Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are comparing Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
East meets West! The runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge and new race announcements have been propelling runDisney racers to rack up those frequent flier miles and fend off jet lag. Though the brand may be the same, the Orlando and Anaheim runDisney experiences are not. But have no fear- the pixie dust flies on both coasts!! In 2015, the runDisney Walt Disney World VS. Disneyland run-off looks something like this:
Just the facts-
Walt Disney World
4 race weekends
1 full marathon (Walt Disney World Marathon)
1 night race (Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon)
1 after party (Finish Line Party)
Race Retreats (Marathon & Princess weekends)
Transportation to starting/finishing line needed
runDisney Expo (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex)
# of Racers ~ 26,700 (Walt Disney World Marathon)
Run solely through Disney property
Run through the Disney Parks and ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex
Resort 25,000 acres in size
Disney Resort Hotels: 26
4 race weekends
No night races
No after parties
No Race Retreats
Walking to the starting/finishing line possible
runDisney Expo (Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hall)
Racers ~ 16,000 (Disneyland Half Marathon)
Run through surrounding neighborhoods
Run through the Disney Parks and Downtown Disney District
Resort about 500 acres in size
Disney Resort hotels: 3
Walt Disney World
This Disney Park in Orlando can be overwhelming in size and therefore tiring to runners who do not pace themselves before their event. Think fresh legs! Though Walt Disney World offers free transportation to and from the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo and all events, a significant amount of time must be factored into your pre-race routine. For morning races, this may mean a 2:30 am wake-up call!
Despite the vast number of choices, many Disney Resorts sell out quickly; attempt to book as soon as you are registered for your race weekend.
Runners need to carefully plan their pre-race meals and Walt Disney World has a wealth of smart restaurant options. However, many of the most intuitive choices fill up quickly as soon as the 180-day Advance Dining Reservations window opens. If you want to stick to your personal tried-and-true dietary plan, you should book early. Getting stuck with a late hamburger the evening before your race will surely not sit well…
Special Events abound at the Eastern cousin and if you can time a race to enjoy one, do so! At present, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend will not only overlap with Epcot International Food & Wine Festival but also with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler has promised to return to its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party slot once construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios allows and perhaps there will one day be a runDisney event that capitalizes on Star Wars Weekends… If you can get double the reward for your endurance contest achievement, I say go for it!
Though the perception seems to be that most Orlando races rule when it come to the amount of time running through the Disney Parks. However, the race averages are about the same. What IS very different is exactly where you can find the Disney Characters. In addition to spotting characters in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, you can find your favorites along the sometimes long stretches of Disney-owned highways that connect the parks; they serve to break the monotony and spread pixie dust outside their usual walls. (Where they are usually most needed!)
Last, but never least, consider the nostalgia factor. For me, Home means the sight of Cinderella Castle from Main Street, U.S.A.; just as I first saw it in 1972. For you, that might be something/somewhere quite different, but I promise- running past these life landmarks gives you a chill. Every time.
The Disney Park in Anaheim is compact and a walker’s dream. One can easily walk from Disneyland Park to Disney California Adventure in two minutes. You can stroll to Downtown Disney District for lunch and return to the park of your choice without stress. On race mornings, a fairly short walk from any on-site hotel is all that is required. (For the inaugural Tiner Bell Half Marathon, I literally went down the elevator and exited into the adjoining parking lot corral area in minutes- without wings!!)
Fewer Disney Resort hotels translate into instant sell outs. In fact, many runners book their Disneyland hotel stays before registration day. Nearby Good Neighbor Hotels are also good choices and are often also within walking distance to the starting lines.
Though many folks normally feel they can walk up to the restaurant of their choice at Disneyland, I can assure you this is not the case on race weekends. Just try to grab a bowl of pasta at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria the night before a race! (BestPre/Post Race Restaurants in Disneyland) Get your dining reservations 60 days in advance and your tummy will be happy and the porta-potty will be lonely…
At present, Avengers Half Marathon Weekend takes place at the start of the Disneyland Holiday Festivities.
Though you will not find Disney Characters on the streets of Anaheim, you WILL find perhaps the next best thing. Avengers Half Marathon and Star Wars Half Marathon brought out a cavalcade of Cosplayers along the route- freely posing for pictures (without long wait times), signing autographs, and chEARing on the troops. You can read more about my impressions of running through Anaheim HERE. Unlike Walt Disney World, your fans can and will line the routes outside of the parks- many times armed with candy!!!
Nothing can trump the house that Walt built for nostalgia. As I ran the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon, it hit me like a ton of bricks; the last time I had walked/run past Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was when I was 5 years old and visiting the New York World’s Fair. Who could have forecast that my oldster self would be running her very first half marathon in Abe’s shadow fifty years later? Surreal!!!
As you can see, there is no winner and certainly no loser in the “runDisney Walt Disney World VS. Disneyland” contest. As I often say, there is only magic of a different color! Stay tuned for the upcoming “runDisney Walt Disney World VS. Disneyland VS. Disneyland Paris” race-off. Vive la mouse différence!
For more information on Walt Disney World vs Disneyland, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Walt Disney World vs Disneyland Loop:
- 1st Stop – DISTherapy | runDisney
- 2nd Stop – Frontierland Station | The Castles
- 3rd Stop – My Dreams of Disney | Which is better?
- 4th Stop – Magical Memories with the Mouse | Differences in Planning
- 5th Stop – Trips with Tykes | Shared Attractions – Who does it better?