You’ve decided to runDisney but you aren’t going alone! Wondering what to do with your kids while you race? Check out our Top 10 List of suggested things to help make your runDisney event with kids a breeze!
1. Leave the kids at home. What? Yes, many athletes who are participating in a runDisney event like to make completing a race a personal celebration. So, consider leaving your kids at home with a trusted family member or friend. Race weekends involve early mornings or late evenings and this schedule might be tiring for young children. Many spouses like to run together and this is the perfect opportunity to share a common goal and create a bonding experience. Perhaps you are just looking for a guys or girls weekend? If so, a quick trip to Disney for a race might be the perfect weekend get-away.
2. Hire or bring a sitter. If both parents enjoy running, a sitter for young children will be necessary as runDisney has a strict no stroller policy. In many cases, one parent will run and the other parent will spectate. With runDisney race hours usually involving very early mornings or very late evenings, a sitter is a great way to keep the kids on a schedule without interrupting their sleep. Ideally, it’s nice to be able to bring a family member or a friend along who can stay with the kids while the parents are running or spectating. However, if you can’t bring a sitter along then check out one of the recommend sitter services in Orlando, Florida. Kid’s Nite Out is a service that will send a sitter to your resort room. Sitters are available 24/7 so there’s no need to worry about those odd race hours. For details on pricing, contact Kid’s Nite Out at 1-800-696-8105.
3. Headed to the Expo? Split the family up! Strollers are not allowed inside the runDisney Race Expo. Couple the no stroller policy with hundred of runners who are exploring booths filled with racks of clothing and it can make for a harrowing experience for the runner and child alike! In 2014, runDisney began a new policy that you MUST pick up your own packet, so if both parents are running – they both must get to the Expo at some point. If you do decide to take your kids to the Expo then make sure you write your cell phone number on your child’s hand in case they get lost. And, if you are looking for something fun for the kids to do at the Expo while mom or dad shops, check out the Inspiration Station (see #5).
4. Stay in a suite. If your kids are light sleepers, consider staying in one of Disney’s larger accommodations. This will allow your runner to get ready for the race (or clean up after a night race) without disturbing the sleeping kids. Suite accommodations are available at different price levels. For value suites, check out Art of Animation Family Suites or All Star Music Family Suites. Deluxe Villas include many 1 and 2 bedroom villas that will provide ample space. Bay Lake Towers, Grand Floridian Villas as well as Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge offer villas with plenty of space. Looking for a room in the moderate category? Consider booking two connecting rooms at a moderate resort.
5. Get the kids involved. If you decide to bring the kids to race weekend, most will enjoy cheering on mom and dad once they are up and out the door. Get your kids in the spirit! Have your kids decorate the window of your resort room to cheer on mom and dad. Forgot the supplies? No worries! Just stop by the Inspiration Station at the Race Expo to make signs for mom or dad. All supplies are courtesy of Sharpie and are provided free of charge. Bring shakers, cow bells, or any other noise makers that they can use to cheer runners on.
6. Sign up for ChEAR Squad. There are many levels of ChEAR Squad. However, one of the best levels for those with small children is the Platinum Level. Kids can enjoy watching a movie on comfy bean bag chairs, face painting, coloring and/or meeting characters at Race Retreat while waiting for mom or dad to finish. This temperature-controlled tent offers a hot breakfast buffet while you wait for your runner to finish as well as a controlled environment — kids areas are fenced off so that Junior can run free in a small space allowing mom or dad a chance to relax for a moment while sitting on a comfy couch. Private port-a-potties are nearby to allow parents and kids quick access to restroom facilities.
7. Celebrate! Let your kids help plan the post-race celebration. Order a cake, pick a special restaurant, decorate your resort with balloons or meet mom or dad at the finish line with a special surprise. No matter how you choose to celebrate, kids will enjoy helping plan something special for the runner in your family.
8. Enjoy a Pre-Race Meal. If you decide it’s best for your kids to skip the actual race, then they can still get in the spirit by enjoying a pre-race meal. Dine with the characters to get in the spirit or carb load at Via Napoli in Epcot. No matter what your taste are, Disney is sure to have a pre-race meal that will nourish the runner and satisfy the kids!
9. Stay a Little Longer. The race is over! Let the vacation begin! Add extra days to your runDisney weekend and enjoy spending some vacation time in the parks wearing your new medal with your kids by your side. There is nothing better than having some great family photos at one of the happiest places on earth with Mickey, Minnie and the kids!
10. Run! Let kids participate in their own race! Check out runDisney for information on Kids Races. Even the smallest participant can join in on the fun by signing up runDisney’s Diaper Dash! Toddlers to elementary aged children can participate in one of the many dash distances. The Mickey Mile is offered for those who want more of a challenge. 5K is available for kids ages 5 and older. And, older kids who really want to go the distance can participate in the 10 K (ages 10 and up), 10-miler (ages 12 and up), or a half marathon (ages 14 and up). All finishers receive their own medal so they can be just like mom or dad.
There are many ways to ensure that parents have a great runDisney race weekend! Let us know in the comments how you enjoy runDisney events as parents!