The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opened up on July 15th to all of us that are not annual passholders or have DVC. The struggle was real. Active.com was slammed with people attempting to register. I was lucky and it took about a half hour, while others waited an hour or longer. There was a lot of refreshing, freaking out when payment screens went blank and for myself (and possibly others) feelings of relief when that email saying I was registered came minutes later.
The Glass Slipper Challenge was full in under 2 hours and the half marathon and 10k were full in around 6. I can say for myself I was thankful that I did not wait to register like my husband suggested. For whatever the reason may be Disney races have been selling out and selling out fast. We are not talking about in days but in hours here. Could be because the secret is out and everyone is learning how awesome their races are. They are definitely my favorite after running other half marathons. I have yet to run a half marathon where on the course other runners are so friendly and encouraging. Then there is the awesome course support and the support after the race is awesome as well. In addition to all of this you can stop and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney characters. Seriously what is there not to like! Thankfully for those that still would like to run but were not able to register there are options available. You can still enter with charities and some trip planners have entries available.
So if this is your first time running the Princess Half Marathon I am going to guess that you are full of questions. I know I was. I searched and searched for info but to my surprise it was not easy to find. I want to help all of y’all out though. I’m going to answer some popular questions the best that I can and if you have a question. Let me know and I will add it and answer it.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Tips
Is Race Retreat worth the money?
This is what your $120 for Race Retreat gets you:
- Climate Control
- Private bag check,
- “Private” port-a-potties
- Changing area
- Padded streching area
- Character Meet and Greets
- Self Treat Medical Station/ First Aid
- Pre race food- Bagels and Fruit
- Post race food- Hot Breakfast and fruit and champagne or mimosas
- Post race, commemorative towel, flip flops or comfy socks
- Massages (self pay)
- Kid area with bean bag chairs and Disney movies on TV
- Live result area TV streaming finish
Race Retreat is one of those things that everyone has to decide is this something I need for my Disney Princess experience. You could also think of it as how pampered do I need to be? Although the climate control sounds lovely I just couldn’t make myself pay for it. If you choose to skip it yes, you will be left to be outside in the elements and that could mean, it is hot or cold or just right. There are areas by the stage for character meet and greets pre-race. There just are longer lines. They offer lounge chairs or you could sit on the ground. Last year I saw people bring dollar store pool floaties to sit on. The lines for the porta potties aren’t really that bad. They keep moving. I was in line no more than 15 minutes. The only problem I had was the porta potties do not have lights so I had to use the flashlight on my phone. Gear check was quick and easy, no lines and it is done by your last name. Post race there are medical tents and a self pay massage tent. Last year it was $1 a minute but it was cash only. As for the food element I am very simple when it comes to my pre-race fuel and being gluten free bagels and fruit won’t work for me. Post race, i’m ok with my food box, I usually can’t eat for a couple hours after a long run. Plus in the post race area there is food and alcohol available for purchase.
Race Retreat is $120
Pasta in the Park
There are mixed feelings about Pasta in the Park. You are given admission into Epcot (at 6pm) and you can ride a few rides while you are there so that is a plus. It is also said there are some great character meet and greets another plus. The food some like it and others don’t. It is served buffet style and there are several choices. A common complaint is the time. When you have to be up at 2:30am to run a half you want to get to bed and try to get some rest. Going to Pasta in the park and staying to get everything you paid for (this includes special seating for Illuminations fireworks show) can lead to a late night. Personally this is something I skip. I eat a gluten free diet so I would be limited to what I can eat plus I like to try to go to bed early the night before.
**note** Disney is awesome about special diets and they can be contacted to see if any accommodations are being made for special diets.
Pasta in the Park is $54 for adults, $30 for children, children 3 and under are free
The Princess breakfast is another option that is hit and miss with other princesses and their families. I haven’t talked to many people who loved it or said it was worth it. In fact many people suggest making reservations at your favorite restaurant for breakfast instead. Complaint’s have ranged from the food being just ok to there being long lines for the character meet and greets.
