Overall Rating
Overall Rating (27 Reviews)
4.4
(27 Ratings)(27 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.1
SCENERY
4
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.5
The first-ever Walt Disney World® Marathon was a fairy tale come true for runners who dreamt of running in the most magical place on Earth. This year, you’re invited to join all the new fun and excitement as we celebrate 25 years of the Walt Disney World® Marathon magic, moments … MORE
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    Profile photo of Emily Rude
    portlandrunner FIRST-TIMER '13

    I don't think I could have picked a better half marathon as my first! RunDisney puts on quite a production, but like the rest of the parks and resorts, they … MORE

    I don’t think I could have picked a better half marathon as my first! RunDisney puts on quite a production, but like the rest of the parks and resorts, they do it right! All the cast members were friendly and helpful, the course was filled with entertainment and inspiration, there were local community touches as well as plenty of Disney characters, and lots water/food stops. The only drawback was the 5:00 am race start time, but from the fireworks at the beginning to Donald Duck at the finish, this is a magical and enjoyable race.

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    ljanik FIRST-TIMER '16

    This race is unique because it gives you an opportunity to run in places you never could otherwise. The selling point of the race is you get to run through … MORE

    This race is unique because it gives you an opportunity to run in places you never could otherwise.

    The selling point of the race is you get to run through the Disney parks- don’t let that fool you, most of the running will be on the 4-lane roads/highways connecting all of the parks. Because it’s all highways, the course is super flat with the exception of on and off ramps and bridges. Also because of this, there were long stretches without any spectators (the parks however, were lined with spectators the whole way through). There are water/gatorade stops every mile with a Disney character at each (and a huge sign displaying the time) and that was encouraging.

    If you are planning to RACE this half-marathon (or any of the races), make sure you put in a good seed time. They will put you in corrals based on your time. Unfortunately this was my first half-marathon and I had NO previous time, they put me in “I” (“A” was the fastest, “O” the slowest), and I eventually convinced them to put me in “B” (where I was still plowing through people for the first few miles). If you are running sub 1:20, you might end up in no man’s land after the halfway point, luckily my training partner was with me, but we passed a lot of people on their own.

    You have to get up early- 3:15 at the latest. The race starts at 5:30, but you need to be there no later than 4:30 and the last shuttle leaves around 3:45 or maybe 4. Because of the early start, it was dark for the whole race (if you finish before 7 o’clock). Which is bad for two reasons- 1. you miss a lot of the scenery and 2. some of the turns inside the park (especially the last mile) are not obvious in complete darkness. The bright side is that the temperatures are fairly cool at this time of day (60’s to low 70’s).

    If you are deciding whether or not to stay at a resort the weekend of your race, I can’t recommend it enough. The shuttles took us to and from the expos (and parks, obviously), and to the race and back. They had food the morning of the race at the cafeteria/restaurant if we wanted it.

    If you want a “magical” experience for your first (or one-hundredth) race, choose this one!

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    Profile photo of Meg Sauve
    RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '14

    Disney is, as we all know, an empire. They do things a certain way, and you pay a high price for it (literally, it's expensive to register and expensive to … MORE

    Disney is, as we all know, an empire. They do things a certain way, and you pay a high price for it (literally, it’s expensive to register and expensive to go and stay there to do it). My first trip to Disney World was to run the Goofy Challenge. I was worried I’d hate it; I don’t like Florida (too hot and humid), I don’t like crowds, and generally, I like smaller races. Why in the world would I sign up for this race? Same reason I signed up for NYC, Boston, and Chicago: they’re banner races, I wanted to run them once. Checked that box at Disney too, and glad I did.

    I ran the Goofy with the American flag and I convinced my husband to run the half with me so I wouldn’t go too fast. We lucked out with the weather – while it was kind of humid, the temperature was actually not bad. Cool mornings and early start times helped a lot. So here’s my rundown:

    Hotel: Amazingly, if you’re an SPG member, the Swan & Dolphin hotels are tough to beat. They are also Disney properties, so we were able to stay on property and use points. Sweet! Great location and amenities. We still had free shuttle access to the parks and to the race starts and back at the end. Fantastic food, strolling to the boardwalk was nice, and we got to see some of the parks.

    Expo: I was underwhelmed by the expo. It seemed dimly lit and kind of lackluster. A lot of the merchandise was picked over and there just wasn’t much. I didn’t buy anything. The shirts were kind of nice, good graphics and unique, but a little on the small side. While we’re on the swag, the medals were great. Three big medals with the Disney characters and nice ribbons. Loved hanging those on my wall.

