On January 9, Walt Disney World will hold its annual race weekend. Runners of every level will descend upon the Most Magical Place On Earth to compete in either the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon contests whose courses run through the parks.
But whether you are running or not, it’s important to arrive with the right expectations. Yes, this is a major event, but the parks will still be open, and you can have your normal Disney experience.
So, to help you start your Disney vacation with the right mindset, here’s what you can expect from Walt Disney World on race weekend.
When are the races?
“Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend” will consume the whole weekend. The races are held from Thursday, January 9, to Sunday, January 12.
The Race Schedule
- Walt Disney World 5K
- When: Thursday, January 9, 2020
- Start time: 5:30 am
- Distance: 3.1 miles through EPCOT
- Walt Disney World 10K
- Walt Disney World Half-Marathon
- When: Saturday, January 11, 2020
- Start time: 5:30 am
- Distance: 13.1 miles through EPCOT and The Magic Kingdom
- Requirements: Must maintain a minimum pace of 16 minutes per mile
- Walt Disney World Marathon
- When: Sunday, January 12, 2020
- Start time: 5:00 am
- Distance: 26.2 miles through all 4 Walt Disney World theme parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
- Requirements: Must maintain a minimum pace of 16 minutes per mile.
I’m not running. Will the races prevent me from getting to the parks?
The answer to that question depends on where you’re coming from.
- According to Walt Disney World’s website, all four theme parks are still scheduled to open to the public at normal hours. The races are timed so that they are all completed by park opening.
- However, the courses are run on Walt Disney World roads. This means the main entryways to the parks such as World Dr., Epcot Center Dr., and Buena Vista Dr. will be closed for the entirety of the races. Please contact Walt Disney World directly for information on alternate routes.
- If you are staying on-property, you should expect unimpeded access to the parks at opening. Especially, via the Monorail, Skyliner, and watercraft.
How crowded will the parks be?
Large crowds in the parks are expected. , every race is already sold out. Since each race ends inside the Epcot parking lot, expect racers to already be in Epcot or the Magic Kingdom by the time you arrive. (Although, we all hope those sweaty Disniacs go take a shower first.)
But don’t worry. All runners have to finish their races. It’s not like they can run into the parks and go AWOL to secure that first spot in line for their favorite ride.
If you’re not running, stay on property and get to the parks at opening. You have a small window of opportunity to beat all outsiders and most runners into the parks.
If you are driving into the parks, expect traffic built up because of the road closures. Don’t book any FastPasses before 10 am just to be safe.
If you are planning on being at Walt Disney World for whatever reason at any time the weekend of January 10, have fun! You’re at Disney World with a group of active and fun Disniacs. Yeah, it’s going to be crowded, but the atmosphere is great!
But beware of medal envy. All the finishers will be boasting their glorious medals around the park. The sight might want to make you sign up for next year’s races.
Have you ever been to Walt Disney World during Race Weekend? Have you ever ran a race at Walt Disney World? What would you recommend to someone running these races for the first time? Let us know in the comments!