I Went to runDisney – Here’s Everything You Need To Know [FAQs]

Here's the inside scoop from our very own Amber Sayer as she gives us her first-hand account of the runDisney events.

The 31st annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend just wrapped up in Orlando, Florida.

Held at the iconic Disney World Park, this popular RunDisney event includes four separate races—a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon.

But, how do you register for the runDisney Marathon? What is the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon like? 

In this complete runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend race guide, we provide answers to FAQs and expert tips for registering and running the runDisney World Marathon Weekend races.

Amber at runDisney.

What Is the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is the marquee weekend of the runDisney lineup, and the marathon is runDisney’s only full marathon on the runDisney race calendar.

Plus, runners can register for a combination of races, including the grueling Dopey Challenge (all four races), Goofy’s Race (the 10k, half marathon, and marathon), and a Disney Half Challenge (the half marathon and marathon).

Each Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend race takes place on a consecutive day, with the 5k starting on Thursday and the marathon finishing on Sunday (January 4-7, 2024). 

The 5k and 10k courses go through EPCOT. 

The half marathon course (13.1 miles) goes through Magic Kingdom and EPCOT theme parks.

The marathon course (26.2 miles) starts and ends at EPCOT and goes through all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. 

In addition to the Walt Disney World Marathon events, there are several other runDisney races at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Disneyland in California, and Virtual Races as well.

Here is the current runDisney race calendar:

Walt Disney World

  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend: October 31-Nov. 3, 2024 
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Jan. 8-12, 2025 
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by CORKCICLE: Feb. 20-24, 2025 
  • runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend: April 3-6, 2025 

 Disneyland Resort in California

  • Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend: Jan. 11-14, 2024 
  • Disneyland Halloween Half Marathon Weekend: Sept. 5-8, 2024  

Disney Virtual Races

  • runDisney Virtual Series: June 1-Aug. 31, 2024
  • runDisney 12Ks of Christmas: Dec. 1-Dec. 31, 2024

How Do You Register for the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Races?

Much like all of the most popular races, the runDisney races—particularly the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend events—sell out extremely quickly, and if you want to get in, you will have to be as diligent about registering as you are about training.

In fact, some runDisney veterans call the Disney World Marathon registration process the “race before the race.“

This sentiment embodies how quickly the Disney races sell out.

In fact, many of the Disney races, particularly the Walt Disney Marathon, sell out within an hour of registration opening, if not sooner.

Typically, runDisney race registration opens about eight months before the race date.

Registration dates for the Walt Disney World Marathon events and all of the other runDisney races throughout the year at Disney World, Disneyland, and the virtual runDisney races, are published on runDisney.com well in advance (typically at the start of the calendar year).

Here is how you register for any runDisney races, including Walt Disney World Marathon events.

  1. Sign up for an account on the runDisney website, create your profile, and input your payment information. While you can do this when you are registering for a Disney race, a pro tip is to do this well in advance because all of these steps take time, and there’s a good chance that if you are inputting all of this information and trying to create an account, the race will sell out even if you get started as soon as the registration window opens. It’s that competitive! Therefore, take care of this step before your target RunDisney race registration day.
  2. Note the exact date and time that the registration window is supposed to open.
  3. Make sure that you are ready to go and at the computer or mobile RunDisney site about 15 to 20 minutes before this time.
  4. Enter the virtual queue for runDisney race registration. Another pro tip is that sometimes the registration window opens a few minutes early, before the announced time. If you keep refreshing the page, you will know that you are good to go as soon as the green “Register Now” button appears. Again, this might be a few minutes before the announced registration time, giving you a few bonus minutes to get in early before everything jams up and you end up far down in the virtual queue or worse, dealing with overloaded web page problems and lag times that end up preventing you from getting in before the race sells out. The virtual queue is sometimes several hours long, and there is no guarantee that you will get into the race, but as long as you enter the queue early (usually within the first 15-30 minutes of its opening), you should likely get in, particularly for some of the less popular Disney running races.
  5. Make sure to stay on the virtual queue page while you are waiting so that you can click to enter as soon as the countdown clock reaches zero.
  6. No matter which Disney race you are registering for during a given runDisney event (for example, whether you are doing the full Walt Disney World Marathon, just the 10K during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, or the Dopey Race Challenge), clicking the “Register Now” button will take you to the same landing page where you can choose whichever race or races you are planning to enter. 
  7. As long as you’ve already created an account, profile, and payment source, to register for any of the runDisney events, you will just need your name, address, email, shirt size, and the name and number of an emergency contact for race day.
  8. Then, you are taken to a runDisney merchandise section where you can choose add-ons like a special Disney marathon jacket or other swag. While it is really cool to get all this stuff, and you will have opportunities to do so, it is best to skip this step during the registration becausem believe it or not, while you are making your choices, every second counts, and you are not “in“ to the race until your registration is complete. Sifting through the merchandise just adds more time and might be the difference between getting in and pounding your fists on your computer desk and disappointment! You can go back into your runDisney account later to purchase Disney race merchandise bundles or even wait until the runDisney Expo for your race to buy items.
  9. Then, quickly press submit and cross your fingers that you will get into the Disney marathon, Dopey Challenge, or other races of your dreams!
runDisney startline.
Photo: Disney Sports Media

Do I Have to Be Fast to Run the Disney World Marathon?

