My experience at the 2023 Wine and Dine Weekend with runDisney
As my alarm went off at 2:20 am I couldn’t believe I was getting up so early to run on vacation. Like all things Disney, runDisney races are like nothing I have ever experienced. It is the most magical, encouraging, and fun experience I have ever had. I have learned a ton having run both the Princess Virtual 10k and the Wine and Dine 5k at EPCOT.
On the Thursday of our trip, we were ready to head to ESPN Wide World of Sports for race day pick-up. Despite being a large event, Disney has it down to a science. There are buses that take you to and from your resort to Wide World of Sports that pick up pretty often. There are separate buildings for bib pick up, t-shirt pick up/expo, and race-specific merchandise. The lines were long, but they moved pretty quickly.
On race day it is recommended that you are to the race start by 4 am. If you want to do any of the photo ops before the race I would recommend getting on the first bus from your resort to the start of the race. I was at the bus stop by 3 am and there were so many people already in line for the photo ops. I hopped in line and just barely got my photo taken before Mirabel and Bruno were escorted away (characters leave for a refresh around 4:30 am).
Once my photo-op mission was complete I headed to my corral to get ready to run. There are lots of people to talk to, live hosts interviewing runners, and a DJ playing all sorts of throwback jams! They do everything they can to PUMP you up to run!! The race kicked off at 5 am and by 5:30 am our corral was ready to cross the start line.
The race took us through EPCOT with a majority of the run through World Showcase. Along the way, there were a lot of rare character meet and greets including the White Rabbit, Duffy the Bear, the Queen of Hearts, Lilo and Stitch, and the experiments from Lilo and Stitch. Since the 5k is an untimed race, the lines for these characters were EXTREMELY long. I chose to keep going and take a few selfies.
Also along the race path was a local high school marching band playing songs to pump up the crowd, the JAMMitors were out playing their trash can drums, a gospel choir singing songs to inspire the runners to keep going, and cast members with cowbells, signs, and megaphones cheering us on! There were also a number of photo pass photographers taking photos as you ran past. If you have the memory maker photo pass, you are able to link your bib number to your photo pass account. I think I ended up with about 15 running photos from race day.
When you cross the finish line there are photographers there to take your picture. Just past the photographers, there are volunteers handing out water, Powerade, mylar blankets, your race medal, and a box of snacks. Post race there is a DJ and you are able to take photos with any of the characters you were not able to see before the race. They also have photo pass photographers ready to take your picture with your medal and an "I DID IT!" sign.
Once the race was over I took the bus back to my resort and it was time to celebrate. I wore my race shirt and brought my medal into EPCOT with me for a few more photo ops. Lots of people wear their shirts and medals around the park all day. Be prepared for congratulations from cast members and extra cool photos throughout the day!! Be proud of your accomplishment!! You woke up early and ran while most people were asleep!!
Would I do this again?? ABSOLUTELY!!! I have caught the runDisney bug and will be back to WDW to run the Springtime Surprise 10k in April.
If you are considering participating in a runDisney race, here are a few additional things to think about.
Plan ahead!! Think of registering for RunDisney races like you are trying to get tickets to your favorite concert or a virtual queue for Tron. Race registration opens 8 months before the race date, usually at 10 am est. If you are planning to run make sure you have a plan to be on the RunDisney website before the registration begins. If you are registering other people make sure to have all the necessary information you need (birthdays, addresses, etc) for everyone in your group. Races tend to sell out fast, so make sure to get on when registration opens!
Train. This seems obvious right? The 5k is untimed while all other races are chip-timed. All timed races feature the infamous “Balloon Ladies”. These ladies start in the back of the last corral and keep at a 16min/mile pace. If the balloon ladies pass you, you will be swept and driven to the finish line. You may think “I can keep a 16min/mile pace, no problem”. What you need to keep in mind is that there will be character photo ops along the way and waiting in line will bring you that much closer to the balloon ladies.
Join the runDisney Facebook Group. Each race has its own Facebook group. (There is also a general runDisney Facebook Group.) As a first-time participant, this was essential in knowing where to be, what to do, how to get places, etc. I would have been lost without this group.
Make a Post-Race Plan! If you are planning to meet up with anyone immediately after the race make sure to designate a meeting place because cell service is not the best. I also recommend if you are planning to listen to anything on your run, download it before the race.
Invest in the memory maker. I have the memory maker attached to my annual pass and it was totally worth it during this trip. All of my race photos, character meet and greets, park photos, and ride photos were linked to my My Disney Experience account and I didn’t have to worry about always having my phone out. It was awesome and the photo quality was great!
Have Fun! I ran this race solo and had a blast! Whether you run/walk by yourself or with a group, you will have an awesome experience!!
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