With nearly 100,000 total runners and spectators in five separate races, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is one of the largest running events in the world. The Walt Disney World Marathon, Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World 10k, and Walt Disney World 5k, there is no question Marathon Weekend is a BIG deal. The excitement of the flagship runDisney event is unparalleled. However, Marathon Weekend can be overwhelming for first-timers and veterans alike. Your experience starts at the Health and Fitness Expo, which is an endurance challenge in itself.
Combined, Chad and I (Cindy) have completed 73 runDisney races and 30 runDisney challenges! We look forward to this weekend every year! We’ve put together a complete survival guide covering all aspects of the race. This six-part series will get you prepared and ready to run!
- Part 1 covers the 6 things you need to know before you leave for Marathon Weekend.
- Part 2 covers the Health and Fitness Expo, something many first-timers totally underestimate and do not properly prepare for
- Part 3 covers pre-race tips
- Part 4 covers race morning
- Part 5 covers the races themselves
- Part 6 wraps up the series with information for spectators
Here are a few things you need to know to successfully navigate Disney’s Marathon Weekend Health and Fitness Expo!
1 – What is the Health & Fitness Expo
The Health and Fitness Expo is your first stop race weekend to pick up your race packet. The event features celebrity runner appearances, you’ll see and experience the latest in running and fitness equipment, and you’ll have the opportunity to attend seminars on training, racing, and nutrition. Finally, you’ll have the chance to purchase official runDisney merchandise and other sports-related products offered by exhibitors.
All runners must attend to pick up their race bib, shirt(s), and gEAR bag. There will be three different venues at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex hosting the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo. Be sure to review the Event Guide for a map to the correct location(s) to pick up items.
Wednesday, January 4, 2023: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thursday, January 5, 2023: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Friday, January 6, 2023: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday, January 7, 2023: 11:00 am – 3:30 pm
2 – Expo Check-in Pass
This year, you’ll need an “Expo Check-in Pass” for each event you are participating in to pick up your Runners packet. Family and friends are still welcome to join you at the Expo. The Expo Check-in Pass will be available to runners by December 31 through your runDisney account. Bring a copy of your Check-In Pass for each event you are participating in and a valid photo I.D. to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo to pick up your race bib.
3 – NEW in 2023 – Virtual Queue for runDisney Merchandise on Day 1 of the Expo
After years of crowded shopping, extremely long lines, and merchandise selling out quickly, we were thrilled to see a new addition to runDisney races, a Virtual Queue for the runDisney merchandise shop at the Expo. Here’s everything you need to know from the Walt Disney World website:
On January 4, 2023, a virtual queue will open for the runDisney Merchandise Shop at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
We’re so excited to welcome runners to the 2023 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend—especially since we’re celebrating 30 Years Running! We’ve also introduced an exciting enhancement to the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo this race season. Attendees looking to purchase event weekend merchandise on the first day of the Expo will be asked to join a virtual queue. This feature allows you to spend more time enjoying your Expo experience and visiting with Expo vendors—all while you wait in line for merchandise, virtually.
How to Join the Virtual Queue
In order to use the virtual queue on day one of the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, you’ll need to download the My Disney Experience app and ensure location services are turned on.
- Step 1: Open the My Disney Experience app and navigate to the Virtual Queues section on the Welcome Screen.
- Step 2: Select “Join Virtual Queue” on the My Queues screen and then select “runDisney Merchandise Shop.” Guests can request to join the virtual queue at 8:30 AM Eastern Time on January 4, 2023.
- Step 3: Select the number of Guests (up to 6 people total) in your shopping party. Select “Join Virtual Queue” once more. Note: All members of your shopping party must be added to your My Disney Experience Friends & Family list prior to joining the virtual queue. Learn more about adding Friends & Family to your account.
- Step 4: If there are open spots in the virtual queue, you’ll see a confirmation screen with both a QR code and an estimated wait time. Your estimated wait time will be based on the Expo opening time of 10:00 AM Eastern Time, so don’t be alarmed if your wait appears long!
- Step 5: You’ll receive a push notification directly to your mobile device when your group is ready to return. This push notification will also present you with a link to your digital entry code. Once received, you will have one hour to arrive at the AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
- Step 6: Upon your arrival, follow the signs to the check-in area and prepare to show the Cast Member your digital entry code or MagicBand.
- Gold and Platinum Club runDisney Members do not need to join the virtual queue to access their early shopping windows during the first day of the Expo.
- Guests can join the virtual queue from the comfort of their hotel room or home, up to approximately 45 miles away from Walt Disney World Resort.
