A Look at the Final Expedition Everest Challenge

In early May, runDisney hosted the final Expedition Everest Challenge. This 5K scavenger hunt wasn’t the biggest event, however it was another nighttime race that entire families enjoyed together.

Amanda from Dixie Delights was able to experience this final expedition with her husband and graciously offered to recap their race! Take a look!

IMG_0931_thumb

We caught the last race bus over to Animal Kingdom at 9PM.  After a few pics, team FORTY yEARS was off to the corral!!!!!!  As usual, the race entertainment / dance party was super fun.  I may or may not have embarrassed Honey with my smooth moves.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

Before too long, we were off!

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

We hit the first obstacle about .7 miles in.  Hay bales…

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

… we stopped for a pic with Chip & Dale just inside the park entrance mostly because they are the baby’s favorite.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

…and then we met Timon just because we never have.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

The next two obstacles were in the back lot of the park – crawling under a net and running through tires.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

We finished the 5k in under 40 minutes, which was great considering our photo stops and bathroom breaks.  At this point we got our first of five clues and were off on the scavenger hunt!

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

The hunt led us all the way back through the park, and when we crossed the finish line we’d added at least another 2 miles to our tally!  It was SO.MUCH.FUN!!

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

At the after party, we headed straight to Expedition Everest.  I cannot say how much fun it was to ride at night … and on a full moon too.  I swear it went faster and was way better than usual :-)

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

We ate a 1 AM meal in DinoLand, grabbed a few beers and enjoyed the sights and scenes of Animal Kingdom at night.  It was a magical and FUN evening!!  I really hope they bring this race back after all the park construction is complete.

runDisney Expedition Everest Challenge

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Must-Stop Photos during a runDisney Race

Throughout a runDisney race, there are many opportunities to stop for photos. While some may be obvious, there are a few other great places to snap a quick photo during your race!

Must-Stop runDisney Race Photos

Characters. While this may be the most popular, it is one that is definitely worthwhile! The biggest piece of advice is to be a little choosy in terms of which ones you stop for – especially if you are worried about your race time. This will not only reduce your time in line, but let you experience other parts of the race as well! (Check out our tips for character photos as well.)

Park Landmarks. One of the most unique aspects of a runDisney race is running inside the theme parks! There are photographers stationed at locations you may want to stop at – like Cinderella Castle or in front of Spaceship Earth. A photo at these landmarks with your running gear or costume on is a great memory. Even better, the sunrise you may experience during the race makes for some truly magical photos!

Mile Markers. Leave it to runDisney to even make the mile markers magical! Each mile marker includes your favorite Disney characters and sometimes even music. While no photographers are present, a fellow runner is usually nearby to take a photo of you wish.

Spectator Signs. We all LOVE the spectators who come out on those early mornings (or late nights) to cheer on the runners! Some are extremely creative when it comes to the signs they bring along and those signs make for another great photo opportunity. Stop and take a quick photo – the spectators usually don’t mind!

Random Magic. runDisney always adds a few extra magical touches throughout the races. We have seen Disney Cruise Line buses, DJs, comedic tourists, goats and pigs and much more! These are random extras that are worth snapping a photo of (or with!)

Must-Stop runDisney Race Photos

Depending on your goals for the race, you may stop for many photos or just a few. Take these ideas into account as you head to the start line for your next runDisney race!

Buy Book 2015

{ 0 comments }

Is an Annual Pass Worth It?

It’s no secret that many runDisney runners visit Walt Disney World quite often (some more frequently than others). When planning your runDisney races you may wonder, would getting an annual pass be worth it?

Is a Walt Disney World Annual Pass worth it?

Truthfully, there are many factors involved.

Cost

Obviously the biggest factor is the cost of an annual pass. The basic annual pass (entrance into the 4 theme parks, including multiple parks on the same day) is $654+tax. If you would like access to the water parks, DisneyQuest and the golf courses, the price is $779+tax. Whether the pass is just for yourself or for your family – that’s a lot of money!

