Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Run Disney

This weekend is the Princess Half Marathon (and Family 5K) at Walt Disney World.  We wish all the runners a big "GOOD LUCK!"

Have you ever run a Disney Race?  Not a runner?  Check out the story of our agent Nikki's first race and just maybe you'll find yourself signing up!

To most people, vacation means some well-deserved rest and relaxation and for many, that is exactly what you get on a Disney vacation. To other people, a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation can be like running a marathon. And for a some people, it can literally be just that!

Whenever I have a trip to Walt Disney World planned, one of the first things I do is find out what special events happen to be going on while I'm there. In a recent short four-day trip, there were many! On top of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, opening weekend of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and the Magic Kingdom's 40th anniversary, it also happened to be the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Hmm......

Now before you start thinking, "I am not a runner and have no need for such an event," hear me out! I am, what I like to call, a "seasonal runner." That means after sitting on the couch and eating all Winter long, when the weather reaches a consistent temperature of  least 60 degrees, I start jogging....slowly. There is no way I could ever do a Half Marathon but the fact that it coincided with my trip had me intrigued. So I did a little more research and found something perfect for a "seasonal runner" who would also like to partake in much of the festivities of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival...particularly the "food" and the "wine!" As part of this marathon weekend, there was also a Disney Halloween 5K. After googling a metric to U.S. customary systems unit converter, I learned that a 5K is just slightly over 3 miles, which is still more than this "seasonal runner" usually jogs. But I was determined to take advantage of this unique opportunity and, as soon as registration opened, I signed myself up! This year, the 5K was taking place in Disney's Animal Kingdom park.

After talking my sister-in-law, Erin, into signing up as well, I extended my seasonal running a few more weeks and even though I still had not once made it 3.1 miles, I felt like I had built up enough stamina for the 5K. The day before the "race," Erin and I spent most of the morning and early afternoon eating and drinking around World Showcase during the aforementioned Food and Wine Festival. That afternoon, we made our way to the Wide World of Sports Complex to the Wine and Dine Expo to pick up our race packets.

Just the experience of coming here was worth signing up for the race! Who knew this entire complex existed? I was impressed! It was quite big and after a little confusion, we found the building where we were to get our race packets. It was some sort of indoor arena where, I image, tennis matches or basketball games are played. It was all very well-organized and marked so we found where we were supposed to go quite easily and were given our information.Being the kind of person I am, I was of course, in the 1-250 line because of singing up so early but it didn't much matter. Erin was 9 hundred-something and our lines were just as short!

This huge room was filled with Wine and Dine Half-Marathon Weekend merchandise.

That evening was filled with a delicious dinner at 'Ohana followed by a late-night at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. So I was not especially thrilled when I got back to my room at Port Orleans Riverside around midnight and found out, from reading the information in my packet, that we should plan to arrive at the Animal Kingdom at 6:15am. After a quick call to Erin to confirm a 5:50am departure time (yuk) I unsuccessfully attempted to have a good night's sleep.

When 5:50am rolled around, I hadn't had much sleep at all but was excited to participate in this 5K. We drove, and pulling into the park and finding a spot in the lot was very easy. It was still so dark, the stars were still shining but a large crowd had already formed. Many people were dressed up and the excitement was very noticeable!

We were to be grouped by running time and I thought the 11 - 13 minute time best reflected my seasonal running abilities! I think in the long-run, I ended up moving back a bit but once we got started, it didn't seem to matter much. There was a DJ who was very chipper for that early in the morning and did a great job getting everyone pumped up! Before the race began, we sang the Star-Spangled Banner and pretty soon, we were off!!

In all honesty, it was evident right away that being a great "runner" was not what this event was all about at all! We were not being individually timed and most people were just there to have a good time. Good thing I brought my camera!

Don't get me wrong. I did jog and quite well, if I do say so myself! Erin and I even separated for a bit since we did not have the same pace. But we made sure to soak it all in. We were going through backstage sections of the Animal Kingdom, which was very exciting! There were also unique characters along the way, which we stopped to take pictures with. We even stopped to use the bathroom at some point!

We ran...but we also laughed a lot and have an overall great time!

I take lots of pictures on all my Disney World vacations and I am so happy to have these unique pictures to commemorate this trip and special event.

In addition to the unique character experiences like the three hyenas from The Lion King and Donald dressed like a dinosaur outside of the Dinosaur ride, there were also several cast members stationed along the route. Not only were these Animal Kingdom cast members at work much earlier than usual, they were genuinely excited for us and really helped to keep our spirits up!

After the gravediggers buried us, we had to dance with them a little!

Clearly, we did not stay true to the 11-13 minute time!

When we finished, we were all given medals!

(And even after the 5K, we still made it to the Magic Kingdom in time to catch the 40th Anniversary festivities!)

RunDisney is a growing division of Disney Parks and has events throughout the year. Whether you are a seasoned runner or a "seasonal" runner like I am, this might be the perfect new and exciting experience to add to your Disney vacation.

RunDisney Events

January: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

February: Disney's Princess Half Marathon (Walt Disney World)

May: Expedition Everest Challenge (Walt Disney World)

September: Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

October: Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend (Walt Disney World)

 To find out more about these events, visit

For more information about planning a Disney vacation, contact your agent at Mouse World Travel or visit

By Nikki Glinski

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