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Is There a Disneyland runDisney Problem?

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As you guys know, I’m a bit obsessed with runDisney. And specifically running at Disneyland..

It’s my jam, and I make no apologies about it.

I like to think of myself as the go-to girl when it comes to race information that you can’t find on the runDisney website.

I don’t work for runDisney, but…

Holliday Inn 2

So it made sense that when Avengers didn’t sell out (hey- look, it’s STILL open!) that people would start asking me questions.

My answer?

“There’s a lot that went “wrong” with Avengers- let’s wait and see what happens when Star Wars opens for registration.”

And that happened yesterday.  And Star Wars didn’t sell out.


Alright guys, so…

Two races at Disneyland have not sold out immediately.

Is there a Disneyland runDisney problem?

rundisney FB page

I’m going to break it down through my eyes.  These observations come from reading blogs, being active in Facebook groups and the DisBoards, and from running 10 runDisney weekends to date.   I believe them to be informed guesses- by no means do I have any proof or reason to think I’m correct in any of the assessments.

But I also don’t think I’m talking out of my ass completely here either.


Avengers medal DLH sign

Here’s my race recap. I didn’t hate the weekend or the experience overall.  In fact, I was a fan of the course- which is TOTALLY not the prevailing opinion!  On a personal note- I struggled through the first half mightily.  I’ll admit to being solely focused on NOT pooping my pants, and was forgiving of some of the issues that others expressed.

When I rank the Disneyland races, Avengers is last- and y’all know I love me some Thor!

Here’s what I see as “wrong” with Avengers.

1.  Time of year.

Having a race hot on the heels of Wine & Dine, a race many runDisney enthusiasts absolutely ADORE, makes travel coast to coast in a week tough.  Plus it’s right before Thanksgiving, another big travel time period for Disney fans.  If you have to pick and choose a race to skip, I get why this is the one.

2.  Locals know. 

The greater Los Angeles area has a zillion point three people in it.  At least.

And probably half of them are runners, and half of them are Disney fans.

So why can’t the LA peeps fill up the race?  Because they KNOW that the weather can be sketchy AND that Disneyland is generally busy the first weekend that holiday decorations are in place.

They are also blessed with an abundance of races in the local area.  There’s no reason for them to spend $199 on a half marathon just to get some pixie-dust sprinkled on top.

Remember: Disneyland is a locals park, meaning many, many, MANY of the peeps you see in Disneyland are annual pass holders and have been for years.  They can get pixie-dust on a random Tuesday and don’t need to run 13.1 miles to get it.

3.  Choices doubled.

Last year Disneyland doubled the options for runDisney.  Most peeps (again looking at the locals) are not feeling the need to run all the races, and now have options.  I’ve seen many say they ran Avengers last year, so this year they are doing Star Wars.  There does not seem to be a prevailing “I’m running ALL the Disneyland races” sentiment in the groups.

Unless you are me.  Ahem.  Because: Disneyland.

DL60 Castle

4.  The course, characters (theme) and weather.

The course:  about 2 miles inside the parks.  That’s all.

That’s NOT what you want from your runDisney experience.

The characters & theme:  4 Marvel characters.  That’s all.

That’s NOT what you want from your runDisney experience.  And no Iron-“Dude”?  Come.  On.

The theme is up for debate.  Some feel the Avengers aren’t a big enough draw for runners- and that it cuts out on the female contingency.  Others (ahem- me!) say… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Thor rundisney

Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye’s arms, Thor, Black Widow, THOR… and that’s just the 4 we saw.

Marvel has a deep character pool- I say, runDisney, dive on in!

The weather:  we ran in the insanity of the Santa Ana winds.  This isn’t always going to happen, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again that time of year.  It might be enough to keep people off the course altogether.

Star Wars

SW Half 1

Here’s my race recap of the Star Wars half marathon.

Hands down- and I’m not alone in this praise- it was the best runDisney weekend EVER.  It seems some of the Avengers mistakes were corrected for this race: time of year is better, the course is flat and fantastic, characters were plentiful, the weather was gorgeous.

All good things.

Then why hasn’t it sold out?

1.  Time of year.

It follows directly behind the BIG mama of race weekends for runDisney folks: Marathon weekend.  Those Dopey runners are probably hoping they never see another castle, much less another race through one.

This was one of the reasons I did not run Marathon last year.  I chose Star Wars instead.


A lot of people cite costs and that runDisney keeps increasing the cost of the races.  I think we jumped that shark when the price went from $120 for a half up to $140+ a couple of years ago.

I do think money is a factor though.  This race comes right after Christmas AND that Marathon weekend… chances are, credit cards are starting to groan a bit from the expenses incurred during this time.

tie fighters half sw 15

3.  runDisney Enthusiasts live on the East coast.

This is purely speculation, but the feel I get from my Facebook groups is that runDisney is heavily supported by those who see Walt Disney World as their home park.  They will travel multiple times a year to run a race in Orlando, but limit their time to Disneyland as a one and done- or maybe once a year.

