When it comes to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, there are similarities – but there are also many differences. While runDisney races are no exception, there are quite a few major differences when it comes to ChEAR Squad!

Disneyland ChEAR Squad

If you are planning on running a race in Disneyland, you may be wondering how your spectators will cheer you on. While the parks and start/finish lines are within walking distance, the spectator locations can be quite crowded. If you are familiar with the Anaheim area, you may be able to find other locations along the course (specifically the half marathon) to cheer on your runner.

However, there is one MAJOR difference when it comes to races at Disneyland, spectators CANNOT go inside the park unless they are part of specific ChEAR Squad packages. (For the runners, this means that Main Street USA in Disneyland is not full of the overwhelming cheers like it is in Walt Disney World.)

So is ChEAR Squad worth it at Disneyland? Let’s take a look!

Bronze Package

Like the Walt Disney World ChEAR Squad, the bronze package is no cost and includes a newsletter. Since there is no cost, there is no harm in signing up for information regarding race weekend!


Silver Package

This package is between $39 and $45 per spectator. Along with the newsletter, you will also receive a waterproof stadium blanket, Mickey clappers and a cotton ChEAR Squad t-shirt. (These are the same as what you would receive at Walt Disney World events.) The main addition is that you will be given access to enter Disneyland theme park to watch your runner along Main Street USA! You will be able to see your runner as they enter the park, as well as when they come through Sleeping Beauty castle.

Disneyland ChEAR Squad

Gold Package

This package is between $59 and $69 per spectator. Along with all the amenities of the Silver package (including entrance into Disneyland park), you will also receive grandstand seating at the finish line. Since the finisher’s chute is along the road next to Disneyland Hotel, it can be quite difficult to find a good viewing location near the finish line. This aspect of ChEAR Squad guarantees a nice view as your runner finishes their race! (Note: Seating is first-come, first-served.)

Disneyland ChEAR Squad

Platinum Package

This package is $99 per spectator. Along with all the amenities of the Gold package (including entrance to Disneyland park), you will be treated to a VIP experience near the finish line! Enjoy more comfortable seating, a continental breakfast, executive style restrooms, live course feed of the finish line and complimentary parking at the Disneyland Hotel.

  Disneyland ChEAR Squad

So is ChEAR Squad worth the money? It ultimately depends on your plan to watch your runner. If you would like the ease and access of watching your runner at not quite as crowded locations, we recommend at least the Gold package. The ability to watch your runner in Disneyland park as well as at the finish line is a nice amenity.

As for the Platinum package, it really depends on if you would like a continental breakfast. The courses tend to have the runners go through the parks within the first few miles, giving you time to walk back to the finish line and enjoy a little meal before your runner finishes. (Keep in mind – this ultimately depends on how fast your runner is!) Of course, you can always bring your own snacks and breakfast if you would like. Also, note that your runner CANNOT come in for breakfast with you, unlike Race Retreat at Walt Disney World!

The nice thing about the Disneyland races is that there are plenty of areas to watch your runner, from Downtown Disney to along the streets of Anaheim. However, if you are unfamiliar with the area, your spectator spots are limited to near the parks and start/finish. This is absolutely doable without ChEAR Squad, just as it is in Walt Disney World.

Here are a few questions to consider when it comes to ChEAR Squad:

  • Would you like to watch your runner inside Disneyland park? If so, purchase Silver or higher.
  • Will you be spectating with children? If so, think of the extra cost involved. (Note: Children under 3 are no cost.)
  • Would you like to watch your runner at the finish line? If so, purchase Gold or higher.
  • Will your runner finish quickly? Determine if Platinum would be worth the extra cost.
  • Are you familiar with the Anaheim area? If so, you may be able to find other places to spectate.

Be sure to check out our review of the ChEAR Squad for runDisney races at Walt Disney World too!


