Disney Lingo for Newbies

Written by Dawn Gosdin – Updated 3/22/2017

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Disney Acronyms

Being a Disney Parks fan means you will come across MANY abbreviations and acronyms which you may, or may not, understand. Here is a comprehensive list of these Disney-related abbreviations which everyone planning any type of Disney vacation needs to know.


ABD – Adventures By Disney
ARS – Aulani Resort & Spa
DCL – Disney Cruise Line
DLP – Disneyland Paris
DLR – Disneyland Resort
DVC – Disney Vacation Club
HH – Hilton Head
VB – Vero Beach
WDW – Walt Disney World


AKL – Animal Kingdom Lodge
AKV – Animal Kingdom Villas (DVC)
AOA – Art of Animation
ASMu – All Star Music
ASMo – All Star Movies
AS – All Star Sports
BC – Beach Club
BCV – Beach Club Villas (DVC)
BLT – Bay Lake Tower (DVC)
BRV – Boulder Ridge Villas (DVC)
BWI – Boardwalk Inn
BWV-Boardwalk Villas (DVC)
CBR – Caribbean Beach Resort
CCV – Copper Creek Villas (DVC)
CSR – Coronado Springs Resort
CR – Contemporary Resort
FW – Fort Wilderness
GF – Grand Floridian
KV – Kidani Village (section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)
OKW – Old Key West
PC – Pop Century
POR – Port Orleans Riverside
POFQ – Port Orleans French Quarter
POLY – Polynesian
SSR – Saratoga Springs Resort
SOG – Shades of Green (Military Resort onsite)
S&D – Swan & Dolphin Resort
THV – Treehouse Villas (at Saratoga Springs) (DVC)
VGF – Grand Floridian Villas (DVC)
VWL – Wilderness Lodge Villas (DVC)
WL – Wilderness Lodge
YC – Yacht Club

DLH – Disneyland Hotel
GCH – Grand Californian
PPH – Paradise Pier


AK – Animal Kingdom
BB – Blizzard Beach
DHS – Disney Hollywood Studios
DTD/DS – Downtown Disney/Disney Springs
EP – Epcot
MK – Magic Kingdom
TL – Typhoon Lagoon
WWOS – Wide World of Sports (Sports Complex)


7DMT – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
BTMR – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
FoF – Festival of Fantasy parade
FoP – Flight of Passage
HEA – Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular
HM – Haunted Mansion
HoP – Hall of Presidents
IaSM – It’s a Small World
POTC – Pirates of the Caribbean
ROL – Rivers of Light
RnR – Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster
TSMM – Toy Story Midway Mania
ToT – Tower of Terror
TT – Test Track
TTA – Tomorrowland Transit Authority


DCA – Disney’s California Adventure
LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
LGB – Long Beach Airport
MHP – Mickey’s Halloween Party
ROA – Rivers of America
SNA – John Wayne Airport/Orange County
WoC – World of Color


ADR – Advanced Dining Reservation
B&C – Beaches & Cream
BOG – Be Our Guest
CG – California Grill
CM – Chef Mickeys
CP – Crystal Palace (sometimes also the abbreviation for the Candlelight Processional)
CRT – Cinderella’s Royal Table
DDP – Disney Dining Plan
HDDR – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
H&V – Hollywood & Vine
OOP – Out-of-Pocket
QS – Quick Service
TIW – Tables in Wonderland (previously DDE – Disney Dining Experience)
TS – Table Service
V&A – Victoria & Albert’s


AP – Animator’s Palate
CC – Castaway Cay
FE – Fish Extender (DCL Family Gift Exchange)
GTY – Guarantee
IGT – Inside Guarantee
OGT – Oceanview Guarantee
PC – Port Canaveral
VGT – Verandah Guarantee


FP+ – FastPass+
MB – MagicBand
MDE – My Disney Experience
MYW – Magic Your Way (Park Ticket)
MM – Memory Maker
PH – Park Hopper
WPF&M – Water Park Fun & More ticket option


AP – Annual Pass
APR – Annual Pass Rate
CM – Cast Member
DME – Disney Magical Express
DRC – Disney Reservation Center
ECV – Electric Convenience Vehicle
EMH – Extra Magic Hour
EWP – Electrical Water Pageant
F&G – Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
F&W – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
IG – International Gateway (Entrance to EPCOT from Boardwalk)
KTTW – Key to the World Card (not used much anymore at WDW due to invention of MagicBands – still used on DCL)
TTC – Transportation & Ticket Center
MCO – Orlando International Airport
MNSSHP – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (seasonal extra purchase)
MVMCP – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (seasonal extra Purchase)
PAP – Premium Annual Pass
SWW – Star Wars Weekend
WS – World Showcase


BIL – Brother in law
DBF – Disney Boyfriend
DF – Disney Fiancé
DGF – Disney Girlfriend
DH – Disney Husband
DW – Disney Wife
DD – Disney Daughter
DS – Disney Son
FIL – Father in Law
MIL – Mother in Law
SIL – Sister in Law

Previously published on ~ http://www.disneygals.com/ and http://theadultsideofdisney.com/.