A general rule of thumb is that 10+ entrances into a theme park makes the annual pass worthwhile. If you are planning on two extended runDisney race weekends within a year, the pass may be worth it. However, if you tend to stay away from the parks during your race weekend – you may not find it worth the cost. Take a look at your proposed Walt Disney World calendar and see how many days you anticipate visiting the parks.

Discounts

With the purchase of an annual pass comes some extra discounts. Along with free parking at the theme parks, you also have access to discounts on dining, car rentals, merchandise, backstage tours, entertainment, recreation and even spa treatments! For those who wish to take advantage of one or more of these during their trip, it may help sway your decision.

Another discount is the annual passholder discount on rooms. Throughout the year, Disney has offered discounted hotel rooms on Walt Disney World property to those who have a current annual pass. This may help offset the overall cost of your runDisney race weekend (or allow you to stay in a resort that was previously out of the budget).

*Note: All discounts are subject to change.

Early Registration

One of the biggest perks to a runDisney runner is that annual passholders (and Disney Vacation Club members) currently are able to register early for runDisney races. A week or two before general registration, a select number of spots open for passholders. While these go just as quickly as regular registration, it does offer another opportunity to register for a race or two!

Is a Walt Disney World Annual Pass worth it?

Overall, there are many things to consider before purchasing an annual pass. Be sure to think it through and take a look at your race calendar before swiping that credit card!

Buy Book 2015

{ 0 comments }

Deluxe Villas during a runDisney Race Weekend

When it comes to a runDisney race weekend, there are a lot of resort options on Walt Disney World property. However, one option that is often overlooked are the deluxe villas.

Also known as Disney Vacation Club properties, these deluxe villas offer extra space and amenities. Let’s take a look!

Deluxe Villas during a runDisney Race Weekend

Deluxe villas are available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The two resorts that only offer deluxe villa accommodations are Disney’s Old Key West Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

In terms of room types, there are a few options. A deluxe studio is available, however this is very similar to a regular room, with the addition of a kitchenette that includes a microwave and toaster. It’s the villas that start to offer much more! The 1-bedroom villa includes a bedroom, bathroom (with whirlpool tub), living room area (with sleeper sofas) and a fully-equipped kitchen. The 2-bedroom villas include 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room area (with sleeper sofas) and a fully-equipped kitchen. There are even grand villas for those wanting more space and unique layouts! Another great addition is a washer and dryer, allowing for quick cleaning of those running clothes.

Deluxe Villas during a runDisney Race Weekend

As for runDisney race weekends, these deluxe villas can be very useful. With the extra space, it allows everyone to not trip over one another in the room. The ability to close the bedroom door is also helpful, especially if you are traveling with non-runners who will not be getting up at 2:30 am. Of course, the kitchen is extremely convenient for those wanting to cook their own meals!

While the deluxe villas can be more expensive, it may be worth it for many reasons. First of all, if you are traveling with a group, you can split the cost making it more affordable. (Not to mention, you also have more room!) You can also save on meals by stopping at a grocery store and utilizing the kitchen, as opposed to eating all of your meals at the resort or in the parks.

A few things to note when researching these deluxe villas for your next runDisney race weekend:

  • Each resort offers various room sizes. Be sure to check out the square footage to get the most bang for your buck.
  • Check to see what resorts will be offering transportation for your race.
  • If you have family members or friends who will be spectating, be sure to check our resort reviews (or the spectator chapter in the book) to find out if your race course is nearby!
  • Disney Vacation Club members do have “first dibs” on these deluxe villa accommodations. You will not be able to book these accommodations until approximately 7 months from your time of travel, so have a plan B in place.
  • The newest locations – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort – will be the most popular and therefore, may not have space available.

