Active Gear Life's Guide to runDisney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
If you know me very well, you know there's not much I love more than fitness, a good Halloween costume, wine, and Disney World. So if you offer me the chance to bundle all four of those things into one weekend, I am SO there! I somehow roped my good friend Paige into a girl's trip and decided to become a runner with a little Disney magic as motivation.
In the months leading up to Wine & Dine weekend, I spent so much time pouring over blogs, reddit, and Facebook groups I thought I should piece together how it went, what I learned, and what I'll do differently in the future to save you the trouble!
First off, the most important part: the costume! I may or may not have spent more time figuring out my costume than actually training for the race. Of course I decided to go as Belle, and it was actually very easy to throw together with ZYIA I already had. I paired the Yellow Mesh Racer Tank with the Daffodil Mesh Light n Tights, and of course went with my trusty Mesh Adjustable Bra. For the skirt, I cut yellow tulle from Hobby Lobby into 24" strips and looped it around a running belt I already had.
Unfortunately Brooks didn't have any yellow Glycerins at the time, so I wore my trusty Plum Glycerin 17s (but if there's ever a Disney x Brooks collab, you can go ahead and take all my dollars.)
Add a yellow scrunchy and you're good to go!
We planned to arrive at MCO on Saturday morning, and headed straight to the Expo after being dropped off at our resort.
Most of the"fun stuff" at the Expo happens on Friday, but we still got to grab a snack and browse through some of the vendors and merch after picking up our bibs and shirts. After checking in to our room, we headed to Disney Springs to carb load at Maria and Enzo's Ristorante (hello best lasagna ever!) We then ended our night early with a glass of wine at Mardi Grogs where Shelley sent us off with good luck wishes and Mickey Pretzels!
Every piece of advice I read before race weekend said get on the first bus. So I'll say it again, get on the first bus! We left our room early to be in line by 2:45 am and made it onto the first bus (did I mention it was Daylight Savings Time? I'm sure you can imagine just how calculating setting an alarm went...) Luckily our commute was short from Port Orleans French Quarter, and we made it to the drop off point fairly quickly. Because we had to get on the bus so early, I had eaten breakfast and had coffee in the room, but looking back I would have brought it on the bus to get a few more minutes of precious sleep.
We breezed through security (note, they will check every bag-check bag you bring PLUS your running belt/fanny pack.) I only had my running belt with fuel and phone, and Paige wore pocket capris, so she got to skip it altogether.
Another upside to getting there early? Short photo lines! Mickey and Minnie were out in their Patriotic attire, and Donald, Pluto, and Goofy were in their checkered Chef Mickey outfits. We were able to get a photo with Mickey and Minnie within 10 minutes due to a very short line. By the time we got out of line, the line for the mouse had an "end of the line starts here" cast member, and the other lines were growing longer. We skipped Donald, as most people were going in order, and hopped in the line for Pluto and then Goofy to burn another 30 or so minutes. Quick stop to the port-a-potties and then it was time to head to our corrals!
Even though it was pretty warm on our race day, it did get pretty chilly hanging out in the corrals. All of the pre-race activities take place in an open parking lot (Magic Kingdom for the 2019 Wine & Dine Half.) When you're in line for photos or the restrooms with hundreds of other people you don't notice the wind, but we definitely did when we were all just sitting on the pavement waiting for start time.
I'm not one to ditch any of my precious ZYIA at the start line, so we toughed it out in our tanks and just dealt with the wind. That's probably not an option so much if you're running Marathon or Princess weekends in January or February. Many people hit up their local thrift stores before race day and buy a zip up hoodie or warm-up pants to wear over their running gear, and toss it along the course when they get too hot.
One of the best things I saw were those who had gone to a dollar store and bought cheap fleece blankets. Not only will those fleece blankets keep your costs down, but they will also be donated when you ditch them. All items that runners ditch in the corrals are gathered up and laundered by Disney's Textile Services and then donated to local charities.
Something new I learned: if you use a Mylar blanket to stay warm, you cannot take it into the start chute with you because the material prevents your timing chip from working!
Disney does on-course entertainment right, and there were tons of photo ops and character stops along the way. I was nervous about staying on pace, so we skipped several of the first stops, including Louie from Princess and the Frog and Mary Poppins.