Dawn is married to her BFF Ryan and is privileged to be a stay-at -ome Mom/Writer/Blogger to her seventeen-year-old daughter Princess Peyton and future Imagineer son fifteen-year-old Logan. In their eyes a family that Disney’s together, stays together. They have enjoyed Walt Disney World many times, including the breathtaking Aulani Resort & Spa on the beautiful island of Oahu.

Other posts by this author:
Child Safety While at Walt Disney World
Epcot After Hours Wind Down
Important Facts About Disney Cruise Line

Disney Lingo for Newbies

Expedition Everest Challenge 2015: The Final Race

Written by: Amy Bechtol

Expedition Everest

After months of preparation, I finally did it. I ran, hurdled, crawled, hopped and walked through rough terrain, conquered the Yeti, and reached the summit of Everest. Expedition Everest, that is!

When I heard that the Expedition Everest Challenge would be ending in 2015, I knew this was my last opportunity to participate in this very unique runDisney event. I set a reminder on my phone for noon the day registration opened and I was so glad I did. The race sold out faster than you could say “Yeti”! My husband and I were registered as a co-ed team and ready to conquer Everest! I knew a little bit about the event; a 5k race with obstacles through Animal Kingdom followed by a scavenger hunt and topped with an exclusive after party. I was careful not to read up on it too much though. I wanted to have some element of surprise.

Fast forward to the end of April and our adults only Expedition Everest Challenge weekend was upon us. We were super excited despite the lack of build up via social media from runDisney. Considering this was the final run, I was anticipating a lot of hype. Unfortunately, the Yeti was overshadowed by Tinker Bell as her race was being held the following weekend at Disneyland. Even the expo was thrown to the wayside. It was more of a packet pick-up with New Balance and Fit2Run tents out in the parking lot of Animal Kingdom. Bummer.

Expedition EverestSaturday, May 2, 2015 was race day. Because the Expedition Everest Challenge is held at night with a 10pm start, we spent the day park hopping, in the pool, and basically not resting at all before the race. After all, we were Disney Bounding our race gear as Dory and Nemo so we thought a fun approach to the day would be to “just keep swimming”. We grabbed a quick pizza for dinner and walked from Art of Animation to Pop Century, one of the host resorts, to hop on a bus to Animal Kingdom. We arrived at the Animal Kingdom parking lot around 8pm. It wasn’t busy at all. We checked our bags without any wait and headed toward the pre-race festivities. There were several sets for photo opportunities including an airplane near a hangar, a wintery scene with a polar bear, a base camp, and a digital screen with Mount Everest that could be signed. The magic of Disney even provided gentle snow flurries to complete the setting. An emcee helped get everyone excited and warmed up with a fun mix of dance party music. I was grateful for the warm-up as the temperature was in the upper 60s with a breeze making it a bit chilly. The time finally came to move in to our corrals and get the final Expedition Everest Challenge underway.

Bursts of smoke signaled runners in each corral to begin their trek. It wasn’t long before corral D was up and we were on our way. The first mile was mostly the parking lot and quite boring. Luckily we were at our first obstacle, hurdling over bales of hay, pretty quickly. Just after the hay we entered Animal Kingdom and soon came to mile 2. Running through the park was a breeze! It reminded me of the old days when I used to run around the park to grab FASTPASSes for our family. Can I just say how much I love My Disney Experience and the new FastPass+? Anyway, there were a few character greets and some really neat inflatable fangs that were glowing a bluish color along the way. Next we were backstage, behind Expedition Everest and facing the second obstacle, an army crawl under a cargo net. It wasn’t difficult but it was harder than I thought. I really had to get low to fit underneath the net. My hubby skipped this one as his knee was hurting and it didn’t seem like a good idea. A few minutes later we began the third mile. It was quite boring with only a few random props sprinkled along the course. The final obstacle was running through tires. My husband, and every other runner, flew through them. My inner football star took charge and I attempted to quickstep through each tire like it was my job. Ha! I totally fell flat on my face. Thank goodness tires are made of rubber and I didn’t break anything. I bounced and looked like a complete klutz. Oh well. Just keep swimming, right? The finish line for the 5k wasn’t far off. We made it there before all of the corrals had even been released, which surprised me. A voluntEAR handed me clue #1 and a keychain with a flashlight and mini Sharpie on it. The first clue was tough. We spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out how many times at least 3 digits in a row will be the same on an analog watch in a 24 hour period. We got the obvious times 12:22, 1:11, 2:22, etc. right off the bat. The 11 o’clock times threw us off, but eventually we got the correct answer of 34 and were handed clue #2. This clue was a major mess up on the part of the writer and editor of the clues. There were not one, not two, but three mistakes on this clue card! It was a decoder wheel that would spell out a word when deciphered correctly. That was impossible. We felt really dumb because we just didn’t know what the word ‘carabinai’ was. Either we didn’t speak that language or we couldn’t count to 8. We finally asked a voluntEAR what in the world we were doing wrong. Turns out everyone was stumped because the word we were trying to decode was ‘carabineer’ but could not be solved due to the errors. On to clue #3 which we got in less than 30 seconds. It was almost too easy. The word ‘mountaineer’ was scrambled and divided in to groups of 3 letters which we had to unscramble. Done. Clue #4, again, too easy. This was one of those play on words/letters that you have to say all together in order to get the answer. Think Mad Gab. We got the answer, elevation, in less than a minute and were handed the final clue, #5. This was a word search and the words we needed to find were the answers to the previous clues. Each word had to be found multiple times and the remaining letters in the word search spelled out a message: “Go find the hidden Yeti on a clue card and hold it up at the finish.” My husband found the hidden Yeti on the front of clue #2 and off we ran.

