For most races, you just drive to the race-site, find a place to park and walk to the start area. For runDisney races at Walt Disney World, transportation requires a little more thought.
For all the races at WDW, runDisney provides really sweet charter buses from all the host hotels to & from the Expo and all the races, including the 5k and the kids’ races. They run pretty regularly, I think the longest I had to wait for a bus was about 20 minutes.
So, how do you know if you’re staying at a host resort? For the bigger races, ALL the on-site Disney hotels are host hotels, including the Swan and Dolphin. This was true in 2013 for both WDW weekend and Princess weekend. For the smaller races like Expedition Everest and Wine & Dine, there will be a list of the host hotels on the runDisney race information website under each Event, in the “Plan” tab. The host hotels typically include several choices from each category.
Just as an example (because they change from year to year and from race to race), for Wine and Dine 2013, the host hotels were:
- All of the All Stars
- Pop Century
- Caribbean Beach
- Port Orleans, Riverside & French Quarter
- Beach & Yacht Club
- Saratoga Springs (maybe this is a moderate?)
- Wilderness Lodge
If you’re taking the bus:
- When you get to your hotel, find out where the “Event” bus picks up. It is not at the normal bus pickup for the parks (I’ve found that it is often near where the Magical Express picks up, but not always).
- Make sure you make a note of the hours that the bus is running to the different race events.
- For the actual race, get to the stop about 15 minutes before the first bus is scheduled. You will want to be on that first bus. Really. There are horror stories about late buses, lost buses, traffic jams… You do not want to miss the start of the race, so suck it up buttercup, you’re waking up at an ungodly hour if it is a morning race anyways, get to that bus stop early!
- If you can (I’m terrible at this), chat with your bus mates, it helps with nerves to make some human contact.
If you’re staying off site or at a non-host resort, you’ll have to drive. Driving has its benefits, but it has its risks too. The only runDisney race I drove to the start of was Expedition Everest and it went really smoothly. Some driving tips:
- You shouldn’t have to pay for parking, but check the race guide to make sure.
- Get there early. Like really early. Waiting in the corrals for Everest, I saw huge lines of cars still trying to park right before the race started.
- Read up on the parking situation on the runDisney website and the race guide to make sure you know where to park. Some races start and finish at the same park, but some start at one location and end at another. For Wine & Dine, the race starts at Wide World of Sports, but you cannot park there. The race ends at Epcot, so you park at Epcot and then take a bus to WWoS for the start. It is critical to know in advance where you’re going.
Sometimes, even if you’re staying in a host hotel, you might want to consider driving. Here are bus vs. car pros and cons:
- Taking the bus:
- There are lots of road closures and detours before the races, and the drivers (usually) know the alternate routes well. If you’re driving, it can be easy to get turned around and lost when the normal route to Epcot (or wherever) is closed for the race prep.
- It is good to get on the bus and just turn your brain off. You have enough to stress about before the race, letting someone else handle navigation, traffic, etc is really nice.
- You don’t have to stash your car keys somewhere while you run.
- They drop you off right at the staging area.
- It is usually quicker, especially if you’re required to park in one area (like Epcot) and then to take a bus to another area (like WWoS).
- It’s a good way to meet other runners if you’re up to socalizing before a race.
- Taking your car:
- You have more control over your time, no worries about getting to the bus stop 30 seconds after it drives off and having to wait for another one.
- You can stash your after-race stuff in your car instead of having to use bag-check.
- If the weather is cold and/or wet, you can get a parking spot early (this is still key!) and then hang out in your warm and dry car until it is time to head to your corral, delaying the standing around in the cold/wet until the last minute.
These races are really expensive, and most of us train for months for the run. You don’t want your experience to be more stressful or ruined by being late to or missing the race because of transportation issues. With a little planning and research and a good alarm clock, you can make sure that you get to the start in plenty of time so you have a magical race! And don’t forget my first rule of runDisney transportation: Get there EARLY! If you’re the first one to the race site, you’re doing it right! And you get character photos with no waiting!