Working with a Travel Agent for Your runDisney Experience

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

You train hard for your runDisney experience, let the planning be taken care of by a Travel Agent Specializing in Disney destinations and experiences!

It’s the best of both worlds when you work with a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney who also knows all about runDisney – they can expertly assist you with ALL of your plans!

As a runner you are dedicated to your training and preparing for your runDisney experience. Your training should continue to be your main focus and you shouldn’t need to stress over the details of your travel plans.

There are many avenues for finding a Travel Agent and many that specialize in Disney and runDisney, but you want to be sure to find the “right” Travel Agent to help you with your runDisney travel plans!

runDisney races are unique. You want someone who will partner with you and help you navigate the process. When running at a runDisney event, you do have to earn your placement. This system is in place to be inclusive of all people that want to join in.

And be cautioned – if your Travel Agent offers you higher corral placement that hasn’t been earned or unusual package requirements outside of those required by runDisney BEWARE. Just like in any industry, there are some people who take advantage of the system and this affects everyone and can cause disqualification to participate.

Even if a Travel Agent is recommended by others in runDisney groups, be sure to check reviews before selecting your Travel Agent.

– Do they have extensive travel planning experience?
– Do they take the time to understand your wants and needs rather than a “one size fits all” experience?
– Do they have personal experience with runDisney events?
– Do they have personal experience with resorts on property so that they can offer the best recommendations for you?

Once you decide on the best Travel Agent for you, it’s not out of line to expect the following:
ACCURACY – All information for your reservation and race registrations should be accurate and correct. Having extra people on your reservation or other inaccuracies should be brought to the attention of your Travel Agent. You should have no surprises at check-in.

– Are your travel dates correct?
– Are you booked at the resort hotel with the park ticket type, dining plan and race bibs that you requested?
– Are all names on your reservation the same as you requested for your travel party?

RESPONSIVENESS – A good Travel Agent will respond to your emails and phone calls efficiently and effectively and will help you beyond just making your reservations. A good Travel Agent is there to help you with as much or as little as you want or need.

Having a Travel Agent to help guide you thru the runDisney process can add value to your experience and costs nothing extra! They have a passion for what they do, so it is a win-win for you. Make sure your Travel Agent is a good fit while being knowledgeable, ethical, and responsive to your needs.

Contact your Wish Upon A Star With Us Travel Agent and Disney Specialist today to assist you with your runDisney plans – Happy Running!

My runDisney Experience

written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist

Are you thinking about participating in a runDisney event?  In 2016 I experienced several runDisney events. My goal for 2016 was to run my very first Half Marathon events and earn my Coast to Coast Race Challenge medal. I wanted to get a feel for the runDisney race experience before I jumped right into the qualifying events to earn my Coast to Coast Race Challenge so I started with the Princess 5K at Walt Disney World Resort in February then moved up to the Star Wars Dark Side 10K in April, also at Walt Disney World Resort and finished my year with the Disneyland Half Marathon in California in September and the big finale was the Wine and Dine Half Marathon back at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! Each event was so different yet had similarities and it was an amazing year of runDisney!

runDisney events are held on weekends, typically beginning on Thursday, ending on Sunday. There is always an Expo for each event and I recommend going to the Expo as early as possible as I found that popular items sell out quickly. You will also receive a t-shirt for each race you are registered for and a finishers medal for each race you complete. Also, runDisney will provide you with a course map prior to your event date. Each race has a bit different course due to the length differences.

With my first event, the Princess 5K at Walt Disney World Resort, we met at Epcot at 5 am and it was a very chilly morning for Florida. I had a little time before heading to my corral to enjoy the pre-party with DJ and character photo opportunities. I ended up in corral B so I had a quick start once the race got underway.  The course took us around Epcot’s parking lots on surface roads and then through some backstage areas before moving through the World Showcase and then Future World, finishing near the Start line in the parking area. It was pretty magical to run through Epcot in the dark without the crowds and it was a great introduction to the runDisney events!

