runDisney Princess Weekend 2017 Review Part 1: Expo and Enchanted 10k

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I did it! I completed my first runDisney event with my first 10k and half marathon. This past weekend, Colton and I traveled down to Orlando so that I could participate in the Glass Slipper Challenge. For those of you who don’t know, the Glass Slipper Challenge is a runDisney event which takes place over two days: with the Enchanted 10k on Saturday morning and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday morning, for a total of 19.3 miles. I signed up for this race last April, so I had been counting down the days for quite a while.

In part 1 of this review, I’m going to discuss a few things I experienced and learned during the Expo and the Enchanted 10k. I hope this review can help you prepare for a runDisney event in the future. Please keep in mind that this was my first runDisney on-property event and is in no way endorsed by Disney.

runDisney Expo

First things first is the Expo. The Expo takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and this is where you pick up your bib(s), any pre-purchased merchandise, and other race merchandise. If you are participating in the 5k on Friday, you must arrive at the Expo on Thursday to pick up your bib. Because I participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge, Colton and I headed to the Expo first thing Friday morning. The Expo opened at 9AM and I believe we got there right around 9-9:15. Based on our experience, this is when you should go. There were quite a few people there, but we didn’t wait in any lines.

There are signs everywhere and runDisney workers directing you where to go. First, we headed to the HP Field House to pick up my bib, gEar Check bag, and t-shirts. For participating in the Glass Slipper Challenge, I received a runDisney Champion t-shirt for each of the events, totaling 3 new shirts. These shirts are so comfortable!

When picking up my bib, I also picked up the Glass Slipper Challenge pin that I ordered when I registered for the event. After you pick up your bib, you take a picture for identification purposes. After grabbing my gEar Bag and t-shirts, we headed to the J Center, where all of the merchandise was located. There are a TON of vendors in the J Center, including the New Balance and Disney Merchandise booths.

First, because I knew I wanted a pair of the New Balance runDisney shoes, we headed to their booth first. Usually, New Balance has a Virtual Queue that you sign up for the night before, but they only did the Virtual Queue on Thursday night, so we went straight to their booth on Friday. I was worried that the shoes I wanted would be gone, which is one reason we arrived to the Expo first thing.

Upon entering their booth, I was greeted by a New Balance employee and I told her the shoe and size that I needed. Guess what? I got them! Between arriving to the booth and paying for my shoes, it took less than 5 minutes.

After picking up my new runDisney shoes, we took a lap around the rest of the merchandise booths. The official runDisney merchandise was in the back of the J building, so we visited it last. Aren’t the shoes gorgeous? Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite Disney rides, so of course I had to get them. I also picked up the Hitchhiking Ghosts Doom buggy clip-ons for $5.

In addition to my shoes, at the Expo I picked up a tiara headband for the races, Roosport’s beltless travel pouch (HIGHLY recommended), a car magnet, and a runDisney Princess ornament. All in all, we spent about an hour at the Expo. I expect the Expo crowds were a bit larger towards the end of the day, so I encourage you to get there early!

Enchanted 10k

After the Expo, we headed to the parks for a few hours before getting into bed around 9pm (3am comes EARLY). On the runDisney page, it gives you the bus transportation schedule for race weekend. It instructs runners to get on a bus by 4AM to arrive at your corral on time. I’m sure this factors in travel time for runners in hotels that are farther from Epcot, but because we were staying at the Dolphin, it was about a 7 minute bus ride to the Epcot parking areas (where the races begin). This was my first runDisney event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect other than what I had read on a few blogs. I had read differing posts about when to leave your hotel in the morning, so to better be safe than sorry, I got up at 3AM to leave my hotel by 3:30. In each hotel, there are signs directing you where runDisney buses are located.

As a general rule, you don’t really have to leave as early as I did. I was one of the first in my corral/group for the 10k because I arrived so early. Being towards the front was nice, but that benefit should be weighed against the extra sleep.

I left my hotel room at 3:30 and got to the bus stop about 3:35 and there were a few other runners there. Our bus was not crowded at all and we left at 3:45, with an arrival time at the Epcot parking lot around 3:55. The buses dropped us off just outside the entrance to Epcot, where we had about a 5-10 minute walk to the runDisney location. Before entering, if you want to check a bag (it must be in the gEAR check bag), you entered to the right. I did not check a bag, so I entered to the left. In this area, there are booths for different organizations, a food and drink booth, and then the DJ stage with a big screen TV. This is also where you can meet princesses and take pictures.

I walked around for a few minutes, but then joined the group waiting to enter the corrals. We were released into our corrals at 4:15 and because I was there so early, I was in the front row. Then it was just waiting. They started lining up Corral A around 5:10. I was in Corral D, so we began moving around 5:25. They started the race around 5:30 with Corral A and about 20 minutes later, Corral D was released and I was on my way!

Before heading to the races, I had made a list of the characters that I wanted to stop for if they were there. While training, I maintained a 10-11 mile pace and because you have to keep a 16 minute mile pace, I knew that I couldn’t stop for every character unless their lines were really short.

Between mile 1 and 2, Tinkerbell and the other fairies were there, but the line was pretty long, so I decided to skip this one. Between mile 2 and 3 was the Evil Queen from Snow White (pre-Scary Witch potion). Again, her line was a bit long so I skipped it. Once we got into Epcot a little bit after mile 3, this was where the majority of the characters I wanted happened to be. I got Dopey in Germany, Pinocchio and Geppetto in Italy, and Marie in France. I didn’t wait more than 10 minutes for these characters, but because they were within the same 2 mile stretch, they slowed my time down a good bit.

Once I left Epcot and arrived on the Boardwalk, I got a picture with Genie.

Just after mile 5 was Minnie in her regal gear. I expected her to be at the finish line, but because she was earlier and on my list, I had to stop. Her line was pretty long, between 15-20 minutes.

After grabbing my picture with Minnie, I rushed to the finish line. I didn’t finish with a very good time, but I finished!

After crossing the finish line, I got my medal, food box, some water and powerade, and headed back to my hotel. After taking a shower, Colton and I hit the parks for a few hours. What a long, but amazing day!

runDisney Tips

Hotel Departure Time

Unless you are in Corral A, you want to be at the front of your corral, or your hotel is longer than a 20 minute bus ride from Epcot, there is no reason that you have to be on a bus by 4AM for the 10k. Between the drop off at Epcot, the walk to the corrals, and the start of the race, you will have plenty of time if you arrive to Epcot after 4:30AM. During my hour+ wait in my corral, I saw many racers arriving even after 5:10. I will address this again in Part 2 of my Princess Weekend review, because the half marathon is a bit different.

Characters and Pictures

One thing to really keep in mind throughout the race is your pacing and what characters are priority for you. If you are trying to win the race (I was not), you won’t have time to stop for characters. If you are not trying to win and are just participating for the fun, my advice would be to have an idea of what characters you really want if they are on the course. You won’t know for sure what characters will be throughout the race, but from past races, you can have a good idea. Also, there are PhotoPass photographers at each character stop, so you don’t have to have your cell phone. They will take pictures with your phone, but you can access the PhotoPass pictures shortly after the race.

That’s it for Part 1 of my runDisney Princess Weekend Review. I will be posting Part 2 soon so be on the lookout! Part 2 will include the Half Marathon, more tips, and my overall thoughts about Princess Weekend.

Did you participate in this year’s Enchanted 10k or any other runDisney event? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!