Expedition EverestWith clue #2 held high, we crossed the finish line for the second time that night. We couldn’t believe it was over that quickly! Not that we were fast by any stretch, just that we were having so much fun. We got our golden compass finisher’s medals and post-race snacks, retrieved our checked bags, and entered Animal Kingdom for the third time. The 5k combined with the race for the clues turned in to about 6 miles by the time we made it to the after party! Being in Animal Kingdom at night was breathtaking. Seeing the Tree of Life and Expedition Everest lit up was just beautiful and a rare opportunity. We took our time wandering through the park and stopped for a few pictures. Of course the first thing we did was took the obligatory ride on Expedition Everest. This coaster in the dark is a completely different experience and so much fun! Next up was Kali River Rapids. We don’t typically ride Kali because we don’t like tromping through the park soaking wet, but I planned ahead. We stuffed our bags with a change of clothes into a locker, put on flip flops, and climbed aboard the raft. I mentioned the night was cool and breezy. Well, that water might as well have been a bucket of ice water and of course, it was dumped entirely over our heads. Instant shivers. I couldn’t have been more grateful to have dry clothes to change in to! By the time we got to DinoLand U.S.A. we were exhausted as it was already 1:30am. We lingered near the dance party and enjoyed a few treats before wrapping up the night with a ride on DINOSAUR. The party concluded at 2am and it was time to hike back to the bus.

Expedition Everest

We did it! We ran, we solved clues, we conquered Everest! What a fun night! Even though this was our first experience with the Expedition Everest Challenge, we were sad to see it end. Sure, there was a huge error in the clues and the race was basically ignored by social media, but overall it was an incredible time. Such a unique race deserves to be continued. I certainly hope runDisney decides to add another race with obstacles and puzzles to the line-up. Until then I’m going to practice my tire running skills, just in case!


Amy is a wife and mom of 4 kids, who loves all things Disney. She is a regular on the weekly episodes of the MouseQuest Podcast. Follow her on Twitter @uccats97.

Other posts by Amy:
Friday the 13th Villains #DisneySide @Home Celebration
A Ten Mile Run Through the Twilight Zone
Running Disney: Packing Tips and Ideas

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Review

Written by Marge Gerwels

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon12

“Join me and together we can run the galaxy”….or at least that is the line I used to convince my family to make the 2200 mile trek to Anaheim to participate in the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. After months of preparation, our 3-race whirlwind vacation seemed to be over in the blink of an eye! The three new medals that I have added to my collection are so awesome that they make my enormous post-vacation laundry pile seem not so bad! From the opening of the Health and Fitness Expo to the half marathon finish line—read on for my recap of this inaugural intergalactic event.

The weekend began on Thursday with the opening of the runDisney Health and Fitness expo. The expo opened at 10am and my sister and I decided that we were going to hit the official race merchandise section first. For the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I sent my parents to the expo two hours after opening so that they could snag me a Wine & Dine Half Marathon zippy sweatshirt. They were completely sold out—two hours after opening! I did not want to meet that same fate with this race. However, I suppose I never realized just how popular Star Wars really is. We arrived at 9:45am and had expected to wait in line—but not a line like this. We were persons #850 and #851. Evidently, the first people in line had arrived at 6:15 that morning. We were given color-coded wristbands which indicated our place in line and were then directed to a taped off section within a very large ballroom with the instructions that we could only leave to use the restroom. The line began moving at about 9:55, with each line allowed through the doors at 5 minute intervals. We waited about 40 minutes before it was finally our turn to go through the doors. Once through the doors we were taken through a hallway, down the stairs, and into the actual Health and Fitness Expo….where we were put into ANOTHER LINE! We waited in this line for about 45 minutes as they were only letting so many people into the merchandise “tent” at a time. We approached the entrance to the tent at 11:30 and got excited that it was finally our turn, but would you believe we were stopped right at the entrance? I begged the guy working the entrance to let my sister and I go through—we had dining reservations at 1140 at Blue Bayou and I knew that if we did not get into the tent at that very moment there would be NO WAY we would make it. The guy was very sympathetic and let us through. Thankfully, my sister and I had devised a plan of action while we were waiting in line, and in no time at all we had all the items we wanted and were checking out.

Couple of things about the merchandise tent: First, while the first day was really crowded, when I went back on Saturday there were only a few people shopping—so no line whatsoever AND it looked to me like all the items were still in stock. Second, I was disappointed that they did not have any 10K merchandise, no t-shirts, pins, or sweatshirts—very disappointing for those in our group who ran the 10K. Third, and this is just my personal opinion, it was really aggravating to see official race merchandise for sale on EBay while I was still waiting in line on Thursday. While I understand that some people make a living buying and reselling merchandise, it is often irritating to those of us who are actually running the races to not be able to buy commemorative items because the items have been snatched up for resale. I think runners should get first crack at all merchandise –maybe that first day of the Health and Fitness Expo could be reserved for participant sales. After that, everything can be fair game but at least those of us who are actually running the race can have the opportunity to buy items that commemorate our hard work.

