Race Travel

Why You Should runDisney at Disneyland

I have a secret. This East Coast girl loves runDisney at the Disneyland Resort more than runDisney at the Walt Disney World Resort. I wouldn’t turn down a race at Walt Disney World, that’s for sure, but if I had to choose, I’d pack my bags for Cali.

It’s true. It all started with the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare in 2013 and my feelings were solidified after the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Rebel Challenge earlier this month. Now all I can think about is how I can get back to run another race at Disneyland.

If you’ve run at Walt Disney World, but haven’t yet considered a runDisney race at Disneyland, here are a few reasons I think you should consider:

Why runDisney at Disneyland


1. For East Coasters, the race times are perfect. I was up and at ’em for my Disneyland races. 3:30am PST doesn’t sting so much when your body thinks it’s 6:30am EST (my normal wake up time.) I felt more energized during my runs and actually slept better the night before knowing I wouldn’t be dragging myself out of bed at an ungodly hour. For this reason, I suggest planning your runDisney Disneyland trip so you arrive as close to the races as possible so your body hasn’t reset to PST. Extend your trip past race day for enjoying the parks instead of arriving early.

2. Walking to Expo and corrals: This is one of the biggest pluses to running at Disneyland. You can walk everywhere. There’s no need to take a shuttle to the expo, back to your hotel, to the race, and back again. No lines to wait in, no sitting next to sweaty, smelly runners on a bus after the race. You finish, enjoy the post-race amenities, and stroll (or in my case, limp) back to your hotel to shower and head to the parks. You’ll feel like you’ve saved hours. And walking to the corrals means you can sleep in even later. The Star Wars Half Marathon and 10k started at 5:30am. We left our hotel at 4:45am each morning and made it to the corrals with tons of time to spare. There’s also no need to use bag check when you know your gear is just a short walk away. If you’re staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel, there are shuttles on race morning, but it’s typically faster to walk.

3. On course entertainment: I love the entertainment along Disneyland courses. There are bands and cheerleaders galore, lots of spectators, characters…you name it! It’s true that most of the Disney characters are only in the parks, which make up only a portion of the course, but I honestly don’t miss them when we’re on the streets of Anaheim or Garden Grove. You also get to run into amazing people like the 501st Legion who packed one area of the Star Wars Half Marathon course.


4. Temperatures: For the most part, California doesn’t do humid. Hot, sure (2013 Dumbo was super hot), but it’s not that sticky humidity that can plague a Florida race. The weather for Star Wars was amazing. Cool (chilly, even) in the mornings and warm during the day. Perfect running weather. While there were some wind issues during the Avengers Half Marathon last November, for the majority of races, pleasant weather prevails in SoCal.

5. Less walking due to size of parks: Remember how I said you could walk everywhere? Well, even with walking everywhere, you don’t feel like you’re walking a ton. The Disneyland Resort area isn’t as large as its Florida counterpart. You can spend a day in the parks after the race and not feel like you’re walking another half marathon. There are also tons of great spots to sit and relax, grab a drink, listen to music, and eat delicious food.

6. Crowd levels: Now here’s where my Disneyland regulars will disagree with me. As someone who is used to lines for Walt Disney World attractions, lines at Disneyland feel like nothing. Locals balk at a 20 minute wait for a ride, but that seems like heaven for people used to much longer waits in Florida. I heard lots of people saying the parks were crowded for Star Wars Weekend, and they were busy. It was a holiday weekend. But I didn’t get the same sense of “oh my goodness! This place is PACKED!” as I would have felt at Walt Disney World. Even with the lines, you can see and do so much. Plus, the paper FASTPASS system still in place at Disneyland makes things even easier.

7. Speaking of paper FASTPASS: Disneyland isn’t a place you need to plan for. You can show up and do what you want. Advanced Dining Reservations aren’t necessarily needed and there’s no FastPass+ system that requires selecting attractions in advance. It’s so laid back and wonderful, which is why it’s overtaken Walt Disney World as my favorite Disney resort. (shhhhhhhh!) There are plenty of “off-site” hotels to choose from in every price range and you can see and do so much in a shorter amount of time, which is great when you’re not able to take an extended amount of time off work.

So there you have it. My seven reasons you should consider switching it up and heading to the Disneyland Resort for a runDisney event. And hey, don’t forget: run a race (half or full marathon) at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the same calendar year and you’ll earn yourself a shiny Coast to Coast medal.

#rundisney #dumbodoubledare and #CoastToCoast complete!!!!!!!!!!! #bestdayever

A photo posted by Ashley (@fiddledeeme) on

Registration opens for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend featuring the Dumbo Double Dare today for Annual Passholders and DVC owners. General registration opens February 10th.

Registrations for Avengers Half Marathon Weekend opens on April 7th.

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  • Reply Jenn January 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I really, really, really want to get out to DL, especially for a race. I’m torn though – I feel awful going alone and leaving little man and Mr PugRunner, since they haven’t been there either, but… I don’t want to pull little man from school so that mommy can race. And for him to go, we would have to be there longer than a weekend.

    We shall see. I am desperate to run Star Wars, so maybe it will happen for me soon.

    • Reply ashley January 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      I really think you’d love Star Wars. You’d probably be colder than I was (haha), but it’s such a great weekend to be there. I’m awful in that my family never comes with me, but I understand that guilt factor. I say you do SW in 2016 with me. 😉

  • Reply Sarah January 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I have to agree, I really love the races at DL. If they didn’t involve a cross country flight every time, I would do them all, but it’s just not logistically possible for this east coast girl.

    • Reply ashley January 27, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Flights from here to California aren’t really that much more expensive than Walt Disney World. It’s crazy. And we spend a lot less on hotels in California, so it definitely helps justify the trips.

  • Reply Jennifer L. February 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Great read! I’ve never done a half-marathon, and I wanted the Disneyland one to be my first… I felt guilty dishing out $200+ on the race, but your list helps ground me a bit and gets me pumped! I’m excited!

    • Reply ashley February 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      That’s awesome! I really feel like you get more value out of your money at Disneyland, especially when you have to travel. I hope you have a great race!

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