runDisney is back and has just announced races will return to Walt Disney World resort, starting with Wine and Dine in November 2021. They will also have virtual options for those not comfortable with in-person races. Since I first wrote this post, runDisney races have changed. Since I usually choose runDisney as my racecation destination, I have to really think about all the money I’m spending, and it’s a lot. So is runDisney worth it?
What is a Racecation?
A racecation is when you mix a race with a vacation. Truthfully, runDisney races are the only racecations I have traveled for, but I would not be opposed to racecations in other cities. I was just fortunate to be local to other cool Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia races like the Divas Half Marathon Series, Army Ten-Miler, Marine Corps Marathon, Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and more!
Is runDisney Worth It?
Listen, runDisney isn’t cheap. It’s not. Local races are a much better value. Not only do you have to consider the actual race prices, there’s travel expenses. I used to drink the Disney kool-aid hard, but I’m a little more budget-minded now.
I’ve been an Annual Passholder for years, and it was more justifiable to me to not have to purchase Disney park tickets every time, because that adds up really quickly. When a renewal was less than $500, and I was running at least 3 or 4 races a year, it made sense. I could find relatively cheap airfare from Dallas and Virginia pretty easily (thanks Southwest!), and I was splitting rooms with friends. So in my magical Disney head, I’m thinking I’m spending about $500 each race, which is totally reasonable, right?
Well then I start rooming with high-rolling friends who like Walt Disney World Resort Deluxe hotels and like to eat at table-service restaurants every meal. Then my races got even more expensive, creeping up on the $1000-$1500 mark for a solo trip, which is crazy. I used to take my whole family to Disney for about $2500. We only had 2 or 3 kids, but still.
RunDisney Races On a Budget
I’m completely cool with Disney’s Pop Century Resort and quick-service restaurants. I fueled with a Nutella and Fruit Waffle from Sleepy Hollow for Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon and was fine. Maybe not my smartest meal choice, but I also do not need a $50 buffet. So if you want to do runDisney races on a budget, share the costs, but also ask yourself if you can say no to extras your friends may choose.
When you’re planning a runDisney racecation, the necessary things you’re budgeting for are race bibs (registration), lodging, transportation (free if you stay on-property at a Disney hotel), and food. The extras are expo items, souvenirs, Disney park tickets, Universal park tickets (if you decide to hop on over to see Harry Potter, just sayin’), extra tours, dessert parties, etc…
You can also fundraise for certain charities and get your bib and hotel paid for while also doing good. Many friends have done this, and I love supporting them.
Pros to runDisney Races
So back to whether runDisney is worth it. It depends on what you’re looking for. For a first-timer who is looking for a great race experience to give them a positive attitude about running and having fun, yes, absolutely, runDisney is for you. The runDisney races are what encouraged me to start running and have helped me to continue running. Along the way, I found best friends, fellow Disney addicts, motivation to continue running, a love of running costumes, and a whole lot of bling. They really do have some incredible medals.
Even if you’re not a first timer, runDisney races are fun. That’s why I keep coming back. They don’t slack on course volunteers, bathrooms, water stations, and first aid tents. Those are necessary for any runner.
Cons to runDisney
For the repeat runDisney customer like myself, unfortunately the value is decreasing. The races are still fun, definitely. But when you’re used to an experience and you just see all the prices go up like the cost of park tickets, annual passes, hotels, race fees, and you see the offerings decrease (like course entertainment), you really have to question the value of your dollar and how you’re spending it. Also communication is lacking. Sometimes information isn’t timely, there are no more deferrals, and it’s tough to get a hold of anyone to answer questions. The races are also crowded.
Then I start thinking about memories like these…and you start playing on my emotions, runDisney. These memories are with me forever. I mean, can you put a price on that? Marketing at its finest. In all honesty, I don’t go to PR runDisney races. You certainly can, but I go for the experience and the ambiance.
And now with runDisney races just returning in 2021, I highly doubt you’ll be able to get character pictures, I don’t know how crowded they’ll let the course get, especially if they’re still requiring park reservations, and Disney right now is just different. As hotels and restaurants continue to open up and with fireworks returning, things are getting back to normal-ish!
Will I still runDisney? Absolutely, because that’s where my people are. That dang Princess Half Marathon race keeps sucking me in again and again, because that’s when I can see the most number of my girlfriends in one place, and that is priceless. Maybe runDisney knows that. Maybe they know they’ll always have a market with loyal fans and new runners who want a magical experience. What’s more magical than Cinderella Castle?
Bottom line – I can’t quit them completely, and to me, runDisney is worth it, but I am cutting back. My budget needs to make room for new experiences and new racecations. I’m a local now, so the costs are definitely lower.
However, if you’re a runDisney newbie, if your budget allows it, then come experience the magic! I’ll always be grateful to runDisney for giving me the motivation to run again.