runDisney Princess Half Weekend Transportation

In just a few weeks, tens of thousands of princesses (and some princes too) will descend upon Walt Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon weekend, which this year is featuring the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge (10k and Half combo).

If you’re planning on crossing the finish line to get these beauties, you’ve probably got your ballgown picked out, your glass slippers broken in and hundreds of miles of training behind you.  You are also entering in the stage where all the little details are starting to feel overwhelming.  One major unknown for me last year before my first runDisney race was how to get to and from all the race events.   Let me give you all the details so you can focus on the more fun stuff like dining reservations and finishing up your costume. 

For most races, you just drive to the expo and race-site, find a place to park and walk to the start area.  For runDisney races, transportation requires a little more thought and planning.

For the Princess Half weekend, runDisney provides fancy charter buses from all the host resorts to & from the Expo and all the races, including the kids’ races.  They run pretty regularly, I think the longest I had to wait for a bus last year was about 20 minutes. 

So, how do you know if you’re staying at a host resort?  The Princess events are so popular that they have designated all of the on-property hotels as “host” resorts, including the Swan and Dolphin and Shades of Green. 

If you’re taking the bus from a host hotel:

  • When you get to your hotel, ask the cast members 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.  Last year, the buses started running at 3am.  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 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 decide to drive:

  • 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.  Princess will be even more crazy if you wait until the last minute.  And there is a loooonnnggg walk to the corrals from the race staging area for Princess, so even if you’re lucky enough to miss traffic problems and find a parking spot close in, you have to leave a lot of time to get to your corral.  I saw lots of Princesses sprinting to their corrals after the race had started.  Not a relaxing way to start a big race. 
  • Read up on the parking situation on the runDisney website and the race guide to make sure you know which roads will be closed (some close at 11pm the night before the race) and where to park.  It is critical to know in advance where you’re going and you won’t be able to rely on your GPS to get you there due to road closures and detours. 

Sometimes, even if you’re staying in a host hotel, you might want to consider driving.  Here are bus vs. car pros and cons:

  • Benefits of taking the bus:
    • There are lots of road closures and detours before the races, and the bus 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 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 get an earlier bus.
    • It’s a good way to meet other runners if you’re up to socializing before a race.
  • Benefits of 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.

Other transportation options:

  • If you’re staying at a monorail resort, check with the front desk AND check the final race instructions to see if the monorail will be running on race morning.  
  • Walking through the international gateway at Epcot from the Beach & Yacht Club and Boardwalk is a great way to get to Epcot, but last year, that entrance was not open race morning until 9am.  So you’ll need to have an alternate plan to get to the race; however it’s a great way to get back to your resort.
  • Walking from nearby hotels.  In the past this was hotly debated.  As a Floridian, any saved time is not worth the risk of walking in an unfamiliar area in the dark.  Snakes, spiders and crazy drivers, oh my!  On top of that, security concerns are much higher after the Boston Marathon bombings and it sounds like runDisney is getting more serious about actually enforcing their policy.  This is from the race website: 
    • “Runners will be prohibited from accessing the start corrals from Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive. You must access the start corrals through the Explore Lot at Epcot. Runners who try to access the start corrals from any area other than the Explore Lot at Epcot are subject to disqualification. Runner drop off is available in the Taxi Lot at Epcot.” 
    • I don’t have any real confirmation, but there were rumors at the WDW weekend races of runners being actually disqualified and not being allowed to run because of this.  

These races are really expensive, and most of us train for months (or years!) for the them.  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 (or three), 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!

Still have questions about the Princess weekend?  Check out the Princess Weekend runDisney blog hop.  Everything you could possibly need to know is there from training to race results!  
Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory


runDisney Princess Half Weekend Transportation — 41 Comments

  1. After we talked yesterday and I got some more info about when the Epcot parking lot was closed (5-7am) I decided that unless it’s raining, I’m taking the bus and letting my friend drive to the finish later with Savannah. I just don’t want the stress of getting to Epcot on top of race stress and my friend knows there may be huge delays and doesn’t mind. Besides, I’m so excited that I don’t have to ride the bus alone, not knowing anyone (jeez, again your race report from last year had a serious impact on me! I think you recapping how alone you felt gone under my skin. LOL) and will have a few runner friends that I can chat with!

