One complaint I hear all the time is how the Walt Disney World Half Marathon courses are better than the Disneyland Resort Half Marathon courses because the Walt Disney World Half Marathon courses spend more time in the theme parks. With this being the week of the Princess Half Marathon, I thought it might be fun to examine the courses to see which courses offer the most time in the theme parks. Sound fun?
For purposes of this initial examination, I’m going to count time spent running backstage as part of running in the theme parks. For me, parking lots don’t count. Since I haven’t run any of the Walt Disney World Half Marathons, I’m going on information I was able to find and the race maps themselves to make guesses. I’ve tried to be fair in figuring out when you enter and leave the theme parks. So, most of the analysis is based on estimates. For those of you who have run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon races and wish to offer different distances based on your GPS watches, feel free to post. I will freely offer up that my estimates could be off.
First up is the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Here is what I found when it comes to when you are in and out of the theme parks. This race runs through 2 theme parks total…The Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
- You enter the Magic Kingdom at or around the 5 mile marker
- You exit the Magic Kingdom at around 6.5 miles.
- You enter EPCOT at the end of mile 12
- You exit EPCOT just after the mile 13 marker
- That comes out to around 1.5 miles in the Magic Kingdom and 1 mile in EPCOT
So, the total time in theme parks for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon is approximately 2.5 miles
The next Half Marathon is the Princess Half Marathon. If you compare this course to the Walt Disney World Half Marathon course, you’ll find that they are pretty close to identical. So, I won’t break it down again.
Total time in theme parks for the Princess Half Marathon is approximately 2.5 miles.
The last of the Half Marathons at Walt Disney World is the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. In this race, you actually run through 3 of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks. The only theme park you don’t get to run through is the Magic Kingdom.
- You enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom at around 3.5 miles
- You exit Disney’s Animal Kingdom at around 4.5 miles
- You enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios at around 9 miles
- You exit Disney’s Hollywood Studios at around 11 miles
- You enter EPCOT at around 12 miles
- You exit EPCOT at around 13 miles
- That’s 1 mile in DAK, 2 miles in DHS, and 1 mile in EPCOT
The total time spent in theme parks for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon is approximately a whopping 4 miles!
Over at the Disneyland Resort, the calendar starts off with the Star Wars Half Marathon. 2015 is the very first year this race was run. All of the Disneyland Resort races run through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
- You enter Disneyland at around 0.7 miles
- You exit Disneyland at around 3 miles
- You enter DCA at around 3 miles
- You exit DCA at around 4.7 miles
The grand total for theme parks time at the Star Wars Half Marathon is approximately 4 miles.
Next up on the Disneyland Resort race calendar is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. I may be incorrect in saying this, but it seems like the race course for this race has changed each year it’s been run. I’m going to look at the 2014 map for this blog posting. This race not only runs through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but Downtown Disney as well.
- You enter Disney California Adventure at around 1.5 miles
- You exit Disney California Adventure at around 3 miles
- You enter Disneyland at around 3 miles (there is a really short hop across the Esplanade that I’m counting)
- You exit Disneyland at around 5.25 miles
- You enter Downtown Disney at around 5.25 miles
- You exit Downtown Disney at around 5.75 miles
- DCA – 1.5 miles, Disneyland – 2.25 miles, Downtown Disney 0.5 miles
The total theme park time for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon comes in at approximately 4.25 miles.
The next race is the Disneyland Half Marathon. This race runs through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
- You enter DCA at around 1.5 miles
- You exit DCA at around 2.5 miles
- You enter Disneyland at around 2.5 miles
- You exit Disneyland at around 4 miles
- DCA – 1 mile, Disneyland – 1.5 miles
Your total time in theme parks at the Disneyland Half Marathon comes to 2.5 miles.
The last race at the Disneyland Resort (and the runDisney race calendar) is the new Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. This race runs through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
- You enter Disney California Adventure at around 0.25 miles
- You exit Disney California Adventure at around 1.5 miles
- You enter Disneyland at around 1.5 miles
- You exit Disneyland at around 2.5 miles
- DCA – 1.25 miles, Disneyland – 1 mile
Your total time in the theme parks for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon is approximately 2.25 miles.
Now that we’ve looked at the races individually, let’s put it all together and rank the races in order of time in the theme parks.
