Halloween at the Walt Disney World Resort

Achieving A Goal – I runDisney

posted on March 14th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Ryan Miller is a pretty typical young adult. While off at college he did what most students do, adopted an unhealthy diet with very little exercise. The result, Ryan put on a few unwanted pounds, the dreaded freshman 15+. It wasn’t until he was out of college, saw a few holiday pictures of himself and realized he needed to make a change.

Like the majority of runners Ryan hit the road to lose weight, get healthy and to stay in shape. Never thinking he would ever be able to run 5 miles, 6 miles or 7 miles, he set a goal of running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon presented by Cigna. Training through the Connecticut winter he set out to prove to himself, family and friends that he could do it.

The results, he lost more than 40 pounds, feels healthy and earned the coveted Donald Duck Half Marathon finisher’s medal. Ryan’s message to others, “I just want them to hear I never thought I would be able to do something like this, and I am sure you can too if you don’t think you can.”

Ryan, congratulations on setting and achieving your goals.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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runDisney Continues to Find Success

posted on March 4th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


With the announcement of a new Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend coming to Disneyland Resort this fall, there’s no secret that runDisney events are hugely popular. As the business expands its portfolio to now eight events throughout the year, this new race weekend provides yet another creative way to bring new runners into Disney Parks and to the sport itself.

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From 5Ks to a marathon, and even kids runs, held at both Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Disney has created unique race weekends that every member of the family can enjoy. Former Olympians to first time runners can experience the legendary Disney entertainment and guest service, while ultimately celebrating their accomplishments with a Disney vacation, and this is what makes the runDisney business so magical.

And this magic has translated to popularity and growth. Since 1994, runDisney has become one of the largest race organizers in the United States, both in terms of number of events and number of runners. Between 2012 and 2013, the total number of participants at runDisney events increased nearly 40 percent. Additionally, virtually every runDisney race weekend sells out in record pace, some within hours.

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There’s also a substantial economic impact that runDisney events bring to the community. Just recently, the Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals took place at Walt Disney World Resort, welcoming some 40,000 participants. It is considered to be the second largest women-focused race weekend in the nation. And the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, which happens every January, is considered to be the largest race weekend in the country. More than 50,000 runners participate, bringing with them some 50,000-plus spectators for a total attendance of more than 100,000 coming into the Central Florida area. In Anaheim, it’s estimated that the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend drives approximately $20 to $30 million in additional economic activity locally attracting thousands of out-of-area runners to Southern California.

Runner’s World magazine identified Disney races as the perfect races for new runners – there’s less pressure, no required qualifying time, and guests can enjoy a Disney theme park during their race. Likewise, professionals in the field, even former Olympians, also join in the fun, as evidenced by this year’s Princess Half Marathon winner – New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith. And there’s plenty for the family to participate in from family fun run 5Ks and kids races, to health and fitness expos and guest speakers, making runDisney events appealing to various audiences.

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runDisney is also leading a widespread trend of race organizations offering multi-race challenges. For instance there’s the “Dopey Challenge” during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend where participants must complete four races in four days, for a total of 48.6 miles.

There are also a number of added amenities that runDisney offers to runners and their families that really set runDisney races apart from others. Participants can take advantage of the VIP Race Retreat during the Walt Disney World Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends, which includes a designated tent at the race with brunch, WiFi, TVs, Disney character meet and greets and more. There’s the ChEAR squad, which helps guests cheer on the runners with cheer signs, noise-makers and even special viewing areas. There are also several pre-race and post-race parties inside the theme parks that provide exclusive experiences for runners and their family and friends.

With all the unique experiences that runDisney provides participants, the result continues to be a winning finish. So what are you waiting for? Start training and sign up for a runDisney event at www.rundisney.com!

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Celebrating Life at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon – I runDisney

posted on March 2nd, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


This is a story of determination, inspiration and the celebration of life.

Two years ago Dominic Alexander from Washington State began his day getting ready for a barbeque with family and friends, but in a split second his life changed forever. Climbing a ladder in his shop to get pillows for patio furniture, he lost his balance and fell 14 feet, smashing his head onto the concrete floor and suffering a traumatic brain injury. Dominic’s wife Teresa remembers, “If you listened to the medics, if you talked to the doctors, he basically wasn’t alive. It was grim and they couldn’t help but grab my arm and make sure I knew how serious it was.”

With faith, love, and a determination to live, Dominic beat the odds and started on the road to recovery. One of his first goals was to return to running. Dominic says it was important because “it was the one thing that could make me feel normal.” Once cleared by doctors he started putting one foot in front of the other, kept moving forward, and today continues to race to the the finish line of recovery. Doctors credit his positive attitude and being in great shape from running as keys to helping him get where he is today.

With the goal of running side-by-side with his twin brother in the half marathon, Dominic and family traveled to Florida to participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. When asked what he would be celebrating, Dominic said, “being alive.” I invite you to take a couple moments and share Dominic’s journey to the finish line.

I runDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. We hope to encourage everyone to live a healthy active lifestyle and participate in a runDisney event. To view submissions and learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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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
rundisney.com.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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

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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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