Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 – Final Thoughts


My experience at this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (the sixth one I’ve attended, out of eight that have taken place) was largely positive, but you know me, I always have a few final thoughts and suggestions. 🙂

The Expo
We didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, but apparently Friday morning was a disaster. HUGE lines of people waiting in the hot sun to get into packet pickup, and even longer lines for merchandise – 2.5-3 hours for that. People were grabbing merchandise right and left, particularly anything for the Dumbo Double Dare. By Friday at 2:00, ALL that was left of Double Dare merchandise was a lime green hoodie. I was very disappointed not to be able to get the magnet for my race magnet collection – of course I can buy one on eBay for $20+ (the price was $7.95). I shudder to think what it’s going to be like for Dopey merchandise in January. My fellow Team AllEars member MaryJean suggested that runDisney should allow us to pre-order some merchandise and I think that’s a wonderful idea. There’s no reason for t-shirts and hats and magnets to be in limited supply, and it would just make more money for Disney if we could all buy everything that we wanted! Not to mention avoiding the very ugly scenes that have been taking place in the merchandise areas which are unpleasant for both guests and cast members.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

For us packet pickup went very smoothly with no lines, and no issues in picking up our goodie bags. As long as you didn’t expect to do it first thing in the morning it was a very efficient process. And at 3:00 in the afternoon we had no problems getting into the merchandise area, where there was a fair amount of Disneyland 1/2 Marathon merchandise still available, but the line for check-out was 25-30 minutes.

The Race Shirts

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I really liked the designs of the three race shirts, but the sizing was ridiculous. They only offered unisex sizes (instead of a choice of unisex or women’s cut), and I chose the smallest size available – XS. And it’s enormous. Here’s a photo of Lee wearing my XS half marathon shirt. A little snug in the shoulders for him, but otherwise it fit him ok. The other two shirts were a little bit smaller, but still too big for me. And there’s an awful lot of runners that were a lot smaller than I am.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

The Races
Disneyland has managed to avoid over-crowding their race courses by keeping the fields smaller – about 8500 for the 10K and 17,500 for the 1/2 Marathon. The first couple of miles were a little congested for me but not bad – NOTHING like what I’ve experienced at my last two half marathons at WDW. And I was able to RUN through the castle on both days, another thing that’s been an issue in WDW races.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Another great thing about the races at Disneyland is that you can easily walk to the start line from any of the Disney hotels, as well as from the many hotels in the area. No reason to get on a bus at an insanely early hour in order to make it to the start line in plenty of time. I’d much rather do a race in California than at WDW for that reason – and not just because it means I don’t have to travel cross-country.

I already spoke about the corral process during the 10K – that was not handled particularly well, which I presume was due to the short time between the start of the 5K at 5:30 and the start of the 10K at 6:15. It will be interesting to see if they change that next year. The 5K is supposed to be a “Family Fun Run” – a 5:30 start time is not very family-friendly.

For us the corral process went much better during the half marathon, but I’ve spoken to other Team AllEars members who were in later corrals who did not have as positive an experience. There were too many people and not enough space in the corrals, and late arrivals weren’t placed correctly.

I really loved the new 10K course, and I hope they will keep that one. The two miles outside the parks helped get us all spread out a little bit more, and made the other four miles that were on property that much more pleasant. I also really enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland theme, though I wonder if they will keep that from year-to-year or change it up like they do the 5K race.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I wish they would change the half marathon course so that the park time came a little later and let us spread out…I also wish they would add some park time (or characters) to the end of it. That final stretch from mile 12 to ~12.75, which is all backstage around the perimeter of DCA, is much too quiet with no one but a few cast members to cheer us on. It’s a tough part of the race – close to the end, but not quite close enough.

This is usually one of the highlights of a Disney race for me, and I had a wonderful time with the characters during the 10K…I even caught the White Rabbit! 🙂 But the lines were very long during the half marathon – I only stopped for one photo. This is one of the reasons I wish there were some characters later in the race when people are more spread out. I don’t know how they could make this any better, though. The cast members do a very good job of taking photos and keeping the lines moving – it’s just a very popular activity.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Water stations
This was really my only complaint about the 10K – there were three water stations, which was fine, but #1 and #2 were almost three miles apart. That was much too far, especially given the weather conditions. They also had issues on both Saturday and Sunday with running out of cups at some of the water stations.

The Food Box
They are still giving out the silly little food boxes. They added a handle, which made it easier to carry, but there’s still not the kind of food in there that I really need after a 13 mile run. Some of it made for some nice snacks later, but the box just doesn’t work for me.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Dumbo Double Dare
I enjoyed this a lot – a 10K and a half marathon back-to-back is a much more reasonable effort than a half marathon and a marathon. I think Lee and I would both like to do it again next year. At the end of the 10K we received wristbands to prove that we had finished it, and then exchanged those after completing the 1/2 for the Dumbo medal. I wonder if they will do that in the Dopey Challenge in January. It would make sense, and discourage people from circumventing the system.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

Volunteers and Entertainment
They were wonderful, all of them! So many people of all ages who helped make this a great event for those of us participating – those who worked the Expo, the water stations, handed out medals and food, checked our bags…And all of the cast members who came out in the early morning hours to cheer us on. Thank you SO much! And thank you to all of our on-course entertainment, also – the bands, cheerleaders, dance groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, classic car owners, and the random strangers who come out to cheer us on, hold up funny signs, hand out licorice and pretzels, and mist us with water sprayers.