    • Ha Ha, you have proof that you got a sneak peek! Honestly, unless the weather is just awful, I love the low stress of taking the bus and I’ve been to WDW about seven thousand times, so it’s hard for me to get lost when driving but I still worry on race days about flat tires and traffic jams. And as long as you’re at the bus stop early I promise you won’t have to ride the bus alone (now if you’re late, I can’t promise I’ll wait!)

    • What’s this word, late, you speak of?? Never heard of it! I’ll be there at 3! Will it be easy to find each other? I haven’t talked to Meg or Kristy yet about what time they are planning to get on the bus but thought we could get a “Pop Princess” pic if they are going that early too.

    • I’m not sure how big the event transportation area is at POP (I’ve actually never stayed there before!). I think if we all exchange cell #’s it should be easy enough to meetup before getting on the bus!

    • I sent my friend the info to get to the race as seen in the EXPO handout, but she is saying she is confused on where to go. What are the ebst directions to give someone coming in to pick me up about 9am(with a 6 year old?)

    • Well, the race ends in the EPCOT parking lot, so they’ll need to park at EPCOT to get you. They will probably have to pay to park (I think it is free if they get there before 7am). The main entrance of Epcot from World Drive will be closed to all traffic from 5 am to 7 am on the morning of the Half Marathon. All traffic will be directed to the Magic Kingdom Park Parking Lot where they will be transported to Epcot via monorail.

      If your friend is staying onsite, taking regular resort transportation to EPCOT will be their best bet! Good luck at the race!!

    • She is coming from ou of town. a cousin in law and we were going to meet after the race. So if she arrives after 7am..she has to pay but she can park in Epcot parkign lot …and the walk? How far is the walk? PS tytyty fpor all your help.

      Also. A roomie is thinking of driving on Saturday for the 10k. If we leave at 3am, will the roads be closed at that time? and we need to find alternative route to the Epcot?

    • Yes, I suspect there will be road closures and lots of traffic, but she should be able to park at EPCOT in the regular parking lot. The finish line isn’t too far from the entrance. If you’re facing the big ball from the parking lot/monorail area, the finish line was to the left, maybe a 5 minute walk. Just tell her to go in the opposite direction of the princesses with medals!

      I’m not sure if they’ll be doing road closures on the 10k morning. If they do, they won’t be as bad as on Sunday based on this from runDisney with the Sat. vs. Sun directions:
      On Saturday:
      Take I-4 to exit 64 (192 West) and follow the signs to Epcot

      For Guests driving to Epcot® on Sunday morning, EXPECT SIGNIFICANT DELAYS! Please also note, directions from a GPS device or other source will be inaccurate on Sunday due to road closures. Some roads begin to close as early as 11:00 p.m. on the evening before the Half Marathon. Therefore, please use directions above and plan to arrive no later than 4:30 a.m. You must be in your corral at the start line by 5:00 a.m. or you will not be allowed to start. It takes 20 minutes to walk from the Family Reunion area (Epcot® Wonder Lot) to the start line.

      Leaving at 3am on Saturday should get you there plenty early. I don’t think the buses start until 3:30am on Saturday. Good luck and have fun!

  2. So glad I am taking disney transportation to the start! Driving myself would probably stress me out! Last year on our bus from OKW our driver left a runner out on the highway and she walked to the corral. I can’t believe he let her.

    • That is crazy, I can’t believe they let a runner out on the highway! What a crazy liability risk! I’ve had great luck with the race transportation and just love sitting back and letting someone else deal with the navigation and traffic!

  3. I love the bus transportation to and from races, it’s calm, you can relax and you dont have to remember where you parked because lets face it, every single time Sammy and I park somewhere neither of us can EVER remember where it was. Plus I’ve gotten some great drivers that are funny and help take the edge of your nerves by talking to you.