 

Buy Book 2015

{ 2 comments }

Runner’s World Challenge Package Breakdown 2016

This is part 4 of our series on the Runner’s World Challenge during the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. For previous parts, see Runner’s World Challenge Overview, as well as Runner’s World Challenge Issues and Concerns, and Runner’s World Challenge Experience.

UPDATE: Beginning in 2015, Runner’s World Challenge is only available for the Dopey Challenge. It does not include the resort package as it did in 2013.

 

For 2014, runDisney announced a new challenge for Marathon Weekend. The Dopey Challenge incorporates the 5K run, (new) 10K race, half marathon and marathon, resulting in 48.6 miles over a 4 day period. The result? 6 shirts and 6 medals!

The details regarding the 2016 Runner’s World Challenge have also been released. In order to help you decide if the Runner’s World Challenge is the right fit for you we have listed out the pros and cons of our experience accompanied by a price breakdown of the 2016 Runner’s World Package.   To wrap things up, we’ve listed several questions to think about when making your decision and a few of our final thoughts about Runner’s World Challenge.

Details of 2016 Runner’s World Challenge during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:

Runner’s World Challenge participants will receive:*

  • A membership in a 16-20 week training plan designed by The Runner’s World Experts, and Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso, who has coached hundreds of elites, celebs, and everyday runners (celebrity/VIP appearances subject to change or cancellation without notice)**
  • Weekly emails leading up to the Event from Runner’s World Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso with training, nutrition, and health tips for the upcoming weeks workouts “training.”
  • Direct online access to Runner’s World experts on training, nutrition, and injuries for one year during the 16-20 week Event training plan
  • Access to private RW Challenge online training forum to connect with other runners training for Disney and other marathons and half marathons
  • A copy of The Runner’s World Complete Book of Running
  • Runner’s World Challenge tech shirt in time for your training to start
  • A four-month premium membership to Runner’s World Personal Trainer, our interactive training log
  • Private packet pick-up for Runner’s World Challenge participants at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo
  • Pre-race course strategy session with the Runner’s World experts and editors (TBD)
  • Entry to the Pasta in the Park Party on Thursday night at Epcot® where the Runner’s World VIPs & editors will be in attendance (party includes buffet pasta dinner, live DJ, Disney characters and viewing of the fireworks spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot®)
  • Exclusive pre-race walkout to corrals for Runner’s World Challenge participants.
    o Corral placement will be determined based on proof of time that all runners must submit by October 6, 2015.
  • Entry to the Race Retreat on Saturday and Sunday
    o Pre-race amenities include hot and cold beverages with fruit and bagels, dedicated stretching area, and private portalets & bag check
    o Post-race amenities include a nutritious buffet, massage, private portalet & bag pick up, and live results
  • Entry into the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend Breakfast in the Family Reunion Area after the 5K and 10K

*Note: There is NO Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge for 2016. There is also no shake out run (most likely do to logistics). 


Our Experience

Pros:

  • Shortcut to the race start was amazing. It’s truly hard to put a dollar value on this perk.
  • Runner’s World staff was tremendously knowledgeable and supportive.  There was always a Runner’s World editor or staff member available at each event to answer questions and direct participants. Event staff were extremely organized and prepared throughout the entire weekend.
  • Separate bag check was easy and seamless. Runner’s World team staffed private bag check during entire event.
  • Race Retreat was very nice and definitely worth the extra cost –  especially with the weather conditions. Runner’s World Challenge area inside Race Retreat had private seating and private TV.  Family members who purchased Race Retreat/Platinum ChEAR Squad were also allowed inside private Runner’s World area inside Race Retreat.
  • Opportunity to meet other amazing runners and interact with Runner’s World editors and Bart Yasso throughout the weekend was fabulous!
  • No lines during private packet pickup
  • Course Strategy Session provided useful information to veterans and new runDisney runners since it was adapted to the current extreme weather issues and discussed the new marathon course challenges

Cons:

  • Pasta in the Park was average and we would not purchase separately
  • Didn’t need the training plan due to having a coach or existing training plan in place prior to purchasing
  • Must purchase additional Platinum ChEAR Squad or Pasta in the Park tickets for family members to join you. (You also need to pick up these tickets/packages in the main area of the Health & Fitness Expo.  Since these extras are not part of Runner’s World Challenge, they will NOT be available  in the private packet pickup area for the Challenge.)
  • It is a lot of money to put down months in advance.