For my second event, the Star Wars Dark Side 10K at Walt Disney World Resort, we met in the parking lot at Epcot again. This time the course took us through Epcot and then out the International Gateway and around the Boardwalk before heading over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and finishing at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Again, it was very magical to experience this side of Disney! There were, once again, DJ’s, character photo opportunities and entertainment before and after the event as well as on the race course – this time Star Wars themed! This was a tougher course with some unpaved roads and paths near the end. I was happy it hadn’t or wasn’t raining as then we would have been running a ‘tough mudder’ and, well, that’s not what I signed up for… Disney provided buses to return us to our resorts or cars parked at Epcot. The bus lines for this event were very long and I waited approximately one hour for a bus. Even though this was a bit more challenging course, I did enjoy it more.

Now, for my Disneyland Half Marathon, this was my first experience back at Disneyland in California since June of 2004 so this was going to be a pretty amazing and magical experience for me even without the half marathon experience! Again, Disney offered pre and post-race entertainment, character photo opportunities and DJ’s as well as on the course. The course took us through both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, and I must admit, I did become a little teary-eyed when running through Cars Land in California Adventure as this was my first experience in that new Disney land. It was so spectacular and I just took it all in!! This was a very easy course and we had amazing California weather! The course took us through the streets of Anaheim and we even ran through the Angels Stadium. There were locals on the sidelines cheering us on during the entire race, it was so wonderfully overwhelming how they came out to support us! The locals even cheered us on with their participation in a car show through an extensive part of our run which concluded with a Lightning McQueen look-alike. Bus service was provided for all participants and the only snag I experienced with this event was the huge backup at security as Disneyland only offered one security checkpoint at the main entrance to the “Disney areas” and runners and general guests were all trying to get through the same security checkpoints. Needless to say, these lines were very long! My goal for this race, which was my very first Half Marathon, was to finish in 3 hours and I finished just under! This was a great course and experience and I highly recommend it for anyone thinking about a runDisney event.
And, for my big finale, I completed the Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and earned my Coast to Coast Race Challenge medal! As usual there was ample entertainment, DJ’s and character photo opportunities before after and during the event. The course took us through all of the Disney parks except Magic Kingdom and we also ran on Disney owned surface streets and backstage areas. The entertainment was varied with many different Disney characters and musical entertainment. Our 4 am morning did start out a bit cool but we enjoyed exceptional weather, without the usual Florida humidity, so that helped to make this race a bit easier to get through. This was the first year this race was held in the morning, they have always held this race at night but have experienced inclement weather the past couple of years. In Florida, it tends to rain or storm at night but our mornings are usually nice so, my guess is, that is the reason for the time change. With the good weather, I had a great run for my second half marathon and finished in 2 hours and 48 minutes!

If you are considering participating in any runDisney event, we are a preferred runDisney Travel Provider and I hope that you will also consider reaching out to me to help you book and plan your resort stay and participation! Participating in a runDisney race event is truly a magical experience and I think everyone that loves Disney should at least try it once!

Run Disney

written by Jennifer Hart, specialist in Disney vacations

When I was in high school I ran track. Shortly after graduation, I hung up my running shoes and really never expected to pull them back out.  However…I think I have found a new obsession!  Last July, a friend told me that she was going to be participating in the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge during the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World.  Within minutes I knew that I wanted to join her and see what a runDisney event was like.

The Princess Half Marathon weekend was February 20-23, 2014 at Walt Disney World.  The weekend had events that would appeal to everyone in the family.  The events for the weekend included:  Kids races, Cinderella’s Royal Family 5K; Enchanted 10K, Princess Half Marathon, & the Glass Slipper Challenge.

The weekend kicked off with the Fit for a Princess Expo at the Wide World of Sports Complex.

Every runner had to visit the Expo to pick up our race bibs and shirts.