Tinker Bell Half Marathon – 4.25 miles
Wine & Dine Half Marathon – 4 miles
Star Wars Half Marathon – 4 miles
Walt Disney World Half Marathon – 2.5 miles
Princess Half Marathon – 2.5 miles
Disneyland Half Marathon – 2.5 miles
Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon – 2.25 miles
So much gets made of theme park time by runDisney enthusiasts. I found the results pretty interesting. It looks like the differences are not as great as some would think. From my experience, I think a lot of people look at when you leave the theme parks at the Disneyland races and fail to realize that many of the Disneyland races enter the theme parks earlier than at Walt Disney World. Tinker Bell takes the prize as the most time in theme parks, Avengers has the least. So, the Disneyland races offer both the most and the least amount of time in the theme parks.
What’s the big difference between the races on each coast? What you get when you’re not in the theme parks. At Walt Disney World, they can have their characters out on the roads anywhere on the route because Disney owns the roads of the entire course. At Disneyland, you get local bands, dance groups, cheer squads, a car show, and the COS Players to keep you entertained. So, at the end of the day, it really comes down to preferences.
What do you think readers? How close did I come in evaluating the time in the theme parks for all the runDisney half marathons? I tried to be generous in my estimates for each race. If you have more accurate numbers on any of the races, post them in the comments below. I think this is an important issue for many of us runDisney runners. So, I’d like to have the most reliable numbers. In my weekly recap next Monday, I’ll post updated numbers. If you don’t want to post the numbers you have in the comments, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Happy running to those running this weekend for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World!
12 thoughts on “Walt Disney World v. Disneyland Resort runDisney Half Marathons in the Parks”
Tink was my first Disney half and it spoiled me. I was so disappointed with Princess as so little time was in the parks. Yes, they had characters here and there on the roads, but it just isn’t the same. I think it’s easier for DL as both parks are so close together to spend more time there. Very interesting post to see the actual numbers. Thanks!
Tink was my first half as well! I hear you on the characters on the sides of the roads at Walt Disney World. I felt the same way while I was running the WDW Marathon. What I found most interesting in looking at the time in the parks is that the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon spend the same amount of time in the parks. The difference, though, is that the Disneyland races tend to spend time in the parks early. Whereas, every Walt Disney World Half Marathon finishes with the final mile in EPCOT. So, maybe because you’re finishing the race going through a theme park, it seems like more time is spent in the theme parks. It was a fun exercise, though, to examine this topic.
Super interesting post and it pretty much points out why tinker bell is my favorite DL course (star wars is my favorite race) and I hope they don’t change it with the move. Wine and dine is my favorite WDW half and my favorite rundisney half period because the park time was great!
Even though the Wdw half/princess half don’t have a lot of park time, the entertainment along the way is great! I feel like the DL entertainment can be lacking in some parts of the courses (like the long run through neighborhoods)
Good points! The Wine and Dine is a race I really want to run someday. Running through the Osborne Family lights would be amazing! The Star Wars Half reigns for me as my favorite half. Probably because I’m not really into the Tink theme and looooooooove Star Wars. It’s a total preference thing. One thing that is for sure, though…if you want the most theme park time, run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. How is it that this race has stayed under the radar of runDisney enthusiasts for so long?
Great post Greg. This is some great research. According to my GPS watch, that is pretty accurate for the WDW Half Marathon & Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I will email you data from my Garmin Connect for your reference.
Thanks for the GPS data David! It’s good to know I wasn’t completely off!
Reblogged this on DoomBuggy Runner and commented:
Great article to share!
This makes me really excited about registering for my first Wine and Dine next month!
I wish that the Wine and Dine Half was in my budget this year. Have fun with that race! It looks like it’s so much fun!
Great article! My first half marathon is the Tinkerbell this year. Now I am even more excited about it due to the run time in the parks.
My first half marathon was Tink back in 2013! You’re going to love it! Probably at some point in April, I’ll have to head down and run through the non-theme parks part of the 2015 Tinker Bell course. That will lead to a series of blog posts on the Tink course. I hope your training is going well!
This is really interesting – I ran the WDW Half in January and am running Dumbo in September for my coast to coast. I was hoping the course would include more park time but I’m also excited to run through Angels Stadium!