When it comes to runDisney half marathons, are you a Princess or a Tinker Bell? Do you covet the crown medal or long to earn your fairy wings? It may not be an easy question to answer, as both events have a laundry list of pros and—yes let’s be honest—even a few cons. With registration now open and filling fast for the Tinker Bell and registration for the Princess just opened yesterday for these two 2013 events, I thought it might be fun to compare the two runDisney half marathons created specifically for women in a number of different areas. In this article, let's take a close look at the courses and do a head-to-head comparison to see which one comes out ahead.
How many of you know that the course the Princess Half Marathon follows is not the original one that was advertised when the race was announced? Part of the initial excitement of the inaugural Princess in 2009 was that the course was different from the January Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Unlike the current course, which starts out in the boonies a mile hike from the Epcot parking lot, the initial plan was to start the participants on the Richard Petty Raceway, and include a tour of Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. At the time, everyone was buzzing about the opportunity to run something new in WDW.
Just weeks before the inaugural event, the course was changed to mirror the January half (that is, from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back) in order to provide participants the experience of running through Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Although it was a great disappointment at the time, it was apparently a very wise move on the part of runDisney. Remember, they are in the business of making memories. In a very unscientific poll I conducted at the last Princess half, the castle was mentioned as both the most memorable part of the race for experienced Princesses, and the most looked-forward-to part of the course by newbies. So much for the Speedway.
On the West Coast, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon covers totally different ground than its local older cousin, the Disneyland Half Marathon. Instead of taking the participants through much of the commercial/industrial area around Anaheim, which to be honest isn’t exactly the most scenic of routes, Tinker Bell runners and walkers instead enjoy delightful tour of Downtown Anaheim and local residential areas, in addition to running through both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. The course, which starts in front of the Paradise Pier and Grand Californian hotels, is easily accessible to participants and spectators alike. In 2012, participants spent a fair bit of time running past walls and construction areas in DCA as work continued towards the June opening of the remodeled park and new Cars Land. With the recent opening of DCA, an entirely new running experience awaits in 2013.
Both courses are filled with Disney characters (bring your camera for photo stops), wonderful volunteers, and music. Over in Florida, the entire Princess Half Marathon course is contained within Disney grounds, giving that event an advantage of being able to station characters throughout the course from start to finish.
Heroes and Villains can be found almost every mile, and even the local firefighters come out to support the runners. New in 2012 was the foursome in tuxes outside of the Wedding Pavilion carrying glass slippers while seeking their Cinderellas among the runners.
At the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in California, Disney characters can only be found within the Disneyland and DCA parks as the characters can’t be off park grounds in costume. However, other real-life characters, such as the 300-person-strong Red Hat brigade were on hand outside of the Disneyland Hotel, bringing their own version of support and fun to the event.
While the Princess Half Marathon has more “character,” the Tinker Bell Half Marathon will have the ultimate advantage this year with the opportunity to run through the revitalized DCA, including the new Cars Land and Buena Vista Street areas. That part alone will be very hard for the Princess Half Marathon to beat.
My verdict: 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think!
(Send an email to Lorree Tachell)
Lorree is known to her friends as the RunningFool. Of the 50+ half marathons she's run since 2006, over a third have been runDisney events. She is a Disneyland Half Marathon Legacy Runner (meaning she has run it every year since its inauguration), and she looks forward to being a Perfect Princess at the Princess Half Marathon in 2013. Lorree also hopes to continue her legacy / perfect streaks with the Tower of Terror 10 Miler and the Wine & Dine and Tinker Bell Half Marathons as well. In January 2013, she completed her first (and only) full marathon at the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon. "Yes, I do love running the Disney parks; there is something very special about a runDisney event."