Some say it’s the most magical place to run on earth and we would have to agree.
If you have ever wondered what goes on at or are interested in signing up for a race, this is the article for you.
Here’s our complete guide with everything you need to know about runDisney including registration, attending the expo, and what to expect on race day.
Let’s get started!
What is runDisney?
runDisney is a completely different side to Disney. They are races which take place at Disney theme parks around the world.
Race courses may have a 5K, 10 miler, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon distances, depending on the event.
Participants can run or walk through Disney parks all dressed up and experience Disney characters, live entertainment, photo ops, and other fun activities along the course. Once you cross the finish line you receive a Disney-themed finisher medal.
Some of the most popular race weekends are held at the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and include the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Princess Half Marathon Weekend, and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
About eight months before each scheduled event is registration day. Some runDisney pros call this the race to the races, since they sell out very fast, often within an hour.
Here is everything you need to know about registration day.
How do I register?
You will need an account on the runDisney website and you will want to have a profile setup and payment information stored before registration day.
About 15 minutes before registration opens, it’s best to be in front of a computer or on your mobile phone to access the site and enter the virtual queue.
Sometimes the registration will open a few minutes before the announced time, so keep refreshing your page until the green “Register Now” shows and click on one to join the registration queue. They all lead to the same registration page.
Don’t be surprised if the wait time in the online queue exceeds an hour, which is the case on most registration days.
Be patient and remain on the webpage until the countdown reaches zero and allows you to enter the website to begin registration. You can select any of the races for that weekend to register for.
For registration you will need your name, address, email, shirt size, and an emergency contact name and phone number.
If you are registering for multiple people you can enter them after you complete your information and will need the above information for each additional person.
How much does it cost?
Most race events have a 5K, 10K, and half marathon distance. The Walt Disney World Marathon event in January also has the full marathon.
Each weekend also has a challenge event where you run two of the longer distance courses to achieve a special medal.
The cost can vary and change each year, but below is an example of what prices can be. The following is from the 2023-2024 runDisney season.
- 5K: Starting at $101 with an age requirement of 5 years or older
- 10K: Starting at $141 with an age requirement of 10 years or older
- Half Marathon: Starting at $205 with an age requirement of 14 years or older
- Marathon: Starting at $207 with an age requirement of 18 years or older
- Challenges: Starting at $405 with an age requirement of 18 years or older
What’s included with my registration fee?
Your race fee includes your race bib with your name, a finisher’s medal, and a dri-fit race shirt.
The fee also includes access to the Jeff Galloway training program and a downloadable Disney-themed music playlist. Post-race you will receive water, Powerade, and a snack box which usually includes a banana, pretzels, cheese dip, and assorted granola/fruit snacks.
Registration does not include your park admission and theme park reservation, Disney Resort discounts, race photos, or commemorative merchandise.
If you decide to attend a park after the race, you will need a separate park ticket and a park reservation in order to enter.
The only race that includes a special after party ticket is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Wine & Dine Challenge races.
With registration for either of these races, you can enter Epcot theme park starting at 5 p.m. on the Sunday of race weekend. The park will be closed for the party goers from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
For a fee, friends and family of runners can also register for the Post-Race Party during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, which takes place during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.
One of the most fun parts about race weekend is the runDisney Expo.
It is mandatory for every participant to attend this expo in person to pick up your race bib and other race day essentials. Here’s a look at the layout and what to expect at the Expo.
Location and transportation
The Expo is located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. If you are staying at a Disney resort, there are buses that will take you to the Expo.
You can also drive to ESPN Wide World of Sports and park for free or use a rideshare app, including booking a Minnie Van.
The Expo runs Thursday to Saturday on every race weekend except for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend where it runs from Wednesday to Saturday.
There are three buildings you will want to check out while at the Expo. Here is what you will find at each building.
Race bib pickup and waiver signing building
We recommend always starting with picking up your race bib first. It is the one thing you must have on race day. Also you need your bib in order to pick up your race shirt.
To pick up your bib you’ll need a photo ID (valid driver’s license or passport) and your signed digital waiver.
All waivers can be found in your runDisney account about 2 weeks before the race.
If you forget to sign the digital waiver, they do have paper waivers available to sign.
Race shirt pickup and expo floor building
After picking up your bib head to the shirt pickup. You will need your bib to pick up your shirt, so be sure to head to the bib pickup first.
There is a top part of your race bib that the volunteers will rip off for proof of shirt size.
