Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor

runDisney Firsts – Memorable Moments for Kids

posted on February 26th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney

Life is full of “firsts.” First steps, first words, first trip to Walt Disney World. And when it comes to runDisney events, “firsts” are just as memorable. In fact nearly 57% of runners registering for our half marathons and marathon are running for their first time.

One of my favorite events during all our race weekends are the runDisney Kids races. From infants crawling to the finish of the diaper dash to 13 year olds participating in the Mile Run, there are distances allowing kids of all ages to get the experience of standing at their first start line and finishing their first race. And what can be more exciting than kids and their parents competing in their first race weekend together – memorable, life changing moments.

For more information on how you and your family can have your first runDisney experience, visit

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A Special Military Surprise at the Disney Princess Half Marathon

posted on February 25th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney

It’s no secret that Disney and runDisney like to celebrate, and there is nothing better than when we can do it while surprising a guest at the same time. On Sunday, at the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we were able to do just that.

Like thousands of runners, Kim Myers from Washington State was here to run the Half Marathon, and like 72 of those runners, she was celebrating her birthday weekend at Walt Disney World Resort. However, what was different is that with the help of her husband and a little runDisney magic, she received the best birthday wish of all.

Myers was part of a larger group running on behalf of Wear Blue: Run to Remember, a running organization that participates in races around the world to celebrate the sacrifice of US military and their families. You see, her husband CW2 Travis Myers is currently deployed in Afghanistan with the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, and for the second time because of deployment he was unable to spend his wife’s birthday with her. To take her mind off the fact her husband is not here, and to cheer up, she came to run the Princess Half Marathon. This is where a thoughtful husband, technology, and pixie dust produced a special moment at the start of the race. See for yourself.

If all goes according to plan Travis will be home in time to run the Disneyland Half Marathon with Kim on Labor Day Weekend. By the way, they will be celebrating his birthday at that event.

runDisney salutes and thanks all of our service men and women and their families around the world for keeping our country safe.

Happy birthday Kim, and Travis we wish you a safe return home. Thank you both for your service.

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Runners Assemble – Super News From runDisney

posted on February 25th, 2014 by Faron Kelley, Director, Marketing & Communications, Disney Sports

Today feels different. There is a certain energy in the runDisney offices that has everyone on the edge of their seats. It is the kind of energy you feel at the start line of a race … an anticipatory energy that something big is about to happen. Little do we know that we are onto something huge, and today is a landmark day in our runDisney history. We finally received that long awaited call, and it is time for our runners to assemble.

Visit us on runDisney.com for more details on our newest event weekend and to sign up to receive event updates.

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Olympian Kim Smith Wins the Disney Princess Half Marathon

posted on February 23rd, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World

When three-time Olympian Kim Smith decided to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on Sunday, she figured she would get a nice training run out of it in preparation for the London Marathon. Instead, she got a whole lot more.
Olympian Kim Smith Wins the Disney Princess Half Marathon

Smith set a course record, shattering the previous mark by nearly six minutes, and crossed the finish line nearly 15 minutes ahead of everyone else. Smith ran the 13.1-miles through Epcot and Magic Kingdom Park in 1:11:49, easily surpassing the previous course record of 1:17:38 set last year.
Olympian Kim Smith Wins the Disney Princess Half Marathon

“I wasn’t sure of the course record before the race, but my plan was to run it in about 72 minutes so that’s about perfect,” said Smith, who is an elite runner with New Balance.

The course record, though, wasn’t the only thrill for Smith, a New Zealand native who was running her first runDisney event. Like many of the more than 24,000 mostly women runners, the highlight of the race for Smith was running through the Disney theme parks. “It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s definitely a fun event that’s pretty low-key for an elite athlete to do. I’d recommend it to people out there.”

There was no shortage of runners Sunday who felt the same way. The 24,000 runners Sunday were part of the 40,000 who participated in various races during the four-day event, which is one of the largest women-focused events in the nation. Many runners took on an even bigger challenge – namely the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge, which involves running the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K on Saturday before running Sunday’s half marathon. That’s 19.3 miles!

Smith, 32, just stuck with the half marathon. And judging by her performance Sunday, that was more than enough for this princess for one day.

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Walt Disney World Resort is Home to a Variety of Sports This Spring

posted on February 21st, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World

Home to four theme parks, two water parks and 26 resort hotels, not only is Walt Disney World Resort where guests come to vacation, it’s also where they come to compete in various sporting events and watch their favorite athletes from around the world.