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After the 2014 Princess Half Marathon, we saw a recap that exceeded all other runDisney race recaps. A young girl named Sarah Kate finished the Mickey Mile, stealing the hearts of cast members, characters, spectators and many others. (Click here to read this amazing recap!) Her inspiring story was one we wanted to learn more about, and her mother, Andi, was happy to answer a few questions we had. Even better, runDisney captured Andi and Sarah Kate’s story as one of their Why I runDisney videos! Take a look at this amazing mother and daughter, along with their truly inspiring family.

Sarah Kate

Running is clearly something your entire family enjoys! How did your running journey begin?

I began running in high school back in the 80s as a way to stay in shape, but didn’t attempt my first endurance race until I was in my 30s. My third half marathon was at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 2007, and that experience hooked me on running Disney.


Why did you choose runDisney races?

My first Disney race I ran with a college friend of mine. We had moved away from each other and we were looking for a girls’ trip we could do together. Another acquaintance of mine happened to be running the same race, so we met up while we were in California. She’s an even bigger RunDisney fanatic than I am, and since then we’ve become great friends and do a lot of the races together.


What runDisney races have you all experienced?

It might be be easier to say which ones we haven’t! I’ve run the Disneyland Half, the Walt Disney World Marathon, Half, and Goofy, the Princess Half, 10K, and Glass Slipper, the Wine and Dine Half, the now-retired Tower of Terror 13K and Minnie 15K, and several 5K Family Fun Runs. Sarah Kate has run the 200 meter and 400 meter kids races at various RunDisney events, as well as the Princess Mile this year, and my four year old son, Nathan, has run a Disney race every year since he was born – the diaper dash his first year and the 100 meters the other years.

Sarah Kate

During her amazing Mickey Mile performance, Sarah Kate had a wheelchair close by if needed. Are there other accommodations runDisney makes?

The wheelchair we took on the course is a transport-type that we carry with us whenever we go to Walt Disney World, because she can walk independently but doesn’t have the stamina to navigate the parks. RunDisney graciously allowed us to take it onto the course, but they also let us know that if she needed it, a golf cart would be on the course that could pick her up. Taking the wheelchair on the course turned out to be a great decision, as she was able to finish the race pushing it, rather than having to be picked up.


runDisney recently released a #WhyIrunDisney video featuring Sarah Kate. Can you tell us a little more about that? 

A couple of weeks after Sarah Kate’s race, I was contacted by Bob Hitchcock of the Walt Disney Company. A number of people had told him about Sarah Kate’s mile finish and urged him to contact us. About a month after the race, he and his cameraman came to our hometown and spent some time interviewing Sarah Kate and me and filming her at school and with her running club. The video is part of their #WhyIrunDisney social media campaign and will be used in a variety of ways to promote the runDisney race series.


What tips do you have for parents of special needs children if they are looking to participate in a runDisney event? (Both kids and adults!)

Just ask! If your child needs any special accommodations in order to participate, ask what, if anything, Disney can do to help. It has been our experience that they want people – ALL people! – to have a great experience, and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that happens. The earlier you can make any special requests, the better. Not every request can be accommodated, but it never hurts to ask.


What races are you looking forward to running?

Our next runDisney event is the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November. Nathan is four now, so he will be moving up to the 200 meters kids race this time, and I will run the half marathon. Sarah Kate had major orthopedic surgery this spring and is spending the summer in rehab, so we aren’t sure how far along the road to recovery she will be by November, but the Wine and Dine Mile is one of her goals.

Sarah Kate

A BIG thank you to Andi and Sarah Kate for allowing us to interview them! We look forward to seeing them at an upcoming runDisney race!


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Best Character Meals for Dinner

We all want to celebrate our runDisney race accomplishments! A great way to do so is by enjoying a character meal. Not only does it fill your hungry runner’s belly, but it also allows for great photo opportunities with your new medal! This series will include great character meal options for you to celebrate! (See Also: Breakfast)

Once you complete your race and get your new medal, a fun way to celebrate is a wonderful dinner. Here are a few character meal options for a celebratory dinner!

Best Character Meals for Dinner

Garden Grill

Located in The Land at Epcot, this character meal is a hidden gem. The restaurant slowly rotates so you have new scenery throughout your meal. Add in visits from Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale, and this is a dinner that is sure to please! Dinner is family style and includes salad, beef, turkey, fish of the day, vegetables, potatoes and bread pudding. Even better, the characters are in their farmer’s best!

