Fireworks at Disneyland Park

Booth’s Record Day at Disney is a Family Affair

posted on February 26th, 2012 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Say this for Rachel Booth: she sure knows how to make a grand entrance.

(FEB. 26, 2012): Rachel Booth, 31, of Mandeville, La., crosses the finish line to capture the 2012 Disney's Princess Half Marathon title Feb. 26, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Booth, with an official time of 1:18:11, bested a field of 19,000 registered runners for the 4th annual 13.1-mile event. A record 27,000 athletes took part in a variety of Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend events, including a 5K race and a Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Disney's Princess Half Marathon is part of the 'runDisney' series of endurance events that take place throughout the year at both Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. (Preston Mack, photographer)

Booth of Mandeville, La., signed up to run her first Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort this weekend and made quite an impression by not only winning the 13.1-mile race in record time but she also achieved a “coast-to-coast’’ milestone. The reigning two-time winner of the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, Ca., Booth became the first person to capture women’s titles at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

It was quite a feat. Booth didn’t just win; she dominated, leading the race from start to finish. In fact, she likened the race to a “good morning run.’’ About the only thing she didn’t do Sunday was beat herself. Her winning time of 1:18:11 was just a tad slower than her winning time of 1:18:01 at the Disneyland Half Marathon last fall.

(FEB. 26, 2012):  Fireworks light up the early morning sky Feb. 26, 2012, to mark the start of fourth annual Disney's Princess Half Marathon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Sunday's 13.1-mile event took athletes through Walt Disney World Resort, including routes in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks. A record 27,000 athletes took part in a variety of Princess Half Marathon Weekend events, including a 5K race and a Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Disney's Princess Half Marathon is part of the 'runDisney' series of endurance events that take place throughout the year at both Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. (Preston Mack, photographer)

Still, she crossed the finish line amid a blizzards of confetti, music, cheers and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. And in typical Disney storybook fashion, it wasn’t the record time or the bi-coastal milestone that mattered to her the most, but rather having her family – her husband, daughter and son – on hand that made the moment memorable.

“This was a lot of fun to have my two children there to enjoy the whole experience and just to see mommy cross the finish line with Minnie and Mickey,” Booth said. “…It definitely has a little bit of a special place in my heart.’’

Mine too.

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Kick It with MLS Stars at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

posted on February 21st, 2012 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


If you’re a soccer fan, you’re going to love this event. The third annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic kicks off at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Friday and it’s one of those rare opportunities to see pro soccer in a more intimate and up close setting than at a cavernous stadium where they normally play games.

Eight Pro Soccer Teams Compete at the Third Annual Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

At the sports complex here at Walt Disney World Resort, fans will get to see eight pro soccer teams, including Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup finalist the Houston Dynamo and reigning USL Champion Orlando City Soccer. That’s twice as many teams competing as last year. The other MLS league teams are Sporting KC, FC Dallas, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who will be joined this year for the first time by Sweden’s B.K. Hacken.

This pre-season event starts Friday with an MLS Eastern Conference rematch between Houston and Sporting KC – the first time the two have faced each other since last season’s playoffs. The championship game is Saturday March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets and at the sports complex box office.

If you can’t make it out to the sports complex for the games, check out the action online as all games will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com except for the championship game which will be shown on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s new broadband channel.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates Second Anniversary of ‘Let’s Move!,’ Disney Magic of Healthy Living at ESPN Wide World of Sports

posted on February 11th, 2012 by Kathleen Prihoda, Manager of Media Relations, Walt Disney World Resort


Taking a cue from Perry the Platypus from the Disney Channel series “Phineas and Ferb,” First Lady Michelle Obama, Disney Channel and Disney XD stars and nearly 1,500 local children and families got their groove on this afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Perry The Platypus and choreographer Rosero McCoy in performing 'The Platypus Walk,' made famous in Disney Channel’s series 'Phineas and Ferb.' Mrs. Obama was at Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate the second anniversary of her Let's Move! initiative and the Disney Magic of Healthy Living, both of which promote healthier lifestyles among children and families.

With the goal of showing how fitness can be fun, the First Lady joined pro athletes and Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan (“Jessie”), Roshon Fegan (“Shake It Up”), and Disney XD stars Doc Shaw and Kelsey Chow (“Pair of Kings”) and Olivia Holt (“Kickin’ It”) to inspire attendees to live healthier lifestyles by taking simple steps every day.

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a fitness activity with local children at the Magic of Healthy Living event at Walt Disney World Resort. The event celebrated the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative and recognized Disney’s efforts to promote healthier lifestyles among kids and families.

From “The Platypus Walk” (a new dance inspired by Perry the Platypus) to soccer drills to cooking demos with healthy foods, the event was jam packed with activities that can easily be done at home. Kicking, sprinting and jumping were par for the course and the kids seemed to enjoy the challenge.

These efforts mark the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation, and Disney Magic of Healthy Living, an initiative designed to partner with parents in their quest to raise healthy, happy kids.

