Walt Disney World 5k: I Didn’t Expect THIS During The Race

Day 1 of the Dopey Challenge. At the starting line for the 5k.

Ever sign up for a race, without being fully prepared for what’s in store? That’s what happened to me at the Run Disney 5k – part of the RunDisney Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida. It’s also the first race of a 4 day challenge called “The Dopey Challenge”. (more about the Dopey Challenge in an upcoming blog)

Entering the Magic Kingdom

As we entered the Magic Kingdom, nothing can really prepare you for the first glimpse of the iconic welcome sign. Seriously, all the feels! I was swamped with the emotion of what’s ahead, combined with the excitement for the memories to be made.

We made our way to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex for the Race Expo, and packet pickup. Let me tell you, I had NEVER been to a fitness expo quite like this! Vendors. Samples. Disney-Magic!

The RunDisney Expo is something to behold!
After packet pickup, we headed to our car, and went back to our place to rest up for the race

Thursday Morning

The alarm rang at 3am. Crazy enough, that’s not early for me, as my normal daily alarm rings at 2:45. Forecast was a touch on the cool side, so I grabbed my Saucony running jacket, laced up my Hoka running shoes, and was off to make a memory.

We headed to the “runner drop-off area”. Considering it was near 4:15 in the morning, everything was very well marked. Signs made it easy to navigate, and the volunteers were super friendly. DeWayne and Tony, two friends who embarked on this adventure with me, and I sat in the car to try and stay “warm”. Now, being a guy from Michigan, a temp of 55 in January was very comfy. But, when you’re standing around for 2 hours, it does get chilly. (Tommy tip: pack large garbage bags. Cut a hole in the bottom, and slide your head through it. Wear it as you wait for the race to begin. It locks in the heat)

I surely didn’t expect to run with Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, and Snow White!

I made my way to the coral area, and was greeted by runners not dressed as, “typical runners”, but as Disney characters. I surely didn’t expect to run with Elsa, Buzz Lightyear, and Snow White. This was a surprise to me! Perfect proof that this is designed to be a FUN 5k. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED seeing the costumes, and experiencing the vibes in the coral, I just never thought a starting line could be so FUN!

RunDisney does a fantastic job pumping up the crowd. There’s music playing, announcers playing the part of a “hype-man”, (I seriously want this job!) and every time that a wave of runners is released onto the course, they shoot off fireworks. That’ll put a little Zip a dee doo dah in your pre-sunrise activities.

The 5k Race

The 5K is a fun race for everyone, great for adults, kids and teens—from beginners to veteran runners and every level in between!


I failed to mention that I signed up for the Dopey challenge in December. Yes, 1 month before the actual Marathon weekend. That said, I was placed into the last coral for every race. Not a big deal, but it did make a difference for me. Why? Because when I crossed the timing mat, I was surrounded by people walking the 5k. Please hear my heart on this, walking a 5k is 100% acceptable, and totally fine! My wife is one tough mama, and rocks out a very brisk walking pace! I just didn’t want to be “that guy” and spend time weaving in and out of people, and making them feel “less than”. (I hope that just made sense) The runners were amazing on the course. Nobody gave me a harsh look, (as far as I know) and we all cheered and laughed with each other.

Running around Epcot before the sunrise is something I will never forget!

I love how Disney makes this a true “experience” race. Every 1/2 mile, there is some kind of activity, or character, to entertain you. There are lots of photo-ops with the characters, so make sure you bring your phone/camera with you. Just make sure that you shoot the video “the correct way”! I will share this video with you, although I shot it sideways.

Sorry for the sideways video. But I think it’s worth viewing.

Normally, I run races and watch my pace. This race, was all about having fun. I did have the timer on my watch going, I just didn’t set out to make it all about the “finishing time”. I made it all about the “memory time”.

As I came across the finish line, I never thought that there would be such a large medal at a 5k race. But, this is Disney!

Again, sorry for the sideways video. But, I had to show you the medal, and the awesome volunteers! (always remember to thank them for their time!)

You will LOVE the Walt Disney World 5k. Every runner receives:

  • 5K Finisher Medal
  • On-Course and Post-Race Refreshments

  • Participant Shirt –
  • Personalized Race Bib
  • Virtual Goody Bag
  • Downloadable Finisher Certificate

Feel free to subscribe to my blog, and drop a comment. In my next blog, I will detail the Walt Disney World 10K. Til then, keep making a difference, and Run By Faith!

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