If your shirt does not fit, or you chose the wrong size during registration, there will be a shirt exchange section with a limited quantity of shirts available to swap for.
In this building you will also find a huge selection of Expo vendors and merchandise.
If you need any last minute touches to your race day outfit you can shop accessories, socks, outfits, and other special merchandise from approved vendors like Corkcicle, Pandora, and DriFit, among others.
Note: You cannot use your Annual Passholder discount or MagicBand/MagicBand+ in this building.
Official merchandise building
The Expo is also where you can shop for official Disney commemorative items.
A virtual queue is required to enter this building only on the first day for each race weekend.
You can request to join the queue starting at 7:30 a.m. You must be within 45 miles of the ESPN Wide World of Sports to enter the queue.
Are strollers permitted at the Expo?
You can bring strollers to the Expo but they are not permitted inside any of the buildings. So be sure to follow the Cast Members direction and park your stroller before going inside.
Race day basics
You’ve trained months and months for this moment and now race day is finally here! Here’s what you can expect on the big day.
Wake up call
We won’t sugar coat it: it is a super early wake up call on race day.
Resort buses depart at 3:15 a.m. So plan to set your alarm well in advance to give yourself enough time to wake up, get dressed, fuel your body, and head to the main lobby of your resort.
You can opt to drive yourself to the start area which can give a little more time in the morning, because, let’s face it, every minute counts that early.
The gates to Epcot (where most races begin) close at 4 a.m. sharp. So it’s best to plan to be parked inside the Epcot gate by 3:45 a.m.
Race day outfit
Costumes are allowed and encouraged for all runDisney races. Runners are very themed and ready for all their photo ops around the race course.
With that said, you never want to wear something brand new on race day. That includes your under and outer garments, hair pieces, and race accessories.
So make sure whatever you pack to wear has been tried and tested during your training and practice runs.
Transportation to the races
If you are staying on Disney property you can take the resort buses.
There are special coach buses that take you to the starting area on race morning. This includes Shades of Green and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
If you are staying off property, your options are to drive, get dropped off, or take a rideshare.
Most races begin at Epcot but some do start at other locations. Be sure to check your race weekend event guide for race starting locations.
gEAR bag check
When you attended the Expo your shirt was given to you in a clear plastic bag. Save this bag!
Bring this bag on race day to check in items you do not want to carry with you on the race course. gEAR Bag Check is available for all race distances. No other bag will be accepted.
At race completion, your bib number will be used to verify your bag when you pick it up. Don’t leave any valuables at the gEAR check as the volunteers are not responsible for any lost, damaged, or stolen items.
Once you reach the start area you will see several corrals starting with A. Your assigned corral is located on the upper right hand corner of your race bib.
You can move back corrals (from corral A to corral B), but you cannot move forward.
If you want a better corral starting place you can submit a verified chipped time from a previous race (Disney or non-Disney) on your runDisney account. Make sure to check the deadline of your specific race for when proof of time must be submitted by to be accepted.
On the course
3…2…1…go! You’ve crossed the start line and you’re off. Here’s what you can expect while on the runDisney race course.
Every mile is marked along the course with a mile number, character, and time.
This not only helps you track your distance along the course but also makes for some great photo ops.
The runDisney races are known for their character stops along the course. Some are rare characters you don’t get to normally see inside the parks. So if you have time budgeted into your run, you can stop at some of the character photo ops.
Some of the lines can take upwards of 15 minutes (which is like running 1 mile) so they can be major time killers. Make sure you have time allotted to make the stop. This is when starting in the early corrals like A and B pay off, as they allow for more time to stop and have fun along the course.
There are a number of restroom stops on the course. On the road, it will be portable bathrooms. Once you enter the parks, you are permitted to use the park bathrooms.
Bathroom stops can be a time killer especially early on. So try to wait until you reach the park, and don’t stop at the first bathroom you see once you enter the park. Try for the second or third bathroom for lower wait times.
Hydration and snacks
While you are able to carry your own water onto the race course, all races have water stops along the course.
Volunteers hand out small cups of water to hydrate. This is especially important on warmer race days.
There is no food along the course. However, at the medic stands, they offer some sports beans which are jelly bean type candies that offer energy and a caffeine boost.
Injuries happen and fatigue can set in on the course. Medic tents are stationed on the route to provide medical attention to those in need.
You can find BioFreeze, aspirin, water, among other items.
