The 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend begins Thursday, and although it’s too late to register for this collection of races, it’s not too late to get a taste of what runDisney has to offer.
If you have an interest in fitness, there is one aspect you might want to check out and it’s completely free – except for your inevitable spending spree, that is. The runDisney Health & Fitness Expo takes place Feb. 22 to 24 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and it’s open not just to registered participants but to the public. Even the parking is free! (How often can you say that at Disney World?!)
The Expo serves as the headquarters for race weekend, but it’s also a showcase for the latest products, photo opportunities and giveaways. I’m not a runner, but I always have fun perusing the booths at the expo.
Hours are as follows:
Thursday, Feb. 22, noon to 8 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 24, 9:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.
Participants and guests who are in a shopping mood can choose from runDisney race-specific apparel and souvenirs. In addition, vendors will be selling the latest in fitness apparel, footwear, sunglasses, high-tech gadgets and nutritional products. Another must-see is the tradition of a new Dooney & Bourke pattern that sports a Disney race design. The 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend pattern was available for pre-order on three different bags. Typically, the bags also are sold at the Expo.
Walt Disney World guests and the public also are invited to cheer for runners — and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know individual participants. All are welcome. You can pick up chEAR cards at the expo.
The 5K course is set only through Epcot, while the 10K course begins on roads surrounding the park before traveling through the park and extending through the Epcot resort areas. Both the 5K and the 10K start from the Explore parking lot on Friday and Saturday, respectively, and finish at the Imagine parking lot. Spectator viewing for the 5K is limited to the start and finish lines, while those wanting to watch the 10K also can find a spot along the Boardwalk area by the Epcot resorts.
The half marathon begins and finishes in the same place at Epcot, though the course is longer, of course. The half marathon goes through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Sunday. runDisney recommends viewpoints at the Ticket and Transportation Center, the Contemporary Resort, Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and the Polynesian Village.
The kids races — including an adorable diaper dash — take place late morning and early afternoon at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Remember that if you want to cheer for the runners, you’ll need to get an early start because the races start before dawn and you need to allow for traffic and parking.
Afterward, join runners in the Walt Disney World parks and congratulate them on a job well-done when you see them wearing their medals!