Disney truly is the happiest place on earth. Even when you’re running 13 miles. I know from experience. Huffing and puffing through mile five, instead of being miserable, was actually magical because of the glitter and lights of Cinderella’s castle.
But all those magic miles come at a price. It’s a price thousands of people are willing to pay each year. And you might be too. But it helps to know just how much you’ll really spend to enjoy a runDisney weekend.
Your biggest expenses will be:
3- Park passes
Because you can’t just go to Disney, run a race and go home. You’ll want to take in the sights, visit the parks and maybe pick up some rose gold Minnie Mouse ears. 😍
The registration fees vary depending on the race you’re planning to run. The longer the race, the more money you’ll pay. Here are the currently posted prices for runDisney marathon weekend (*there will be additional fees with each registration):
5K (3.1 Miles): $87
10K (6.2 Miles): $127
Half Marathon (13.1 Miles): $188
Marathon (26.2 Miles): $190
And as if one race just isn’t enough… there are lots of crazy brave people who take on multiple races over the course of the four day weekend. If you complete the half marathon AND full marathon, it’s called the Goofy Challenge. And if you complete ALL FOUR races, the 5K, 10K, half and full marathon, it’s called the Dopey Challenge. If you plan to do either of those, there are separate, pricey registrations:
Goofy’s Race & A Half Challenge (39.3 Miles): $385
Dopey Challenge (48.6 Miles): $590
If you’re interested in a runDisney event, you should check out the links above NOW, and find out when registration opens and mark your calendar.
The sooner you register, the better because runDisney races sell out.
What you get for the registration fee
If you’re a race veteran you might have already signed up for races in the past based on the experience and the swag you get. And the runDisney experience is pretty cool. Mostly because well, you’re at Disney!
Depending on the length of your race you’ll get to run through at least one park. And marathon runners get to be inside the parks when they open and lots of people stop to ride rides, buy souvenirs, even get a margarita!
You’ll also see plenty of Disney characters along the route that you can stop and take photos with. But be prepared to halt your race to wait in line for these photo ops.
If you don’t care to pose with a character but do want a pic of you on your epic run, smile for the camera any time you see a green tent. That’s a Disney photographer snapping away. You will have the opportunity to buy those photos later individually or as a whole pack. If you’re already a Disney annual pass holder you automatically get all those photos for free!
Veteran Tip: Have your phone handy (and not tucked deep in your running belt) because you will want to take photos and video all through the amazing experience.
Two more things you need to know about your runDisney location…
You’re going to be getting up SUPER early, and it will likely be COLD. So dress accordingly.
For the half marathon that starts at
Veteran Tip: Go to a thrift store and buy a warm sweatshirt, jacket, sweatpants, or all three and bundle up so you won’t freeze while you’re waiting in your starting corral. And just before you take off, or whenever you get warm enough, take those layers off and chuck them to the side of the race course. They will be picked up and donated to charity.
You’ll get a big, fat beautiful medal with a Disney character on it. And if you sign up for the Goofy or Dopey Challenges, you get a medal for each race PLUS the challenge medals. So people who take the leap and do all four races, walk (or limp) home with six medals!
You also get a sweet shirt for each race, that you’ll want to wear proudly pretty much every day after your race.
Veteran Tip: Wear your race shirt and/or medal while you visit the park after your race. Everyone will congratulate you!
Your bib will be personalized with your name on it. It will definitely be one that you will want to keep forever.
Veteran Tip: Take a nice clear photo of your bib before it gets all worn out during the race. After the race, you can turn it into a variety of photo keepsakes on websites like Shutterfly.
After the race, you can download a finisher’s certificate that shows your race time. Since I did not think ahead and take a good photo of my bib before the race, I used the certificate to make a photo mug.
You can also use your certificate, bib, medal and other keepsakes to make a cool shadowbox commemorating your runDisney experience.
If you’re coming from out of town, you’ll have to decide whether to stay on Disney property or off-site.
Staying at a Disney resort or hotel will be more expensive. You can expect to pay at least $150 a night. But it has its perks, including free transportation to the race site. Be sure to catch the bus early though, because thousands of other people are taking the same buses.
There are tons of off-site apartments, condos and even full houses you can rent that will be a little more affordable. Depending on the type of place you’re looking for, you can likely find a rental for way under $100 a night. But the drawback is you will need to get to the race site on your own. Unless you’re an annual pass holder, Disney parking is $25 per car.
Veteran Tip: Running Disney is a blast with friends and you can split the lodging and parking fees!
runDisney registration does NOT include park admission. And aside from the full marathon, the parks aren’t open yet at the time of the race. So if you want to spend any time actually enjoying the parks, you’ll need to buy passes.
A basic park pass will cost around $109 per day and will decrease from there if you add on multiple days. There are discounts and special packages for Florida residents.
Veteran Tip: I waited until just a few weeks before January’s runDisney marathon weekend to buy my park tickets and nabbed a 3-day Florida resident ticket for just $175.
You gotta eat! And before and after a big race, you want to make sure you’re fueling properly. The money you spend on food can vary widely depending on where you’re staying and your plans.
If you’re going to be spending time at the parks before your race, book a restaurant reservation the night before so you can get a good meal with lots of carbs. Plan to spend at least $40-$50 per person. If you’re staying off-site, pack ingredients to cook a big pasta dinner in your rental kitchen.
You’ll want to plan for a potentially pricey meal after your race too if you’re going to the parks. You’ll be hungry and tired, so it’s good to make a restaurant reservation so you can sit down, replenish and talk about the amazing thing you just accomplished.
For all the meals in between, you’ll also need a good chunk of change. My family usually packs snacks and bagels to eat for lunch at the parks, then we spend money on a nice dinner. You can read more about general Disney savings in this article.
Veteran Tip: After the race, they give you a food box with snacks like a granola bar and chips and cheese dip. If you want something more substantial to refill your tank, tuck cash or a credit/debit card in your running pouch to buy food. I bought a $7 egg and cheese bagel sandwich and it tasted like the best thing in the world at the time. 🙂 They also sold $17 glasses of champagne if you want to toast your victory.
Name me one person who has ever left Disney without buying souvenirs and I will bow down to them and their steely willpower. Unless that person is you, budget for souvenirs AND running gear.
Before the race you’ll need to pick up your bib and t-shirt at the runDisney Expo, and holy booths Batman!.. there is so much stuff you’re going to want to buy.
The expo is a giant room packed with vendors selling the best running socks, shoes, headbands, shirts, supplements, gels and sparkly running skirts you’ve ever seen.
And that’s not all. There’s a whole separate building with the official runDisney gear you didn’t even know yet that you couldn’t live without. That’s where you can get the I DID IT! 13.1 car magnet and Tervis cups and coffee mugs and t-shirts and pullovers. If all this gets you excited (like it does me) expect to drop a couple hundred dollars at the expo alone.
Taking all the above information into account, here is an example runDisney budget based on what I spent running the half marathon in January:
Registration & Fees: $200
Lodging & Parking: $250
Park Passes $185
Souvenirs & Expo Running Gear: $150
Total Cost: $935
Ways To Save Money
Don’t let these numbers dissuade you if you have your heart set on a runDisney event but just can’t swing these prices. There are ways to pare this down:
Split the cost of apartment rental and parking with friends
Skip additional trips to the park
Cook all your meals in your rental kitchen and pack snacks
Limit souvenirs, set a budget for the expo
If you take these cost-cutting measures, you can get the runDisney experience for around $500.
If your dream is to experience a runDisney event, save up, budget, and go for it! It’s an experience like no other!