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Tips to Plan a runDisney Vacation

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Destination endurance races have become popular reasons to travel for families that have a running parent. Combining a race with a family trip to a great destination is a perfect way to take in the sites and still involve the entire family in the fun. runDisney organizes many races at both Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California that offer running adventures for adults and kids from marathons to kid fun runs. Of course, planning for a runDisney race and Disney vacation involves a bit of preparation for both the runners and family members.

Seven tips to plan for a runDisney vacation

1. runDisney races start very early in the morning.

Staying at a property that allows for easy access to the start line and course can help lessen the fright of an early morning alarm clock. Although there are host hotels that provide shuttle transportation on the morning of the race, staying at either Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista or Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek locations makes access to the Epcot starting areas for Disney World races easy with taxis to the start area, without having to wait for huge lines.

2. Plan for a few extra days to enjoy Disney as a family.

Being on your feet all day, exploring your favorite Disney park is not optimal for half marathon or marathon preparation. Arriving a few days early gives or staying a few days after the race will help you make the most of the Disney experience from early morning character breakfasts to late nights at Cinderella’s castle watching the fireworks. This also helps you take a day of rest before race day, to play at the pool (or float your afternoon away at Hilton Bonnet Creek’s lazy river).

3. Go to the Expo early.

The earlier you can go pick up your race goodies and any other running gear that you may need, the better. You might even consider going to the Expo on your own while the kids play at the pool or explore a Disney park while you are at the Expo as it can get very crowded and take time to get through.

4. Get in the spirit with a costume.

runDisney races are all about pixie dust and magic. Sparkle skirts or full costumes are very common on the race course and help provide an extra bit of pep in your stride. Part of the fun of the runDisney races is seeing the array of creativity that surrounds you while you run the course. Expect to see runners in full costumes with wigs and other runners with just a sparkly headband as their bling.

5. Register for the extra weekend events early.

runDisney weekends are more than just a race. The runDisney team goes all out to create experiences for the entire family with special pasta dinners, post race breakfasts, race retreats for runners and chEAR squad spectator options for the family. These special events often sell out before the race weekend. As a runner, I am a huge advocate of the race retreat for both before and after the race even if it is an extra expense as a place to stay warm and have snacks in a quieter setting than the overall start and finish areas.

6. Run with some type of camera.

Whether it is your phone camera or a small point and shoot that you can keep in a pocket or gear pack, there are many memorable moments that you will want to capture before the race, along the race route and afterwards.  Characters line the race route giving runners opportunities to stop and take pictures, and if you are running the Princess Half Marathon you will want to stop as you make your way into the Magic Kingdom to take a picture of Main Street full of runners heading toward Cinderella’s Castle.

7. Enjoy the run without worrying about your time.

Although runDisney has reduced the numbers of runners in some of the races to help avoid crowding, there are a lot of runners on the race course during a runDisney race. Enjoying the moment to stop for a picture with your favorite Disney character or princess or taking in the costumes around you is not something you see at most local races.  I know that I will never forget running through Cinderella’s Castle during the Princess Half Marathon or running towards Epcot’s Spaceship Earth with the morning sun glistening around it, but my time? There is always another race where you can push yourself for a faster time.

There are several runDisney events coming up in the next few months. Due to their popularity, many of the larger races are sold out, but kids’ fun runs and 5K spaces are still available at time of publishing. Visit the runDisney website for more details.

Do you have any additional tips to share about planning a runDisney vacation? Please let us know in the comments.

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Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!

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