We are about a week away from the beginning of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend 2017! I don’t know about you, but I am beyond excited. While I have only been to one other RunDisney event and that was the Princess Half last year, I learned a lot from my experience. This was also my first time running a race this long, with this many people, and of this energy. I’m going to share my top five tips with you for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. I hope this helps some of you, experienced or not.
1) Get to the Expo ASAP!
Last year (and this year as well), I have planned to get to the Expo as soon as it opens on the first day. Last year we arrived on time and had to wait in line. I plan to get there between 30 minutes to 1 hour early next week. The reason I say get to the expo ASAP is for a lot of different reasons. The first reason is the exclusive merchandise you’ll be able to get at the expo. This stuff sells out fast. While I personally got the haul I wanted last year, sizes were scarce and some merchandise sold out while I was there. I understand not everyone can take a longer trip in order to get to the expo on the first day, but if you can make it work, I recommend you do it. There are so many more people arriving later in the weekend and that is the second reason I suggest getting there ASAP. So many people won’t get there until after work on Friday, or even arrive Saturday due to work and school schedules. They’ll be running around like crazy because they are there at 6pm Friday and are running the 10K the next morning. I see it this way: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; even if you plan on doing this race year after year, you aren’t guaranteed the time or health. Make the most of it and extend your trip a day or two. The sooner you make it there, the less crowded it will be. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be a lot of people, but you also won’t be on a time crunch.
Here are this year’s expo times:
Thursday, February 23, 2017 — 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, February 24, 2017 — 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, 2017 — 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
2) Use Disney Transportation to Get to the Race
During race weekend, Disney offers free transportation to and from the host resorts to the expo and race. I was very hesitant with using the transportation Disney offers from the resorts to the Epcot parking lot. After all, Disney transportation isn’t necessarily known for being fast. However, last year my parents and I decided to take the Disney transportation, and we weren’t disappointed. Your host hotel will have poster boards on easels in the lobby listing info about the races, including the times buses run to and from the race start and pickup locations (PICKUP LOCATION MAY NOT BE AT THE REGULAR BUS STOP). If you are unable to locate one of the information boards in your hotel, ask a Cast Member. We got on the bus as soon as boarding started, then sat on the bus for about 5-10 minutes until it was full and we were taken to Epcot’s parking lot. Following the race, the buses were lined up next to the Family Reunion area. We didn’t even have to wait for a bus – we boarded and waited no longer than 10 minutes for the bus to start driving back to our resort. Also, they are not the ordinary Disney Transport buses; they are more like coach buses that Disney rents.
3) Don’t Be Late!
This may seem silly to say, but somehow you always see people from corral A showing up when they’re launching corral M. The best way to make sure that you get there on time, whether you’re driving or using Disney Transportation, is to GET THERE EARLY. For the 10K and Disney Princess Half Marathon, buses start leaving the resorts at 3:30 AM. Be there when they arrive or shortly after. As for drivers, get to Epcot’s parking lot as early as possible. I recommend arriving around 4 AM or sooner. While these seem like absurd times to get there, especially when the race doesn’t start until 5:30 AM, trust me, you won’t regret it. I got there a little before 4 AM and I didn’t have to wait to go through security or anything like that. After 4:15 AM, it is a mad rush of people trying to come in, and you don’t want to be stuck in it.
4) Consider How You’re Packing Race Essentials
If you are on a plane, make sure to pack your race outfit, shoes, fanny pack, etc. in your carry-on luggage. The last thing you want is for luggage to get lost and you have nothing to wear for race day. Last year, my mom’s luggage got lost and she had to go buy all new clothes and toiletries. Also, when considering what you want to carry in your running belt during the race, make sure you consider unlikely things you may need. My belt usually contains my phone, a protein bar, body glide, and tissues. Even if you applied body glide before the race it may wear off, or you may find a fellow Princess in need of some on the path. Last year, I packed 2 packs of to-go tissues; going from cold weather in Pennsylvania to hot Florida makes your nose run. I was so happy I packed that extra pack in my belt because I encountered a fellow racer asking everyone for tissues, and I was able to give her some.
5) Celebrate Your Success
The one thing every racer will have in common is that they want to finish the race. When you complete the Disney Princess Half Marathon, remember that it’s not about your time; it doesn’t matter if you struggled, and it doesn’t matter what place you came in. All that matters is that you achieved your goal and finished the race! So celebrate it whatever way you’d like! I encourage you to wear your medal(s) wherever you go that weekend. Last year I celebrated my accomplishment by laying by the pool then having lunch at Le Cellier in Epcot. This year, I have a character breakfast booked at 1900 Park Fare. But whatever you want to do to celebrate, enjoy it. Whether you take a nap, lay by the pool, explore the parks, or have a special meal, remember that day is all about YOU! One thing I also recommend is stopping into Fit2Run at Disney Springs. You can get your medal engraved with your name, time, and placement. I can’t remember how much it costs, but it wasn’t too much and definitely worth it. Also, check out your race photos when they become available. They’re pricey but I bought the disk of mine last year and they were totally worth the splurge!
I am getting so pumped to head to Orlando next weekend for the 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon! While I am kind of nervous due to having fractured my leg while doing the race last year, I am still really excited. Here are some pictures from last year’s Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend: