You’ve registered for the race, trained for months and now you are ready to run! If you are like the overwhelming majority of runDisney participants, you aren’t traveling alone and you may need to incorporate a spectator plan into your race weekend.
When it comes to runDisney, there is the opportunity to be both a runner and a spectator. If you have a runner who is participating in Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon, or the Princess Half Marathon, you may be wondering if a ChEAR Squad package is right for you and more importantly – is it worth the money?
Currently, there are two levels of ChEAR Squad packages Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends. (In 2016, a ChEAR Squad package was available for Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend – The Dark Side, however the package is no longer on runDisney.com.) Previously, two lower level packages were available, but these have since been discontinued, most likely since they did not offer reserved viewing locations. Wine & Dine Half Marathon now also includes ChEAR Squad, with one $45 per person package available consisting of reserved seating at the Finish Line only.
ChEAR Squad – GOLD Package
Gold Package includes*:
- runDisney ChEAR Squad t-shirt, stadium blanket and clapper
- Reserved ChEAR Zone viewing location near Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park (first-come, first-served)
- Reserved Finish Line ChEAR Zone seating featuring:
- Reserved grandstand seating (first-come, first-served)
- Hot and cold beverages
- Private restrooms
$65 for Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon or Princess Half Marathon
$85 for BOTH Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon
The stadium blanket is of high quality, as it rolls up and can be carried via the attached shoulder strap. In the past year, the t-shirt has seen a significant upgrade, as the material is now much softer. The ChEAR Squad logo is prominent on the shirt, and the color of the shirt changes each year. The clappers are cute and fun for the finish line, but may not be so cute or fun for the car ride home with a young child.
In terms of the viewing locations, the area in front of Cinderella Castle can get quite congested. That being said, only a select number of people (those who have purchased the ChEAR Squad package and have the appropriate wristband) are allowed to enter the area. Not only can you spot your runner as they run down Main Street U.S.A., but you can turn around and watch them exit the castle as well.
ChEAR Squad Viewing Area at Cinderella’s Castle
ChEAR Squad spectators will have also access to private grand-stand viewing area. These bleachers are located directly in front of the finish line, resulting in the best seats for watching your runner finish. Yes, there are other bleachers available for non-ChEAR Squad spectators, however they are usually extremely crowded and don’t offer the greatest viewing.
Spectator Seating at Finish Line Seating
ChEAR Squad Stands
ChEAR Squad Finish Line Views
The above pictures clearly illustrate that in the past, there has been over-abundance of ChEAR Squad paid seating and very limited free spectator seating. In fact, it was even more crowded than the picture shows.
ChEAR Squad – PLATINUM Package
Platinum Package includes*:
- All of the Gold Package amenities plus…
- Entry into the Race Retreat** which includes:
- Private Hospitality tent near the Finish Line including live video feed from the race and access to live runner results
- Private Restrooms
- Disney character Meet and Greets
- Disney catered post-race brunch
- Designated location to meet your runner and celebrate their accomplishment!*
$120 for Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon or Princess Half Marathon
$180 for BOTH Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon
The main perk for Platinum over Gold is access to Race Retreat! Race Retreat is a fantastic offering for spectators but this perk may not be worth the cost for everyone. For example, if you have a faster runner who is doing a half marathon then you won’t utilize Race Retreat to the fullest extent. Also, you may choose to not include Race Retreat if your runner did not purchase Race Retreat (for post-race brunch) or if you are going to spend a significant amount of time following your runner on the course.
Race Retreat is great if your runner plans on taking their time on the course, is running the Walt Disney World Marathon or if your small children will be spectating with you (although that will increase the cost). Also, if you have spectators who want to see live video coverage of their runner finishing but may not be able to make it to the stands due to mobility concerns, they can relax in a temperature-controlled environment while watching live video coverage of the finish line on one of the numerous flat screen tv’s that are positioned around Race Retreat.
A hot brunch (sausage, bacon, hash brown potatoes, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, etc.) is provided along with an extensive hot and cold beverage selection. Disney characters visit Race Retreat for photo-opportunities as well. The private restrooms are not actually restrooms, but are port-a-potties reserved for Race Retreat which are easily accessible.
To determine if ChEAR Squad is right for you or your spectators, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want a race souvenir? If yes, select Gold or Platinum.
- Do you want to be at the finish line? Would reserved seating be important? If yes, select Gold or Platinum.
- Do you want temperature-controlled environment for spectators? Live video-feed of finish line? If yes, select Platinum.
- Will your runner finish the race quickly? If yes, consider if Platinum would be worth money.
- Will your runner be participating in Race Retreat and eat a post-race meal inside Race Retreat? If yes, select Platinum.
- Do you have small children that may need a safe place to roam while waiting for a runner to finish? If yes, select Platinum. Children under 3 are free!
Before you make your final decision, here is the fine print on the runDisney website regarding ChEAR Squad:
*Reserved seating/viewing locations may vary and are subject to change. Guest must arrive at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled event to ensure reserved seating/viewing — actual location within the reserved seating/viewing areas is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserved seating/viewing amenity is available for the registered ChEAR Squad member only. Each Guest will need to purchase a package for entry to the designated areas. Runners will not be able to meet their guests inside the reserved Finish Line ChEAR Zone unless the runner has purchased a ChEAR Squad Package.
***Race Retreat will open to friends and family beginning at 5:30 a.m. Runners participating in Half, Full, Goofy or Dopey Challenge must purchase Race Retreat package separately and are subject to availability.