Walt Disney World recently wrapped up its RunDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend — which includes a 5K and 10K, in addition to the 13.1 — and in a surprise to literally no one who has ever visited a Disney park, it was magical. If you’ve been thinking about participating in a RunDisney event — or running your first race, period — you should move the princess-themed races to the top of your list. Race weekends are jam-packed with fun, and I’m not just talking about the obvious perks of getting to spend a few days in the park, enjoying the attractions and delicious food. Here are just a few reasons runners love this particular race so much.
- There’s amazing merchandise. Every year during the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, RunDisney unveils some of the most beautiful and exclusive merchandise, including wine glasses, Tervis tumblers, race-themed Minnie ears, spirit jerseys, pins, and magnets. Runners can find all of this at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, where the race expo is held.
- Everyone dresses in costume. Part of the fun of Princess Half Marathon Weekend is that almost everyone is wearing some type of costume. Whether they pull the look together themselves or choose to buy a costume or themed t-shirt, the princess vibe is strong. Some people even do character mashups (think: Jedi Anna).
- The finisher medals are awesome. Each distance has a theme, right down to the medals that are presented to runners at the finish line. In the past, medals have been designed in the likeness of the princesses from Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, Brave, The Little Mermaid, and Frozen.
- Characters line the course. Yes, there’s a good chance you’ll find Disney princesses and sidekicks — and sometimes even villains — in both the pre- and postrace areas and along the course. You’ll likely also be greeted by the park’s biggest stars: Mickey and Minnie.
- Every mile is Instagram-worthy. There are photo opportunities throughout the race, from backgrounds set up by race staff to princess-themed mile markers, park icons, and cast members with fun signs.
- The postrace food is out of this world. You deserve a treat after 13.1 miles, and there are an abundance of options within the park (this is Disney, after all), from Mickey waffles to those towering Dole Whips.
Still need convincing? Scroll through to see some of the best photos from this year’s race.