MousePlanet Mailbag for April 14, 2005
Before we present today's Mailbag, the following is a special cast member
plea brought to us by Cast
Place editor Shoshana Lewin.
The firing of New Orleans Square mime Lagniappe brought a mixed
reaction from many MousePlanet readers. However, as a result of
recentand upcomingevents at the resort, we have received
a plea from a current NOS cast member:
Help bring Lagniappe back for the 50th. We all miss him in the
square and the shops. Scott Givens, vice president of entertainment,
was walked out of the Team Disney Anaheim (Disneyland management)
building last week. Scott is gone and so are his dumb ideas, one
of which was to lay off Lagniappe. Disney's biggest celebration,
and no one is in charge of entertainment.
Please send letters to:
Director of Entertainment
TDA building #354
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92802
Lagniappe is more fun than a talking trash can.
Feedback for Lani Teshima
Once in a while, we run an article that hits a nerve with our readers.
go the distance: Marathon snafu shuts runners out of Magic Kingdom,
Lani Teshima's article earlier this year regarding an uncoordinated
shut-out of slower participants in January's Walt Disney World Marathon
elicited a deluge of e-mail. A handful of comments were unsympathetic,
although mostincluding a number who participated in the marathon
or halfmarathon but had no inkling of the event because they finished
at a faster time and did not have slower friends who were shut outwere
very surprised by the incident for being so unDisney-like.
And then there were those who experienced the shut-out first-hand.
Their e-mail messages are long, detailed, and passionate.
The following are samples of all of these categories.
Note: As Lani noted in Follow
the course, her WDW Marathon Guide article discussing the
changes to next year's marathon events, Disney has announced some revisions
to the events that she believes will remove some of the worst of the
issues of the weekend.
Rocky Raghib writes:
If this is the worst crisis you have endured in your life, you are
a lucky puppy. Get over it.
This was the whiniest story I've ever read, and serves to just make
people more ticked at untrained runners who choose to fiddly-fart
through a marathon. I am buying more Disney stock as a result
of their correct action to shut out the people who did not make the
cut off. Yeah, Disney!
I am having a really hard time feeling sorry for the people who were
shut out of the Disney Marathon. The marathon is supposed to be a running
event. The people who are walking at a 16minutemile pace
had to know that they might not be able to finish in time. It is unfortunate
that they failed, but they shouldn't blame Disney. They should train
more and get ready for next time.
I ran the marathon and was extremely impressed with the quality of
the organization and planning that went into it. Disney is to be congratulated
and thanked for putting on such a wonderful weekend.
Your article was poorly written from the view of a group of people
who did not train enough to run a marathon or halfmarathon. How
many of these people even had a watch on? From what I read on the DIS
(boards), several didn't have a clue about the time. Did any of them
run other races prior to the marathon to get an idea about the rules
of marathoning? Training for a 15minutemile when the cutoff
is 16minutes, is rather poor in my book. That gave them a total of
13 minutes to go to the bathroom (wait in line for a portapotty
since they didn't think it was right to go behind a tree like many marathoners
do), walk through the water stops, etc).
These were people who were talking about what they were going to carry
in their fanny pack. They didn't have a clue about what it takes to
run a marathon. There were 24,000 people signed up for the marathon
and halfmarathon. This is a small group of about 200. Less than 1%
of the total people signed up.
I think they need a little cheese to go along with that whine.
Hi Deborah Thanks for taking the time to write.
I'm not quite sure what you meant by my article being poorly written;
do you mean that my article was biased and from the perspective of the
slower participants? The article focused on a very specific incident that
happened to this particular group of people, and overall I followed standard
reporting protocols of journalism, so I'm not quite sure what you mean.
I hope you had the opportunity to read the entire article; while some
were unhappy that they felt the gate was closed in front of them prematurely,
the bulk of the concerns had to do with the way the participants were
treated. Those I spoke to gladly conceded that they didn't mind being
swept; it was that Disney did so in an unplanned and disorganized manner
that people were specifically upset about. Considering that Disney has
a reputation for organizing queues and events well, I think many people
were very surprised that the mile-10 shut-out was done so unprofessionally.