One of the best things about the Disney Marathon and runDisney races is that there is a generous cut-off time.

You only need to maintain a 16-minute per mile pace for all of the races, making them great for beginners.

However, for the Disney marathon and half marathon (as well as many of the other popular runDisney races), you can submit a “Proof of Time” during registration to get a better bib number and seeded into a fast starting corral. 

This is highly recommended if you are a faster runner because otherwise, your bib number and corral assignment will be random and in one of the slower corrals behind all of the participants who sent in a proof of time.

Here are the runDisney marathon proof of time guidelines, half marathon proof of time guidelines, and runDisney Dopey Challenge proof of time rules:

  • Proof of time is required for start group placement for any runners who believe they will finish the Half Marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes (2:15) or faster or the Full Marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes (4:30) or faster. This applies to Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and Dopey Challenge participants as well.
  • Proof of time is not required for runners who have an anticipated mile pace that will be slower than 2:15 finish time for the Half Marathon and 4:30 for the Marathon.
  • Proof of time is not required for the 5k and 10k races, but you can indicate whether you plan to run faster than 8 minute mile pace when you register.
  • Start group placement is based on your projected finish time (which you fill in during registration) and start group capacities. 
  • Proof of time must be submitted from an official race (not a virtual race, trail run, self-timed, or relay) on a USATF-certified course reflecting results from a 2-year window leading up to the race (specific dates are provided when you register).
  • You will be placed in the last start group if you don’t follow the proof of time rules, if the data provided is incomplete, or if the race results cannot be verified.
  • For the Full Marathon Proof of Time, you can use results from a 10-mile race, half marathon, or full marathon.
    For the Half Marathon Proof of Time, you can use results from a 10K, 0-mile race, half marathon, or full marathon.
  • You must submit your proof of time during the window before the deadline (usually September before the race in January) via your participant account.
Marathon weekend expo sign.

What Is the runDisney Fitness Expo Like?

One of the most critical parts of any Disney race weekend is the runDisney Expo.

This is where you will pick up your race bib or race bibs, depending on how many races you are running, along with your included technical T-shirts.

There are also tons of vendors selling different running products, from nutrition to running shoes to apparel and running tech.

Over my 25 years of running and racing, I have been to dozens of impressive running expos for races.

Probably the most impressive expo I ever went to was the New York City Marathon expo, but I think that this Disney World Marathon expo absolutely rivaled that in terms of the number of running vendors, pre-race hype, and things to do.

Here are a few need-to-know bits of information about the runDisney race expo:

#1: Attendance is Mandatory

You must pick up your race bib or race bibs at the expo. There is no bib pick-up on the day of the race.

Also, you have to go to the Disney running expo at least one day before your first race because all of the races start at 5 a.m., and you have to have your race bib before that.

For example, if you are doing the 2025 Disney Dopey Challenge, the first race—the 5k—is on the Thursday of race weekend, so you need to get to the expo on Wednesday.

#2: Know The Expo Schedule and Details

The expo for the WDW Marathon weekend opens on Wednesday and ends on Saturday, with specific hours posted on the website prior to the race.

The Disney Marathon Expo (and the Disney race expos for the other races that take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida) is located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. 

There are free shuttle buses that will take you to the Disney Race Expo if you are staying at a Disney resort.

If you are not staying at one of the Disney resorts, you can drive to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and park for free or use a rideshare app, including the Disney Minnie Van Service operated by Uber.

#3: Expect To Be There A While

The expo is huge.

Be expected to be a little overwhelmed, especially if you are going on the first day that the expo opens for the WDW Marathon or the other super popular Disney races such as the Disney Princess half marathon and Disney Wine & Dine half marathon.

To this end, budget a lot of time to be at the expo, even if you aren’t planning to do a lot of shopping.

Just picking up your bibs takes quite a long time because the lines are tremendously long.

As someone who hates waiting and has very little patience (thanks, ADHD and autism…), I found this part of the expo experience a little frustrating.

However, to the credit of runDisney, the expo was extremely well organized, and even though there were lines that snaked through rooms and rooms and rooms, it actually moved fairly quickly, and it was very clear where you were supposed to be going and how to navigate the steps of picking up your race gear.

Just be warned that when you think you are near the front of the line, there might be yet another room where you will sneak back and forth through taped lines on the floor behind thousands of other runners waiting to get their numbers as well.

There are three main buildings at the Disney race expo that you will need to visit. The first building you have to go to is where you will pick up your race bib. You should go to this part of the expo first (I suggest making a beeline there!).

On the top of the race bib, there is a detachable piece that will be ripped off in the next building when you pick up your free race shirt.

The volunteers will rip off this piece of the bib in exchange for whatever size shirt that you selected when you signed up for your race or races. You will also get safety pins to attach the bib to your shirt and the very important clear runDisney gEAR bag.