Riding attractions during the race
Something fun about the longer distance runs is the parks may open while you are running through them. This may be the case if you start out in a later corral.
If this happens, you are allowed to get on an attraction and ride it, which is pretty cool! But keep track of your timing since it can be a catch 22: you are in a further back corral so you may not have as much time to stop as you would like.
As you enter the parks, be on the lookout for bright green PhotoPass tents. These tents have PhotoPass photographers who take amazing race photos while on the course.
Strike a pose as you pass the photographers. You will be able to download photos after the race as they are linked to your bib number.
You may shiver when you hear their name: Balloon ladies.
These local volunteers are the last to start after all other race participants have gone. The Balloon ladies are the pacesetters for the races.
These ladies walk a 16-minute mile. If they pass you, you will get swept from the race.
If you get swept you will still get your finisher medal. However, if you are doing a challenge, you will not get your additional challenge medal.
These ladies are actually very encouraging and want you to finish your race. There are many who do cross the finish line alongside the balloon ladies. However if they pass you up, you will be removed from the course.
You’ve made it past the final mile marker and you can see the finish line in sight. The end of your race is near! Here’s what you will experience at the finish line.
Family and friends cheer section
There are a few options for friends and family to watch you on race day.
- In person in the cheer section located at the finish line: wave hi to your friends and family as you cross the finish line.
- Via bib chip number tracking: you can give your family or friends your bib chip number and they can track your time on the website.
- Race courses that go outside the park: there are some designated areas where friends and family can cheer you on as you run by.
The BoardWalk is a popular area where you will often see guests of the resorts and family of the racers come out and hold up signs to cheer you on.
After crossing the finish line you will receive your medal wrapped in a protective plastic.
Put it on and celebrate by taking some post-race photos.
Cool down, including hydration and snacks
Cooling towels are a great way to beat the heat post race. Volunteers will hand these out next to the medal pick up.
Use them on your face, neck, head, or anywhere you need to cool down. These microfiber cloths are yours to keep.
There are more medical tents across the finish line to provide relief for any participants in need including ice bags to help cool your muscles down.
Water, Powerade, and bananas are handed out following the cooling towels.
You will also receive a snack box which typically includes things like pretzels, cheese, applesauce, an energy bar, and other small snacks to help refuel your body post race.
You did it! Congratulate yourself and celebrate your amazing achievement!
runDisney photographers will have an area to take photos with your medal after crossing the finish line.
Feel free to take a few picks solo and with your running group if you are doing the race with others.
Gear pick up, food, and drink Tent
Don’t forget to stop by and pick up anything you checked into the gEAR tent. Use your bib number to verify your bag when you pick it up.
There is also a select menu of food and beverage items available for purchase to celebrate your race.
Additional character photos
At the finish area you will find a few photo lines with characters posing for pictures.
So if you did not arrive with enough time to get a picture before the race, you can get in line for some additional character photo ops.
Link runDisney photos
It’s time to download all the photos you posed for on the race course! These photos are not included in your registration fee.
You will need to purchase Memory Maker for yourself, link with a member of your party who has Memory Maker or an Annual Passholder PhotoPass download benefit , or purchase the photos individually.
The instructions for linking runDisney race photos to your PhotoPass are found on the back of your race bib.
Virtual races started in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in 2020 was the first race event series to be completely virtual.
Even though in-person races are back, virtual races were so popular they are still an option to register for.
You run the virtual races using the honor system, at your pace, and you track your own time. Once you complete your virtual race, log into your runDisney account to submit your time.
You will receive a box in the mail that will have your race shirt, finisher medal, and usually some stickers or other small goodies.
Virtual races cannot be used to submit as proof of time for better corral placement.
Basically Club runDisney is a paid membership that gives different levels of benefits for runDisney races.
These benefits include early registration, upgraded corral placement, special merchandise, and other exclusive access.
There are three levels of Club runDisney membership: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Membership runs from October 1 through September 30 of said year.
- Silver Membership: $265.43
- Gold Membership: $531.93
- Platinum Membership: $851.73
None of the memberships include your race registration fees. All race registration costs are separate.
Race bibs are also not guaranteed by simply being a Club runDisney member. You still have to log on and register in the allotted time during early registration to ensure your spot is secured.
History of runDisney events
Believe it or not, the very first marathon was held at Disney World in January 1994.