Hope that clears it up a bit for you.
Deborah wrote back
Actually, I think you owe a big apology to those runners who actually
trained to run the marathon and completed the race and did not whine
about it. I read your entire article and thought it was a joke. You
listened to a very small percentage of the total number of runners with
no experience in marathons. They failed to train as they needed to and
when they were swept they whined. Read a few of the Disney Marathon
threads over on the Runner's World Marathons Board and see what
real runners say about this situation.
Stephen Grubb writes:
I understand that it must have been a terribly disappointing experience
for the walkers to be stopped. Obviously, Disney did not handle this
in the best way. However, I think it's important to look at this in
perspective. If the walkers got past the start line at 6:15 and were
stopped at about 9:00, this is slower than a 16minute pace. Have
you ever tried to walk at a 16minute pace? This is an incredibly
slow rate of movement. I'm curious how much training these participants
did to prepare for the event. Those aspiring to complete a marathon
or halfmarathon should not be striving for the slowest possible
pace to complete the event by.
Disney's literature makes it quite clear that a 16minute pace
is the absolute minimum. If you have trained properly, then you know
what pace you can maintain. If you cannot go faster than the minimum
speed, you should really consider a shorter event such as the Family
Fun Run they have each year the day before the Disney Marathon.
Ultimately, it is each participant's responsibility to train properly
for the event. If you can't maintain at least a 16minute pace,
you probably shouldn't be doing a marathon/halfmarathon in the
first place. Finishing an event such as this isn't someone's right.
A marathon or halfmarathon is meant to be a difficult and challenging
thing to accomplish. There are 23,800 other participants there who made
sure they had trained properly and could keep up with the pack.
In addition, the horrible conditions the walkers faced were exaggerated.
The temperature that day at 9 a.m. was about 70 degrees. Being in 70
degree weather for 40 minutes should not be a factor for those who are
in good enough physical shape to participate in such an event. The no
food and water complaint was also an exaggeration. The course map clearly
shows that food and water was given at mile 9, just 1 mile before the
walkers were stopped.
Could Disney have handled the removal of these walkers better? Of course!
However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the participant to make
sure he or she has adequately trained for an event such as this.
Kelly States writes:
I just read your article on MousePlanet about the approximately 200
runners shut out of the Magic Kingdom during the 2005 marathon and halfmarathon. I was a half-marathon participant in 2005 for the first time
I know my opinion will not be popular, but Disney clearly states their
required pace time from the start of registration. While I realize that
there is some discrepancy about whether they closed the gate early,
I do not believe that everyone should be allowed to finish just because
Even if Disney historically let people finish later than the official
time, it doesn't mean they have to every year. Again, they clearly state
their pace requirements at every juncture. This was my first and last
half-marathon, simply because I wouldn't consider myself a runner and
just wanted to complete the challenge. However, I think anyone using
common sense would train for a 15 min/mile pace or better in order to
account for any stops along the way.
I think Disney did a fantastic job. They are not obligated to the participants
beyond providing a set course as advertised. They certainly weren't
obligated to provide non-finishers with finisher's medals and I would
hope they wouldn't feel obligated to compensate these participants in
Hi Kelly Thanks for taking the time to write. You don't mention
what your finish time for the WDW Half-Marathon was, but if you were like
most of the participants, you were able to finish with no problem and
crossed the finish line. I fall into that category as well, having finished
at a time of 2:21 for the half.
I agree with you completely that Disney is perfectly within its right
to require a minimum pace. It is spelled out clearly, and those who fail
to maintain that pace should be (and are) swept.
Although there are some within the group of 200 who feel they were unjustifiably
cut off prematurely, the bulk of those I have spoken to will admit outright
that they were not surprised they were swept; the biggest issue for them
was in Disney's unpreparedness, and the way the participants were treated
once the shut-out occurred.
We have yet to hear anything official from Disney, but we hope they eventually
at least apologize to those shut-out participants who took the time to
write to them, and that that specific problem (of an impromptu closure)
doesn't happen in the disorganized way it did.
Again, thanks for writing! I didn't consider myself a runner but it's
been over three years since I decided to get back in shape (after having
done two full marathons earlier in my life), and I'm happy to say I still
manage to waddle along!