- Each Guest enrolled will receive a digital entry code to present for entry. If you are unable to find your digital entry code, you can locate it by going to the 3-line hamburger icon in the app (☰) and selecting “Virtual Queues.” From here, you will be able to access your digital entry code.
- The virtual queue is only needed for the runDisney Merchandise Shop on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
- Merchandise is subject to availability and inventory may sell out.
4 – Give Yourself at least 2-3 hours for the Entire Race Expo Visit
Many runners underestimate the time needed for the race expo. Include travel time, waiting to pick up your packet and commemorative items, time for shopping, and time for any seminars you want to attend. Expect long queues to get into certain shopping areas and even longer queues to check out.
You need to decide ahead of time if you want to bring your whole family with you. For some families, it’s great to see the excitement about healthy living and running achievements. For others, it’s a crazy busy madhouse and not a fun place for kids (the Expo floor is PACKED). There are a lot of lines and a lot of waiting. Kids might enjoy time at the parks or at the resort pool. But if both parents are running, just be sure to bring something to keep the kids occupied while you wait.
5 – Arriving by Disney Transportation
Special transportation has been arranged for participants staying at Disney World Resorts. Event buses will be indicated by runDisney Transportation signs placed in the front of windows. Buses will run back and forth all day. Allow for 20-40 minutes of travel time each way. Please note event buses are NOT the normal Disney buses. They are charter buses hired specially for this event, and the pickup and drop-off areas will be in different locations than normal bus stops for the parks. If you are unsure, ask. There are always lots of event staff members around to help. Buses will continue running for 30 minutes after the end of the Expo to bring guests back to the resorts from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
NOTE: Transportation runs 30 mins before from Host Resorts to Expo and 30 min after Expo back to Host Resorts
FROM RESORT TO EXPO:
- Wednesday, January 4th – 9:30 am – 7:30 pm
- Thursday, January 5th – 11:30 am – 6:30 pm
- Friday, January 6th – 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
- Saturday, January 7th – 10:30 am – 2:30 pm
FROM EXPO TO RESORTS:
- Wednesday, January 4th – 10 am – 8:30 pm
- Thursday, January 5th – 12 pm – 7:30 pm
- Friday, January 6th – 10 am – 7:30 pm
- Saturday, January 7th – 11 am – 3:30 pm
6 – You Must Pick Up Your Own Packet
All runners must attend the Expo during regularly scheduled hours to pick up their race packet. Without the items in this packet, you cannot race. Disney does not allow others to pick up the packet for you. A valid photo ID, digitally signed waiver, and Check-in Pass are required to pick up the packet. Adults will be allowed to pick up participant packets for runners under the age of 18. As a reminder, Packet Pick–Up will not be available on race morning.
7 – Goofy and Dopey Challengers Must Get Their Picture Taken
All runners participating in either the Goofy or Dopey Challenge must get their picture taken at the Expo with their race bibs. This photo will be used at the finish line of each race to verify that you are the person to whom the bib belongs. Unfortunately, in the first year of the Dopey Challenge, people handed their bibs to other runners, who then got the Dopey medals without completing the challenge. So now Disney verifies your bib against the picture that is taken. Disney staff and volunteers will direct challenge participants to the right location but don’t miss this, or you may have trouble getting your medal!
8 – Shop Till You Drop
For the best selection of official runDisney merchandise, you’ll want to join the Virtual Queue and shop on Wednesday. The official runDisney merchandise can be found at the Arena. Feel free to use Disney gift cards or charge to your room. Also, don’t forget any DVC or annual passholder discounts.
Tip: if you are wavering on a decision about purchasing a certain item, our suggestion is to go ahead and purchase the item. Many do not know it, but if you change your mind, you can return any items at any Disney World merchandise location. So, if you buy a shirt and then realize you actually don’t want it, you can return it to your resort store. I have even returned merchandise weeks after the event (be sure to check the receipt for the return policy). If you can swing the extra cost, it is better to buy it and return it if you change your mind. If you wait until a later time to purchase it, it is likely that the item will not be there.
Many exhibitors sell running-related items. Be sure to check with each exhibitor for their return policy before purchasing with them. Often, these stores will have Expo-reduced prices. While this may be the perfect time to purchase that awesome new product, be careful if you have never trained with the item. The best rule of thumb is to never, ever do or use something new on race day.
9 – Sign Up for Runner Tracking
Family and friends will be able to track participants with live online tracking for the 10k, the half marathon, and the 10k. We will update this article with the link you need to sign up once it becomes available. You can also sign up for runner tracking at the Expo.
For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.