The Health and Fitness Expo was held Thursday through Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel. There, guests could find various fitness related vendors, listen to guest speakers, and of course pick up race packets. We decided to pick up our packets mid-afternoon on Thursday to avoid the initial rush and beat the after work crowd. We had no problem at all picking up all of our packets. The lines were little to non-existent for the 5K, 10K, and Rebel Challenge packets and the race t-shirt pick up lines were also very short—that was a total plus for us since we had 9 packets to acquire!

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon3The Star Wars 5K began near ESPN Zone at 5:30am on Friday morning. My sister and I decided to be on the other side of the race this time and opted to be voluntEARS. The rest of our family did run this race and the group consisted of my mom, my dad, my husband and all five of my kids. There were three corrals for the 5K with the A corral starting at 5:30am and subsequent corrals staring at about 10 minute intervals. The 3.1-mile course went through both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. There were two drink stops along the course as well as several character photo-ops. I am told that the lines for the characters were really long and cast members were not allowing people to stop. That was a bit disappointing to my family since that was a big appeal of this event—especially for my boys. Despite that, my gang had a great time and they were so excited to receive their finisher’s medallions. I was assigned to the bag check area for the 5K and with a pretty good spot near the jumbotron, I was able to see them all cross the finish line!

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon13The 10K began bright and early on Saturday morning. The corrals were just a short walk from our Harbor Blvd hotel. Participating in this event with me were my husband, my sister, my dad, and my oldest son (14). Since our assigned corrals were different, we opted to start in corral “C” so that we could all run together. There were a total of 5 corrals (A-E) so that put us right in the middle of the pack. After the National Anthem and a surprise visit from C3PO and R2D2, the first corral was sent out on their way with subsequent corrals starting at about 5 minute intervals.

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon8The course was great. There were three “hills” right in the beginning, but after that we were on pretty flat ground. The course took us through Disneyland Park—which was incredible. The course did NOT take us through Sleeping Beauty Castle, but we did run past the front of it as we traveled down Main Street, U.S.A. Right around mile 2 we were able to get a group selfie with the castle in the background. The course took us through Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland and then around the outside of Disneyland Park. We then ran through Disney California Adventure and to the finish line located at the Disneyland Hotel.

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon9There were three water/Powerade stations on the course. There were several character stops also located throughout the course but, in my opinion, there were not enough. We stopped right around mile 2.5 because my son really wanted a picture with Chewbacca—something he missed out on the day before during the 5K. We waited in line for almost 30 minutes and nearly got swept because of the wait!! With our group at about 10:30/mile pace and starting in the middle of the pack, that shouldn’t have happened. My husband REALLY wanted a photo with Darth Vader, but we did not want to take the risk of stopping again…. And that line was TWICE as long! It was kind of a bummer because, again that is a big appeal of doing a runDisney race—character photo-ops. It would’ve been nice if those main characters had been available after the race so that we could’ve had our picture taken with them once we crossed the finish line. All in all, it was a great event. Nice course and beautiful scenery with the only downside being the lack of/lines for character photos.

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half Marathon10The ½ marathon began much in the same way as the 10k. We started promptly at 5:30am. For this race it was just my sister and I and we started in corral B. Once we crossed the “bib check” point for corrals A and B, runners were able to have their photo taken with..guess who…Chewbacca! That would’ve been nice the previous day. Anyways, since we were in corral B, we began our race at around 5:40. The first part of the course was very similar to the 10K course running through both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Upon leaving Disney California Adventure, we began our nearly 8.5 mile course through the streets of Anaheim. Now, I know that there are many runDisney enthusiasts who feel that Walt Disney World races are better than Disneyland races because the Disneyland races run through the city. I COMPLETELY disagree. I LOVE running through the streets of Anaheim. There was so much to look at to keep my sister and I distracted while running—much better than the vacant highway we run when at Walt Disney World. The best part was all of the local people that came out to cheer us on. There were local fans everywhere along the course–some offering us runners snacks and drinks (from their own homes) and all offering much appreciated words of encouragement. It was incredible to see such community support—especially since we runners had taken over their streets for several hours that morning. After making the loop on Harbor Blvd and down Katella Ave, we made our way to the Disneyland Hotel to the finish line.

There were 9 water/Powerade stations located on the course. Right around mile 8, Cliff Shots were available in various flavors. There were many, many groups of local folks who were handing out licorice, pretzels, oranges, bottles of water and even mints to runners too. There were more characters available along this course—although the line for Darth Vader was still too long.

02-05-2015 Star Wars Half MarathonAs a registered Rebel Challenge participant I received THREE race t-shirts, one for the 10k, the ½ marathon, and a special “Rebel Challenge” shirt—all were long sleeved ladies cut tech t-shirts and all had the word “inaugural” on them. I also received THREE medals—one each for the 10K and ½ marathon and then the third for completing the Rebel Challenge. They have made very nice additions to my race medal rack, although I will admit, I still have the Rebel Challenge one on my nightstand.

