The 5th Annual Disneyland Half Marathon spans Labor Day Weekend; Friday, Sept 3 – Sunday Sept 5, 2010. Participants in the event navigate 13.1 miles in and around Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort. The race has grown in popularity every year, understandably, as with everything Disney puts its hands to, this entire event is extraordinary.
Half Marathon Weekend is fastidiously organized. Disney does know a thing or two about crowd management. This is key, for though in its relative infancy, the Disneyland race is already one of America’s 13 largest half marathons. From transportation to parking, from refreshment to the finish line, every detail is addressed and every contingency considered.
Predesignated starting corrals, water stations, mile markers, course timers, medical aid, bag check, a “Reunion Area” for families: many races have some of these amenities, and some races have them all, but only a Disney race has them all clearly marked, defined, stocked and accessible.
The race courses through Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure Park, and Angel’s Stadium, and is lined with Disney Characters, dance troops, marching bands and a wealth of photo opportunities. From first timers to seasoned Disney enthusiasts the opportunity to run into the park while it is closed to the public, and through backstage areas that are otherwise off limits carries with it a Siren-like allure. Enter this race once, and you’ll likely be back to experience it again.
Only a couple hitches to this otherwise perfectly designed and orchestrated event. The race itself begins at 6am Sunday morning. Participants are instructed to be in their designated corral an hour before the starting gun. That’s 5am. Yeah, early. And given the success of this amazing endeavor, the race draws tens of thousands of entrants and four times as many spectators and well wishers. The organizing powers have done a masterful job of arranging accommodations, but with so many attendees, negotiating Anaheim and Disneyland itself throughout the weekend can be arduous.
A fair amount of the marathon participants are a bit ambitious, or perhaps not entirely honest, regarding their split times, and the first few miles is less a race than a traverse through the walking and cumbersome. Nothing against walkers, the Disneyland Half Marathon invites and allows for sprinters and plodders alike, but it would be a significant courtesy to all those keen on running if those who know they are not would gravitate toward the rear.
By all accounts the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is as magical as anything, as everything that bears the name Disney. If you get a chance, attend the event. If you get the gumption, enter the race. And like anything, everything Disney, once you’ve experienced it, you will want to, you will have to come back.
Follow all things Disney with Jodi Jill, and Walt Disney World Travel Expert, Debra Peterson.