runDisney: Walt Disney World vs. Disneyland Resort

Now… I am no expert, but there are five main differences between Walt Disney World (WDW) and the Disneyland Resort (DLR) that you need to know before you plan a racecation! I have run two races at WDW and just completed the Dumbo Double Dare in DLR!

  1. Castles – As a Florida native, I am used to turning down main street in Magic Kingdom and being overwhelmed with Cinderella’s Castle.  When we turned down Main Street in Disneyland, I could barely see the castle.  It’s not any less special or magical, but I’m glad someone prepared me for the difference in the castles.
  2. Distance – the distance from a Good Neighbor hotel to the start line in DLR is under one mile.  Due to sheer landmass, DLR offers less walking to get to the start line. I read somewhere in my planning that the Disneyland Resort is 700 acres – compared to 25,000 at Walt Disney World!
  3. Fireworks – Likely due to the drought, DLR doesn’t offer a fireworks display for every start. They did a small amount of fireworks during the National Anthem for the Half Marathon, but nothing near like the display of fireworks that announces every corral in WDW.  Another possible reason, keeping #2 in mind, is the proximity to the hotels on resort property. While the majority of the guests were likely runners, there are still people that would like to sleep at 5:30am!
  4. Weather – With a low of 70, a high of 89 and humidity of… well less than Florida, the weather at DLR was perfect for those of us from hotter weather.  I met a woman on the shuttle one morning who was from Washington State… she wasn’t as excited about the weather.  So it is relative to where you are from, but we were thrilled for the weather! In light of this, if you are coming from warmer weather and plan to stay in the park during the evening, bring a light jacket and store it in a locker!  You will thank me!
  5. Expo – because the WDW expo is held in an ‘arena’ it is not likely that they would hit the fire code max for the building. Therefore you may be in a sea of people, but you won’t be held back from merchandise. At DLR, the expo is held in a huge hotel ballroom and the fire code max is lower. Therefore there is a line for official merchandise that can get long. My recommendation is to get there early and go get your merchandise before you get your bib. Your bib will be there after you’ve done your shopping!

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