    Races: The start times to both races are very early, but that, to me, was awesome. I was back at the hotel early giving us time to explore, dine, visit a park, etc. (all by design, I’m sure). There are shuttles that drop you off at the start village, then you go through security (not bad) and the usual hang around and wait time. Then there’s the long trek to the corrals. Good for a warm up! There are many corrals and waves that are supposed to seed you based on pace/finish time, but much to my annoyance people were jumping barriers left and right to move up. I hate that.

    Anyway, there are fireworks at the start, a whole big production, and then you’re off. The courses were pretty good. Very flat, and pretty windy in some places. You do get to go through the parks, which is the fun part, and there are Disney characters all over the place. I didn’t care about time too much, so I stopped to take several photos (if the line was too long I skipped it). The half went through Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and the full ran through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom (I hear that if you go a little slower, you can ride the Everest ride while still running the marathon, which is unique), ESPN (wide world of sports, maybe?) around a baseball diamond, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. There are some long, boring, and lonely stretches between parks where there’s not much scenery, but that’s the price you pay for running through each property.

    My personal opinion: it was worth it. I hadn’t ever been to Disney World and I had fun, even as a crowd-hating adult. It actually wasn’t as crowded as I feared and it’s very clean and well-run. There’s obviously a lot to do so it’s one of those fun build-a-little-trip-around-it races to do with your spouse or family. I may never go to Disney again, after all. The half and full marathons were far from my fastest races but that’s okay, I knew that going in and sometimes it’s way more fun to just enjoy the sights and take some photos with Goofy. It’s a great way to cross Florida off your list if you’re a 50 stater, and if you’re like I am, it’s another box checked.

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    Profile photo of Kyler Wilson
    runsoncarbs FIRST-TIMER '14

    Very crowded course. Lots to see along the course , but not a course to PR at. Where else can you ride a roller coaster in the middle of your MORE

    Very crowded course. Lots to see along the course , but not a course to PR at. Where else can you ride a roller coaster in the middle of your marathon?

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    runnerbee FIRST-TIMER '17

    Didn't know what to expect going into this marathon as I never ran an official race before this one, but I figured since it was Disney couldn't be that bad … MORE

    Didn’t know what to expect going into this marathon as I never ran an official race before this one, but I figured since it was Disney couldn’t be that bad right? Turned out I had a blast! Officially transformed me from a non-competitive runner to a marathon believer. Course was relatively flat but too much time was spent running in between the parks/ESPN area where the views weren’t anything special. Luckily the live entertainment and characters on course more than made up for the lack of scenery.

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    Profile photo of Jeff Kendall
    jeffruns FIRST-TIMER '16

    This marathon is well run. It's just plain awesome. There are tens of thousands of runners in what must have been 20 corrals and Disney let off fireworks for the … MORE

    This marathon is well run. It’s just plain awesome. There are tens of thousands of runners in what must have been 20 corrals and Disney let off fireworks for the start of each and every corral. They spared no expense.

    By the way, did you know your marathon bib is a fast pass? So there are two schools of thought regarding this marathon. One is run it. One is start at the back, jog it and ride the rides on the clock. Yes I know, what hardcore marathoner would do a thing like that but this is Disney. You’re saying you aren’t willing to add a big fat minute and forty seconds to your marathon time to ride Expedition Everest? Think of it as a modified Jeff Galloway run walk method, only this is the run ride method. Run a little faster up to Everest, ride the thing, then run a little faster up to Aerosmith’s Rock’n Roller Coaster, ride the thing… and so on, run a little faster up to GM’s Test Track, and so on…

    One thing I did not like was getting up so early to run. It made for a long day but at least we got to finish before it got really warm. It was humid enough and they announced at the start that we should go 30 seconds slower in these conditions. I managed to go only 3 seconds slower but if I’d known about that fast pass thing, who knows?

    I paid extra for the VIP tent. This was a good decision as I had a nice breakfast immediately after the race. I also paid extra for a massage. Another good decision.

    One thing that struck me is how many runners were willing to stop and wait in line to get their pictures taken with Disney or Star Wars characters. Once I got near the end and realized I wasn’t going to PR, I slowed down, ate pretzels and got my photo taken with Mike from Monsters, Inc. I will be doing this marathon again and maybe I’ll even do the Dopey Challenge (48 miles over 4 days) next time!

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    Profile photo of Nathanial Garrod
    nathanialjg FIRST-TIMER '16

    Florida is so boring. Running through Disneyworld is dope. Seriously so much fun to run through the parks - I wish there was more of this. So much of the … MORE

    Florida is so boring. Running through Disneyworld is dope. Seriously so much fun to run through the parks – I wish there was more of this. So much of the race is running between the parks. The medal is cool. The shirt I got (Size: XL) is not as long as XL’s usually are, but very wide.