A couple of points regarding your article about the Disney Marathon/Half
Marathon entitled You can't go the distance:
1) It took 11 minutes and 21 seconds for the last halfmarathon participant
to cross the start line and it took 12 minutes and 1 second for the
last marathon participant to cross the start line (not 15 or 20). That
time was added on to the overall time, thus giving everyone the full
time to complete each race.
2) All participants must maintain a 16minutepermile
pace throughout the race or they could be picked up. They could be picked
up at mile 1 or any point during the race. Race staff (official ones,
not volunteers) always make an effort to warn participants that they
are behind pace, but it is ultimately up to the participant to stay
ahead of pace. Many of the charity groups had reps out on the course
and many of them said it was the best year for keeping participants
3) If you maintained a 16minutepermile pace through
the 10 mile mark, you would reach there at 2:40 plus the time it took
you to get to the start line. The last person to cross the start line
took 12 minutes, so everyone needed to be there by 2:52. Every person
that contacted the event via e-mail, letter or phone call that was stopped
had a 10 mile time of more than 2:52. Thus, they were stopped for not
maintaining the 16minutepermile pace.
4) Participant medals were given to those who were picked up along
the course. These medals were also given to those picked up on the course
last year. This is a planned practice, so it does not indicate that
something was done in error.
5) I am not sure why some coaches of the charity groups would claim
that these participants were ahead of pace, since the gate was closed
just before 9:00, which is at least 5 minutes slower than the required
6) No participant wants to get picked up and no race official/staff
wants to pick them up. Every effort is made to get everyone as far as
possible, but still, it becomes necessary to pick them up along the
route and at various locations throughout the course.
7) Thanks for making the point that people should train at a 15minutepermile
pace or better, in case of problems.
Hi Louis Your calculations as you present them are based on false
data. You obtained the time of 11:21 from the official time of those who
are on the official marathon/half-marathon results page at Disney's Wide
World of Sports Web site. What it fails to do is take into account those
individuals who were farther behind at the starting line, and who
did not finish the event.
Unless Disney decides to disclose the official starting time of their
designated last person, all of our calculationsbased on those
who are listed in the database are not relevant.
I have received considerable feedback from many individuals who participated
in the eventboth those who finished and those who did not, and both
the full and halfmarathonsand one of the things I learned was that
Disney selects an official designated last person to cross the starting
line for the two events. Disney takes down their bib number, and keeps
an eye out for that person's ChampionChip to blip across the starting
line mat, and that becomes the official last starting time.
What becomes particularly interesting for the purposes of our discussion
is that it turns out this designated last person got excited once the
starting gun went off, and found herself surging forward in a faster-then-anticipated
pace. Because she did this, she actually passed a number of individuals
before she crossed the starting line, and she was far from the last person
to cross the starting line! That means that even if we went by the official
time, it is still off.
Regarding non-finishers getting their medals:
This may be the official procedure, but I have also learned that this
did not happen to a number of individuals who were shut out outside of
Magic Kingdom. My understanding is that after the sole bus picked up a
busload, those who were left took the monorail
and because they
were not given any instructions, a number of Half-Marathon finishers went
to the Epcot finish line instead of the Magic Kingdom parking lot half-marathon
finish line. In their minds, they began the event at Epcot, so
it made sense to go back to where they started.
Those individuals who were registered for the half, and who showed up
at the Epcot finish line were not given Mickey Mouse medals because
they only registered for the half.
My understanding is that there were other groups who did not receive
medals, but that one particular instance is one where I have verified
the information by those who experienced that firsthand.
Regarding coaches claiming their participants were ahead of pace:
This is one of the clues to the mystery, as far as I'm concerned. How
is it possible that professional coaches, whose jobs it is to oversee
their participants' paces, would tell their participants that they were
on pace? The fact that there were several coaches and trainers
who were shut out at Magic Kingdom is evidence that something went terribly
awry on the organizational endnot on the coaches' end.