Breakfast is $39adult $26 child
There are many places along the half marathon route that non runners can see runners for the half marathon to include Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and the Finish Line area. Disney does offer what they call ChEAR Squad that has reserved viewing areas for those who purchase Gold or Platinum and other perks. For instance the platinum ChEAR Squad includes Race Retreat and that gives non runners a place to hang out if the weather is really hot or cold. There is reserved seating in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom that has a nice view. There have been mixed views on the finished line seating. It is first come first serve. Another plus depending on the package you choose (silver- platinum) are different souvenirs (typically a t-shirt and blanket but it may include other things) or Cheer Squad Gear. For ChEAR Squad this is something that you need to discuss with those that are coming with you and what they want. For instance, if you are choosing the Race Retreat you may want to get the platinum chEAR Squad to enjoy your after half marathon breakfast together.
ChEAR Squad Packages:
$65.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
$120.00 – Disney Princess Half Marathon
Where to Stay
One of the biggest questions is where should you stay. This race is so large that even locals stay on property and after my experience with the Rock N Roll Raleigh I don’t blame them. I highly suggest stay on Disney Property (to include Shades of Green). With the Disney Princess Half Marathon all resorts are host resorts. That means all resorts have race day transportation and not just that but transportation to the Expo also. Disney has resorts at all prices too and from time to time offer various different specials. Last year I stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and it was great. Although I had rented car to drive to Orlando there was no need for me to drive it around and that saved me some money. Disney has a great transportation system that you are able to utilize to go all over the Disney property. I went to Downtown Disney and the restaurants and gift shops at my resort. You do have to wait on buses and depending on your resort you may have several stops.
I have to add in that Magic Bands are pretty cool. You have your room key on your wrist so you don’t need to worry about where you are going to stash your room key especially if you don’t check your bag.
Everyone has their own favorite resort so I won’t suggest one over another but will say if you want to stay at a particular resort I suggest that you book your room early. The longer you wait the fewer resorts that will have availability.
If you choose to stay off Disney property remember to leave with more than enough time to get to the parks on race day.
To wear a costume or to not wear a question
I remember last year spending a ton of time worried about the costume question. I decided on wearing one, I wanted to dress like Cinderella. I pinned different outfits on Pinterest. Then I started to get worried about what running 13.1 miles in a costume would be like but on the other hand I didn’t want to be the only person not in a costume. I decided on making my own sparkle skirt but I waited too long to make it. I waited until February and at that point I couldn’t find the correct color fabric to make my skirt. It was too late to order fabric or skirt. I planned to go with my DIY Sweaty band and blue shirt and either capris or shorts. I debated buying a spark skirt at the expo but I decided against it. I didn’t want to wear something new on race day. I was perfectly fine in what I was wearing too! Not everyone wears a costume or even just a sparkle skirt. There is a large variety of running outfits on race day. There is a variety of costumes, sparkle skirts, princess colored clothes, matching shirts and outfits to their favorite running clothes. Where what you want and what is comfortable for you! Wearing something 13.1miles and chaffing isn’t fun so if you choose to wear a costume test your run day outfit out before the big day.
When signing up for the half marathon you were asked for a time you expected to finish and if you had a finish time for another 10k or half marathon. For corral placement they are looking for that official time otherwise you will be placed in one of the last corrals. I highly suggest running at least a 10k before December 1st and submitting a time for corral placement. Submitting a time and hopefully being placed in a higher corral will give you a bit of extra time for the race when it comes to taking a break for photos. You need to be able to run/walk a 16 minute mile including any stops if you are in the last corral. If you cannot maintain that there is a good possibility that you could be swept.
Injuries, Pregnancy Etc.
It happens sometimes and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Something comes up and you are no longer able to run the half marathon. Unfortunately you cannot get a refund but you can defer your entry for a fee until the following year.
Bib/Packet Pick up
Bib Pick up is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Expo. There is no race day bib pick up. Pick up is pretty simple. In the weeks prior to the half marathon you will be emailed your waiver form. If you forget your waiver don’t worry! There are computers set up so you can print it out at the expo. If you cannot make it to pick up your race packet you can no longer have someone pick up race packets on your behalf.