Walt Disney World Resort hosts everything from baseball and soccer to marathons and track & field, with more than 300 events throughout the year for professional athletes, youth players and everyone in between. Teams and fans from around the world come to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to watch, train, compete and play in the middle of the magic at Walt Disney World Resort.

This week, the Atlanta Braves began spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with their first full-squad workout of the season. While on vacation, Disney fans and Braves fans alike can watch the defending National League East champions as they embark on their 17th spring training season and play 17 home games starting February 26 against the Detroit Tigers at Walt Disney World Resort’s Champion Stadium.


Coming up this weekend, Walt Disney World Resort will host a runDisney race — The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. More than 24,000 runners, mostly women and girls, will embark on a 13.1 mile journey through Epcot and Magic Kingdom Park as Disney Princesses, Disney characters, bands and fans cheer them on.


For soccer fans, another professional athletic event that guests can attend is the Disney Pro Soccer Classic where eight pro soccer clubs, including six Major League Soccer squads, are now competing. The tournament culminates on March 1 with a championship game. Fans of all ages can come out to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to see several players who may be competing in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.


And now through April, high school teams across seven sports—baseball, softball, track & field, lacrosse, tennis, golf and rugby—will participate in the Disney Spring Training program. Many of the teams come from places where there’s snow on the ground and freezing temperatures to spend their spring break training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and enjoying everything the resort has to offer.

With an unparalleled roster of facilities and partners, and the backdrop of the top vacation destination—Walt Disney World Resort — Disney Sports takes sports and competition to the next level for athletes and fans alike. To find out more about these events and other upcoming sporting events, where you can watch the pros or participate, visit espnwwos.disney.go.com. For more information on runDisney races, visit www.runDisney.com.

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First Look at Merchandise for 2014 Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 20th, 2014 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


I’m looking forward to this weekend as my fiancée will be participating in the 2014 Princess Half Marathon and the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World Resort. She’s the runner in our relationship, so that means I’ll get to take pretty pictures of her before and after the races. Naturally, she was curious about the merchandise created for this runDisney event. I spoke with Mary Myers, merchandiser for events, who gave me an overview of what participants will see this weekend.


As with previous events, there are a variety of softlines created to commemorate the various events this weekend.


Mary also developed a few new items this year for those who may be cheering from the sidelines like me. There are new kids’ tees and a shirt for steadfast husbands (I guess I could wear the latter one).


Besides softlines, participants will see familiar favorites including Sweaty Bands with some fun event slogans (“Run like it’s the stroke of midnight” cracks me up!). There will also be Bondi Bands, a new Disney ear hat with pink veil, light-up tiara, Disney pins, drinkware and more. I was also told that there will be car magnets, yet samples were unavailable to photograph at the time of press.


Another popular item returning this year is specially designed Dooney & Bourke handbags. These items will each have a leather hangtag with the event logo.

Finally, the image above contains a sampling of some items for the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge.

Look for these items at the Disney Fit for a Princess Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The expo will be open on the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, February 20 – 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, February 21 – 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 22 – 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

We will be offering select items celebrating this event on our Disney Parks online store from Friday, February 21 to Sunday, March 2, 2014. Just visit http://www.DisneyStore.com/runDisneyEvents.

I wish nothing but the best to those who are participating. I hope to see you this weekend!

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A Life Changing Experience – Why I runDisney

posted on February 13th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney

Every day we are inspired and motivated by those around us, and today I want to introduce you to Laura Hall from Pennsylvania.

According to recent survey by Running USA, nearly 90 percent of all runners join the sport for health and fitness reasons. The majority of those people do it for weight loss or weight control.

Laura Hall not only represents that group of runners, but reflects many of the runners at our runDisney races. One year ago Laura decided it was time to make a change: It was time to adopt a healthy active lifestyle to lose weight so she could feel better about herself, participate in physical activities with her kids and act as a role model for her entire family.

With the help of a dedicated trainer at her local YMCA, Laura not only lost 98 pounds, but she set a goal to run the Disney Family Fun Run 5K at Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. Laura’s message to all of us, “just start, don’t say you can’t do it.”

I hope you will take a moment to watch Laura’s journey and become inspired to live a healthy active lifestyle – and participate in a runDisney event.

Why I runDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories.

To view submissions and learn how to upload your story, visit irundisney.com.

