8 Tips for Planning a Race-cation at Disney World

FullSizeRenderWe love running for many reasons. One of them is that running gives us an excuse to go to Disney World multiple times a year. Race-cations can be fun, but they require a little more organizing and planning than running in a local race. Here are a few tips to make your race-cation more magical. Please note that these tips are specifically for Disney World. Tips for Disneyland will be coming soon.

1. Train for the race: I know this sounds silly, but you would be surprised how many people show up to a half marathon unprepared to go the distance. Find a training plan that works for you and commit to the program. It’s ok if you have to start from no prior running experience. When I first started running, I had just finished cancer treatment. I had to work up to the minimum mileage required for the first week of most marathon training programs. That meant I had to train 6 weeks more than the number of weeks listed on the training program. It was hard work, but WORTH IT! It doesn’t matter where you start. The important thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and work towards the final goal of epic Disney bling.

2. Register as soon as possible: Some of the RunDisney events are known to sell out minutes after the registration link goes live. Be on alert and ready to register as soon as the link is posted. Be aware that the website might freeze during registration time due to high traffic. Keep calm and try your best to get on to register. If you aren’t able to register before the race sells out, you can also get race bibs through charities and travel agents. To be sure that your bib comes from a reputable source, use only the charities and travel agents listed on the RunDisney website. Selling and buying race bibs from an unofficial third party is strictly prohibited. Don’t buy your bib from a rando and end up banned from Disney races. #unmagical

3. Stay “on property:” RunDisney publishes a list of host hotels for each race. If you book in a host hotel, you get free transportation to and from the airport, and to all of the race events. This includes transportation to the expo and the race. You also get free transportation to all the Disney parks and the ability to manage your reservation through the MyDisneyExperience app. The app allows you to buy park tickets and link meal reservations with friends.

4. Make time for parks: Many RunDisney events occur during off peak times which makes for fun times at the parks. In our experience, the parks are the least busy the Monday following the race. Thanks to the MyDisneyExperience app, you can now book FastPasses in advance of your trip (FastPasses are reservations for riding the rides in Disney World). FastPasses are amazing because they help minimize the time you spend waiting in lines.

5. Make meal reservations: Nobody likes a hangry Mousketeer. Do your pals a favor and plan ahead of time where you would like to eat for your pre/post-race meals. Many restaurants in the park require reservations. If you don’t have park tickets, you can eat in one of the hotels or somewhere in Downtown Disney. Either way, reservations are recommended.

6. Submit a proof of time: Disney races are amazing and magical. They are also large, popular races. This means you can expect tens of thousands of your closest buddies to join you at the start. RunDisney manages crowds by corralling runners into groups based on expected finish times. The fastest runners start first and then the rest of the crew starts a group at a time in about 5 minute intervals. If you have a particular pace you prefer to run, I strongly recommend you submit an official proof of time at the time of your registration or shortly after. All races have a designated deadline for submitting a proof of time. You can find proof of time information on the RunDisney website. If you do not submit a proof of time, you are automatically placed in the last corral. There is nothing wrong with the last corral, but if you have a certain pace in mind that is faster than the last corral, it might be difficult to work through the crowds to get to your comfortable speed. A proof of time for a RunDisney half marathon can include any race 10K or longer. If you are new to running, I recommend signing up for a local 10k as a training run and using that 10K time as your proof of time. For the Walt Disney World Marathon, you’ll need to submit a race 10 miles or longer.

 7. Arrive to the Expo early: RunDisney releases special merchandise before each race. The merchandise includes shirts, shorts, jackets, mugs, wine glasses, magnets, pins, and headbands. The race merchandise is very popular and often sells out within hours of the first day of the race expo. Unfortunately non-runners can also come to the expo, so local trolls like to snatch up the race merch and sell it for a profit on eBay. If you have your heart set on a commemorative race item, I recommend you arrive at the expo early on the first day of the race weekend. For the Princess Half Marathon, this would mean a Thursday arrival.

8. Consider a race costume: Many runners at Disney races wear tutus, sparkle skirts, and race costumes. It’s part of the fun. Costumes should be comfortable and appropriate for the climate on race day. For more tips on making the perfect running costume, check out our costume planning post here.

That’s all for now. Hope these tips help you get started on your next running adventure. If you have any other tips, we’d love to hear from you!



  1. Great tips! My favorite is to stay on property and to submit an official race time. Both of these things will make you infinitely happier!

  2. Heather N says:

    Love the tips!