As I stood at the start and finish lines Saturday night, I couldn’t help but realize how special our runners make this event. From creative costumes to well choreographed finish-line crossings, all of you made this unique nighttime race a five-out-of-five star rated event.
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the half marathon and we hope you are stretching, icing and recovering. And to all runners, we look forward to you making a “reservation” and joining us for the 2014 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney
Everyday, Walt Disney World Resort cast members work to make Walt’s dream a reality by delivering outstanding customer service to guests. But, as in any organization, there are always a few people that have a little something extra.
If you have visited Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and entered through the front doors chances are you received a hello, a smile and possibly a hug from 88-year-old Richard Gerth. For more than 22 years as a cast member, Richard has greeted thousands of guests and assisted thousands of brides with wedding photos on their special day.
In a way Richard has become an attraction of his own. As guests make plans to ride Space Mountain, see characters and catch parades and fireworks, they also make plans to stop by and say hi to him. Recently, while standing in the resort lobby with Richard, two generations of one family reflected on all the years they have greeted each other on vacation. After commenting on how their trip to Walt Disney World Resort would not be complete without seeing him, one guest said to me, “Richard is the Grand (Floridian).”
Richard is not only a legacy to the Grand Floridian and to thousands of guests, but also a legacy to The Walt Disney Company. He credits two things for his success, longevity and “I was blessed with a good smile.”
However, I must tell you what caught my attention most were all the amazing runDisney runners that participated. Their excitement, camaraderie on the course, words of encouragement and creative costumes took the experience to another level. To my fellow runners – thanks for sharing the road, thanks for sharing the race. Looking forward to seeing you at the next runDisney event weekend.
Alison Sweeney knows the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. For 12 consecutive seasons as host of “The Biggest Loser,” Alison has played a major role in transforming people’s lives.
Inspired by Cinderella, reaching the finish line, earning a runDisney medal and the opportunity to share the experience with her kids, Alison ran and completed the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday, September 1.
Alison’s message: “I encourage everybody that if you ever thought ‘I can’t do it,’ yes you can. You just have to try, just have to commit yourself and work hard.”
Here’s a look at Alison’s magical Disneyland Half Marathon.
One of my favorite places to be during a runDisney race is at the finish line. Not only is reaching it the one common goal thousands of runners share, but it is where every emotion imaginable plays out. As runners, we all have our own motivation to train for months and to pursue a dream. It’s when you reach the finish line when those dreams become a reality and you react with shouts of joy, tears, arms raised high in victory or any other creative way you decide to cross the line.
Recently at the Disneyland Half Marathon I captured some of the ways runDisney runners crossed the finish line. Some reactions were simple, some funny and some life changing. Some were planned and others spontaneous.
As you watch the following video, ask yourself, “How will I cross the line at my next runDisney race?”
Congratulations to all runners who cross the line.
Standing at the start and finish lines of a runDisney event, you can’t help but feel excitement and inspiration. Thousands of runners, thousands of dreams, thousands of reasons to run, but all sharing one common goal – on this day, finishing the Disneyland Half Marathon.
During the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend I had the privilege of meeting and spending time with a new friend, a runner who has given me great inspiration, 81-year-old Flor Irlandez from Portland, Ore. Flor started running at the age of 29 when co-workers shamed her into running during their lunch breaks. For 54 years she has not looked back, raising a family and inspiring her children and grandchildren to live healthy, active lifestyles. In fact, she often shares start lines with three generations of family members. When asked why she continues to run, she said, “Because it makes me feel good.” During her running career she has completed several runDisney events, often placing first in her age group. Her love of Mickey Mouse and running through Disney Parks makes runDisney her favorite.
By the way, did I mention that Flor was the oldest competitor at Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend and she completed the Dumbo Double Dare by running the Disneyland 10K on Saturday and the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday – 19.3 miles? Truly an inspiration and role model to us all.
Look for Flor at the start line in January at the Walt Disney World Resort as she takes on Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge!
Allow me to introduce you to my friend Flor Irlandez.
Joey Fatone – singer, dancer, actor, television host and runner … that’s right, runner! Over the weekend Joey took on the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge by running and finishing the inaugural Disneyland 10K and the Disneyland Half Marathon – 19.3 miles over 2 days.
The runDisney veteran not only took home three commemorative medals, but also lots of memories of running through the theme parks and pictures of fans he met along the way.
It was truly a beautiful day when the 2014 Miss America contestants visited Walt Disney World Resort last week. For the first time since winning their state crowns, all 53 contestants (including Miss District of Columbia, Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Virgin Islands) came together to visit Magic Kingdom Park for some fun, relaxation and bonding. The girls were swept off their feet by Gaston in New Fantasyland, took a spin on the Mad Tea Party and thrilled guests by leading the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade down Main Street, U.S.A.
Spending a few hours with the contestants you realize how intelligent, talented and beautiful they are. As Sam Haskell, Chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, told me, “these girls are the best of what America has to offer.”
You can only imagine how tough it was for me to accept this assignment and produce a story featuring 53 Miss America contestants. As cool as I tried to play it I knew I was the luckiest guy in the department. It was the assignment everyone volunteered to help with, but I had it covered. Here is a look at our day, including a friendly off-stage competition between Miss Florida and Miss California that went “to infinity and beyond.”
The contestants will gather again next month in Atlantic City for the 2014 Miss America Competition. The first night of competition begins September 10 and culminates on the final night on Sunday, September 15, which airs live on ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET. But before the girls cross the stage, make sure you tune-in at 8:00 p.m. ET to ABC’s 20/20 hour-long special featuring the Miss America contestants and there journey leading up to their big night.
What do you get when you combine the magic of runDisney with some of the most passionate Disney fans in the world? A runDisney D2.3 Fun Run kicking off the D23 Expo in style.
Last Friday, a select group of D23 members had the unique opportunity to sample the runDisney experience. Attendees enjoyed an early morning 2.3 mile fun run through Disney California Adventure park, and a meet and greet with Sorcerer Mickey and Ali Vincent, host of “Live Big With Ali Vincent” and season 5 winner of the “Biggest Loser.” Participants also received a runDisney Mickey Vinylmation with a limited edition D23 medal.
It’s always exciting to provide these runDisney experiences for runners and to share photos and video of this event with you.
Not only does Astin love runDisney events but also loves the runners that participate. He was very generous with his time at the races and at the expo for photos, autographs and entertaining the crowd. Much to my surprise he even showed up in “character” for the 5K wearing Tinker Bell wings and a sparkle skirt. Now, he may deny that fact in public, but the video below has the evidence.
As runners we run for different reasons. Astin runs for what he calls #Run3rd. What that means is he runs first for himself, second for his family and third for anyone that tweets him and asks for a special run dedication.
I think anyone having the chance to meet him last weekend will agree, Sean Astin is a great guy, loves running and loves runDisney. But judge for yourself, let him tell you in his own words.