**As of 2017, the Pasta in the Park Party is no longer listed for any runDisney race weekend.
Runners need to eat, especially the night before a big race. Many choose to load up on carbohydrates in the form of pasta. runDisney took note of this and created an event that not only allows runners to fuel up before a race, but have a little fun as well. The Pasta in the Park Party is a unique experience and today we will describe this event and review our experience with this event.
The Pasta in the Park Party is separate ticketed event and is available during the Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends. It is located in the World Showplace Pavilion in Epcot (between Canada and the United Kingdom) and includes a pasta buffet, character meet and greets, a live DJ and a reserved viewing location for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
For the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, the Pasta in the Park Party is held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:00-8:30 PM (with IllumiNations at 9:00 PM). For the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, the party is held on Friday and Saturday evenings at the same time. Tickets are $52 for ages 10+ and $28 for ages 3-9 (tax is included). Children under 3 are free. (The Pasta in the Park Party is also available for Tinker Bell Half Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon Weekends at Disneyland.)
During the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, we had the opportunity to experience the Pasta in the Park Party as part of the Runner’s World Challenge. (Note: As part of the Runner’s World Challenge, we were given tickets to the Saturday night event only.) Upon entering Epcot, we were given a bracelet that was specific for those going to the party. (The party ticket does gain you entrance into Epcot after 7:00 PM without a park ticket.) We walked to the large building where the party was being held. At the entrance, cast members were checking bracelets.
Upon entering the party, it was a party atmosphere with bright lights and loud music. We first came to the buffet which included various breads, vegetables, two types of pasta and chicken. (Megan was able to get a gluten free meal which included gluten free pasta and chicken.) There were many round tables to sit at, however the music was very loud and it was difficult to talk to those around us. Desserts and drinks were available as well. We noticed the alcoholic drink prices seemed reasonable (similar to prices found in Epcot).
During our meal, the DJ (who has been the DJ for every Walt Disney World Marathon since it started!) kept the music going, as well as introduced a few special guests at the party. Kids (and adults) could participate in a hula hoop contest and other games near the DJ. There were also characters at the end of the building, and with very short lines!
One thing we struggled with was that it was a late dinner time, especially with a race the next day. Based on this, we don’t know how many stayed for Illuminations as we chose to get back to our resort and get to bed. Since we were staying at the Beach Club, it was about a 5-10 minute walk, however for those staying elsewhere, it would be a longer monorail or bus ride.
The food and entertainment was mediocre. Honestly, we would have rather dined on at Via Napoli or another restaurant that served pasta earlier in the evening. If we were going with a large group, this may have been a better (and more fun) option. It also may have been more worthwhile if we could go on a night where we didn’t have a race the next morning but the point of the Pasta in the Park Party is for a pre-race meal.
Due to the high prices, late dining time, and loud atmosphere, we found the Pasta in the Park Party was not worth the money. Perhaps runDisney will make changes in the future, but as it is currently, we will not be participating in this event for upcoming races.