Tips for Running the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon

The runDisney Disneyland half marathon is just around the corner, and I have gotten several questions from readers asking for help with this race.

Disneyland half marathon tips

I know for a lot of runners, it is their first time going out to California for runDisney, and it is a whole different animal than running runDisney on the east coast. So, I have compiled some tips that I hope will help you throughout your race weekend:

1.) Time change: I will be coming from central time, and I know a lot of runners will be coming form eastern. This is SUCH a blessing! As you probably know, runDisney races start very early in the morning, and east coast races require you to get on busses even earlier. When I wake up at 4:00 am, my brain will think it’s 6:00. Totally doable and not as dreaded. But keep the time change in mind for meals and bedtimes so you don’t end up like me at 9:00 pm when my body thought it was 11:00.


2.) Walking to race: Coupled with the time change, another amazing thing about the west coast races is that you don’t have to walk forever to get to your corral. It is SUCH a huge plus to stay on property or at a close good neighbor hotel. Last year, we were at the Grand Californian and it was so easy to just walk downstairs, across Downtown Disney, and into the starting area. I loved it. We waited in our room as long as we could so there was no need to even use the port-o-potties at the starting line. HUGE plus!

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Bobby and I were happy campers in our corral before the race in 2012.

3.) Breakfast: Last year, I noticed a couple of places in Downtown Disney had signs out in the days before the race saying they planned to be open early in the morning so runners could grab breakfast (I think Jamba Juice was the one I noticed). If you plan to go this route, remember thousands of other runners may be doing the same so get there early. Another alternative (what we did) is to go to the counter service location at your resort if you are staying onsite, and grab food for breakfast the day before. I know our hotel had fruit and yogurt parfaits that were perfect for us. We stored them in our room refrigerator and it worked out well race morning.


I also may have had a pre-race cookie…

4.) Know the Course: Be sure to study the course map for the race. Unlike east coast races, you enter and exit the parks at the very beginning of the Disneyland half, and then are out on the road. (Characters are ONLY inside the parks so don’t “wait” for the next ones to take photos, because before you know it you will be out on the road!). My favorite part was running through the stadium toward the end of the race, so have your camera ready for that as well!

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5.) Finish line: Just like at the east coast races, there will be a finishers area where you can meet up with your family and friends after the race. Don’t forget to plan out a meeting time and spot with them before the race. Cell service was very spotty for me last year with so many people in one place!

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6.) Pre Race Dinner: There are a lot of great options for a pre race dinner. I love that for on site guests, you have Downtown Disney literally right outside your door. Last year we went to the ESPN Zone restaurant because LSU was playing that night. It was unfortunately just so so as far as food goes. There are some great places such as Earl of Sandwich, Storytellers at the Grand Californian, and if you are craving pizza pre-race there is Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria in Downtown Disney. I know several people will also be attending the Pasta in the Park party hosted by runDisney.


We love Storyteller’s buffet!

7.) Expo: I suggest getting to the expo on Friday if you can swing it. It opens at 10:00 at the Disneyland Hotel. Again, perk of staying onsite, it’s an easy walk there and back to your room to put away your things before going to play in the parks. Don’t forget if you are participating in the coast to coast challenge to get your wristband at the expo! Last year, they had us go downstairs to get our bibs then upstairs to the expo floor to shop!


8.) Weather: This southern girl was STOKED to run in no humidity California. Oh, to be able to train in this type of weather year round. Must be wonderful! Anyway, Be mindful of the weather the day before and morning of the race. Layer if necessary, and wear sunglasses. There was one long stretch where we made a turn out onto a road and we were looking RIGHT into the rising sun. It was blinding and I am so glad I had my shades.


Also, don’t forget to check out the runDisney packing list vlog I created to help fill your suitcase with everything you need for the race.


QOTD: Any other tips you would add? Who is excited! Who is getting a coast to coast medal?

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  1. (((sharing)))) not running 🙂

  2. *sigh* One day, I will do this race.