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    Profile photo of Donald Dobbins
    Donnie FIRST-TIMER '16

    Ran the Dopey Every Race was AWESOME the miles fly by. A Must Run for any runner. Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and lots more on the course. Running through the Disney … MORE

    Ran the Dopey Every Race was AWESOME the miles fly by. A Must Run for any runner. Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and lots more on the course. Running through the Disney Parks. Great Expo and bus transport if you stay in a resort hotel. I will run again.

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    The dopey challenge was a good way to see if I wanted to pursue ultra distance racing. I'm sold. This event was awesome, great to see characters and an excellent … MORE

    The dopey challenge was a good way to see if I wanted to pursue ultra distance racing. I’m sold. This event was awesome, great to see characters and an excellent course. Worth every penny.

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    Profile photo of Wendy Marsh
    Tiger26 FIRST-TIMER '15

    The best aspect of the race was the weather and all the characters you can get a photo with along the course. I would recommend this to experienced runners. To … MORE

    The best aspect of the race was the weather and all the characters you can get a photo with along the course. I would recommend this to experienced runners. To improve the race I would have vendors giving away products to rumours at the expo and after the race. It seems as if races have strayed away from this.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
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    Profile photo of Guillermo Sadir
    gsadir FIRST-TIMER '16

    I'm glad I completed the Dopey Challenge, but will probably not do it again. Cons : excessive cost, 5k & 10k are not serious events for Disney and are poorly … MORE

    I’m glad I completed the Dopey Challenge, but will probably not do it again.

    Cons : excessive cost, 5k & 10k are not serious events for Disney and are poorly coordinated for serious runners (was put in a corral with 6 year olds who love to jump in front of runners), 75% of the race is on highway/back roads, post race food box is crap, if you want to arrive on time/stress free, you should stay at a Disney hotel, which is ridiculously expensive (stay/food).

    Pros : 25% of the race is in the parks and very magical, taking pictures with characters is a must (although you lose time), half & marathon are well organized, buses to / from Disney hotels very efficient.

    Final thought : If you want to enjoy the run inside Disney parks and meet Disney characters, your times will be totally off; so not recommend for serious runners. If you are serious runner, there are plenty of races with better views at a 10th of the price.

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    Profile photo of Julie Bullard
    runbullardsrun FIRST-TIMER '16

    For more details about packet pick up, race shirts, finisher medals, post race party, accommodations, places to eat, and photos of the race, visit http://www.serialrunner.com/half-marathon-race-recaps/walt-disney-world-marathon MORE

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    Profile photo of Michelle Brothers
    sinderella2168 FIRST-TIMER '16

    All the medals and long sleeve tech shirts were nice. Expo was huge and easy to find and navigate. Courses are easy and well supported with volunteers. Several photo ops … MORE

    All the medals and long sleeve tech shirts were nice. Expo was huge and easy to find and navigate. Courses are easy and well supported with volunteers. Several photo ops throughout the races. Finish lines are all in the same place so transportation is fairly simple. Blankets were provided at finish on the colder mornings. All the races ran through at least 1 Disney park so scenery was nice. Marathon day runs through all 4 Disney parks with lots of things to see and photos to take. Lots of actual bathrooms along marathon course in the parks that were clean and well stocked. Marathon was my favorite race.

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    Profile photo of Gary Ramsey
    gjramsey FIRST-TIMER '16

    1st time doing a RunDIsney event, and it was worth it. Did not have any time goals with the warm/humid weather. It is amazing to run down Main Street USA … MORE

    1st time doing a RunDIsney event, and it was worth it. Did not have any time goals with the warm/humid weather. It is amazing to run down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom in the dark with the spectators and the castle all lit up.
    I stopped at almost every character spot along the course for both races, and soaked up the crowd support from the spectators.

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    I love Disney World so I decided to go big and run my first marathon here in 2014 and I LOVED it. Such a fun atmosphere, great swag, and a … MORE

    I love Disney World so I decided to go big and run my first marathon here in 2014 and I LOVED it. Such a fun atmosphere, great swag, and a nice flat course made for one of my best marathon experiences so far (out of 11 total now). Since it was my first marathon, I opted to run the whole thing rather than stop and get pictures with characters – so I do feel like I missed out slightly on that, but there’s always next time! My only complaint is the high price tag you pay for Disney – coming from across the country this race will definitely not be ran every year, but I hope to be back again sometime to try the Dopey Challenge!

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    Profile photo of Allison Alfonso
    Allisonalfonso FIRST-TIMER '15

    Disney always does a great job and I'm always amazed at how smoothly everything goes considering how many runners there are. I know it can't be avoided since they need … MORE

    Disney always does a great job and I’m always amazed at how smoothly everything goes considering how many runners there are. I know it can’t be avoided since they need to get everyone through before the parks open, but the early 3:00 am mornings were tough especially this year since it is the first time I did Goofy. I loved it enough to register for the Dopey challenge next January though!!!

