It’s Princess Half Weekend half marathon time, princesses! It’s time to make the journey from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and our theme is Moana so I thought I’d provide some music in case you want to get in the spirit. I love the music in this movie but this one always gets my legs moving and my heart smiling. Hau la ke ta o!
As always, make sure to bookmark the event guide so you have it at your fingertips: https://www.rundisney-expo.run/
Princess Half Marathon Weekend Expo
First, if you are running the Princess Half Weekend half marathon you will need to go to the expo on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to get your bib. You can not have a family member pick it up for you.
The expo is open 10a-8p on Thursday Feb 23rd,10a-7p on Friday Feb 24th, and 10a-3p on Saturday Feb 25th. Make sure to sign the digital waiver ahead of time by logging into your runDisney account (the one you created when you registered): https://manage.rundisney.com/login
Virtual Queue – If you want to get runDisney official merchandise on Thursday Feb 23rd, 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). Check out my 5k post for more of my thoughts/feelings about the virtual queue if you plan on going Thursday: https://magicofrunning.com/princess-half-weekend-5k-course-review/#expo
More details on the virtual queue here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/virtual-queue/#drawer-card-runDisneyPrincess
The expo is spread out over the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (WWoS) with:
- AdventHealth Arena (A) hosting the official runDinsey 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 hosting the bib pickup, perfect gift distribution for half and challenge perfects, 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 to get everything you need.
Princess Half Marathon
You want to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to drive or catch the bus from your hotel to the Epcot parking lot. The event information says to arrive to the Epcot parking lot no later than 3:45am.
For those staying in a Disney hotel, please make sure to read the information in the hotel lobby or near the race weekend transportation pickup. Pro-tip: snap a picture of this information so you can review it later!
Once you arrive at Epcot, you will walk to the front of the theme park to go through standard park security. You then walk to the back corner of the parking lot to the race staging area. It will likely take 15-20 min to do the slow morning shuffle to the start areas from the buses.
Based on my experience at WDW Marathon Weekend, if you are dropping off a checked bag give this step a full half hour, if it goes fast, great, if it doesn’t, you have a buffer. You also need to give yourself about 20 minutes to get to the start corrals from the bag drop area.
So if you are in corral A, you should be dropping your bag no later than 4am, but ideally around 3:45. If you want to be at the front of the corral, any corral, you should do bag check probably at 3:30 and then just be prepared to go directly to the corrals and hang out there for an hour or more. Don’t forget a pre-race snack, I like to pack some fruit snack, starburst, or energy chews for some simple carbs just before the start!
So now, you are ready, you are in your corral, and it’s time to get this party started. Always remember that the race is the celebration of all the training you have done, so don’t sacrifice the joy and magic of running!
High-Level Course Overview
This is a very familiar course for anyone who has run a past Princess Half Marathon or the WDW Marathon Weekend half marathon. You will start on the roads outside Epcot then turn up World Dr towards Magic Kingdom (MK). You will run through the MK toll plaza, the MK parking lot, and finally through the Transportation and Ticket Center. Runners then head onto the roads (cone alley) and run past the Contemporary before turning into the MK bus drop off area. You made it to MK!
Princesses then run through the main entrance of MK, under the train station, and up Main St. Just soak it all in! If you want a picture in from of the castle you can pull off to the right or left (I like the right) once you get to the hub area to snap a quick pic. You will then run through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland and then it’s time for the main event, running through the castle! Runners then head into Liberty Square and Frontierland before exiting to backstage near Splash Mountain. You will then run on the roads and pass the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian (lots of crowd support here) and then make your way on the overpass back to World Dr to head back to Epcot.
You will take the exit ramp up to the overpass that will take you to Epcot via Epcot Center Dr. There will be a sharp right turn around mile 11 (I really dislike this course turn) and then head back up another overpass into the Epcot bus drop off area. You’ll run backstage behind The Seas and The Land and then enter onstage near The Imagination pavilion. Runners then follow along the construction walls (when will Epcot be open again?!) across Future World and exit backstage near Test Track. The last half mile will be run backstage and then you finish in the Epcot parking lot!
Course Details and Potential Character Spots
Now that you have the overview, let’s dive in to the details!
- The start line is outside Epcot on the roads, once you are off you’ll have a wide road to spread out and settle in for the first mile. There may be a character along this portion but more likely there will just be a high school marching band giving you some entertainment. If there is a character it will likely be on the right side of the course.
- You then turn onto World Dr andbe sure to watch your step here, the course narrows and there is a slight bank to the pavement. It’s also usually weirdly dark here. Once on World Dr, you are now really on your way to the Magic Kingdom and you’ll have plenty of room to spread out. Along World Dr I would expect 2 character stops in the road’s median (runners left). These character might also be available for photos on the return trip down World Dr on the other side of the road but not always.
- You then run through the MK parking lot, probably 2 character stops in this area, and then through the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).
- The TTC is a great place for family members to cheer you on since they can get there from the Epcot parking lot via the monorail. There will likely be a band or community group entertaining you in this area too!