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

We don’t actually have any more races scheduled until the Dopey Challenge in January…let the training begin!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

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Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

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8 Replies to “Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013 – Final Thoughts”

  1. I was one of the people who stood in line for over 2 hours to purchase merchandise. I was unimpressed with most of the choices for Dumbo. I didn’t see myself wearing that bright green sweatshirt and I didn’t want to buy an ‘I did it’ shirt before actually completing the race. What I wanted most was a track jacket for Dumbo but they only did a design for the half. I actually loved the design on the dumbo race shirt best.

    I think between packet picket, shirt pick-up, and merchandise I was at the expo close to 4 hours. I got there about an hour after it opened and had literally dropped my bags at my hotel after getting off my flight to get there.

    I’m interested to hear how Dopey turns out since I anticipate a similar response for challenge gear with the Glass Slipper during Princess and crowd levels at Tinkerbell with the additional 10k race. I’m signed up for both but won’t be getting to the expo until the second day so I’m hoping there will still be items available.

  2. Your race recap and comments are right on par with my feelings. We really enjoyed the California/Disneyland experience. We loved the less crowded event after being almost trampled at our previous two WDW events (WDW 2013 Half and 2013 Princess). RunDisney has got to cap the Florida participants before someone gets hurt!

    We were in Corral D and it was chaos. There were runners from E, F, G, and H in the D corral and it seemed that no one was checking bibs or cared. While “D” may not be elite status (by far) we worked our way up from H to get there.

    The course starting with the parks and ending with nothing was poor planning. Walt Disney always believed that you had to give people a “carrot” to get them to the back of the park (or to the end of a race).

    The California police support was SO friendly (especially in contrast to the very militarist Florida Highway Patrol for the WDW races!)

    The Anaheim community support was delightful and very welcome! We do not get so much of that in Florida, as it is so much more difficult to access the WDW course on private property.

    All in all, we are very much looking forward to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January 2014. Yes, the Expo had its issues but we did not have to rise at o’dark-thirty for a crowded bus ride, followed by a two mile jog to the corrals. Disneyland was mostly a winner for us!

    Laura replies: Great review – thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. Received an email from RunDisney and they are looking at a way to make DDD and C2C items available to those that didn’t get anything. I was in the lines at 830 am and was one of the second sets allowed in to packet pickup which was fast but as soon as we got into the Expo there was a three hour wait for merchandise as they had to keep closing it off to restock.

    Laura replies: Jackie, thank you for the update! I know there are a couple of items I would like to purchase!

  4. I too ran the races and I have to say I was supper disappointed that at 3 pm on the friday there was no double dare stuff at all – but we who ran can get it all on ebay with the extra price. Maybe they should limit the amount of one item you can buy per race bib- so I have a double dare race bid, I can buy 3 of any one item- that might help this problem of people who are actually running the race being able to snag something.

    My other issue was the water as well– it was so off the normal temperatures for this race that they should have upped the water stations, I did not even see the sign they usually have out at the hot Disney world races about hydrating. Not only were they spaced out but between running out of cups, the water for the later runners was warm- not just not cold but almost hot. after running across a black top parking lot in the 90degree heat last thing i need is hot water.

    I am hoping that they have a better system for getting the fun gear for the dopey i do not feel like getting off a plane to fight with people for a shirt.

  5. This was my second experience running at Disneyland but my first for coast-to-coast. (Last time I didn’t do the two races in same calendar year.)

    There were two things I heard a lot about in parks after the race and such. The size of the t-shirts and the expo. The expo was the huge complaint. Some even suggested moving it to the Convention Center. I like the idea of pre-ordering. (I couldn’t get a C2C shirt in my size on Fri PM.)

    My other issue was the lack of water stop for the two-miles between entering DCA and exiting DL.

    It was a great time, though. Can’t wait for Wine and Dine. New medal!

  6. As always, I enjoyed reading about your race experiences even though I’m not a runner myself. The Dumbo medal looks really cute, so congrats on your new swag!

    As for the t-shirt sizes, Disney’s always off when it comes to women’s clothing. When I buy shirts on their website, I usually try to buy them 2 sizes too big if I can because they run so small. Twice I’ve bought a 2X shirt that when it came would have barely fit an 8-yr-old. Neither of them would even fit my grandma who wears a large. The flip side of that is I recently bought a sweatshirt on there b/c several of the reviewers marked it as running large and it’s huge.

  7. Laura thanks for your recap of the Disneyland Half race weekend. I too am concerned about how Disney will handle the Dopey. The last thing I need or want is the stress of “will I be able to get the items I want at the expo”. We all know Disney listens, the question is how quickly. They have 124 days to come up with a new system, perhaps purchasing limited quantities like New Balance had to do.

    Good luck with your Dopey training!

    Laura replies: Thanks Emilie – good luck to you, too! I HOPE Disney realizes that the potential scarcity of merchandise just makes the situation worse, since it means many more people try to arrive before the Expo opens, just to have a chance to get what they want, instead of spreading the shopping out over the day. I’m sure the logistics of setting up merchandise pre-order and pickup are rather daunting…I think they should offer it to those running Dopey only, and I don’t think they need to make ALL of the merchandise available for pre-order. I think almost all of us would buy an “I Did It” shirt for Dopey, given the opportunity, and hats, magnets, and the little Vinymation medals are also very popular. That’s my $0.02, at least.