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    Profile photo of Neil Hetherington
    oldguard88 REPEAT RUNNER '15

    Not a bad race. Ran it once before. Not much into the Disney theme, but we went down because we had actually one a photo contest thru Marathon Tours and … MORE

    Not a bad race. Ran it once before. Not much into the Disney theme, but we went down because we had actually one a photo contest thru Marathon Tours and received a free stay at the hotel. Personally, I would not do this one again. They do have the organization down to a science though. Great family race!

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    jrohlede FIRST-TIMER '08

    I am the only person in the US who thought this was just an average marathon? First of all don't have kids so may not have been swayed by the … MORE

    I am the only person in the US who thought this was just an average marathon? First of all don’t have kids so may not have been swayed by the Disney ‘magic’ (i.e marketing / hype).

    My problem was not with the organization / swag / all round presentation. All those are first rate. This is probably the best organized and run large marathon that I have done.
    My problem was with the course. The 3 miles at the end of the race running thru the parks was okay – except for the people coming in the parks and cutting in front of you. But the other 23 miles were pretty much pure boredom. Seeing the back parking lots and access roads to the Disney parks didn’t really wow me. I do give credit to the Disney characters who come out early in the morning to greet you in costume.
    And of course the medals are the biggest ever.
    Ran it before all the challenges became popular so maybe they have changed the course since then. Sorry if I am being Un-American and saying something bad about Disney…

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    Profile photo of Mike Sohaskey
    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '15

    BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a marathoner, then the Walt Disney World Marathon is a no-brainer. And if you don’t believe me, feel free to read a few of the gazillion … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a marathoner, then the Walt Disney World Marathon is a no-brainer. And if you don’t believe me, feel free to read a few of the gazillion blogs dedicated to the runDisney experience. Nobody stages a more entertaining race than Disney, because nobody CAN stage a more entertaining race than Disney (Th-th-th-that’s a challenge, Warner Bros). Whereas other races rely on “loud and abrasive” for their on-course entertainment, Disney relies on its time-honored characters and theme parks. With a couple of well-timed exceptions (e.g. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” blasting at mile 16), the WDW Marathon speaks softly and carries a big stick. And if you’ve only ever run a Disney race in California, don’t think this is more of the same – Florida is a completely different experience. It’s one of the very few (only?) instances where I’m willing to concede that Florida trumps California. That and alligator density.

    I’ve heard the complaint that Disney races are too expensive – and if price is your sole criteria for judging a race, then maybe you’d be right. But the truth is, the next runner I hear second-guess their decision to run the WDW Marathon will be the first. Disregarding Active.com’s processing fee, my marathon registration was $170 (compared to $255 for the NYC Marathon and $195 for the Avengers Half), which by the time I crossed the finish line on Sunday felt like a bargain. And the fact that their most expensive option – the Dopey Challenge – is also their most popular says all you need to know about the supply & demand at work here. So if your primary concern is the $170 registration fee, I might suggest you focus less on price and more on value.

    PRODUCTION: No one produces a race better than runDisney, and they have a whopping 68-page Official Event Guide to prove it. WDW is a race for the runners, as evidenced in every facet of the race organization with the possible exception of the 5:30am start time. While Disney may claim the early start time helps to beat the Florida (and California) heat, it also conveniently helps to clear as many runners out of the parks as possible before the paying customers rise and shine.

    There’s a fine line between “flawless organization” and “military precision”… and I might argue that at times Disney’s organization is so good as to make the process feel devoid of spontaneity. Who knows, maybe this is the key to producing a race of this magnitude… I’m just not sure they need quite so many crew members and volunteers directing people every step of the way, from expo to race day. Save the stanchions for Space Mountain, Disney.

    That said, my race weekend went off without a hitch. And every volunteer I met was sincerely wonderful, wonderfully sincere and clearly drinking happy juice by the tankard. I don’t plan to run WDW again anytime soon – after two of their races in two months I’m pretty Disney-ed out, and 41 other states await before a return trip to the Magic Kingdom. Then again, when it comes to Disney I’ll never say never, even if does bring me back to Florida…

    SWAG: For us “marathon only” slackers, the t-shirt was a nice black Champion tech tee. And the ribbon on the finisher’s medal is fastened to itself by velcro, making it easy to separate ribbon from medal if that’s your preference – one final example of Disney’s unrivaled attention to detail.

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    Profile photo of Robert Frimmel
    rfrimmel REPEAT RUNNER '95

    I've done Disney 3 times and plan never to do it again. Unless you are a huge Disney fan or happen to be in the area for the race then … MORE

    I’ve done Disney 3 times and plan never to do it again. Unless you are a huge Disney fan or happen to be in the area for the race then do it. Nothing magical about the course. You do run through the different theme parks but the majority of the time you are out on the road.

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