  IMG_0200

 

Price Breakdown:

Below we have included the pricing breakdown for the 2016 Runner’s World Challenge. We have priced out the runDisney related events as they could be purchased separately. The price difference includes special experiences that you can not purchase separately such as: Runner’s World Training Plans for Dopey, Course Strategy Session, Private Packet Pick-up at Expo, short-cut to race start, private Runner’s World bag check and seating area inside Race Retreat.

Dopey Challenge:

Runner’s World Challenge Price – $1100

Price of Individual Events (if purchased seperately)
$550 (Race) + $230 (Race Retreat) + $54 (Pasta) + $40 (5K Breakfast) + $40 (10K Breakfast) = $914

Difference – $186 

*Note: All pricing breakdowns are estimates and do not include taxes or Active.com fees.  

The main cost difference is that it includes a Runner’s World Training Plan specific to those events, which cannot be purchased separately. At the time of posting, these training plans are only offered to those participating in Runner’s World Challenge.

Questions to Consider: 

  • Am I interested in attending Pasta in the Park, Race Retreat or the 5K and 10K breakfasts for the Dopey Challenge?
  • Am I running with a large group or another runner who is interested in participating in Runner’s World Challenge?
  • Do I need the training plans, or do I already have a coach/training plan in place?
  • Would I need to purchase extra tickets to the breakfasts/Pasta in the Park or Platinum ChEAR Squad for my spouse/family members? If I wouldn’t purchase the separate tickets, would I use each component in the package to justify the full value of the experience included in the package?
  • If I purchase events separately, would I be willing to possibly pay a higher price than the Runner’s World Challenge by paying numerous Active.com fees for each individual event? (At the time of posting, it has not been indicated how participants will register for Runner’s World Challenge.)
  • Am I able to put down the full amount of the Runner’s World Challenge at the time of registration? (Race Retreat and Pasta in the Park usually do not sell out as fast as race registrations.)
  • Would I prefer to make one purchase to insure that I have admission to all events?
  • Is there something special I am celebrating (first race, birthday, anniversary, completion of an event) and would like a VIP/one-of-a-kind experience?

photo-16


Final Thoughts
  Would we do this again?  Would we recommend this package?

Many readers who have been following these posts may be looking for a “yes” or “no” answer.  However, this is a very difficult question to answer directly.  Our main issues with the Runner’s World Challenge in 2013 was due to runDisney resort restrictions and not the Runner’s World Challenge portion of the package. This restriction has been eliminated with the option to book your resort separately from the outset of registration this year. Additionally, we both felt that Runner’s World editors and staff were much more familiar with the package offerings and able to provide more guidance during Marathon weekend than the runDisney staff that we encountered during race weekend.  We suspect this will change this year since it’s not the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon and it’s the second time for runDisney to offer this package.  In our experience with most runDisney events, the kinks are almost completely worked out by the second time an event is offered.

Many have inquired about the training plan designed by Runner’s World experts. There are various training plans offered, including plans specific to the Dopey Challenge. Each training plan includes various levels, from beginner to a time goal. These training plans can be uploaded to the Runner’s World Personal Trainer, which allows you to track your training progress. You also have access to forums specific to the Runner’s World Challenge, which include categories such as nutrition, injury prevention and even a category for those participating in Marathon Weekend at Disney. Since we did not utilize these plans, here is a recap from another blogger who did for the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon.