  3. Great tips! Good to know about the characters!

  4. Nicole @ Pink Elephant on Parade says:

    I remember as a lifelong Disney Worlder who always stayed in Disney Hotel I was incredibly disappointed when I got to Anaheim. It was really different and definitely kind of a culture shock adjustment for me. The parks themselves were great, I loved California Adventure, I loved how close together things were, but it was just… jarring from the outside at first, especially since we stayed at a good neighbor hotel to save money. That said, Disneyland is actually a great race and despite the lack of characters there’s loads more crowd support and fun, local entertainment.

  5. Great tips! I’m stoked to get my c2c bacon medal since I already earned my c2c at tink! 🙂

  6. These are great tips! And thanks for the reminder about getting the Coast to Coast wristband at the expo; I am so excited to go shopping I’m afraid I’ll forget that!!!

  7. Can’t wait to make this trip with Christine. I had a blast doing my first C to C with my sister in 2011! See you soon!

  8. Thanks, Heather! These are great tips, and since it’s my first trip to Disneyland, I’ve definitely been feeling a bit overwhelmed! This is super helpful. Can’t wait! 😀

  9. Great tips! When I did the Inaugural Tinkerbell in January 2012 a lot of the dining places in Downtown Disney were just PACKED beyond belief so that it was an hour plus wait and I really didn’t want to wait that long, so I definitely suggest that anyone going make reservations in advance if they are planning on sitting down at a restaurant in Downtown.

    However, because it was so packed, me and a friend ended up eating at The Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel and it was quick table service, good food, and just enough of a break from the crowds that it was nice and relaxing.

    Also, I know for a gal like you from LA it was humidity free-feeling; but for a girl from the West Coast where we really don’t get much humidity, sometimes it can certainly FEEL really humid if you aren’t already used to Southern weather. We’ve had a mild August, but the heat and humidity are cranking up and Anaheim can be quite warm sometimes. My first running race was the Disneyland 5k in 2009 and it was humid as all get out (for a Cali girl anyways!) and I was completely unprepared for it since I just expected some warm dry weather.

  10. Excellent tips! I’m so excited!

  11. I’m biased, but CA is the best running weather! Get it!

  12. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. We’ve had temps lower-than-normal in SoCal this summer, but Labor Day weekend can be hit with a heat wave and be very warm. I agree on the sunglasses. Possibly a visor too, as there are large stretches with no tree cover for shade.

  13. I love Disneyland! In fact, I like it better than Disney World, but I’m originally from SoCal, so I’m biased. That being said, this is my first half. I’m super nervous. I’ve been having knee problems since my long run last week. I’m a tad worried and I’m not sure if I should wear a light knee brace or just tape it.

  14. Christine @ We Run Disney says:

    YAY I am SOOOOO unbelievably excited a) for my first DL trip, b) for my first runDisney challenge event and c) to earn my Coast to Coast!! 🙂 And of course I’m so looking forward to seeing you and lots of other runDisney buddies! Safe travels!

  15. Can’t wait to see the pictures of you at this years race. We will be cheering you on from Chicago. 🙂 Have a great race and can’t wait to see your blog after it’s over.

  16. Great tips! Disneyland is one of my favorite races and running through California Adventure with Cars Land all lit up is amazing. All of my PRs are at the Disneyland 1/2 for all the reasons you gave!

  17. If you are wanting pizza for a pre-race meal, I would suggest taking the drive to Momma Cozza’s on Ball Rd in Anaheim. Best pizza in the area! I wish I still live in CA. Maybe next year I will get out there to run a DsineyRun!

  18. Thanks for the tips!! Hope I get to meet you at the Dumbo Dare Challenge this year 🙂

  19. Wow! Thanks for so many great tips! I’m travelling from Australia for my first Disney race and first Disneyland visit. Thanks for the heads up! I’m really looking forward to the lack of humidity. Running in Sydney is just soooo sticky 🙂

  20. Jessica Spivey says:

    Thank you for this post! Heading over to run the dumbo double dare in September!

Mentioned elsewhere:

  1. runningwithsass says:

    Tips for Running the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon

    The runDisney Disneyland half marathon is just around the corner, and I have gotten several questions

  2. […] tips for the race weekend? Check out this post I wrote a couple weeks […]

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