This inaugural race featured 5,588 runners on the 26.2 mile course. This first race also launched the Disney Endurance Series, which is what runDisney was called back then.
The first marathon at Disneyland in California was held on March 26, 1995. A short distance 5K race was also held this same weekend.
The price to register was $55 for the marathon and $20 for the 5K with a time limit of five hours for the marathon (12-minute-per-mile pace) and one hour for the 5K (9 minutes per mile).
Slowly, additional race distances, like the 10K and half marathon, and new race courses were added on each year, making the Endurance Series become what we now know as the runDisney events.
In 2006, we saw the first Health and Fitness Expo held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The Castaway Cay Challenge was added to the series in 2015. This 5K race takes place on Disney Cruise Line’s private island.
In September 2016 the races went international with the Disneyland Resort in Paris holding its first series of races.
Although runDisney canceled its Disneyland California races back in 2018 due to the ongoing construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it was announced at the 2022 D23 Expo that the West Coast races would begin again in 2024.
Due to the pandemic in 2020, runDisney briefly paused in-person racing. It was during this time the virtual series races were introduced. These virtual races became so popular they continue to be held currently, even though in-person racing has resumed.
Today there are 26 individual race events that can reach over 168,000 participants.
Is runDisney worth the hype?
Yes! Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert runner, you can definitely train and conquer any of these runDisney race events.
Can someone else pick up my race bib?
No, all adults must visit the Expo in person to get their bibs. Anyone under 18, however, do not have to be in person. A parent or guardian can pick up a race bib for anyone under 18.
Can I walk the race?
Yes, walking is allowed on the race course, as long as you keep the pacing requirement for the particular race you are participating in.
Do I need a park ticket or theme park reservation to participate in the race?
No, a theme park ticket and a theme park reservation is not needed for runDisney race events.
Bag check available?
Yes, there is a gEAR bag check at the start area where you can check in anything you don’t want to carry on the course. Be sure to bring the clear plastic bag given to you at the Expo as no other bag will be accepted.
Can I wear headphones during the race?
Yes, you can wear headphones, but they are discouraged as safety announcements are frequently made throughout the course.
Are strollers allowed in runDisney races?
No, they are not. Unless there is a medical exception made in advance, strollers are not allowed on the course.
Do I still get a medal if I get swept or don’t finish the race?
Yes, you do get your finisher medal. However, if you are doing a challenge, you will not get the third, bonus challenge medal.
Can I wear a costume?
Yes, you will see all different levels of running outfits from simple shorts and race T-shirts to all out full princess gowns. So get creative when planning your race outfit!
The sky is the limit so have fun with it, but, most important, be sure what you have planned will be both comfortable and breathable during your run. Masks are not permitted.
Is there food or drink on the course?
Yes and no. There are water stops along the course, but no food is provided. Make sure to fuel your body before your race. After the race you, will receive a complimentary snack box and additional snacks will be available for purchase.
Can you ride the rides during runDisney?
Yes, if the park has opened for the day when you run through, you can ride an attraction.
We have two podcasts that we recorded about runDisney that give even more information and tips about the popular Disney races. Be sure to give them a listen!
Upcoming runDisney Events
Here’s a look at the upcoming runDisney events…
Walt Disney World
- Springtime Surprise Weekend 2023 – 5K, 10K, 10 Miler, and Half Marathon: April 13-16, 2023 (registration is closed)
- Disney Wine & Dine Race Half Marathon Weekend 2023 – 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon: November 2-5, 2023 (registration is closed)
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2024 – 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon: January 3-7, 2024 (registration is closed)
- Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2024 – 5K, 10K and Half Marathon: February 22-25, 2024 (registration date TBA)
- Springtime Surprise Weekend 2024 – 5K, 10K, 10 Miler, and Half Marathon: April 18-21, 2024 (registration date TBA)
- Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – 5K, 10K and Half Marathon: January 11-14, 2024 (registration is closed)
Disney Cruise Line
- Castaway Cay 5K is a race held on the Disney Cruise Line. You can register on board your ship and complete the race while on Castaway Cay.
- Park Hopping Changes & More Coming to Disney World & Disneyland
- TRON Opening April 4, 2023 at Magic Kingdom
- Disney After Hours Returning to Disney World in 2023
- 2023 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Dates Announced
- Walt’s Main Street Story & Holiday Guided Tour Returning to Disneyland Resort
Thursday 13th of April 2023
So many things in here I didn’t even know we’re a THING! Thank you for this.