    Great write up <3

  4. Good idea to ask the hotel where the event bus is. I don’t know that I would’ve though to do that. I hope to get on one of the earlier buses. Maybe not the first, but likely the second, at least for PHM 🙂

    • I tend to be a “wander around until I figure it out” kind of person, but you don’t want to be doing that on race morning, so asking in advance (unless you happen to see the race transportation signs) is one less thing to worry about at 3am. Good luck!!

  5. Definitely set more than one alarm! The first time I did WDW Half, my alarm did NOT GO OFF! I was woken up (waked up?! Awakened?) by a continuous glucose monitor beeping cause my blood sugar was low! I had set my phone alarm for 3:30-3:45 with plans to be on the bus by 4 and didn’t throw myself out of bed, in the pitch dark, til 4:05!
    Still made it…but definitely set multiple alarms. And maybe put in for a wake up call too!! That’s what we did for Goofy last year!

    • Wow! That is scary! The morning of PHM last year, I woke up around midnight convinced that I’d missed my alarm. Needless to say, I didn’t get back to sleep after that. I like to set the alarm clock and one or two phone alarms. I don’t do a wake up call because I prefer to let the kids sleep and just sneak out of the room but it’s a great backup plan!

  6. Great info! I wish I had this when I ran my first runDisney race last year. Even though it stinks to be up so early I’d rather hang out at the corrals than stress about whether I’ll make it on time.

  7. I love the race day transportation that Disney provides. Last year we had a driver get a little lost, and so he ended up dropping us off way closer to the staging area than we’d normally be, so that was a happy accident!

    • That’s great. Well, not the getting lost part, but the getting dropped of closer than normal. I figure if a car gets lost or stuck, there’s no helping it but if a full bus of princesses is lost or stuck they’re more likely to get some resolution!

  8. This is great info! I typically rent a car, even when I stay on site, and it does definitely offer a bit of flexibility on an already stressful race morning. Even then, though, leaving PLENTY of time is key! It’s amazing how long it takes to get anywhere on Disney property, whether you’re taking a car or relying on the buses!

    • Absolutely! If you leave super early, it really doesn’t matter whether you drive or take the bus, you’ll be fine. For Expedition Everest we were probably one of the first 100 people in the staging area and it was a lot of fun to get the pictures taken and use fresh port-a-potties with no line!

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t risk it! And I can see them being much more strict about this with the increased security after Boston. Plus…snakes….spiders…bugs. Ha Ha! Thanks, Julie, look forward to meeting up at PHM!

  9. First off, your graphics are terrific! I’ve never had difficulty with the runDisney transportation, but I’ve never been brave enough to drive as comparison. I must say, one of the reasons I LOVE running at Disneyland is because you can sleep later, roll out of bed, and walk a bit to your corral. Thank you so much for the ABCs of WDW transport April- we love having you join the Virtual runDisney Blog Hops!!

    • Oh, thanks so much. I have fun making them! Walking to the corrals at Tink straight from the hotels (even off-site!!) was crazy! But WDW does an outstanding job with all those buses! Thanks for hosting the blog hops, they’ve been so much fun to participate it and have such great information!!

  10. I completely agree about the first bus! I was stuck in a traffic jam on the bus once and it totally freaked me out! I literally got into the corral (B) 5 minutes before corral A took off. Way too close for my liking. Now I am sure to be on the bus by 3:15 at the latest.

    • Traffic jams terrify me on race days!! That would have made me crazy, that is cutting it super close, especially with the looooonnnng walk to the early corrals at PHM!! The first bus is the best bus! 🙂

  11. Great tips about driving! I’m always to scared to drive to the race site – I’m worried I’ll get stuck in crazy traffic and miss the start! Hah!

    • Thanks! For Everest, we weren’t at a host hotel, so we had to drive but since it was an evening race we just left crazy early and were some of the first people at the staging area. So clearly I have some anxiety about driving to races at Disney too!

  12. Even though we have family off-property, we are staying on property specifically to use their transportation for race mornings. Too early to be stressed about driving! And I agree, I always try to get on the first bus out.

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