Overall, I think it was a pretty good race weekend. Aside from our little problem during the 10K and the lack of character photo opportunities during the 5K, the events were otherwise well planned and the courses well managed. The swag was pretty good and the finisher’s medals were nicely designed—although it was a little disappointing that the ½ marathon medal does not have “inaugural” engraved on it. I think I would definitely do this event again sometime, maybe when the boys are older and can both do the Rebel Challenge with me. I would certainly recommend this event to any runner who is also a Star Wars enthusiast. I am sure runDisney will make some interesting additions to next year’s event that will include aspects from the new movie that is set to be released later this year.

I’m little sad that the weekend seemed to come and go so quickly, especially since this will be my last runDisney race for a long while. I feel pretty lucky that I was able to be a part of this monumental event and what made it even better was being able to share it with my entire family. There is really nothing like running a Disney race with your loved ones by your side. Good luck to all those who are participating in upcoming runDisney events—May the Force be with you!

Girls Just Want to Have Fun!

Written by Kelly Collins

As the busy mom of four children, I’ve been lucky to be able to spend time with some of my best friends and rejuvenate my spirit. Over the years, I’ve joined some of my high school friends and my sisters for girls’ weekends. The fact that I live in New Hampshire and can get away to sunny Florida during the frigid winter is a real bonus. Historically, we’ve met at the beach and enjoyed walking, laughing and eating delectable food. There are usually some yummy beverages involved as well.

In 2012, my friend Charlene and I discussed participating in a runDisney 5K instead of meeting at the beach. We certainly knew that we could get in better shape, but the fact that we could run through a part of Walt Disney World Resort made it even more enticing. Charlene and I have spent a great deal of time with our husbands and then our children at Walt Disney World Resort through the years.

Several of us started the Couch-to-5K program to prepare for the 2013 Disney Royal Family 5K. We’d update one another through texts and tried to motivate each other. It was great to have a support system. Although I don’t really consider myself a runner, I did my best and improved my time. I was motivated because I was going to be attending my first 5K and I wanted to be ready.

A group of us met at Walt Disney World Resort in February 2013 to attend the 5K and have our girls’ weekend. Although it wasn’t my best time, I completed my first 5K!

Girls1Having had such a good experience in 2013, we decided to sign up for the 2014 Cinderella Royal Family 5K. I was able to convince my mom to come with me this time. I told her how impressed I was with the variation in ages the previous year. Although she wasn’t a runner, she was taking walks in her neighborhood almost daily. She was concerned about the being able to maintain the 16-minute per mile pace that runDisney recommends. I tried to reassure her that I didn’t think it would be a problem as she really walked at a decent pace. It’s just an opinion, but based on what I saw, I think that runDisney allows more time for the 5K than the half marathon or the 10K.

In February, I traveled to meet my mom where she lives North Florida and we drove down to Orlando together. We met Charlene and my sister at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. When we arrived, they greeted us with a glass of sparkling wine and cupcakes to start the festivities. Let girls’ weekend begin!

Girls2When we entered the Expo area, there was a wall with all of the participants of the events for the weekend. This was really a nice touch. It was fun to find our names amongst the sea of runners. We headed to pick up our race numbers, packets and shirts. This was really easy and there was no wait. After that, we explored the exhibitors’ booths where there was a plethora of running accessories. I was so impressed at how many women seemed to have businesses centered on running. I bought my mom some bling for her running shoes and a shirt for myself that said, “are my kids still chasing me?” There was so much to see and we could certainly have spent more time and money but decided to head to our resort.

Disney’s Old Key West Resort was perfect for our group. Charlene is a DVC member and had reserved a Grand Villa. Two more of my high school friends and a mutual friend joined us at the villa to get the party going. We decided to cook pasta and eat in so we could relax. We knew we would have to be up early so we didn’t stay up very late but were able to enjoy each other’s company for a little while.

Girls3That 4:30 a.m. wake-up call came very quickly. We were all up with our tiaras on and ready at the bus stop at about 5:00 a.m. If you’re interested in attending a runDisney event, I really recommend staying on property, as the traffic going into the race area gets very congested. We just hopped on the bus and bypassed the cars trying to get into Epcot’s parking lot.

A really fun thing about runDisney races is the costumes that you see. People are so creative and it always makes me wish that I were able to sew. As we were waiting for the race to start, we had lots of time to admire the various portrayals of characters. Loud music blared and that really pumped us up, which was necessary since it was so early.

Girls4We were in the last corral. Although I could have put myself in an earlier corral based on my time, the point of this experience wasn’t to beat my own record. It was to be present in this adventure with people that I cared about. I stayed in back with my mom, my friend who’s had two hip surgeries and our mutual friend. It wasn’t about making it to the finish line in record time; it was about starting the journey in the first place. We enjoyed chatting (and dancing) our way around Epcot’s World Showcase. There are stops along the way where you can have photos taken with different characters but the lines tend to be long, especially if you are in a later corral. We just really enjoyed ourselves. It was more fun than work.