1900 Park Fare

For a dinner that is sure to leave an impression, head to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! This restaurant includes appearances by Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and the hilarious duo of Anastasia and Drizella. (Be sure to keep a tight grip on those medals!) This buffet meal includes hot items like pot stickers, ribs, seafood, chicken, flatbread, salmon and more, as well as a salad bar area and carving station.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind celebration, then dining in Cinderella Castle is it! Join Cinderella and her princess friends for a dinner in the castle that is sure to make magical memories. Gaze on Magic Kingdom from above or even watch Wishes if you time it correctly! This experience does come with a hefty price tag, however your photo with Cinderella and gratuity is included. Dine on slow roasted pork loin, grilled swordfish, tomato risotto and more. Be sure to leave room for dessert!


No matter what dinner you choose, your runDisney accomplishment is something you will celebrate for a long time to come!


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The runDisney Race Deferral Process

runDisney races are unique. You have to sign up for the races MONTHS before the actual event, usually within just hours of when registration opens.

This leaves room for life to happen. Work schedules can change. Injuries can occur. Sometimes, life just gets in the way and the runDisney race you signed up for 11 months ago may need to be post-poned until the next year.

For races of 10K or longer, you do have the option to defer your race registration to the next year (for the same race weekend). There is a deferral fee, currently $45.

runDisney Race Deferral

Both Krista and Megan were signed up for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge. Unfortunately, life got in the way for both of us, which meant that we both deferred our race registrations to 2015. Having just gone through the deferral process, we learned a few things along the way!

Deferral Process

To defer your race, go to runDisney.com and click on the race weekend you are signed up for. Click on the registration tab and scroll down to the deferral section. A link will appear for you to begin the deferral process. Keep in mind, a deferral is not a transfer, meaning the person who registered is the person who is deferring to run the race the next year.

When you click on the deferral link, you will fill out your information and pay the deferral fee as well as the registration fee for the next year’s race. Once you have re-registered for the new race, you will email your registration code and new confirmation number to runDisney to start the refund process. Once they have processed your request, you will then be refunded for the race that you are deferring. For example, we paid the $45 deferral fee as well as the $280 fee for the 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge (plus active.com fees – see below for explanation). We then were refunded for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge a few days later. (Note: Disney states it can take a few billing cycles for the refund to appear.)

runDisney Race Deferral

Things to Consider

There is a deadline that the deferral must be completed by. The exact dates will be listed on the registration tab on runDisney.com for the race weekend you are interested in.

Deferrals CAN reach a limit, not allowing any more deferrals for that race weekend. Unfortunately, there is no warning as to when this occurs. A general rule of thumb, the closer it is to the event (and deferral deadline), the more likely that the deferral limit will be reached.

If the race registration fee increases for the next year, you will have to pay the difference as well, up to $20. We both just received an email from runDisney this week that the cost of the 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge rose to $295. Therefore, we both had to pay an additional $15 .

Fees, fees and more fees!  In addition to the deferral fee (currently $45), you will also pay additional fees to active.com. A registration fee through active.com is part of your fees when you originally register for a race. However when you defer, you will pay another registration fee to active.com to register for the new race in addition to the deferral fee.  Your original active.com fee will not be refunded with the original race registration fees.

You can change your race during the deferral process. For example, if you registered for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon, you can defer to the 2016 Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge (and will have to pay the difference in race cost). If you “downgrade” your race, you will not receive a refund of the difference.

Pre-ordered souvenirs or pins are non-transferable to the next year. Therefore, you would need to call runDisney directly to see if they would issue a refund for these items. However, it is likely that you may also lose the money pre-paid on these item unless you can attend the expo to pick the items up.


While there are clearly many costs involved in deferring, it is better than losing hundreds of dollars in registration fees! Also, be sure to cancel any travel arrangements you may have made as well!

As always, runDisney can change the policies – however this is how they currently stand.