Another consideration, Runner’s World Challenge participants were able to register by calling into Disney Sports Travel last year and were exempt from Active.com fees associated with runDisney registration.  The registration link for 2016 is through Active.com, which means additional fees will most likely be included.

Breakfasts after the 5K and 10K events have been added, which contributes to a higher price. This also creates two additional tickets you will need to purchase for family members if they wish to join you. If you are planning on making this event a family affair, there is extra cost associated with the Runner’s World Challenge for your entire family to enjoy the events together.  We hope that if Runner World Challenge offers a discount for family members this year, it will be offered early in the registration season as opposed to only a week prior as it was last year.

Did we feel that there was value associated with the Runner’s World Challenge?  Absolutely!  We did enjoy the added perks for a special event such as the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Runner’s World staff is extraordinary.  At this time, we haven’t decided if we will participate in the Runner’s World Challenge in the future, especially since it is only offered for the Dopey Challenge. We do feel that the package has been streamlined for 2016 and all of our issues with the package during our experience have been resolved. Our main hesitation is the steep cost at the time of registration.  While we would definitely purchase Race Retreat for the both races, we can’t decide if it’s worth the coming up with such a high enrollment fee this early in the race season. It’s also unlikely that we would attend Pasta in the Park and we wouldn’t purchase additional breakfast tickets for our spouses for the 5K or 10K  and would be less likely to attend those breakfasts while family members were outside then venue or back at the resort.

Our biggest piece of advice is to really look at the entire package (along with all its components) and determine if the added value is worth it to you. By laying out the price breakdowns, questions to consider and our thoughts, we hope that we have given you plenty of information in order to make an informed decision. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us! We will answer your questions via email, on our Facebook page or even create another post if needed.

Registration for Runner’s World Challenge for 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend opens on Tuesday, April 14.

 

Disclosure: The authors purchased the Ultimate Runner’s World Challenge package and were not compensated for this review. All opinions are our own.

 

Buy Book 2015

{ 0 comments }

Best runDisney Course Moments: The True Magic

Throughout a runDisney race, there is sure to be a lot of excitement. With character photo stops and DJs pumping music, there are many magical moments. However, each race course also brings a unique experience along with it. This is our series on the best runDisney course moments!

The past few weeks, we have highlighted some of the best moments during various runDisney race courses. While it may be hard to top the feeling you get running down Main Street USA, there are some other moments throughout a runDisney race that are absolutely spectacular!

When it comes to the true magic of a runDisney race, it actually has nothing to do with the race course. That’s right – it’s the people that make a runDisney race magical. Take a look!

Best runDisney Course Moments: The True Magic

Spectators – Getting up early to run is one thing. Getting up early to spectate is amazing! The spectators that line the various parts of a course, cheering for every runner for hours make the experience unbelievable. Not only do they cheer loudly, they also bring along fun signs, hand out snacks and give runners that extra boost as they run by. To all the spectators – we THANK you!

VoluntEARs – Let’s have a little lesson in race logistics. During a runDisney half marathon, there are people directing you to your corral, approximately 9 water stations, a fuel station, various aid stations, people handing out your medal, food and drink after the race, and much more. Every single one of these people is a voluntEAR, spending their day celebrating the runners! There is always a smile on their face as they take care of each runner and clean up afterward. To all the voluntEARs – we THANK you!

Fellow Runners – During a runDisney race, you may be running with anywhere from 5000 to 25000 other runners. While this could be a little chaotic, the running community tends to make it a special experience. From encouraging one another to offering to take a photo, your fellow runners can truly make your race a wonderful one. When you are on the course, remember that we are all there for the same reason – to have a fun time. To all our fellow runners – we THANK you!

Best runDisney Course Moments: The True Magic

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the various aspects of a runDisney race that make it unique – from running through the parks to character photos. During your next runDisney race, remember the PEOPLE that make your experience a magical one! Offer up your gratitude and encourage one another on your journey!

Buy Book 2015

{ 0 comments }