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2023 Springtime Surprise 5k Course Review

Another Springtime Surprise race weekend is coming up fast, I can’t believe we are already finishing up the 2022-2023 runDisney race season. Hope you all had a blast and can get some rest this summer!

No time like the present to prepare for this race weekend together. This race is always a fun one because it has a 10 miler instead of a half marathon which makes it unique! Don’t forget to bookmark the race guide so you always have it at your finger tips:

Springtime Surprise Yoga

On Thursday at 5am, yogis will gather to do a friendly, all-levels yoga session in front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood Studios. This is the first race weekend yoga to be in Hollywood Studios and I think it’s going to be so much fun. The castle is beautiful but the neon and lighting on Hollywood Boulevard is hard to beat!

If you are driving you can just park in the Hollywood Studios lot and for resort guests you can grab a bus from your resort, see times below. You will be provided with a yoga mat and water, so just show up in comfortable clothing and make sure to sign your waiver.

Parking begins at 4am and the check-in starts at 4:15. You must be checked-in by 4:45 to participate so make sure to arrive not later than 4:30 if you are driving and be prompt for your bus!

If you are staying at a Disney resort there are defined pickup times for your transportation. Most are picking up “Outside of Porte-Cochere” aka outside the overhang where cars pull up to the hotel entrance. Below is from the digital event guide:

Limited event weekend transportation will be available from Walt Disney World Resorts. There will be 1 pick up time at each Resort pre-event and there will be no Skyliner transportation. Please see pick up times below:

  • Resort Route 1 – Pick Up Location(s) – All Star Resorts
    • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – Outside of Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort – Outside of Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort – Outside of Porte-Cochere 3:35am
  • Resort Route 2 – Pick Up Location(s) Animal Kingdom Resorts
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Outside of Jambo Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House – Outside of Jambo Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village – Outside of Kidani Porte-Cochere 3:35am
  • Resort Route 3 – Pick Up Location – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – All Bus Stops 3:30am
  • Resort Route 4 – Pick Up Location(s) Polynesian, Shades of Green, Grand Floridian
    • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – Outside of Polynesian Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Outside of Polynesian Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Shades of Green on Walt Disney World Resort at the Resort Main Entrance 3:35am
    • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Outside of the Convention Center 3:40am
  • Resort Route 5 – Pick Up Location(s) Fort Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary
    • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort at the Outpost Bus stop 3:30am
    • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort at the Outpost Bus stop 3:30am
    • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Outside of Wilderness Lodge Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Outside of Wilderness Lodge Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Outside of Wilderness Lodge Porte-Cochere 3:30am
    • Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the West side of the Convention Center – 3:35am
    • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the West side of the Convention Center – 3:35am
  • Resort Route 6 – Pick Up Location(s) Port Orleans Resorts
    • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter All Bus Stops 3:30am
    • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside All Bus Stops 3:35am
  • Resort Route 7 – Pick Up Location(s) Old Key West, Saratoga Springs
    • Disney’s Old Key West Resort at the Hospitality House 3:30am
    • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – The Springs 3:35am Resort
  • Route 8 – Pick Up Location(s) Caribbean Beach Resort, Riviera Resort
    • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort All Bus Stops except the Custom House 3:30am
    • Disney’s Riviera Resort at the Disney Bus Stop 3:30am
  • Resort Route 9 – Pick Up Location(s) Swan and Dolphin
    • Walt Disney World® Swan Hotel at the Convention Center 3:30am
    • Walt Disney World® Dolphin Hotel Between Main Entrance and Convention Center 3:35am
    • Walt Disney World® Swan Reserve at the Side Stairs 3:40am
  • Resort Route 10 – Pick Up Location(s) Yacht, Beach Club, BoardWalk
    • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort at the Convention Center 3:30am
    • Disney’s Beach Club Resort at the Disney Bus Stop (Beach Club) 3:35am
    • Disney’s Beach Club Villas at the Disney Bus Stop (Beach Club) 3:35am
    • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Conference Center 3:40am
    • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas Conference Center 3:40am
  • Resort Route 11 – Pick Up Location(s) Pop, Art of Animation
    • Disney’s Pop Century Resort at the ESPN WWOS Bus Stop 3:30am
    • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort at the Last Disney Transportation Bus Stop 3:30am

Springtime Surprise Expo

If you are running the Springtime Surprise 5k you will need to go to the expo on Thursday to get your bib. You can not have a family member pick it up for you.

The expo is open 10a-7p on Thursday April 13th. Make sure to sign the digital waiver ahead of time by logging into your runDisney account (the one you created when you registered):

Virtual Queue – If you want to get runDisney official merchandise on Thursday April 13th, you MUST register for the virtual queue. You (and up to 5 additional people) can signup to join at 8:30 ET via the My Disney Experience app (the Walt Disney World app where you manage all your other Disney vacation fun). More details here:

They also note in the virtual queue instructions that you should start making your way to the WIde World of Sports when you have approximately 1 hour remaining in your wait time. Additionally, you will have 1 hour to arrive after your virtual queue number is called to arrive for check-in.

