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The Frog Family's Step-by-Step Guide to runDisney 2023 Events

by Mommy Frog on February 24, 2023 Orlando

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Did you know you can actually run through Cinderella Castle? How about running around the world at EPCOT? Such motivation! "Every mile is magic" with runDisney 2023 as you race through the Disney Parks. From 5Ks to marathons, there's something for all ages and skill levels. Enjoy character stops, live entertainment, spectacular morning views and the coveted Disney medal. Here's everything to know about runDisney 2023 events and beyond!

Guide to runDisney 2023 Events - Princess 5K Medal

Overview of runDisney Events

The first runDisney race was the Walt Disney World Marathon in 1994. Since then, millions of Disney fans have run through Disney Parks. runDisney hosts races on both coasts at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and internationally at Disneyland Paris. Currently, the only regular runDisney events are held at Disney World, but races at Disneyland Resort will return in early 2024. Virtual races on your own time are also an option.

Guide to runDisney 2023 — Runners posing at Expo Photo-Op

Most weekends consist of three early mornings of a 5K, 10K and half marathon, with select events offering the full marathon. Note that the races have age requirements:

  • 5K: 5 years or older
  • 10K: 10 years or older
  • Half Marathon: 14 years or older
  • Marathon: 18 years or older

Those up for the task can compete in challenges in which they participate in multiple races in one weekend. You may hear someone say they are "perfect" for a certain race. That means they have completed that runDisney race for every year the race has existed. Major props! Many people get dressed up in themed outfits that showcased a lot of creativity. Grab your ears, tutus and accessories to fully immerse yourself in this unique and magical experience.

If you're interested in hoppin' in for a runDisney weekend, you'll want to plan ahead as race registration opens over seven months in advance, and many races can sell out in just a few hours. The registration dates for the runDisney 2023 and 2024 races have been announced, so mark your calendar!

Hop along with us as we go over all the details for runDisney 2023 events, including a walkthrough of a race weekend and tips and tricks.

runDisney Events at Walt Disney World Resort

Guide to runDisney Events - Starting line

There are four runDisney weekends that occur throughout the year at Disney World.

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend — Feb. 23-26, 2023 | Feb. 22-25, 2024

Grab your tutus and tiaras because this royally fun event shouldn't be missed. The Princess Half Marathon Weekend celebrates the iconic Disney princesses. The 2023 themes are Jasmine for the 5K, Belle for the 10K, Moana for the Half Marathon and Cinderella for the Fairy Tale Challenge. Races for the 2023 event are sold out, but the 2024 event's general registration opens June 20, 2023.

runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend — April 13-16, 2023 | April 18-21, 2024

The inaugural Springtime Surprise Weekend debuted in 2022 and rotates themes every year. The 2022 addition brought back fan-favorite races, including Expedition Everest 5K, Race for the Taste 10K and the Tower of Terror 10-Miler. Springtime has replaced the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend, though we hope to have this theme return again in future iterations.

In 2023, the races will be themed after Pixar, including Disney Pixar Cars 5K, Disney Pixar Monsters 10K and Disney Pixar Toy Story 10-Miler. Races for the 2023 event are now sold out, but the 2024 event's general registration will open Aug. 22, 2023.

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend — Nov. 2-5, 2023

Burn off some calories from the many food booths at the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival with this fun race weekend. The 2022 race themes were "Coco" for the 5K, "Raya and the Last Dragon" for 10K, "Soul" for the Half Marathon and Genie for the Challenge. This particular race also usually has an after-party for runners at the Food and Wine Festival. The party is included with the race registration fee for runners, but friends and family can purchase tickets to attend with them. General registration will open March 21, 2023.

Guide to runDisney 2023 — Runners posing with the Walt Disney World 5K sign

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend — Jan. 3-7, 2024

The biggest runDisney event each year is the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. The only event with a full marathon, this event has also been running the longest (pun intended). This flagship event, usually themed to Mickey and friends, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023 with '90s retro vibes! General registration for the 2024 event will open April 11, 2023.

This weekend is also more notoriously known for crowd and road impacts, especially with the full marathon. There may be road impacts or closures late each night and in the mornings, though it's typically all back to normal by around 9 a.m. Even if you're not participating in the race, you will want to plan accordingly and add some extra travel time in the mornings (especially if you're trying to rope drop).

runDisney Events at Disneyland Resort

After many years without any events, runDisney events trot back to Disneyland in 2024!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend — Jan. 11-14, 2024

The West Coast sees the return of Disney races with the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in January 2024. Enjoy a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or go for all three with the Challenge. Speaking of challenges, the Coast to Coast Challenge will return in 2024! General registration for the 2024 Half Marathon Weekend opened Feb. 14, 2023.

What to Expect at a runDisney Race in 2023

So, you've registered, trained for months (well, attempted to, at least) and now your race is upon you. Here's a detailed report of our experience running the 5K at Disney World so you can get an idea for future events.

Guide to runDisney 2023 — runDisney Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Before race day, you'll need to stop by the runDisney Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Here, you will pick up your bib, shirt and clear gear bag. There is a whole indoor stadium of vendors to shop through, along with official runDisney merchandise for sale. Expect long lines on the first day for the race-specific collections; there will be limited sizes and inventory if attending on the remaining days. There are also multiple photo opportunities available.

