Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

( 159 reviews )
99% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Orlando,
    United States
  • January
  • 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Janelle McLeod

California, United States
18 16
"A new Run Disney Experience!"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Janelle McLeod's thoughts:

This was my first RunDisney experience and boy, was it an experience! I am not a huge Disney fan, meaning I love DisneyLand but I do not live and breathe Mickey Mouse, nor did I desire to wear a costume for this race. I will commend all of the runners out there who did create a costume and toughed out 26.22 miles in it, because it did not look comfortable or easy! I am a creature of habit and I need to wear the gear that I know works for me when I run.

My husband & I were invited to do this marathon by a couple friends of ours. It was their first marathon, as well as my husbands first marathon. This would be my 3rd marathon but it was also a month after my 2nd marathon so I had planned to take it easy, back off and run at their pace. Our friends have ran Disney half marathons before, they dress in costume and they knew what to expect. We met them at the expo right after we flew into Orlando the Thursday before the race. The expo was held at ESPN Wide World of Sports and was spread out between 2 or 3 buildings. There was plenty of booths to shop at, specialized Disney items to purchase and designated creative zones to take pictures at. Everyone got to sign the marathon wall if they wanted to which was also pretty exciting. Our swag bag included a nice long-sleeved technical running shirt along with a RunDisney luggage tag and some fun snacks and treats. There were even better swag bags for those who signed up for several races or the Dopey Challenge, which was completing all 4 races (5k, 10k, half and full) over the course of 4 days.

The morning of the race was pretty cold for Florida, a chilly 42 degrees at the start. There was plenty of parking and bus drop offs because many of the runners came from Disney hotels. We drove our rental car there and had plenty of time. The walk from the car to the start line, however, was about a mile, so we started the trek early to allow time for bathroom breaks. There were plenty of port-a-pottys along the way, a stage pumping loud music and plenty of booths to walk by if the spectators were interested in shopping or browsing.

Because this was the 25th anniversary of the marathon, there were many special surprises planned, all with the number 25 in mind. They had corrals labeled A-H, but each corral had 3 or 4 waves in it. This allowed for a total of 25 waves to accommodate 25,000 runners. In between each wave, the DJ's would play a song from that year of the marathon. For example, wave 1 played music from the 1st year of the marathon, 1984. Wave 2 got music from 1985, wave 3 got 1986, etc. All the way until they reached the 25th wave and they played new music from 2018. I thought it was a fun touch to add to the theme of the 25th anniversary.

The race course takes you through all of the parks in the area as well as many of the freeway overpasses. You hit the Magic Kingdom around miles 5-7, then run through Animal Kingdom at miles 13-15, followed by ESPN Wide World of Sports for miles 19-22 and then the race finishes through Epcot. It was really fun to experience these parks while they were mostly still closed, and the crowd support was great in these areas especially. There were water stations at nearly every mile and a dozen character stops along the way. (Disney characters in costume that allowed you to line up and take pictures with them) Bathrooms were not hard to come by as there were plenty of port-a-potty's along most of the course and you could even use the facilities at the parks if you ran by one.

I found it hard to run fast during this race as there was not a lot of road courtesy and many walkers walked 4-5 people wide, taking up the entire path. There was also a lot of congestion around the character stops because so many people were waiting in line to take pictures or catch a glimpse of the characters. I can see why this would appeal to many Disney fans and followers, but for someone who wants to run a marathon to finish with a goal time, I would not recommend this race. RunDisney is more of an experience rather than a race. I thoroughly enjoyed everything they had to offer; the creativity, the positivity and the fun of this race.

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