Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers, the Boston, Chicago and New York City marathons — there are plenty of running events worth traveling to experience. But, there is only one set of races — at least that I know of — where donning a tutu or princess tiara is not only acceptable race gear, it’s downright encouraged.
Of course, I’m talking about the Disney Princess races at Walt Disney World. Specifically, this post is a rookie’s guide to the Disney Princess 5K. I ran — OK, more like swiftly walked and sprinted to the finish 😉 — the race last February, so I’ll share all my tips from registration through crossing the finish line for first-time princess racers.
Registering For Your Race
The Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend usually falls in mid to late February, but registration opens months in advance. For the 2016 Disney Princess 5K, I registered in July 2015. These races are extremely popular — especially the 5K — and always sell out. So, these are my tips for successfully registering for your race:
- First, occasionally check the runDisney website for an announcement of the race date and when registration will open.
- Mark your calendar, jot it in your planner, set an alert on your phone — do something to remind yourself to register for the race!
- A race is much more fun with a squad or partner, so ask some friends to join you. Be sure to remind them to register the day registration opens, too.
- Save your pennies! Registration for the 2017 Disney Princess 5K cost $75.
- Download the Active app to register in case the registration website is overloaded and not working.
- I recommend registering with the fastest mile pace selection available to be placed in the starting corral. Not only is it exciting to be near the starting line, this also gives you a cushion of extra time to stop for photos or to complete the race at a slower pace if you are a jogger, run/walker, or speed walker.
Training For Your Disney Princess 5K
If you are interested in training for your Disney Princess race, runDisney offers training program guides from Jeff Galloway for a number of its races. Unfortunately, the 5K isn’t among those races.
However, you can easily find 5K training programs online and general race day and running tips from runDisney.
Planning Your Princess Race Wear
Were you once a little girl who dreamed of becoming a princess? Well, here’s your chance! Wear a tutu, tiara, or a full-on costume, if you wish.
As you may know, Disney World does not usually allow adults to dress in costume at its parks, so this is one of the rare exceptions. At the race, I saw couples dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Ariel and Prince Eric. Of course, I saw runners — including a number of fathers with their daughters — dressed as Disney princesses.
Finding Your Perfect Princess Tutu
- Sew your own tutu for a completely customized look! Try this Simplicity pattern for adult tutu in sizes 6-22. This is the pattern my mom used to make my adorable tutu. It turned out fabulous and glittery! Don’t you think?
- Don’t have a sewing machine? You can still go the DIY route with a no-sew tutu! Here is a tutorial from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans.
- Shop for a runner’s tutu on Amazon or Etsy
Sporting Your Princess Pride With A Graphic Tank/T-shirt
If you fear a costume or tutu will affect your running but you still want to share your princess pride, Etsy and Amazon are full of fun graphic T-shirts and tank tops. You’ll also find princess themed shirts and track jackets at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports, where a huge runDisney Health & Fitness expo with tons of running gear from various vendors takes place throughout the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. However, I was disappointed the shirts were only available in small sizes.
Rocking Your Disney Playlist
I don’t know about you, but I can’t work out without my tunes. Naturally, I wanted a Disney-themed playlist for my Disney Princess 5K race. I tried to include upbeat songs mostly from the princess movies, but I filled it in with a few other Disney tunes.
Traveling To Disney World For Your Race
Flying Into Orlando
For the most magical Disney Princess 5K experience, I recommend flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) at least one day ahead of your race. Last year, I flew in two days ahead of my race, which was enough time to get checked in and organized for my race, explore Disney Springs, and load up on pre-race carbohydrates. Best excuse to eat pasta, right?
Car Rental Vs. Magical Express
Since I stayed at my friends’ apartment for the couple nights leading up to my race and had plans to drive down to Wellington, Fla., a couple days after my race, I rented a car at the airport. Having a car is the best option for racers who are not staying on the Disney World property.
However, I have to say that a Disney World visit is the perfect time for a car-less vacation. If you stay at one of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels, you can take Disney’s Magical Express from the airport with complimentary luggage delivery to your hotel.
Booking Your Accommodations
If you plan to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, book as early as you can. I waited until the month before my race, and I could only get into Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. The resort is a great budget-friendly option for families, but I would have preferred to stay at the luxurious Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or the tiki-themed Polynesian Village.
Runners who stay on the Disney property can take a complimentary shuttle from their hotel to the race. It’s a very early morning. Last year, 5K runners had to be on board the buses by 4:45 a.m. on race day. The shuttles also run every 30 minutes to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where you’ll go to pick up your race packet and bib.
Some luxury hotels I’d recommend both on the Disney World property and elsewhere in Orlando based on their high ratings on TripAdvisor, personal experience, or recommendations from friends and fellow travel bloggers are:
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Villas of Grand Cypress
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World
- Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve
- The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Exploring Disney World
While you are at Disney World for your race, eat and drink your way around the World Showcase at Epcot, become a kid again at Magic Kingdom, go wild at Animal Kingdom, or journey behind the scenes of Star Wars at Hollywood Studios. I recommend the Park Hopper ticket that allows you to visit any or all four parks in one day.
Tip: You can save $20 off your Disney theme park tickets if you purchase tickets online for three or more days.
Picking Up Your Disney Princess Race Packet
Prior to your race, probably the day before, you’ll need to go to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There you will check in for your race and pick up your bib, clear runDisney bag, and commemorative T-shirt. Inside the complex, you’ll find plenty of photo opps to show off your race bib. FYI, you’ll need to have your ID handy.
Afterwards you should head over to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to shop. You’ll find running shoes, clothing, and accessories from a variety of vendors. If you forgot to pack something for the race, you are likely to find it here.
Racing To The Finish Line
Now, that you’ve registered, trained, prepared your princess gear and Disney playlist, arrived in Orlando, and picked up your official race bib, there is only one thing left to do — race to that finish line!
- Remember to warm up your muscles by walking and stretching.
- Place your clear runDisney bag into bag check or leave it in the trunk of your car.
- Once you get into your corral, set up your playlist and any apps you want to use to during the race.
- Share some laughs with your friends and fellow runners — this should be a fun race. 🙂
- Keep your eyes open and look around — you won’t want to miss all the fun costumes!
- Save some energy to sprint to a photo finish — and do it with a smile since there are race photographers snapping away.
- Remember to pick up your medal, a snack box, and some water and/or sports drinks.
- Lastly, hydrate and warm down your muscles with a walk.
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Would you travel for a race? If you have, where did you go and for which race?
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