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Preview of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Merchandise at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 7th, 2012 by Erin Catalano, Merchandise Communication Specialist, Walt Disney World Resort


Ear Hat for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort

A few weeks ago my fellow Disney Parks Blog author Michelle Harker gave you a first look at some merchandise created for the Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon held at Disneyland Resort. The article sparked a lot of interest, so I figured I would share a first look at some of the merchandise we’ve created for the upcoming Disney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend being held Feb. 24-26 at Walt Disney World Resort.

Apparel for Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort

One item that caught my eye was the “I Did It!” shirt which contains a map of the course on the back. I also liked the shirt that contains the running shoe on a pillow logo. John Smith, product developer for Sports Merchandise, told me the logo may look familiar to runners.

“The logo with the running shoe on the pillow has been used on collateral and signage for a few years,” explained John. “We liked the logo so much that we gave it some new colors and added it to merchandise.”

Light-up Tiara Created for Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort

John also added a light-up tiara to the mix this year which also contains that shoe pillow logo. The tiara will have an on/off switch and several of the blue jewels will light up when activated.

Dooney & Bourke Bags Created for Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort

Some of the most anticipated items will be new Dooney & Bourke items that have a Disney Princess theme. There will be a tote, cross-body bag and a wristlet. Similar to the bags released for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, there will be a specially designed medallion attached to the tote and cross-body bag.

These items and others will be released at the Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo starting on February 24 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Good luck to all of the participants! I can’t wait to see photos.

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Wounded Military Heroes Play Ball at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on January 11th, 2012 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Standing near first base next to Major League Baseball All-Stars Johnny Damon and A.J. Pierzynski, I finally realized who my favorite player is. No, not Pierzynski or Damon. It’s Josh Wege. And Greg Reynolds. And the rest of the members of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball team running around Field 13 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort this morning.

These U.S. military veterans have each lost a limb – in Wege’s case, two limbs – while fighting for their country in Iraq or Afghanistan. Yet, after extensive rehabilitation, they have mustered the courage to join together and travel the country playing exhibition softball games. With all due respect to the New York Yankees, these guys really should be considered “America’s Team.’’

Today they were practicing at our sports complex in preparation for exhibition games in nearby Plant City, Fla., against several former U.S. Olympic softball team members such as Jennie Finch. Pierzynski (Chicago White Sox) and Damon (Tampa Bay Rays), who both live in Orlando, jumped at the chance to meet the team. They even brought their baseball gloves and practiced with them.

It was a real thrill to stand there at first base so close to these superstar ball players. Oh, and it was good to see Pierzynski and Damon, too.

Here’s a brief video of Pierzynski, Damon and the Warriors during practice:

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Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Gets Off to a Running Start with ‘Survivor’ Winners Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca

posted on January 6th, 2012 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


If you were in Disney’s Hollywood Studios bright and early this morning, you might have spotted a glimpse of Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca, two former winners from the hit TV show “Survivor” and past competitors on “The Amazing Race.” Avid runners and athletes, the real-life couple came to Walt Disney World Resort to take part in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA. They are both running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon tomorrow to raise awareness for the “Survivor Stand Up 2 Cancer” project. The couple also greeted athletes and guests today in the runDisney booth at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex during the event’s annual Health & Fitness Expo.

'Survivor' Winners Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca at Disney's Hollywood Studios with Mickey Mouse as Part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Presented by CIGNA

And what better way to start the weekend than with a training run through the park and a chance to high-five Mickey Mouse himself?

We’d love to hear which Disney character you’d most like to high-five in a runDisney event. Let us know in the comments.

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Meet-Up and Warm Up for the Walt Disney World Marathon with Running Guru Jeff Galloway and Celebs

posted on December 30th, 2011 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


UPDATE: Click here for a complete list of attendees. If you are on the list and did not receive a confirmation email, please contact us at wdw.sportsmeetups@disney.com.

Please note that we will not be responding to questions via this email address. If you have questions, please ask them in the comments, and we will do our best to answer them.

UPDATE: We have reached capacity! Thanks for everyone’s interest in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Meet-Up Event – we appreciate your quick responses. At approximately 2 p.m. ET, we will send the meet-up attendees a confirmation email. By 3 p.m. ET, we will post a link to the complete list of attendees. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional unique opportunities in the future.

If you’re looking to gain tips and training advice from Galloway, he will also be available at the upcoming Expo on Thursday at Noon and 6 p.m. ET, Friday at 1 and 6 p.m., and Saturday at 3 and 4 p.m. ET. Also, there is additional Galloway training information at www.runDisney.com.

Meet-Up and Warm Up for the Walt Disney World Marathon with Running Guru Jeff Galloway

There’s something special about runDisney events that draws runners to Disney Parks time and time again. The upcoming 19th Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is a great example of magical moments for runners at Walt Disney World Resort.

