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runDisney vs runUniversal

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Big news has come from Running Universal: the Orlando parks are getting a race weekend! Here’s what you need to know about the differences between runDisney at Walt Disney World vs Running Universal. Most of the details are about the Universal Hollywood races, but we will update with info when the Universal Orlando race details come out.

Hogwarts Castle vs Cinderella castle runDisney vs runUniversal


runDisney vs runUniversal

Okaaaay so I know it’s not technically “runUniversal” but go with me here. 

Today, Universal Studios Orlando announced that they will be hosting an Epic Running Universal Orlando Character Race Weekend this February… and I could not be more excited.

It got me thinking, though, about how different it is actually going to be!  So here’s my quick list of differences between runDisney Races and Universal Running races.

runDisney vs Running Universal: The Race Themes

This one is pretty obvious – runDisney has four main race weekends: Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon, and Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon. 

If you count Paris (which I kind of do and kind of don’t…) you have the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and the TBD Disneyland Paris Princess race weekend.

princess half marathon

Universal has had one successful race weekend, the Minion 5K in Hollywood last May. 

They have one coming up this November – Jurassic World Run – and that’s it so far.  The jury is still out on if these themes will be recurring or changing year-to-year. 

The “theme” for Orlando’s races is simply “Epic Character”. I am not sure if that is a placeholder title with the actual theme to be announced at a later date, or if it’s really just a race celebrating all of the Epic Characters under the Universal umbrella.

With The Epic Universe Themepark coming to Universal Orlando, maybe it is just all things Epic?

Or hey, they have the rights to Marvel on the East coast. So- Avengers assemble, anyone? Cause that would be EPIC.

Super Hero Half Marathon Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America

The Race Distances at runDisney vs Running Universal

So runDisney race weekends typically have a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon with some kids races as well.

January’s Marathon week has a full marathon on top of the others and all have a combination of challenges you can complete by participating in more than one race distance.

runDisney Dopey medals in front of Cinderella castle

Universal is doing things a little differently. 

So far, they have only offered 5K and 10K races. This November they are also offering a 1K Kid’s “Raptor Run” and a Challenge which includes the 5K and the 10K.

Another big difference between runDisney and Universal Running was that in May when the popularity of the Minion Race was SO great they added another one. Meaning, they added the 2nd race to the weekend. 

So there was a 5K on Saturday AND Sunday you could participate in. There wasn’t a challenge offered for doing both 5Ks, but nobody was stopping you from running it twice.

banana at universal hollywood 5K

Another really interesting difference – The Minion 5K was a chip-timed event that had been certified by the USA Track & Field (USATF) national running organization. 

runDisney 5K’s are considered “fun runs” and are not timed.  

The Price Difference

We have said it before and will say it again – all magic comes with a price! 

runDisney races will cost you anywhere from $20 for the Diaper Dash, all the way up to $590 for the Dopey Challenge (5K + 10K + Half + Full during January’s race weekend!) – I don’t care who you are… that’s a lot of money for a race.  ($12.14 per mile to be exact!)

running universal vs rundisney medals

Universal prices seem to be close to the runDisney pricing… about $10-$20 less per bib.  Obviously we don’t have pricing information for Orlando quite yet – but the current open prices for the Jurrasic World Race this November are:

  • Kids’ 1K Raptor Run: $30 
  • 5K $75
  • 10K $109
  • Challenge $199

Another main difference is that Universal is offering a “VIP Package” and a “Play All Day” Package to go along with race registrations, for an additional cost.

The Swag Difference Between runDisney and Running Universal

Over the years, the swag associated with runDisney races has gone down.  Back in the day, they had some decent bonuses you’d get with your race registration but now, not so much.  I do miss my little sample Clif bar.

Typically, you’ll get your race medals and a shirt for each race you participate in and they’ll usually have a list of small discounts you can get around Walt Disney World Resort- but that’s about it, folks!

  • Personalized Race Bib with Timing Tag (You must register by each race’s deadline to have your name on your bib)
  • Virtual Goody Bag
  • Finisher Medals 
  • Participant Shirts 
  • On-Course and Post-Race Refreshments
  • Downloadable Finisher Certificates

snack boxes rundisney vs running at universal

So, in this instance, Universal wins. Just looking at the swag that comes in a Standard Package. I’m going to break it down for the Challenge race registration:

  • Collectible Jurassic World 5K and 10K finisher medals
  • Collectible Jurassic World Challenge finisher medal
  • Jurassic World Challenge bib with 2 timing chips
  • Running Universal 5K and 10K T-shirts
  • Jurassic World drawstring backpack
  • Collectible Jurassic World pin
  • Post-Race beverages & refreshments
  • Complimentary General Parking
  • Digital finisher certificates
  • Opportunity to purchase entry to Universal Studios Hollywood™ Theme Park at a special Running Universal price

The VIP Package is an additional $130, and includes:

  • Complimentary Preferred Parking on race day
  • Exclusive VIP check-in
  • Running Universal water bottle
  • Post-Race VIP breakfast with Photo Op on both days

The “Play All Day” Package starts at an additional $40, and includes:

  • Standard or VIP Challenge race registration
  • One (1) General Admission Theme
  • Park ticket valid November 16 or November 17, 2019
  • Opportunity to purchase entry to Universal Studios Hollywood™ Theme Park at a special Running Universal price

More runDisney Posts You’ll Love

The Beginner’s Guide to runDisney Race Weekends

Castaway Cay Challenge Cruise

Answers to Your runDisney  FAQs

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