Even the pull of the Force can’t get them to cross three time zones to run in California.  Which brings up another point…

4.  Rumors of an East coast Star Wars race.

It’s like a million WDW runners cried out in pain and were suddenly silenced when Star Wars was confirmed on the West coast.  Okay, not silenced, at all.  They just started begging for a Star Wars East race.

So here’s the rundown on that: the rumor mill says a Star Wars East coast race will be announced this summer.  Most likely happening end of April, beginning of May.  Just in time for Star Wars Weekends to kick off with an Imperial race.

sw dining 4

RUMORS… but you gotta admit they make a lot of sense from a runDisney standpoint to go ahead with this plan.

Do I think it’s happening?  I’m going to plead the 5th on this one.

But the fact that people BELIEVE an East coast option for this theme is coming may be keeping them out of the registration frenzy.  They are holding onto their Republic Dataries (money for those that don’t speak Star Wars).

Where does this leave us?  As of this morning (9:30 AM PT) the races look like this:

Avengers 6.17.15

SW 6.17.15

Bottom line:  I feel like runDisney is possibly hitting a slight downswing in the Disneyland market.  Hey, what goes up, must come down, right?  It’s simple supply and demand: you saturate a market, and you will have a slowing of growth as the bubble pops.

I think both races will eventually sell out.  I don’t think runDisney is in any jeopardy of losing money on either race.  There’s no major problem with the Disneyland races.

For the consumer, I see this as a GOOD thing.  We can now sit back and breathe on registration day instead of feeling that panic that’s been prevalent over the past 2 cycles.

What do you think about the lack of runDisney sell outs at Disneyland?  Do you have any other reasons for the slow down?

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Tuesday 23rd of June 2015

The other thing is the Tink half also took forever to sell out this year. Most people attributed it to the Mother's Day weekend change, but when added to the Avengers and Star Wars, it seems like its part of the pattern. And honestly, I think a large part is Disneyland itself. The race prices are expensive enough that the locals avoid it. For someone spending hundreds on airfare and hotel, WDW just looks like a better race choice than DL because of the feeling of getting "more" magic out of the experience. The fact that ALL the DL races are front stacked with all the park time is a hard mental obstacle to get over when deciding where to spend the money for a runcation.


Tuesday 23rd of June 2015

I don't disagree as a first timer comparing the two options- WDW does feel more all inclusive.


Thursday 18th of June 2015

I think you're spot on with choices. I noticed DL races started selling out lightning quick when rD introduced the C2C challenge. There was only 1, then 2, races to get it done at Disneyland, in complete opposite seasons. Now there are 4 and I think they balance each other out. I also think multiple choices per race weekend is also a factor. The 10k has exploded in popularity and is taking numbers away from the half.

I can only speak for me, but I did not have a lot of fun during my last Disney half marathon. Injury aside, I felt the course was too crowded and there were fewer characters than in years past. All that and they're still increasing the prices? I understand it's Disney and the support is second to none, but I feel like they're increasing prices while slowly chipping away at what drew me to their races in the first place.


Wednesday 17th of June 2015

I'm registered for the Disneyland half this year, and have since been feeling the pangs of not signing up for Dumbo. I would love to do a challenge, and running a 10k/half combo is far more likely to happen for me than flying across the country to race at WDW. As it stands though, the pricing is ridiculous.

I'd be interested in doing a full at Disney, but they definitely would need to dramatically increase the amount of in-park time, and have some serious character support on the roads outside of the park.


Wednesday 17th of June 2015

As someone who was doing the Disneyland Half years before it hit Crazy-Town-Black-Friday proportions, I don't see the lack of an immediate sell out as any kind of "problem." It's more like a return to a realistic race registration. It used to take several months for the DL Half to sell out, and that's when it was the ONLY race in the DL park. Post Crazy-Town phenomenon, which couldn't have lasted forever anyway, I think you've hit on some of the reasons for the slowing down - the cost and the number of races being primary. I also think for the non-Disney fanatics who don't feel the need to do's just too ridiculous logistically. Who wants to sit at their computer fighting for a registration spot? And after all the complaints on social media after the last few expos, why would anyone want to deal with that nonsense on top of stressing about getting a spot? To be perfectly honest, I feel like there's been a change in the type of people who do the races. It's less about dedicated runners doing a novelty race for the fun of it and drawing in more people who want pictures and merchandise. They get entitled attitudes and make it a very different experience than it used to be.

I signed up for the rebel challenge because I've never done one. I picked Star Wars to do the challenge because I missed the race last year since I was in Arizona doing the Rock and Roll in Phoenix. Beyond this, I doubt I'll do another challenge. The cost is too high. I'm not in the group that thinks Disney is a superior product just because of the brand. I am fortunate to live in a place with many, many choices and while Disney is fun, other races are as much or more fun. It's what you make of it.

Lauren M.

Wednesday 17th of June 2015

I'm still surprised after the wine & Dine whinefest. Maybe this is different bc there's no 10k at W&D?