To kick off the weekend, we’re once again hosting a Meet-Up and Warm Up with training tips from official runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway. The former Olympian will be joined by a surprise celebrity fitness guru who will offer cross training tips for runners, as well as other reality television celebrities.
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Members of our entertainment team will also share a sneak peak of behind-the-scenes magic of runDisney events. With the recent announcement of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend, set to debut in 2012, there are plenty of entertaining tidbits to be shared.

For an opportunity to be selected to run-walk-run with Galloway at Walt Disney World Resort next Friday, RSVP right now to WDW.SportsMeetUps@Disney.com. Remember, only 40 qualified runners will be selected to participate, so be one of the first to apply ASAP.

Not one of the 40 participants selected this time? Post your training questions for Galloway in the comments and I’ll get him to answer a few of them on a future Disney Parks Blog post. You can also see Galloway at the upcoming Expo, held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and at future runDisney events.

In the meantime, here are a few things you should know:

  • All participants must be available for a 7:30 a.m. start time on Friday, Jan. 6.
  • Qualified applicants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • A valid ID is required. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Valid RSVPs must include your name. RSVPs that include more than one person or are missing information (e.g. incomplete names) will not be accepted.
  • Admittance to the event is non-transferable and limited to the selected applicant; no additional guests please.
  • The event and individual appearances are subject to change or cancellation.
  • Because this is a running-oriented event, we ask that applicants be experienced runners, able to maintain a 12-minute per mile pace.
  • Selected applicants attending the meet-up are not required to purchase admission.
  • We will send an email to selected applicants who sent their valid RSVP via email before we reached capacity to confirm their attendance for Friday. We plan to send this email at approximately 2 p.m. ET today, and we will also post a link on the Disney Parks Blog that will include a list of names of all selected runners. If you do not receive an email from us confirming your reservation and your name does not appear on the list of selected applicants, your RSVP was not selected.
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A ‘Towering’ New Race Through the Night at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 21st, 2011 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


If you’re a runner, Christmas is coming a little early for you thanks to our runDisney team, which thinks it’s found the perfect gift for you. Open it up by clicking on this video.

Yep, we’re reviving the popular The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror theme and creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort in 2012. If you like to have a scary good time when you run, this race will be the perfect weekend much like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K race we last staged at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2009.

This new race, scheduled for Sept. 29, will follow a similar course – through the set of “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show’’ and past Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat – but features runDisney’s first-ever 10-mile distance that finishes, appropriately enough, near The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. If you “survive’’ the experience, you’ll be treated to a shiny new medal and a rocking post-race party with your family and friends that features live music, Disney characters and exclusive access to attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania! and, of course, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The new The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror race is our sixth signature runDisney event and the second nighttime race at Walt Disney World Resort. To make room for it, though, we’re shifting our other nighttime event, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, to Nov. 9-10 during the final weekend of the popular Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Like all runDisney events, the race weekend will feature a variety of events, including a 5K, kid’s races and a Health & Fitness Expo all at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Mark your calendars now for Feb. 14. That’s the day you can start registering for the new race at runDisney.com. Should be a “terror-ably’’ good time.

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Youth Super Bowl Champs Crowned at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on December 14th, 2011 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


The NFL Super Bowl isn’t until February, but the Super Bowl of youth football was just the other day at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. More than 60 teams from around the country competed for the Super Bowl title. Only one team in each of the four age divisions actually won it, but they all put on a heck of a show. To see what I mean, check out this video of the top 10 plays from the championship games. Who knows? Maybe one of these little tykes will be playing in the real Super Bowl one day.

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Alabama Football Recognized for Inspiring Rebuilding Effort

posted on November 21st, 2011 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


So often we hear stories of fans and communities going to extraordinary measures in support of their team.

In the case of this year’s Disney Sports Spirit Award recipient, we’re proud to recognize the Univ. of Alabama, who came together to support its community – the same people who have supported them religiously year after year – following the EF-4 tornado that ravaged much of western Alabama.

Alabama Football Recognized for Inspiring Rebuilding Effort

The team’s student-athletes and staff immediately leaped into action following the April 27 disaster. The storm packed 195-mph winds and demolished 7,000 homes, 600 businesses and took 50 lives, including the life of Alabama football player Carson Tinker’s girlfriend, Ashley Harrison.

In order to help the region take its first steps towards recovery, Courtney Upshaw raised nearly $20,000 in relief funds in his hometown of Eufaula, Ala., while Preston Dial loaded up an 18-wheeler and drove in supplies from Mobile, Ala. Barrett Jones lugged a chain saw around Tuscaloosa to remove debris from homes and yards. And the Univ. of Alabama Athletic Department contributed $1 million to the UA Acts of Kindness Fund, which provides relief to faculty, staff, and students of The University of Alabama who are experiencing hardship.

Each year, Disney Sports strives to recognize the most inspirational figure or team in college football, and in this year’s recipient we undoubtedly found a story of selflessness, compassion and recovery.

Tinker will formally accept the award on behalf of his teammates and school during The Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Dec. 8. The 21st annual awards show is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.

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