Startline race.
Photo: Disney Sports Media

Why Are the runDisney Races So Expensive?

When I was first registering for the Walt Disney World Marathon events (the 5k, 10k, and Disney half marathon) for January 2024, I have to admit that I was shocked at how expensive the races were.

This is partly due to the fact that I haven’t actually registered and run a race in over seven years, so I’m a little out of touch with how much race fees have skyrocketed, particularly for big city marathons and half marathons.

However, like all things Disney, the prices for the runDisney events are notably higher than many other non-Disney races of equal distances.

However, at first, I thought this was just another way that Disney was able to charge more due to the branding and caché that Disney holds and the exclusiveness and desirability of the runDisney running events.

However, while there might be a degree to which this is true, I honestly think the higher prices actually speak to the value of the races and how well they are run.

For example, while you might expect to pay about $100-$115 for a Disney 5k, the race is not going to be anything like your local community 5k race. 

The runDisney medals are stunning and HUGE! 

The free Disney race swag—especially the long-sleeved technical race shirts (in tons of sizes and kids, men, and women-specific fits) are super high quality and stunning, with 3D, movable Disney characters.

Even the race bibs are enormous and aesthetically pleasing.

You get a breakfast box when you finish, a bottle of water, a bottle of Powerade, and a Mylar runDisney blanket.

The breakfast box for all of the Disney World Marathon races had peanut butter crackers, a Honey Stinger waffle (chocolate flavor), a fresh banana, fruit snacks, low-fat tortilla chips, cheese dip for the Tostitos, and Skittles.

Disney race fees also include access to the Jeff Galloway training program (even the Jeff Galloway Dopey training program for those running Dopey) and a downloadable playlist with Disney-themed music to keep you motivated while training and racing.

Plus, all of the Disney races were extremely well organized and well-run. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers.

The courses are very well-marked, safe, and well-supported. 

The Disney Marathon cost and the Dopey Challenge cost (along with the prices for other Disney races and challenges) can vary by event and change each year, but below is an example of what Disney race prices can be. 

Each Disney distance also has an age requirement, which is listed as well:

  • 5K: Starting at $101 with an age requirement of 5 years or older
  • 10K: Starting at $141 with an age requirement of 10 years or older
  • Half Marathon: Starting at $205 with an age requirement of 14 years or older
  • Marathon: Starting at $207 with an age requirement of 18 years or older
  • Challenges: Starting at $405 with an age requirement of 18 years or older

One important thing to note is that your race registration does not include admission to the Disney parks.

Although the races run through at least one Disney park or multiple Disney theme parks, you will be running well before the parks officially open, and therefore, you won’t have access to any of the rides.

However, the runDisney races are packed with character experiences and photo ops with your favorite Disney princesses, superheroes, villains, animals, and more.

There is also no afterparty for any of the races at the parks aside from the finish line area with the free breakfast box. 

The one exception to both of these points is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon (and the Disney Wine & Dine Challenge races).

Your registration fee for these events includes entrance to Epcot theme park starting at 5 p.m. on the Sunday of race weekend, as well as a free exclusive afterparty at the park from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for runners as well.

Friends and families of registered runners can also enjoy the post-race party if they buy a ticket.

This is a pretty cool experience because the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend takes place during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so there are a lot of special events going on and delicious cuisine to try after your race.

The finish line of all of the Disney races has lots of food trucks and other food vendors available as well, though any food or beverage that you purchase from the food trucks or tents is additional.

There is also official runDisney merchandise available on-site at the finish line, so you can pick up some swag after having a great race. 

The merchandise tent is also open before the race if you decide that you want to sport runDisney apparel during your race.

A Disney hotel.

Do You Need to Stay At a Disney Resort for the Disney Marathon?

Although it is not required that you stay in a Disney hotel or Disney Resort to participate in the runDisney events, I highly recommend that you do so if you have the financial means.

Ultimately, while the Disney Resorts are very expensive, the benefits of staying within the park outweigh the extra cost relative to third-party hotels outside the park for some runners.

If you are staying in one of the Disney Resorts, there is free bus transportation throughout the entire marathon weekend. You can also use the monorail and the Disney Skyliner gondola.

This may not seem like a huge benefit, but it is with the 5 a.m. start time for all of the runDisney event races and the fact that you have to be at the starting line area and corrals by 3:15 a.m. or so. 

Having to add a drive from your hotel and then figure out parking at Epcot to get to the starting line area could be really stressful, especially for first time marathon runners or people who are visiting Orlando, Florida for the first time and are relatively unfamiliar with the area and the parks.

There are also road closures around the park so after the race, it can be really difficult to get back to your hotel whereas the free shuttles for Disney hotel guests have permission to go on certain routes.

Overall, the runDisney Marathon race events are extremely well-organized, accessible to runners of all levels, and super fun for every Disney fan given all of the character experiences, running through the theme parks, the costumes, music, and opportunity to run in one of the most magical places on Earth!

Looking to start training today for a runDisney event? Check out our training database:

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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