Guide to runDisney Events - Vendors at the runDisney Expo

With the race typically starting at 5 a.m., try your best to go to bed a little bit earlier for the week leading up to the race. Minimally, cut off screentime earlier to help get your brain in sleep mode. Don't stress too much about your lack of sleep (that'll just cause you to get less sleep thinking about it). Adrenaline will keep you going through the race morning and then you can look forward to the glorious post-race afternoon nap.

On race day, it's recommended to get to the starting park (usually EPCOT) by 4 a.m. (don't froget to take a photo of the row or use the car locator in the My Disney Experience app. You’ll post-race self will thank you). You'll head through security and over to the pre-race area with a DJ and photo-ops. Prior to the race, you'll head to your assigned "corral" or starting group. For the 5K, you submit your anticipated pace-per-mile and then will be placed in one of three corrals. For the longer races, you’ll need to submit an official race time to get into the earlier corrals.

Guide to runDisney 2023 — Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 5K Starting line

And they're off! runDisney does small section starts so you can have your own firework start moment. It's a little bit more crowded at the beginning of the race but crowds will spread out more as you go, especially with people stopping for characters. A big benefit of runDisney 2023 races are getting photos with characters themed to the event. We've seen rare characters like Mushu, Tarzan, Genie, Moana, Lilo and Stitch and more! Be prepared for long lines, so you may have to pick and choose which characters you want to wait for. For the 2023 races, you can once again greet characters up close.

Character photos are very fast, often just one photo from the PhotoPass photographer since there are so many people to get through. Attendants typically will take them on your phone as well. Photos can be downloaded later by using your bib number (more information is on the back of the bib on how to link to your account). So, no worries about tapping a MagicBand or getting a photo card.

Guide to runDisney Events - Cinderella and Perla character stop

Speaking of photos, there are tons of PhotoPass photographers along the course to get you the ultimate action shot. If I saw them in time, I either tried to look very determined (and less like I just hopped all the way around the world) or gave them a smile with arms stretched out. There are also the ones where I was clearly focused on putting one foot in front of the other (you know, the running photos that definitely won't be shared on social media). The photos are some of the best parts because you can show everyone and say, "Yes, I did that!" I recommend purchasing Memory Maker to get unlimited photos from runDisney and the rest of your Disney World trip.

Guide to runDisney Events - Running in Princess 5K

For the 5K, there is one water station about halfway through, with more available in the longer races. Pace-wise, you'll ideally want to be able to do at least a mix of a walk and a jog. With the races longer than a 5K, there are typically runners at the back with balloons attached to them (often referred to as the balloon ladies) that represent the 16-minute-per-mile pace. You'll want to be sure you can keep ahead of that pace or you could be "swept" and unable to complete the race. If you are close to the end of the race, there is typically a point where you may finish no matter what. If you do get swept, don't stress! A Disney bus will return you to the finish area and you should still receive a medal for your participation, though you may not qualify for the Challenge medal if competing in all races.

Depending on your corral position and your pace, you should still be able to stop for at least one or two characters. You can't go back if you regret not stopping for a character, so my advice is to wait for those characters if you are up for it. Unless you really want to get a certain time or just aren't up for stopping and starting up again, I say get those character photos or photos in front of the castle. They make great memories to look back on. But if you don't want to wait in line for that long, consider taking a character photo from afar.

After crossing the finish line, it's time to get your coveted bling! You are handed a medal, bottled water and/or Powerade, and then a banana and snack pack. After that, stretch and make sure your legs are OK, get some last pics (the classic medal photo) and make your way back to your car (you remember where you parked, right?). Head back to your hotel and prepare for a well-earned nap!

Spectator's Guide to a runDisney Event

Guide to runDisney Events - Finish line

For those crazy enough to be at the parks before sunrise, but not crazy enough to be running (looking at you Leap ... ), support your favorite hoppin' frog as a spectator! It's great motivation to know that someone you care about is cheering you on. For some races, there's even live runner tracking available so you can be notified of where your runner is!

Course maps are available ahead of time so you can plan out where you will watch. There will be set stops that people can watch from. Depending on the length of the race, there will be multiple spectator locations. For the half and full marathons, spectators can take the monorail between EPCOT and Magic Kingdom to see runners multiple times. Seeing all of the runners head down Main Street toward the castle is a magical experience in itself. Many people will create signs or even dress up to help cheer participants on.

Tips and Tricks for a runDisney 2023 Event

Guide to runDisney Events - Group with matching outfits

Here are some additional tips for a frogtastic runDisney 2023 experience:

  • Allow for plenty of time to arrive well ahead of race time, especially if staying on-site and using Disney transportation. It's better to arrive early and wait around than be concerned about missing the start time.
  • During the race, stay to the right if you are walking and keep your group condensed. Everyone is running at different speeds and you don't want to spread out too much and block those trying to pass. If you do need to pass and have no room, stay on the far left side and politely say, "On your left." Yes, you can have an amazing Captain America moment.

Guide to runDisney 2023 — Runner dressed in Powerline costume

  • Dress up! Half the fun is coming up with unique outfits for your magical trek through the parks.
  • Remember that there can be a difference between a runDisney PR (personal record) versus a regular PR. You can certainly have your best runDisney times and perhaps even your best overall time, but I would not necessarily go into it thinking you're going to break records. It’s also about taking it all in and enjoying the ambiance, energy and characters. It's up to you to decide what your priorities are and what you want to get out of the experience.
  • Have fun! runDisney races are a truly unique experience and a great accomplishment, so enjoy every magical minute.

Have you ever participated in a runDisney race? Let us know in the comments below! 

Related: The Full ~Frogtastic~ Schedule of Events at Disney World

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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