champion long-sleeved tech shirt and a special finisher medal.
Good luck Dopey!
Castaway Cay Challenge
As part of Disney's apparent desire to make people literally run around the world, runDisney has added the Castaway Cay Challenge. This particular race not only challenges the body, but also the bank account as it is part of a Disney Cruise Line 4-night Bahamian cruise.
Willing participants board the Disney Dream cruise liner in Port Canaveral, Florida on January 11, 2016, just after Marathon weekend ends. While on that cruise you'll sail to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay to compete in the 5k run.
In addition to the price of the cruise, the 5k itself has an entry fee of $70 that will get you a T-shirt, finisher medallion, and "surprise Disney magical moments."
Runner’s World Challenge
For those that are new to running or those just looking to get a few legs up, runDisney has partnered with Runners World for the Runner’s World Challenge. This special program combines the event of your choice with specially designed training programs and helpful guides.
This special service does not come without cost. In 2016 the Runners World extras are only available for the Dopey Challenge, for which the entire package costs $1,100 per entrant. For that not-insubstantial price you receive quite a few bonuses including race entry along with preferred coral placement. There are also several ways Runners World helps you train for your race including a 16 or 20-week training plan, weekly emails from the surely Presidential appointed Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, access to a private website for tips on training and injury prevention, and a copy of The Runner’s World Complete Book of Running.
But wait, there’s more! You also get a Runner’s World tech shirt, a private packet pick-up location at the Expo (see below), a pre-race course strategy session, entry into the Pasta in the Park event (see below), and entry into the Race Retreat (see below).
runDisney Kids Races
Clearly the only downside to running one or more races at Walt Disney World is the inevitable questions from your kids about why they are stuck going on rides while you’re having all the fun. Luckily Disney has that covered too with a multitude of Kids Races for all those 13 and under.
Any child under 14 can participate in the 1 mile Mickey Mile run, but there are also shorter distances available for the younger ones. 7 and 8 year olds can compete in a 400m dash, there is a 200m dash for the 4-6 year olds, and a 100m for 1-3 year olds. If you have a crawler, the Diaper Dash is there for them too.
All participants receive a t-shirt and finisher medallion in return for the registration fee. In 2016 the Mickey Mile cost $30 per child and $15 for the other races if you registered by June 9, 2015 and $35 and $20 respectively after that.
Disney’s Health and Fitness Expo
Held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex the entire Marathon weekend, the Expo is very important for one particular reason. It is where runners pick up their race packets, which MUST BE PICKED UP before participants are allowed to run.
Other than that, the Expo is also a great place to buy Marathon merchandise or browse the latest in fitness gear and technology. There are also frequent speakers and presentations about running for any in attendance.
Pasta in the Park Party
The Pasta in the Park Party is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A buffet dinner held nightly in Epcot during Marathon weekend that includes a special viewing area for Epcot’s nighttime spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. In addition to the food and fireworks, there are also Disney characters present as well as a live DJ.
The price for the 2016 Pasta in the Park Party was $54 for adults and $30 for children.
The aptly named Breakfast event is, well, breakfast held in Epcot following the running of the 5k and 10k races. It costs $40 for adults and $30 for children.
The Race Retreat is designed to add a little more comfort before and after your big event. Available for the Half and full Marathons, the Retreat costs $120 for either or $225 for the Goofy or Dopey Challenge.
Prior to the event you have access to bagels, fruit, coffee, water, and PowerAde as well as temperature-controlled tents, private restrooms, private bag check, and padded stretching areas. Following the race the Retreat gives you brunch, changing tents, a self-treatment and first aid area, and a 10-minute massage for only $10 extra.
Cool Down Party at Disney Springs
The Cool Down Party takes place on the Sunday of Marathon weekend at Disney Springs and is open to all runners, family, friends, and whoever else happens to be at Disney Springs. There are special offers and discounts for showing your finisher medal, so you’ve got that going for you, which is nice.
The ChEAR Squad is the overly cleverly named group especially for spectators who want to be a part of the action. Membership to the squad comes in four levels:
Bronze is free of charge and includes an E-newsletter with details about all the events you can find detailed above.
Silver adds a waterproof stadium blanket, Mickey clappers, and a ChEAR Squad t-shirt.
Gold adds reserved viewing along the course and entry into the finish line ChEAR zone which includes reserved grandstand seating, beverages, and private restrooms.
Platinum adds entry into the Race Retreat (see above) during and after the race.
The costs in 2015 are $39 for Silver, $65 for Gold, and $120 for Platinum for either the Half or full Marathon. The Goofy and Dopey Challenges cost $39 for Silver, $85 for Gold, and $180 for Platinum.
Make sure you remember to ChEAR!
Special bus transportation is provided from on-site Disney resort hotels to all Princess Half Marathon weekend races and events.
The Walt Disney World Marathon brings a significant amount of people to the resort, but it really doesn’t significantly increase the wait times on any of the attractions. Being in the parks during this event weekend you may notice more people wandering the pathways, many of them with brand new, shiny finisher medals. You will not notice much of an impact to your touring strategy, especially if you use a proper Touring Plan.
To find out exactly how busy each park will be so you can determine when and where to visit, make sure you explore our Crowd Calendar.