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Review of Disneyland Half Marathon by

Posted by: on September, 5 2013

I did the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2012 and it was a great experience. I loved it. Packet pick-up was easy, and I even bought some of the Disney merchandise at the expo. It was hard waking up so early on race morning, and the line to get into the parking structure took a while. I basically walked to my corral and started. The course was the most fun as it went through the parks for about three miles, with tons of characters out to take pictures with. The rest of the course was still nice, with the cheerleaders, dance groups, etc. cheering everyone on. Walking through Angels Stadium was also cool. At the finish, I high-fived Goofy and the photogs got a great pic of it, as well as a nice photo of me crossing the finish line.

In 2013, I signed up for the 10k instead of the half, figuring it’d be half the distance but just as much fun. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Parking for the expo was a mess… we were told to park at the convention center, which would have been a really long walk and it was super hot out. We luckily found a spot at Downtown Disney. My sister, who was doing the race with me, noted that there were nearby parking lots that were closed off… had they opened those for the expo, it would have been nice. Packet and shirt pickup went fine, but the Disney merchandise section was insane. They closed off the whole section because it was too crowded. So, no merch for me this year. The unisex race shirt was not flattering on me and had a too-small neck hole, but I wore it anyway. Race morning for the 10k was a bit disorganized. Cast members had all 10kers wait to the side, while the 5k went on. But we were supposed to be in our corrals by 5:45, and at that time we were still all standing around wondering what was going on. Some people started walking around to find the corrals on their own. It was very confusing. We did, however, eventually get released to the corrals. They were not monitored or sectioned off, though, so everyone was sort of jumbled up (we were in the back of the pack so I’m talking about corrals D, E, F and G).

I was a little disappointed at the lack of characters along the course. The start line had two people in Tweedle Dee-type outfits. No Mickey, no actual characters. The California Adventure section had Toy Story and Monsters U characters. The Disneyland portion had Alice in Wonderland characters. That was it. I was super disappointed that there were no princesses, no Star Wars, etc. The name of this race was “Disneyland 10k” but they really should have called it the “Wonderland 10k” from the start, I guess. And since there were so few characters, those that were there had long lines waiting for pics. The finish line had Minnie, Goofy, and Donald. No Mickey. I realize he may have been on a “break,” getting swapped out, so that might have just been bad luck.

My sister was dealing with an injured foot that was acting up, so we did lag behind pace. I saw some people picked up in a golf cart and then dropped off near us (further up the course). There were three water stations. At the second one (around mile 3?), they had run out of cups! I realize we were at the end of the pack, but since this is Disney you’d think they’d be better prepared. You have a whole theme park full of cups! Volunteers were pouring water from 1.5-liter bottles into people’s mouths. My sister got water poured all over her face and shirt. =( I declined getting the same treatment. At some point after mile 4, they diverted us to the mile 5 marker, taking a mile off our path. I think that was a better option than actually sweeping us, so I appreciated that. My sister was limping along but trying so hard and she really wanted to get across that finish line.

And we did make it. We got our medals and were happy with that. But overall, yeah, disappointed. I had thought, “as long as we get a pic with a character, I’ll be happy!” But that didn’t happen due to the long lines and lack of characters. The photo company they used this time (Marathon Foto) also didn’t get as many good shots as last year’s (Brightroom). The finish line photos didn’t show any of the “Finish” sign or nearby characters… just looks like we’re walking down the street. As you can tell, I am basing this review more on the overall experience than on the running. If you just want to run a race, then sure, it’s fun to run in the park (though half the race is on the street). But the reason you do Disney races is for the other fun factors, and those were just not there this time around. They clearly put way more effort into the Half Marathon… the 10k did have cute Wonderland mile markers, but nothing else special. Knowing all this, I would consider returning for a Half Marathon in the future, but not a 10k.