- Once through the TTC, you’ll then head into “coney alley”, please DO NOT cross the cones. This is a two lane road that is the only access for some of the resorts and services near MK during the race. They leave one lane open for vehicles so the police will escort cars through one-way and then switch to the other direction alternating back and forth and runners get the other lane. It can get crowded here but really, DON’T cross the cones. You will then run under the water bridge (they might have a DJ in this area) before running past the Contemporary. Runners hang a left into the Resort bus drop off area and you can celebrate arriving at MK!
- The Magic Kingdom is the crown jewel of this race. You’ll run through nearly all the lands and get lots of characters so let’s break it down:
- Enter through the front of the Magic Kingdom and run under the train station. Put that smile on for the cameras and because you are running down Main St! Photopass photographers will be on runners right. As you turn right into Tomorrowland, on the right and left of the running path are great places to snap a castle selfie. Please do not stop in the middle of the course, keep your head on a swivel (right, left, and behind) and make sure you are safe to cross the course/stop!
- You then run through Tomorrowland. There will be Photopass photographers on the bridge so make sure to smile big when you hit the spotlights. Inside Tomorrowland, there will likely be a character on the right side near the Lunching Pad.
- Runners then go past the Speedway and head to Fantasyland, there is nearly always an Alice and Wonderland character outside the Tea Cups. Also, the bathrooms by Auntie Gravity’s are open for runners if you want a real bathroom.
- You then run through Fantasyland and I would guess there will be 1 character along this section before running through the castle.
- RUNNING THROUGH THE CASTLE! If you want a great Photopass photo, stay to the left of the path after exiting the castle, the photographers are crouching on this side of the ramp. Continue to stay to the left if you want to get a Photopass photo in front of the castle, they will direct you off the running route after going down the ramp. When taking a photo in front of the castle, run BEHIND the photographers, run to the dot on the ground for the photo, and then run back to the photographer after the photo so you don’t run into someone else’s photo. This is the way.
- You then turn into Liberty Square and there will likely be a character in front of the Hall of Presidents (runner’s right).
- A quick run through Frontierland and the likely character spot is either outside the Frontierland Shooting Gallery or the Country Bears, both runner’s left. They usually have to set up lighting, so look for bright spotlights if you run through here before dawn! Also, just past the Diamond Horseshoe are the Adventureland breezeway bathrooms, these are another set of real bathrooms that are easily accessible.
- You then run out the parade entrance behind Splash Mountain, they will usually have characters and/or a parade float set up backstage before you hit the water stop.
- Back to the roads! Runners head along the backstage roads behind MK. This portion tends to be very dark with weird lighting if you are running here pre-dawn. You will likely see some runners pull out their phones and turn on the flashlight to help them out. Watch your step since there are also speed humps in this area and they can be sneaky.
- Running past the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian are always a nice boost. Lots of cheering and characters out. There is usually a character at the first Grand Floridian entrance on runner’s left. For Princess, they sometimes have a group of bachelors near the Wedding Pavilion on runner’s right, I would expect some sort of character stop in this area. Then when you run by the golf course, the Mickey Mouse golf cart is usually out and there is sometimes a character in this area too (runner’s right).
- Now you are back to running. Running along the parking lot and then up the overpass ramp and back to World Dr. There is potential for 1 or 2 more characters in this area.
- Back on World Dr, you may have the opportunity for the median characters you saw while heading to MK but overall this section is just to get back to Epcot.
- You will then run up the banked exit ramp and then take the overpass on your way to Epcot.
- At mile marker 11, you will have a really sharp right turn before heading up the parking lot overpass ramp to the Epcot bus dropoff area. There are usually a lot of people cheering in the bus area which is such a boost as you enter Epcot and approach the final mile!
- You then run behind The Seas and The Land before entering Epcot near The Imagination Pavilion. Once you are onstage, make sure to smile big because there are usually some Photopass photographers there to get some nice pictures.
- Now that you are in Epcot, you will run along the construction walls as you make your way across Future World. Runners will go around Creations Shop and then through the breezeway to Mission Space. Honestly, I’m usually very focused on just finishing but there may be 2 characters in Epcot. One I would guess would be on runner’s right before turning left towards Creations Shop and another might be near Mission Space on runner’s left.
- Runners then take the exit behind Test Track to run the final half mile backstage before finishing in the Epcot parking lot. Throw those hands up, give a wave to whatever character is at the finish, and put a big smile on, you did it!
You did it! Congratulations! You can grab YOUR medal, maybe a pixie dusting (not sure if this has come back yet), and then grab a water and/or Powerade (red, blue, or yellow). If you are running the Glass Slipper Challenge, you will then get your challenge medal and then all runners will grab a snack box.
If you checked a bag, grab that and then head out to meet your family and friends. After taking a minute to celebrate, stretch, sit, drink some water, or whatever you need, you can then grab your bus back or head to your car. I hope you have a special breakfast planned!
I’m so excited for you all and hope you all have the best race. What are you looking forward to most?