Girls5The four of us ran across that finish line together arm-in-arm. No, we weren’t the fastest or even close to the front. Maybe we didn’t go a huge distance compared to many that weekend. From someone on the outside looking in, it may not have seemed like much. But, for us, it was an accomplishment. I was beside a grandmother of 15 grandchildren who was afraid she’d be swept from the race, a woman who’s body had betrayed her far too young, and a woman who’d just completed her first 5K. They were all winners to me!

Girls6After finishing, we met up to head back to Old Key West Resort. There was only a short wait for the bus. We showered and drove to Downtown Disney for a celebratory lunch. Going to Bongos is a tradition of ours so we went there and had some great food, beverages, and lots of laughs. For some, the weekend might continue with other races. For us, we were done with racing and just had fabulous, quality time together. This included a spa day, some retail therapy, and more delicious cuisine. We even made it out to Jellyrolls on Saturday night where we sang along to some silly songs and laughed… a lot.

We came together that weekend, united in love and friendship. We left feeling refreshed. We’d like to do this again sometime in the future. Unfortunately, the 2015 Disney Princess 5K sold out very quickly this year so we weren’t able to register for the upcoming race. 2015 may not be the year, but my personal goal is to participate in a 10K at some point. My mom has also had major health issues in the last two months so I look forward to eventually walking across another runDisney finish line with her. I’m hoping that this dream becomes a reality and am thankful that runDisney can give me the opportunity to make a wish come true. One thing is certain; we will continue to have fun together!

Kelly is a former Floridian who now lives in New Hampshire with her amazing husband, creative daughter and three busy sons. They have many happy memories of Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Wine & Dine - MaryBy: Marge Gerwels

It is hard to believe that Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon has come and gone. Despite the uncooperative weather, what has been dubbed “Disney’s Splash and Dash 2014” was truly an unforgettable experience. I had the privilege of running the inaugural Wine and Dine Half in 2010 and I was really excited to be back again this year, running with my husband and my dad, for the 5th anniversary race. While I know there were many times throughout the night they definitely wanted to throw in their running shoes, this event definitely made for some unforgettable family running memories!

Wine & Dine - NumberOur evening began around 7:45 pm. Runners were instructed to board the complimentary transportations busses no later than 8pm in order to make it into the coral on time. Usually, I like to board the race busses early so that I can not only allow enough time to get to the start line but also so that I can enjoy the prerace festivities and take a few photos. However, for this race, I was dragging my feet. The weather for race was predicted to be soggy and as the start time drew near, the chances of us getting soaked were 100%. As much as I enjoy running, I am a fair-weather runner so the thought of being drenched to the bone for 3 hours did not motivate me to lace up my running shoes any earlier than necessary. We decided that 7:45 would still give us plenty of time to get into our coral but not too much time that we were waiting around in the rain. My mom was definitely my hero that night, and not just because she volunteered to watch all five kids AND put them to bed on our first vacation night. She also packed along rain ponchos and gave us each one before we left the resort. I have never worn a poncho—ever—and I was uncertain if it would be wise to wear it while running (I am a firm believer in “nothing new on race day”). However, I knew for certain it would be a lifesaver if the rain started while waiting for the race to begin.Wine & Dine - Weather

Like I said, we headed for the bus around 7:45pm. It was very easy to find the race transportation area at our resort and we were very lucky that there was a bus already waiting for us when we arrived. We waited only a short time while the bus filled with other anxious runners and then we were off to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It was a relaxing ride and a great opportunity to interact with fellow runDisney enthusiasts. I must say, I am certainly glad someone else was doing the driving since traffic was quite heavy and stop-and-go the whole way. I just sat back in my comfy seat while someone carted ME around for a change. Before long, we had arrived at our destination and after a quick photo in front of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon photo spot we made our way to the pre-race waiting area.

Wine & Dine FireworksThe waiting area was a great place to hang out before the run. After checking our bag at the gEAR check area, we found a grassy spot near the potable restrooms to sit and enjoy the prerace entertainment as well as marvel at all of the creative costumes. The best costume BY FAR was the lady dressed as a Dole Whip. I tried to stop her to get a photo, but I lost her in the crowd. She looked incredible! Lucky for us, the rain held off during this waiting time and that made for a really enjoyable evening. However, just as the DJs made the announcement that everyone was to head to the start line, the rain began. Luckily, we had our ponchos with us and we put them on as we made our way to the corral. At this point I had decided that I was going to violate my “nothing new” rule and wear the plastic as long as I could tolerate. With the rain moving in quickly and the temperature dropping, I figured I would save myself as long as I could. I was assigned corral E but I decided to drop back to corral G so that I could run along side my husband and my dad. It was very easy to get into the corrals and before we knew it the first set of fireworks illuminated the night sky signaling the start of the race. The time between the start of corrals was really short—about 5 minutes between A and B and about a minute between subsequent corrals. This was both good and bad. Good because as the rain continued to fall, we were all anxious to get moving but bad because with the corrals starting so close together, it made for congested road conditions those first few miles

Wine & Dine - Toy StoryThe course took us from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to Osceola Parkway to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. We entered the park around mile 3.5 and ran through Asia and Africa, around the Tree of Life, past Dinoland and finally exiting before mile 5. We were then back on Osceola Parkway, splashing our way towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This 2-mile stretch through the park was probably my favorite part of the race, aside from the finish line, of course. The course took us past The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, through Pixar Place, past Toy Story Midway Mania, and through the Costuming Tunnel. We then made our way through the Streets of America and marveled at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights—INCREDIBLE!! We then ran past Star Tours and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular towards the front of the park and then made our way towards EPCOT (and the finish line), running past Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort along the way. The finish line was located just outside of EPCOT and the only thing that was more welcomed than the finisher’s medal was the runDisney space blanket I was given!