After making it to Animal Kingdom around mile 4, I felt pretty confident about our progress and we began walking more and stopping for photos. Inside the parks, there are tons of easy-to-spot PhotoPass Photographers to snap excellent quality race photos of you with amazing park back drops! They are dressed in their typical khaki attire, but are sitting inside or in front of a lime green pop up tent to shield them from the elements. This makes them super easy to spy and give you enough time to safely get over for a photo. (PLEASE signal that you are slowing down or moving to the side for a photo so you don't trip up other runners behind you!)
Although there wasn't a PhotoPass Photographer there, we stopped at the Tree of Life for a quick, not-crowded picture. Flick (A Bug's Life) and Kevin (UP!) were nearby for photos, but had pretty long lines so we decided to keep moving.
Baloo was stationed outside of Animal Kingdom before more high way running, so we stopped and downed some HoneyStinger Chews in line for his photo. Between mile 5 and 10, you are mostly on parking lots and roads. There were still several character stops along the way (Vacation Donald and Tow Mater are two I remember seeing), but in order to conserve energy and stay on pace we dropped in line with some of the Jeff Galloway pacers and did some run/walk intervals for a bit.
Coming into Hollywood Studios, the Beast had a nice photo op with the stained glass backdrop. Of course, being dressed as Belle, I had to stop for this one! The course only does a quick cut into Hollywood Studios near Fantasmic and down Hollywood Boulevard, and before heading back out again towards the resorts between HS and Epcot.
ChEAR Squad lined the Boardwalk with some incredible signs before you loop around in the International Gateway into Epcot's World Showcase. It looked to us like many of the characters were on break as we were running through, however there were lots of PhotoPass Photographers along the course in the World Showcase.
The last half-mile takes you out the the Epcot Parking area, with one last rare character before the finish (the Big Bad Wolf in our case! I was very surprised by that one!)
We crossed the finish line in just under 3 hours, which is right on target for where I wanted to be! Looking back, we totally had enough cushion to hit a few more character stops. However, we were hot, tired, and beyond ready for showers and naps, so we had a quick snack and headed to the bus back to the resort.
One of the things that sets the Wine & Dine Half apart from other runDisney events is the Post Race Party! Think of it as late-night admission to Epcot included in your race fee! 2019 had specialty drinks (which we skipped in favor of hitting the Food & Wine Kiosks) and some rare character meets. Although you can get into Epcot at 5pm, the party didn't officially kick off until 10pm and we. were. exhausted.
We managed to stay awake to watch the fireworks and hop in line for a photo with Mushu, but were pretty much over it and ready for bed by the time the party was just getting started.
Next time my plan is to stay awake longer after the race, and nap later into the afternoon.
And although it doesn't have much to do with the race, if you're making the trip to Orlando to attend a runDisney event, you have to make room for at least a few days to hit up the parks! I honestly don't understand how some people jump on a plane a few hours after their half marathon. We spent the next two days exploring the parks, trying to keep moving and work out some muscle soreness. There were times I didn't think my legs would work enough to get off of Space Mountain.
We spent Monday at Magic Kingdom from rope drop to close and managed to hit up almost every ride thanks to Fast Pass+ and even managed to squeeze in an amazing dinner at Jungle Navigation Co LTD Skipper Canteen and a few more repeats of our favorite rides.
If you don't think you need active wear for a day at Disney, you're wrong! We managed to get soaked on Splash Mountain first thing that morning, so I was super thankful for quick-drying ZYIA. Plus, you basically do another thirteen miles of walking trekking across the park, so avoiding chafing is another huge win for the ZYIA Attire! Paige sported the Classic V Neck Tee in Olive (now discontinued) with the Black Reflective Light n Tights and I wore the Black Twist Tank and Plum Mesh Energy Shorts.
Tuesday we had nearly a full day before our flight, so we headed out to Animal Kingdom for a little more exploring! Paige is in the Fuchsia Seamless Tank, Coral All Star Bra, and Navy Pocket Light in Tight, and I wore the Quetzal Green Mesh Tank and Wine Pocket Light n Tights. We decided to brave the Kali River Rapids ride (considering our experience on Splash Mountain the day before) and again I was glad for sweat wicking and fast drying clothes. Plus, you never know how badly you needed pockets in your leggings until you are able to carry everything you need for a day in them. Paige lucked out again with skipping the bag check thanks to her pocket capris!
I'm getting ready for the 2020 runDisney Princess Half Marathon (February 23rd), so I'll be providing updates soon to share what else I've learned!