All the resorts were offering transportation to the Expo and to the races.  These buses were different than the normal Disney transportation buses and were only for the purpose of the races.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The expo had so many different booths.  You could buy just about any type of running gear that you needed: Shoes, sparkle skirts, running belts, tape, runDisney merchandise, jewelry, nutrition and so much more.  We could have spent hours just looking through the expo.  Next time, I will certainly allow myself more time to check everything out.

We didn’t do the Cinderella Royal Family 5K since we were doing the 10K and the Half…but this was the Finishers Medal that they gave for the 5K.  It is actually a rubberized medal, so that it would be appropriate for small kids as well.

Now to the races…..

The Enchanted 10K took place on Saturday morning.  The buses began running at 3:00am (YES that says 3 A.M.)  After arriving at the starting area, those with bags had to go through bag check and then we could proceed in.  They wouldn’t let us go to the corrals that early, but we were able to start lining up.  They had fun music playing and some MC’s getting everyone excited.  Around 4:15 we were allowed to go to our corral.

Our corral placement was marked on our bibs.  The placement was based upon the times that we submitted during registration.  If someone didn’t have an official time (I did not have one) then they were placed in the later corrals.  I was placed in corral E in the 10K and corral L in the Princess Half Marathon.

Being a runDisney race, there were a lot of people dressed up…which adds to the fun.  Not everyone dresses up, but I spotted a lot of princesses, villains, queens, snowmen, princes, and several other characters.I chose to dress up like Elsa and a couple of fellow Wish Upon a Star with Us agents dressed up as Olaf and Aurora.

 

At 5:30 they started the 10K with corral A and every 10 minutes another corral would start…meaning corral E didn’t start racing until 6:10…which was after the winner had already crossed the finish line.  I had trained to run the whole race, so I wanted to make sure that I was at the front of our corral so that I could run out ahead of anyone who was wanting to walk.  By arriving early, I was able to walk right into the corral and straight to the front line.  When it was time for our corral to start we actually got to walk with the race ribbon to the starting line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The race started outside Epcot and then we went along the highway for a few miles, before we entered the World Showcase, then around the Epcot area resorts, back into Epcot to the finish line.

The race was a lot of run with characters stationed along the way.  The lines for the characters were long and I chose not to stop for them, but it was still fun to see them.  Upon crossing the finish line, we received our finishers medal.  Those of us who had registered for the glass slipper challenge also received a wrist band showing we had completed part one of the challenge.

The Princess Half Marathon took place on Sunday morning.  Again, the buses began running at 3:00am and took us to the starting area outside Epcot.   The pre-race ritual was pretty much the same.  We waited to be sent to our corrals and then when it was time we went to our designated spots.  For the half marathon there were corrals A-P with 24,000 participants registered!  That is a lot of people in one race.  Again, I wanted to be at the front of my corral, so I made sure to arrive early and was able to hold the race ribbon as we walked to the starting line.

Since this was the “Princess” half, you saw a lot more costumes…even men dressed as princesses to have a little fun.  For the half, I decided to dress as my favorite princess…Belle.

The half was so much longer, so there were a lot miles spent on the highway. We did run into Magic Kingdom and through the castle, then into Epcot at the end of the race, but the rest was on the highway.

 

  

As I mentioned early I was registered for the Glass Slipper challenge.  The glass slipper challenge participants ran both the 10K and the Half.  Upon completing the half marathon, we were given our finishers medal and the Glass Slipper Challenge Medal.  It was a challenge for sure, but one that I would happily do again!

°o° The finisher medals °o°

On Sunday afternoon there was an “after party” at Downtown Disney.  There were some games, music and even some stores offered discounts if you showed your finisher medal at checkout.  They had the backgrounds for each race that you could get your photo taken in front of as well.

These were my very first runDisney events…but it is safe to say that they will not be my last.  I think I am officially addicted to runDisney races!