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runDisney Launches “I Run Disney” – Everyone Has a Story

posted on January 30th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney

Whether you run for health and fitness, to celebrate a major milestone in your life, in honor of someone who can’t run, a way to spend time with family and friends, or simply to have “me” time, everyone has their own unique reason for running.

Simply said, everyone has a story.

Starting today, runDisney and Cigna are excited to give you the opportunity to share your story with the launch of irundisney.com. Using Instagram, runners can upload a 15-second video telling us why you run and why you runDisney. Sharing your story will inspire and motivate others to set a goal of participating in a runDisney event. In addition, the runDisney team will review all submissions and select several runners to profile on the new microsite, as well as the Disney Parks Blog and other Disney Parks social media channels.

To kickoff the campaign I want to share with you our first profile. Just over a year ago, 33-year-old Peter Chuchro’s life turned upside-down when he suffered a stroke.

He quickly realized that life can change in the blink of an eye.

Facing the scariest time of his life at a young age, Peter realized how quickly life can change. After making a full recovery he took several steps to ensure he will always be around for his wife and baby daughter. Today Peter runs so that he will see his daughter take her first steps, take her to her first day of school, walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.

Peter set a goal of running the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna, running 26.2 miles to his wife and daughter at the finish line.

View submissions and learn how to upload and share your story at irundisney.com.

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Inspiration From the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort

posted on January 24th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney

Last Sunday, I once again found myself again at a runDisney finish line watching more than 15,000 registered runners cross the finish line at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at the Disneyland Resort. From shouts of joy and tears of happiness, to runners who made the journey look easy, to those that appeared to dig deep within themselves to find the strength and courage to achieve their goal; it was truly an emotional inspiration for me and all the spectators who waited for hours to welcome runners home.

As exciting as it was to watch the Tinker Bell Half Marathon champion Melissa Hernandez cross the line, it was equally exciting and more emotional to see what happened on the other end of the race. As the clock timer ticked forward, as spectator stands emptied, as the last few pieces of confetti from the winner blew away in the wind, two runDisney champions emerged at mile 13 to make one final final turn on their way to the finish line. Greeted by Disney Characters, music and one last confetti blast Kimberly Allen and Mary Ellen Davis crossed the line as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon final finishers. Exhausted, emotional and happy, they gave us an inspirational message of “you can do anything you put your mind to.”

I hope you will take a moment to watch the video below, celebrate their victory and be inspired by their strength and motivation.

Whether you participated in the runDisney Kids Races, the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K, the Tinker Bell 10K or the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, all of us at runDisney congratulate you for achieving your goals. Celebrate – you deserve it.

We hope to see you soon at an upcoming runDisney event weekend. And, as always, we invite you to follow us at runDisney.com, on runDisney Facebook, Twitter @runDisney and on runDisney Instagram for exciting news and future opportunities.

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Southern California Runner Earns Her Tinker Bell Wings at the Disneyland Resort

posted on January 19th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World

If you don’t believe magic can happen at Disney Parks, just ask Melissa Hernandez.
Southern California Runner Melissa Hernandez Earns Her Tinker Bell Wings at the Disneyland Resort

The 29-year-old runner from Oxnard, Calif., is an experienced endurance runner, but as much as she tried, she had never been able to finish first in a half marathon. That is, until she came to Disneyland Resort this weekend and undoubtedly was doused with a little pixie dust somewhere along the way. Running her first Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Hernandez did what she had never been able to do before, leaving the field behind in a trail of … well, pixie dust, to win the 13.1-mile race Sunday.

Not only was it her first half marathon victory, but it came at the biggest half marathon event she said she had ever undertaken. She somehow outran a field of more than 15,000 runners from across the country and beyond to earn her “wings” and a gold Tinker Bell finishers medal. And she did it in impressive fashion – her winning time of 1:25:40 was the third-fastest in the race’s three-year history.

Who says this isn’t the place Where Dreams Come True?

“I had finished second in a few half marathons, but I had never won one,” said Hernandez. “And I had never run in a race this big before either, so it was really nice to win my first one here.”
2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Start Line at the Disneyland Resort

Hernandez’s win capped a magical weekend of race events that included a new Disneyland 10K, a Never Land Family Fun Run 5K, several runDisney Kids Races, a Pasta Party and a health and fitness expo. In all, more than 30,000 runners participated in the various weekend race events, making this one of the largest women-focused race weekends in the country.

If you want to try to make your running dreams come true like Hernandez, registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon opens January 28 at www.runDisney.com.

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