Regarding participants not wanting to be swept:
Yes, and I agree completely. While we can talk until we're blue in the
face about the correct starting time and so on, the crux of the issue
is that a sweep was done at an unplanned location where Disney
appeared to be wholly unprepared to sweep the participants. Every person
I've spoken to (and at this point it's probably close to 20% of those
who were in the shut-out, if not more) concurs that this is the main issue
at hand. At least half of those I've spoken to acknowledge that they knew
they were close to the cut-off pace, and that they would have been fine
had they been stopped at an official sweep location.
Thanks for taking the time to write and share with me your thoughts,
Louis. You don't mention in your email whether or not you participated
in the event yourself.
Louis wrote back:
Absolutely wrong. I was at the start line of the halfmarathon and
timed it myself on my watch (has the stop watch feature like most runners
should have). The last person to cross the start line (back of the pack)
did so at 11 minutes and 21 seconds. That is a fact. Unless a person
was late getting to the start line and began once the complete crowd
crossed the line, they would have made it to the start in that time.
The marathon had a few more at the start line than the half and did
take 12 minutes. I am not sure where you get your information, but it
is 100% incorrect.
If any of those professional coaches, who didn't get their people
trained to do a better than 16minutepermile pace,
want to inquire about any of those individuals, I am sure the results
people would be more than happy to tell them their times at the 10 mile
mark. If they saw that these people were there after the allotted time,
they would see that they were wrong. All the times are based on the
ChampionChip timing system and not people just making the times up.
Some participants, who sign up through the groups, are never told about
the time limits or the consequences if they don't maintain a certain
pace. You can imagine their surprise and disappointment when they find
out on race weekend or even during the race.
Medals were present on the sweeper vehicles, but if they didn't get
one on the bus, it may have been difficult to get one. Again, Disney
is/was trying to accommodate the masses that don't finish and make the
pain of getting picked up easier to take. They didn't and don't have
to give any non-finisher any medal, but they thought it would be nice
for many to get something. You try to please people and some get offended
or hurt. You can only do so much.
Finally, and to repeat, anyone can be picked up at any time if they
don't maintain the pace. You say it was unplanned location. If they
were behind pace, they can be picked up at any point. There may have
been some locations that were/are more critical than others, but that
doesn't mean that you can't be picked up at any point along the course.
The way it was handled after everyone was gathered together was definitely
non-Disney-like and I am sure changes will be made. If any of those
people writes or email the event, I am sure they will get a response
that will help them in this matter. They can go to www.Disneyworldmarathon.com
and the email address should be Disneysports@emmi.com.
Thanks for your concern about the marathon and the running business
in general. I have not run for a number of years due to leg injuries,
but have been involved in many of these events for almost 15 years and
see the dedication that many staff and volunteers put into them.
Hi Louis Thanks for your clarification on the starting time issue.
Regarding what you said about any part of the marathon weekend not being
up to Disney's standards getting fixed next year, I hope so. My personal
opinion though, is that while I hope the organizers have a chance to do
a lessons learned post-mortem for the event, that someone there takes
the time to apologize to those participants who wrote to Disney.
There are many people who have written to Disney because of the way they
were treated outside of the Magic Kingdom, and from what I am told, at
this point they would like an apology for the way they were treated. So
far nobody has received an acknowledgement from Disney, and even if the
event is completely snag-free next year, it may end up being too late
for those folks who have vowed not to return unless Disney at least acknowledges
what happened outside the Magic Kingdom.
By the way, do you work for Disney, or were you a volunteer tasked to
time the starting line? I ask because you speak with authority and I'm
wondering if you are a Disney Wide World of Sports CM. If you prefer not
to be identified I can respect that, but if you can talk to me about what
is going on within the marathon office I have a number of questions.
Louis wrote back:
No, not a cast member at Disney. I have worked on various events around
the east coast and Midwest and worked/volunteered at Disney. I just
wanted to let you know some of the facts and figures on this year's
event as I know of them. I was one of a few that were asked to start
a watch when the gun sounded and to stop it when the pack totally
cleared the start line at the halfmarathon, so I am positive about
the time. That is why I was so frustrated when I read your article (and
others). I have seen in this business that when participants don't get
what they want or things don't go the way they want, that they make
up or exaggerate things to make others look bad. They don't want to
take any responsibility for their actions and put all the blame elsewhere.
