So you want to run a Disney Race?
After running enough of these races it seemed time to write some tips, tricks, and the dirt on running Disney!
Fast and Furious 9: Run Disney Registration
You may have heard the rumors that registration is fast and furious? Well, they're all true.
On registration day be ready (credit card, personal information, your first born) 30 minutes before registration and once you're in that queue, don't refresh your page.
Other Options to Chaos
Sara and I used this route for Dopey 2016 and it was a GAME CHANGER. Not only did we not have to panic on registration day, but we got a great deal on park tickets. Many agents require you to purchase another element of your trip through them (hotel, park tickets, etc.). But if you were already planning to stay on property or visit the parks, then why not! They can usually save you money on those expenses too, so it's a win/win. You will also have to pay your race registration and hotel deposit upfront and pay your hotel bill prior to your stay.
Annual Pass Holder or Disney Vacation Club:
If you are one you can register a week before regular registration BUT they only have a limited number of slots so the about registration chaos still applies.
I joke, this is 100% NOT an option and believe me when I say other Disney runners WILL find you and call you out on this. Just don't do this.
I have never purchased extras (Cheer Squad, Race Retreat) and I do not feel I have missed out. The Cheer Squad is an extra package for family members to be able to cheer you on along your way, but actually it is quite easy to do this without the extra cost. The monorail opens early to let spectators into Magic Kingdom to catch you at the castle (without paying park admission) and during a half that is really the best viewing spot. During the Marathon there are other points along the highway and in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and in Epcot (for these opportunities though, your support system will need to pay for park entrance). The finish line area is harder to get to and then your family members have to trek to find you. In the staging area there is a live stream of the finish line and it is easy to find family members.
In my opinion, save your money for important things...like a drink during/after the marathon.
Why race in Disney if you can't go to the parks? If you are just doing one race I would wait to go to the parks till after the race. If you are doing multiple (Dopey, Goofy Challenge etc) Chose the hardcore walking parks for the smaller race days.
During Dopey 2016 I went to Magic Kingdom after the 5k, Hollywood Studios after the 10K, rested the day of the half marathon, and went to Epcot after the marathon to celebrate and drink away leg soreness.
The key to enjoying park time? Napping. Make like a kindergartner and nap. You will be tired/cranky from waking up at 3am, so when you get back after a race, shower and catch a nap. Then proudly wear your medal and get all of the high fives.
Year to year (heck, day to day!) this changes. Sometimes in January it is chilly for Florida (high 40s race morning) other years race morning it is in the mid 60s. Do yourself a favor and invest in a garbage bag or a $2 sweater from Goodwill for race morning. This year I had a throw away shirt for every race and $1 gloves. Marathon morning I needed neither at the start.
For those of us coming from cold temperatures, the humidity can be a shock. If you have access to a gym try and log miles inside on the treadmill to get used to warmer temperatures. When you land in Florida be sure to log a couple miles of an acclimation/shake out run. If it is particularly humid prepare to slow down a bit on your race pace as your body will be adjusting.
|This is not the 30º I was used to running in|
On vs Off Property
I really believe this is a personal preference (unless you registered via a Travel Agent). I have done both staying off site at a timeshare and on property (at the All Star Resorts and at Port Orleans) and each has their Pros & Cons so here we go.
If you like your own food or have diet restrictions then access to a kitchen is important. Disney's food is not the healthiest. When off property I brought a lot from home and went to a grocery store to get anything I couldn't bring on a plan. On property I took an Uber/Lyft/cab to go and grab a few essentials I could store in the room
As much as Disney may make it seem that driving is the worst, it really is not. The signs are very clear and, as long as you leave a little extra time, parking is a breeze. Remembering where you parked after the race...a bit harder. It is virtually impossible to stay off property without a car or access to one. On property you have the Disney transportation that will get you to/from the expo and races. Sometimes you do have to wait a bit and if you are like me and get tired of waiting/crowds this can be hard. That and navigating bus stairs after a race is REALLY hard (walk down backwards).
One thing to keep in mind for some race weekends is that not all on property resorts are official race resorts, which means they won't have bus transportation to and from race locations. For the bigger weekends (marathon weekend and Princess weekend), ALL resorts on property are race resorts, but for smaller weekends (Wine & Dine), you should double check to make sure your hotel will have bus transportation to the races.
As you will be napping or trying to go to sleep earlier than most I found that off property had less noise, because they often have less people. Now if you are lucky to score one of the back/remote rooms in Port Orleans it is quiet, but you will hear families and fireworks as you try and sleep.
...Neither is free, find what works in your budget? In Dopey 2014 we did not have to rent a car because our friend drove down, he is crazy and we fed him all the food.
|On? Off? Chose what works for you and have a blast|
I will say, Disney is ace at hotel decoration and vibe. You just can't beat that magic.
This really needs its own post, but I will advise that you think about this before you leave. Give yourself time to over pack and then pull out things you don't need (no you don't need 5 pairs of shorts or a pair of heels and you do not need to bring 50 gels). Keep in mind you will also be getting race shirts so there is your post-race outfit for park hopping. I managed to pack for Dopey 2016 in two carry-ons.
The key? Ziploc bags for race outfits.
1) it makes for easy storage,
2) easy to find and layout all of those outfits before the races
3) you have a place to hide smelly clothes that you cannot wash).
FYI - peanut butter counts as a liquid...I found this out the hard way. Be sure to label protein powders as "Not Drugs" for maximum security time. If you have a foam roller...yes, you will want that. Bring anything you need for the races in your carry on bag. I'm neurotic so I wear my race shoes on the plane so that I know they made it. I'll work on a packing post. Believe me, I haven't even given you all my tricks.
I hope this helps - if you have any other questions or queries just comment below! Happy to answer and help out!