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runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World Racing

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I’ve been talking to a friend making her way to Disneyland for the first time for the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. She’s asked about rides, shows, and places to eat.  She’s a Walt Disney World runner and is curious about how the races stack up. runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World which is best? Everything you need to know about runDisney Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World racing.

runDisney at Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: the differences in racing on each coast.
Are the races like night and day?

runDisney Disneyland vs runDisney Walt Disney World Racing

Which is better, Disney Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World?


No, wait, Walt Disney World!

Ask any runDisney runner and you will get an earful as to why one park is a better running experience than the other.

There is no clear consensus, especially since the Disneyland races have been MIA since 2017.

By number, there are more Disney World participants so you probably hear that it’s better more often.

spider-man medal. runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World

But it’s not. Ahem.

West Coast represent! Anywhoo…

Here are my observations after running coast to coast since 2012.

I’ll admit, I have a bias toward the West Coast races and you’ll see why!

runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World which is best?

Walt Disney World stats, deets, pros and cons for runDisney include:

Bigger races. The capacity at the races is much larger. For example, the Princess Half Marathon had around 20,000 finishers this year.

Long stretches of highway. A little boring, but you aren’t wasting energy on twists and turns in the road, right?

Less fan support due to the highway miles. The fans pack Main Street, USA, however. And that’s an impressive sight!

More characters on the course since Disney owns all the roads. A huge plus for the runDisney fan. You stay inside the Disney bubble the entire race.

runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World

Earlier starts: be on that first bus at 3 am. Seriously. 3 am.

Transportation is necessary to the start and at the finish- unless you are going straight into Epcot to celebrate!

Long walks to the corrals. From drop off at the bus to the starting line at Princess Half Marathon you cover an extra 1.5 miles.

The weather is generally hot and humid. It’s Florida.

wine and dine 5K medal

runDisney at Disneyland Racing

Disneyland stats, deets, pros and cons for runDisney include:

Smaller races. The Disneyland Half had around 13,000 runners last time it ran in 2017.

Fewer highways, more city streets. It’s a reverse mullet race: party in the front (the time in the parks) and business in the back (city streets).

runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World: More variety. Every race has a different route for half marathons. Some of the 5Ks and 10Ks are different as well. The 10Ks and 5Ks are almost all in the parks- which sounds great, but be prepared for tight areas and bottlenecks.

Marvel Races. While Disneyland only has two races on the schedule for now, we’re hoping that the Superheroes Half Marathon races will make a big return. You can’t get those at runDisney in Walt Disney World due to legal reasons, so let’s run through Avengers Campus!

HUGE local support. High School bands and cheerleaders, classic car clubs, Red Hat Society, and Girl and Boy Scouts line the courses.

Fewer characters. Disneyland doesn’t have rights to the roads as they do in Orlando, so the characters are limited to where they can appear. Once you leave the parks, you will not have official character stops. Walt Disney and Michael Jackson have been known to appear, however, in the form of crowd support on the city streets.

Sleep in: Disneyland races take less effort and planning to get to the start. Most racers can just walk from their hotels to the corrals. No bus, no fuss, no muss! However, there are bus transportation options from some resorts that start running around 4am.

runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World

Weather can be lovely. It typically is. Southern California typically has less humidity and mild temperatures year-round. Hey, it’s why people pay the big bucks to live there!

But there can be massive wind issues like in the inaugural Avengers Half. It was wild.

And the 2013 Disneyland Half was one of the hottest race weekends I’ve experienced… so it’s obviously not a rule.

BOTH COASTS: Balloon ladies/men who will keep a 16-minute mile pace. Be sure you stay ahead of them, no matter which coast you are on!

Sweet runDisney Coast To Coast Medals

You have to run a 10-miler race or longer race on each coast during the same calendar year to qualify.

As long as you run one race in each park you will qualify for this additional medal.

If you want more information on how to earn a runDisney Cost To Coast medal, check out this post next.

Retired: The Star Wars Light Side and Dark Side races combined would earn you the Kessel Run Challenge medal, another Coast to Coast medal.

Do you run coast to coast? Can you think of anything I’ve missed regarding runDisney Disneyland vs Walt Disney World?

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Saturday 19th of August 2017

Running? Being on the bus at 3:30 IN THE MORNING? Um, this experience is not for me. LOLOLOL But I really love that Disney has so many wonderful experiences that there is truly something for everyone! Your photo is a hoot. I am sharing this with my sister in law who IS one of those people who runs for fun and would have no problem being excited and ready at 3 in the morning. :)


Sunday 9th of April 2017

I’ve never joined any Disneyland races before because I can't wake up at This was such an interesting experience! Thank you for sharing!


Wednesday 19th of August 2015

LOVE that you commented on the 2013 Disney Half weekend - holy heck, that was one of my worst run experiences ever. UGH. I'm doing my first C2C in 2016 (Princess will be my first experience at WDW too and then Tink) so I loved this post. Bummed to hear about the "boring highway" parts for Princess. I would have expected better crowds/spectators/support there.


Wednesday 19th of August 2015

Yeah- there's not a whole lot out there. Some random bands (like an accordion band?) and a few other things, but not the same as what DL provides.


Tuesday 24th of March 2015

Nailed it! And I love that I can say that now that I know the differences, too! It's like an East Coast-West Coast rap showdown, only no one got shot LOL. Great job as always, Patty!

Julie @RunWalkFastpass

Saturday 16th of August 2014

I love the company at WDW races don't you? LOL. I hope at some point I can make the cross country trek to a DL race.