The expo for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend is huge. Even saying it is huge is an understatement. It is a runners dream. Everything you could possibly want for running can be found. If you forgot your gels, you can most likely find the type you use here. Same for GPS’s, compression socks and more. They also have a great Run Disney area but I will add things sell out fast. I didn’t get to the Expo until Saturday last year and 13.1 car magnets/stickers and the t-shirt I wanted to buy my husband were sold out. Last year you could go to the KT tape booth and get taped, for free. Yes there was a line but it wasn’t too bad. In addition to KT tape there were all sorts of free goodies being handed out. Jeff Galloway can also be spotted near the Run Disney tent at times. Plus they give great lectures.
Dooney And Burke Purses
Are you a purse person? Every year there is a special Dooney and Burke purse that is sold at Disney Princess Half Marathon. To help with some of the craziness of the Expo these purses can be pre-ordered. Yes, you get a preview of what the purses look like ahead of time. Keep a look out for the email.
New Balance Shoes
New Balance makes a few pair of commemorative shoes for the half marathon that are well sought after every year. After all who wouldn’t want running shoes with Cinderella on them? Last year they used a Virtual Queue system for those interested in buying the shoes. If you are interested keep an eye on your emails for how they will be doing the shoes this year.
Water and Fuel on the Course
Another question that is often asked is if you should carry your own water or rely on what RunDisney provides. This is a personal choice some carry there own and others rely on what is on the course. There are several water and gatorade stops along the half marathon route so have no fear of not being able to get water if you need it. I train with a fuel belt with water and Nunn and that is what i’m used too so I choose to wear my fuel belt during the half’s I have run. It is what i’m used to and it is what works for me. As for fuel on the course they offer Cliff gels around mile 8-9. When it comes to gels and nutrition try different types and find what works for you. There is nothing worse than trying a gel and it doesn’t agree with you. That is something no one wants to deal with on race day. I prefer Gu’s especially the Salted Caramel ones but there are all different types of gels and other fuel choices available. Some people skip the fancy fuel and go with things like pretzels, raisins or even honey packets.
There is something that strikes fear into slower runners at Disney races, the Balloon Ladies! Yes they actually have balloons and if your pace is slower than their 16minute mile you will be picked up and not allowed to finish. These ladies are volunteers and are in the last corral and are the last people to cross the start line. Once they cross the start that is when the 16minute mile starts. They are rumored to be very friendly so don’t be scared of them but if you see them coming you may want to pick up your pace.
Character Meet and Greets
One of the great things about Disney races are the character meet and greets along the half marathon route. The Princess half marathon has several great characters that will be out including some that are rarely seen such as the villains. Bring a small camera or use your phone’s camera to catch these memories. Since I was running alone I had no issues having a cast member take a picture for me when I asked. Marathon Photo is also at some stops as well as sprinkled all over the race route. Just remember the clock doesn’t stop because you did, watch your time at character stops.
Huh, Florida Hills? Growing up in Florida I learned hills are few and far between. Florida is pretty flat. Florida does have plenty of overpasses and during the princess half you get to go up and over them toward the end of the half as you return to Epcot. To help motivate you the green toy soldier is out there to umm, motivate you. Don’t forget hills when you train if you can.
Training and Nutrition
I am only going to briefly touch on nutrition and training. This is a subject that needs to be personalized to each person as what works for one person may not work for another. While some people have done this race with little training and lived to tell about it. The road to success starts with training and to stick to your training. Many people use couch to 5k to get them started and Galloway has a good program for running and walking, Galloway also has free training schedules on Rundisney, there are also tons on Pinterest and runners world. I will suggest to train for more than 13.1 miles with whatever training program that you do choose. The reason for this is simple. On race day you walk from the parking area to the pre race area and then you walk about another mile from pre race to the corrals. This walking is awesome to help warm you up for your run. In addition to all the walking you do to get to the start during the race any weaving you do will add up and in the end you rack up more miles than 13.1.
As for nutrition how well you fuel your body will help you when it comes time to run. When you fuel up on junk you can feel it. I know when i’ve tried to run after eating junk I always felt sluggish and heavy.
Disney Princess is a fun and supportive race. Women you have never met before will be there to say an encouraging word or just sing a silly song. On race day remember your training, you have seven months of training ahead, make them count. Disney races are typically not races to plan to PR but it can happen. I know first hand, I PR’ed last year. It just made my race day more magical. The biggest thing I can tell you is to take it all in and have fun while you are out there!
****disclaimer***** I was NOT compensated for this post. All opinions are my own****