Select Page

by Character Diva

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race

I probably start off every runDisney article that I write with the disclaimer that I hate running. I really don’t enjoy it at all. So the idea of paying to run seems kinda crazy to me. But you know what I also love? Disney. And a good challenge. And an opportunity to take some pictures to commemorate an event. And getting to dress up as some of my favorite Disney characters. And luckily for me, I can get all of those things by competing in a runDisney event.

runDisney Tips:  How to Choose Between Running at the Parks  or  Doing a Virtual Race

runDisney offers all kinds of races throughout the year. With races being held at Disneyland, Disney World, Castaway Cay, and Disneyland Paris, you definitely have a variety of scenic backgrounds to race by (or stop for a picture) next to your favorite Disney character or Disney weenie.  But what do you do if you don’t live by the parks? And what do you do if a trip to Disney (particularly Disneyland Paris or Castaway Cay), just isn’t in your budget this year? Never fear! runDisney has an option for you too- the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series.

runDisney: Everything You Need to Know about runDisney Virtual Races.

The runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series debuted in the summer of 2016 and like the famous Walt Disney quote, “It all started with a mouse”. Mickey’s shoes, shorts, and gloves were each featured for the different 5k’s in the series, and if you opted to complete the entire series, you could earn an additional “challenge” medal featuring Mickey himself. To read my review of last year’s event, click here.

This year, the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series continues, but features Mickey’s loveable pal, Pluto. And if you register for the 2017 runDisney Virtual Races by April 30th, you can also get a commemorative dog tag and collapsible food bowl for your favorite four legged friend too!

So how do you know which race is best for you?  Well let’s look at some pros and cons of each.

runDisney Race on Property Pros:

-To begin with, it’s on property!!! What more of a reason do you need than that?

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race

-You see Disney characters! I don’t know about you, but I’m all about the characters. (I am Character Diva for a reason.) Nothing brings you a greater sense of Disney magic than getting to stop and pose with the characters.

-There are Disney photopass photographers everywhere! Hey… you’ve put in the blood, sweat and tears… you might as well have someone document your experience and prove that you did it! Disney Diva Tip: Remember… no matter how tired you are or how much you’re focusing on crossing the finish line, when you see a photographer… SMILE!

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race

-You get to run by (and sometimes through) some of Disney’s most iconic structures! Whether you’re running by Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland or Spaceship Earth (aka the giant golf ball) in EPCOT, it will surely be an experience you are not to forget.

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race.


-It can get pretty expensive! Especially if you have to travel. Whether you’re buying airplane tickets or driving, it can take a pretty good chunk of change to cover not only transportation, but also the race fees (which are much higher than most race fees).

-If you have to cancel for whatever reason, under most circumstances your fees are not transferrable or refundable. Disney Diva Tip: If you have travel insurance, your race fees may be included in your insurance plan. While it still doesn’t replace the experience, it’s better than missing the event completely and still being out the money.

-If you don’t get to go to the parks very often, it could take away from “park time”. Racing in the wee hours of the morning, especially for long races like half marathons or marathons, often require naps afterwards and you have to really think about how much time you want to sacrifice away from the parks.

-The parks are more crowded from other runners who also want to get in their park time. runDisney races began as a way of drawing in large crowds during “the slow season”. Like any special event, crowd levels increase as people want experience as much as possible. While it’s not a deal breaker, make sure to mentally prepare yourself… and make sure to make your Fastpass and dining reservations as early as possible!

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race

runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series Pros:

-It’s cheap! Who doesn’t love to save money? And as an added bonus, you can take all of the money you’re saving and budget it towards your next Disney vacation!

-No travel required! No passports, no airline tickets, no hotels, no park tickets, no dining plan, no souvenirs… All of that is unnecessary. If you want to work out on your treadmill in your pj’s, or do some laps around your local mall, go for it.

-You can use it to help train for your next runDisney event (or just show off your Disney side while burning some calories and dreaming of Mickey Mouse rice krispie treats.)

-It’s flexible! Bad weather that day? Whether there’s lightening, a downpour, scorching heat, or crazy winds, you get to choose when and where you participate! Want to skip a mile of it with your favorite little Mousketeer? Why not! Are you not a morning person and want to do it in the afternoon? Go for it! Would you rather burn those calories while spending time with your family having a Disney Movie Night? Be our guest! Whether you want to walk, skip, crawl, or limp your way to completing the distance, the choice is up to you.


Costumes- While it has never been a deterrent for me, if you dress up as your favorite Disney character, you will probably get a few more strange looks than if you did it at one of the parks. But you can always opt to wear your favorite Disney shirt or hat and show off your Disney side too.

runDisney Tips: How to Choose Between Running at the Parks or Doing a Virtual Race.

No Photopass Photographers- As stated before… if you did the work, you might as well have some proof! Not having a professional photographer snapping away is a bummer, but it’s not a deal breaker for everyone. On one hand, it’s a bummer to not pose with characters or by iconic structures, but you could fix this problem by having a friend or family member take the photo (or selfies work too).

So just remember, whether you are a seasoned pro or haven’t ran since your last p.e. class in high school, you too can find a runDisney event for you!

Looking for more great tips? For runDisney tips for First Timers click here, for the perfect Disney music playlist click here, or to search by destination click here, and to search by race click here.