Club Level During a runDisney Race Weekend

As runners, we can be very particular regarding our eating habits during a race weekend. During our training, we have learned what foods are best and what to stay away from. Even during a Disney trip, we tend to eat a little lighter before the race. (After the race is a whole other situation!)

The Disney Dining Plan may be too much food during a race weekend. While you always have the option of bringing your own food with you, there is another great way to experience a runDisney weekend – Club Level!

Club Level during runDisney

Each deluxe resort offers a Club Level option during booking. While the cost is definitely higher, there are many amenities including:

  • Advance itinerary planning service
  • Access to an exclusive Club Level Lounge at your resort
    • Continental Breakfast
    • Afternoon Snacks and Beverages
    • Evening Appetizers and Wine
    • After-Dinner Cordials and Desserts
  • Evening Turndown Service

The resorts that offer Club Level are: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge and Yacht Club. There are various room types and views available. Most rooms are on the same floor as the lounge (with keyed access), however there are a few exceptions – specifically with the Contemporary and Grand Floridian Resorts. Coronado Springs also offers a business lounge option. While the offerings are less, it is another way to have access to snacks throughout the day.

During a runDisney weekend, the most important aspect of Club Level is the food. Throughout the day, you have access to food at the lounge. While they may not be enough for a full meal (with the exception of the bagels, cereal, fruit, yogurt and pastries for breakfast), they do allow you the opportunity to graze throughout the day.

Club Level

As a part of the 2014 Dopey Challenge, Megan and her husband chose to stay at the Wilderness Lodge – Club Level. With multiple races throughout her stay, this was a great option. They often had breakfast in the lounge, would share a quick service meal for lunch, have pasta for dinner and then get snacks and beverages at the lounge throughout the day. It offered a relaxing experience in the midst of many early mornings!

While the expense is definitely higher, Club Level offers a new and unique experience to your runDisney race weekend!


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Best Character Meals for Breakfast

We all want to celebrate our runDisney race accomplishments! A great way to do so is by enjoying a character meal. Not only does it fill your hungry runner’s belly, but it also allows for great photo opportunities with your new medal! This series will include great character meal options for you to celebrate! 

After a 5K or 10K race (or even half marathon for the speedier runners), a big breakfast is definitely in order! A fun way to show off your new medal and accomplishment is at a character meal. Here are a few of our favorite character meals for breakfast!

Breakfast Character Meals

Tusker House

Join Donald in Animal Kingdom for this African-inspired breakfast. After a photo with the main duck, you can enjoy a breakfast buffet – along with visits from Mickey, Daisy and Goofy! The food at this buffet is your normal breakfast fare, along with some African-infused dishes. Don’t miss out on the Jungle Juice, a mixture of guava, orange and passion fruit. And if you time your meal later in the morning, you can enjoy a few lunch dishes as well!

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Dine with your favorite Princesses in this quaint restaurant in Epcot’s Norway pavilion. The Princesses rotate, however you are sure to have visits from a few of the following: Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, Cinderella or Mulan. The breakfast is buffet-style and includes eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, yogurt, fruit, baked goods and even a few Norwegian offerings. These reservations will go fast during Princess Half Marathon Weekend!

Cape May Cafe

Catch a wave with Mickey and the gang at the Beach Club Resort! This breakfast buffet includes your normal fare, which is great after a race! Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald – and maybe even Chip and Dale – will visit your table in their best swim gear. Be sure to bring your camera for some great photos!

Crystal Palace

Magic Kingdom transforms into the Hundred Acre Woods with Winnie the Pooh and his friends! The Crystal Palace is unique in that Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger visit you as you indulge in a breakfast buffet. The food is your normal breakfast fare, however the Puffed French Toast is a wonderful indulgence! If you have a free morning without a race, get a reservation before the park opens for some great photos with Cinderella Castle before your meal!

Tusker House

Character meals are great ways to get fantastic interaction with your favorite characters. Breakfast is a great time to do so – even if you are a little sweaty from your race! Eat up, get some great photos and enjoy your new medal!


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