I really enjoyed this event. I know many people have complained about the lack of on course entertainment—but due to the weather, I can see why it was lacking. Disney can’t control everything and the safety of their employees is a definite priority. There have also been some grumbles about the medal falling apart. I did not have that problem but my husband’s did break the next day while we were at EPCOT. He just decided to superglue his back together. However, if you are one of the unfortunate ones whose medal broke, you can contact runDisney for a replacement.

I thought the race overall was managed very well—especially when compared to the inaugural race in 2010. The course was well lit and the finish line area moved very quickly and orderly. My only complaint would be that the post race transportation busses were too far from the finish line. While I completely understand the location, I was cold, wet, and tired and it seemed like it took us FOREVER to get on that bus. As for wearing the poncho during the race, total mixed review on that one. It kept me almost completely dry during the race (plus) but it tried to kill me twice, once by suffocation and once by strangulation, during the night (definite minus!). Since the…ahem…problems occurred at middle and near the end of the race, I don’t think it was simply an issue with “something new”. I was very thankful to have had it, but I am not sure that I would run while wearing a poncho in the future.

I think they made some really great improvements to both the course and finish line and the finish line drinks were a great addition (been, wine, or soda) as was the $10 Disney gift card given to participants. I would definitely do this race again someday. I just have to wait for my husband to forget the pain of this race before I spring the next one on him.

Marge is an avid runner who resides in Northern Indiana with her husband and wonderful children. You can follow Marge on Twitter @RNawayMama.

A Ten Mile Run Through the Twilight Zone

Written by Amy Bechtol

If you are reading this blog post, you probably love Disney. I certainly do! In fact, I love Disney so much, I’m actually willing to spend countless hours running and training just for another excuse to visit Walt Disney World. In 2013, I ran the 5th anniversary Disney Princess Half Marathon. It was such an amazing experience! I knew I needed to try more runDisney races.
That’s right, my love for Disney inspired me to run another runDisney race, but which one? While I have taken countless trips to Disney, I’ve never been able to visit in the fall. October brings many special events to Walt Disney World: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Ten-Miler (ToT). I knew this was the perfect opportunity to try some new experiences and run another race!

 I convinced my husband and dad to take the plunge and run their first official races at Disney. I kept telling them how much fun they would have and what to expect. They had no idea what they were getting in to and they were impressed with what they experienced! My husband, ¾ of my kids (the oldest is away at OSU), my parents and I traveled to Walt Disney World to set off on our latest adventure.

 The 3rd annual Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Ten-Miler was held on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. I was actually very nervous about running 10 miles despite already running a half marathon. Mostly because the Princess half was held in nice, cool February and the Tower of Terror is held in hot, humid October. My training for the ToT was completely different than it was for the Princess. I spent 19 weeks following the Jeff Galloway training program, in the heat of the summer, to be as prepared as possible. It was so hard to push through those long, hot runs, but with a trip to Disney as my motivation, I did what I had to do. To my surprise, and delight, the weather at race time was absolutely perfect. Even though there were emailed warnings of expected torrential downpours, there wasn’t a single drop of rain. The temperature at race time was in the low 70s which was about as good as it gets.

 10-28-14 Swag BagPart of the fun of running Disney is dressing up. The Tower of Terror 10-Miler is a villain-themed race but we decided to go with Toy Story costumes. I was Jessie, my husband was Buzz Lightyear and my dad was Woody. We were so cute! We took the bus from Port Orleans Riverside to the parking lot of Hollywood Studios. After leaving our bags at bag check, taking a few pictures and a last minute bathroom break, we sat down and just enjoyed people watching. I loved everyone’s costumes! There was a dance party going on with lots of upbeat music, but we decided to conserve our energy. After all, we had already spent the entire day at Animal Kingdom and we needed a breather.

 We decided to move in to our corrals at about 9pm. I had submitted my time from the Princess and was assigned to corral E. I didn’t want to run without my hubby and dad, so I dropped back to corral G with them. It wasn’t long before we began the hike to the starting line. At exactly 10pm the first wave of fireworks were launched and the race was on. About ten minutes later it was our turn. Corral G fireworks exploded and we were off, careful to avoid the speed bumps just steps into the race, as we were reminded no less than twenty times! We immediately were transported into The Twilight Zone!

10-28-14 Characters2Ten miles goes by so fast when you are surrounded by on-course entertainment. There were all kinds of things to distract our minds. Villains, including Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, the hyenas from The Lion King, Captain Hook, Dr. Facillier, Jack Skellington and Sally were positioned at each mile. We only stopped for a picture with Jack and Sally, but I did get pictures of total strangers with each character. The grave diggers and zombies were amazing and I regret not waiting line for those photo ops.