The expo is spread out over the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (WWoS) with:

  • AdventHealth Arena (A) hosting the official runDisney merchandise, character meet and greets, and the Club runDisney Platinum HQ (2nd Level)
  • Athletic Center (B) hosting the gEAR Bag Pick up, shirt exchange, and vendor expo
  • State Farm® Field House (C) hosting the bib pickup and runner relations

At a minimum all runners need to go to the State Farm® Field House (C on the map) to get their bib and the Athletic Center (B on the map) to get their gEAR bag and shirts. Give yourself at least an hour if you are planning to go on Thursday.

I’m going to repeat what I said during my Princess preparation post. If the expo has the same vibe that the WDW Marathon expo had, I would probably not join the virtual queue and just go later in the day (4pm or later) when things have calmed down to just grab my bib and gEAR bag. During marathon weekend I arrived around 12:30 and it was… a lot. By the time I made it into the official merch around 1:30 nothing was really catching my eye. Honestly, most of the runDisney merch doesn’t hit the quality to price ratio that I really want from my gear. Also, things were a little crazy in the official merch tent which just stresses me out.

You’ve gotten your bib and shirt and now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal!

2023 Springtime Surprise 5k

If you liked the route for the 5k during WDW Marathon Weekend and/or Princess Weekend, your in luck, it’s the exact same! This is the classic 5k course around Epcot. You’ll run a mile in the parking lot/backstage roads of Epcot, enter World Showcase (WS) at the Donald’s Mexico meet and greet location, run around WS to the International Gateway, leave and run backstage for a little bit before finishing the WS loop, and wiggling across Future World and finishing in the Epcot parking lot. Let’s dive into the details!

Getting to the Race

If you are staying at a Disney resort, I highly recommend taking the provided bus transportation. I know there are always horror stories about the buses but, honestly, these stories are very much the exception. Read the information in your hotel’s lobby to make sure you get on the bus on time. The race information says to arrive in the parking log by 4am for all racers.

You can see that from the map above that all runners go through the Epcot park security before making the trek to the back of the Epcot parking lot. This walk usually takes me about 15-20 min at a slow morning walk pace.

Corrals and Staging

If you are in corral A or B and you want to run in that corral and not be forced to drop back, make sure to enter your corral early. All corrals will open at 3:45 according to the event guide. For corral A, you should head to your corral probably 45 min ahead of the start. Corral A gets into position in the staging area but then gets walked to the start early and the event guide says the corral will close at 4:40 (20 min ahead of the start). Corral B then follows from the staging area to line up behind A corral ahead of the 5am start so Corral B-ers aim to be in your corral at least 20-30 min ahead of the race start time, the event guide says they will close this corral at 4:50 (10 min before race start).

The race is now ready to begin. Cycle athletes will start first and then the runners will follow. runDisney will break the corrals into “mini” releases to stagger the start even more. Each corral will likely have about 5-6 waves of runners, fireworks for every start so don’t worry!

Running the Springtime Surprise 5k

And now we are running, let’s take a closer look at the route!

  1. The start happens in the Epcot parking lot, you then run along the outside of the parking lot before heading along a backstage road. There is sometimes a character along the back road.
  2. You are now very much backstage! The parking lot is the cast member parking, the large buildings are both the cast member costuming, locker room, and other cast member services and the other is the performance practice facility. You will run by the guard shack and under Test Track. There is usually a character stop near mile 1.
  3. You then enter World Showcase (WS) via the entrance by the Mexico Donald Meet and Greet location. WS will have the torches blazing, fun graphics on the Harmonious barges, and Disney music playing! There will likely be 2-3 characters around this portion of WS. Also, the American Adventure is slightly higher than the rest of WS, so there is minor uphill as you go from Italy to the USA. Also, the bridges between France and the UK offer a change in elevation.
  4. After running around most of WS, you’ll exit through the International Gateway, run around the Skyliner station, run backstage, and then enter WS on the Canada side of the UK pavilion. Likely a character in Canada!
  5. After finishing the loop around WS lagoon, you’ll then run down the main path connecting WS and Future World, smile pretty for a pic! You’ll then run around the Creations Shop before heading towards Mission Space. There may be a character or entertainment near Mission Space.
  6. You’ll then exit behind Test Track, run backstage (the worst, please open up more of Epcot again!), and then exit to the parking lot finish line. Smile big, throws those hands up, and enjoy the victory!

Once you finish, you’ll grab YOUR medal, a water and/or Powerade (blue, red, or yellow), and get your snack box. If you finish before the final runners have passed the bus pickup area you will have to wait for the course to clear. During Marathon Weekend, buses were able to start getting runners around 6:30 so if you want/need to get out of Epcot sooner you may want to plan to grab a rideshare or other pickup instead.

So that’s it, who’s ready to run the open road?

Don’t forget you can check out other race weekend maps on my blog too: runDisney Maps

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