10-28-14 SkeletonsMy husband’s favorite part was running around the warning track of the baseball field at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There was even a team of skeletons, complete with baseball gloves, in their positions on the field. I thought the trail run portion through the woods was awesome. Spiders, bugs and other creatures dangled from the moss covered trees, spooky music was playing, and a perfectly timed near-full moon shone down from above and cast eerie shadows through the fog. Wow!
10-28-14 HadesMy dad got a kick out of Hades. He was positioned above the race course at the entrance to Hollywood Studios. Along with giant fireballs blasting into the air, Hades hurled wisecrack insults at runners as they passed under him. “Hey, you. You’re number 5,796. You didn’t win.” “Don’t you know this is a race? Start running!” He was quite an entertainer!

Unfortunately, I suffered a knee injury at mile 8 which slowed us down immensely. Darn exit ramps and their slanted inclines and declines! It was all I could do to push through the pain and tough out the last two miles. My husband and dad were great supporters and stuck with me, even though I had to walk a lot. The last mile seemed to stretch forever. Thank goodness we got to run on the Backlot and through Lights, Motors, Action to keep our minds occupied. Lots of cheerleaders lined Hollywood Studios, clapping and encouraging us to keep going. Finally, we reached the finish line, heard our names announced and received our hard earned medals!

After trekking what seemed like another ten miles, we reached the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular stage to claim our bags. We then dragged ourselves over to the changing area and got in to our post-race clothes. We finally got to sit down at a table and chow on our yummy box of snacks that we were given at the end of the race. We were all pretty hungry and tired. Even though we were exhausted, I told my hubby and dad we had to ride at least a few rides before calling it a night. This was the Villain’s Hollywood Bash, after all! Our first stop was at Toy Story Midway Mania. The posted wait time was 50 minutes but it only took us about 20 minutes total. The night wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the namesake of the race, The Tower of Terror! My dad decided he’d had enough and kept our bags while my husband and I got in line. To my surprise, the wait time was posted at 10 minutes and the actual wait was less than that. Riding the Tower of Terror while sporting our super cute glow in the dark Hollywood Tower Hotel medals put a smile on my face. I felt so proud, excited and lucky to be in that very moment after planning for eight months and training for four of them.

10-28-14 Medal

I already knew how magical a runDisney event was. My husband and dad quickly understood what I had been telling them. They both agreed the Tower of Terror Ten-Miler exceeded their expectations. Perhaps the only thing better than receiving my medal was hearing my hubby and dad tell me they want to come back and run Disney again. Mission, accomplished!

Amy is a wife and mom of 4 kids, who loves all things Disney. She is a regular on the weekly episodes of the MouseQuest Podcast. Follow her on Twitter @uccats97.

Seven Tips to runDisney

Written By: Patty Holliday

If you stick around my blog for a while you’ll quickly learn that I love racing at Disney.

Castles? Check.

Characters? Check.

Costumes? Check.


What’s not to love, right?

I’ve put together a few tips for readers interested in running their first race at Walt Disney World or Disneyland.

  1. Pick your distance. The runDisney events cover distances for all levels of runners.   There are 5ks (3.1 miles), 10Ks (6.2 miles), Half Marathons (13.1 miles) and even a Full Marathon (26.2 miles). All of the races will include running through one or more of the Disney parks. They even offer options for the kids from a diaper dash to a mile fun run! Every mile is indeed magical!
  1. Realize that ALL runDisney races sell out- and sell out fast! Your first training “run” will be a sprint to the registration website. In recent years the popularity of runDisney means that races will sell out in minutes. It’s important to be familiar with the runDisney registration schedule by following along with rundisney.com or @rundisney on Twitter.


  1. Running Disney is NOT cheap. The races, the resorts, the food, the park tickets (no, they are not included in race registration!) will quickly add up to an expensive racecation. I’d suggest budgeting and planning in advance so your pixie dusted trip doesn’t come as a shock to the ol’ Disney Visa!
  1. There are pace requirements. Since the Disney Parks will need to open up to non-running guests at normal business operating hours, the roads and parks must be cleared of runners.   A generous 16 minute mile pace must be kept in order to remain on the course. Any runner falling behind that pace will be removed from the course at certain points referred to as “sweep” points.3

To help runners out, pacers carrying balloons, known as the Balloon Ladies, will be a visual cue as to when you are in danger of being swept. If you see them pass you, you are in danger of being removed from the course.

  1. The medals are GORGEOUS. Enough said.4
  1. The runDisney community is welcoming, encouraging, and supportive. I’ve made some of the best friends of my life through races at Disney! Get involved in Facebook or Twitter discussions and you will find a world of Disney fanatics that speak your language!
  1. Have FUN. These races are not known as serious PR events. You certainly CAN get a PR at a runDisney race as the courses are generally flat and fast. But it doesn’t often happen.   Why? They tend to be pretty crowded AND offer lots of distractions. Can you really pass up your chance to take a picture with this handsome guy on the course?5

I hope this helps you plan your next runDisney event. If you have any more questions feel free to share them in comments and maybe we will cover them on an upcoming podcast!

Patty Holliday is a 40-year-old mother runner, married to a (mostly) perfect guy. Learning to love running one step at a time. It’s not working. But runDisney helps.   She is a work at home mom and blogs at My No-Guilt Life.