Beyond the items I mentioned, I don't feel informed enough to talk.
I know that if areas of the marathon weekend were not up to Disney's
standards, they will be fixed next year. Stay positive on the industry,
as we know how important it is for people to stay or get in shape. Good
health to you and all your readers.
I read your article and I do feel bad that these people were treated
badly (they shouldn't have been forced to wait 40 minutes for the sweep
bus), but I'm sorry, a 16 min/mile pace is not running or jogging. It's
not even a fast walk. I think a big problem here is that these people
were mislead to believe they could train for a 16 min/mile pace. No
one does a marathon at that pace. I have done 11 marathons. My slowest
was 4:30. I have a friend who did her first marathon in 5 1/2 hours.
Disney shouldn't have led these people to believe they'd make the cut
off with that kind of pace. It's not realistic. From what I understand,
the participants were aware the park was going to open at 9am. Whether
or not it took them 17 minutes to cross the starting line, the park
STILL was going to open. There were 24,000 runners. I've done large
marathons before (Boston, Chicago). You have to factor in that it will
take you a while to just get to the starting line. Again, I think it's
unfortunate that these people had a bad experience, but they should
have realized they were going to get swept. Disney had to open the park.
Thousands and thousands of people traveled from all over the WORLD just
to go to the park. Yes, the runners paid too and took part in Disney
activities, but the park was opening for tourists. Had the park opened
late, you can be SURE there would have been a huge problem.
THe 16 min/mile pacers should consider a 26.2 mile walk, rather than
a marathon. Marathons are for running, but 16 min/miles is not running,
Alex Matskevich writes:
I ran all the major marathons in the world, New York, Chicago, L.A.,
Boston, Miami, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Beijing, New Zealand, and
many more. But I will never run Disney. I will not support the marathon
where the runners are supposed to pass through all the major parks,
and still, after bringing so much money and business to the Disney World
through themselves and their families, are not even given a symbolic
complimentary ticket to at least one of the parks on the day of their
What has happened at this marathon with the walkers is, in my opinion,
another sign of a big trouble with the marathon as a sport in the United
States. It is good that (the late) Fred Lebow (former director of the
popular New York City Marathon) can't see the $100+ entry fees for most
of the U.S. marathons, and the running clubs, including his own (NYRR),
becoming simply big and profitable businesses concerned just with the
sponsor dollars. It is such a pleasure to run in Europefriendly
organizers, low entry fees, excellent food every 5K. I am sure they
will catch our virus eventually, so skip Disney and go to Monte Carlo
(midNovember) instead before it is too late.
Robin Ashton writes:
I was not one of the participants who were not allowed to finish and
were treated so horribly, but my heart goes out to them. I have just
started training to run a marathon and had planned on running
the Disney Marathon in January 2006. I can tell you it will not
be the first marathon I run. I would have been travelling from Ontario
and bringing my husband and three daughters with me. Friends of ours
had even discussed scheduling their next Disney trip at the same time
just to be there when I crossed that line for the first time. That experience
is not one I want to even have a remote chance of ending as it did for
those people who worked so hard only to have it end in such a bitterly
disappointing way. I cried when I read what happened, shame on you,
Laura Milton writes:
I was one of the hundreds of those left stranded by Disney in this
year's marathon. I was walking for the Joints In Motion Arthritis Team
and was on my 16minute pace (I crossed the start line at 6:13
) when I came around the corner to see the Disney officials closing
the gates behind Tomorrowland. It was my first 1/2 marathon experience
and boy, what a bad first experience it turned out to be.
I had trained with four coaches from the Joints In Motion Team plus
a personal trainer of my own. I had raised $3,500 for the Arthritis
Foundation of Massachusetts in order to be there for the marathon.
My fellow teammates have been very supportive to the three of us who
did not get the luxury of finishing thanks to Disney. I have fibromyalgia
and osteoarthritis and still would have completed the halfmarathon
within the 3 1/2 hours if the time I crossed the start line was the
I also feel the medal they gave us as a consolation is worthless. But
I'm also determined to prove to myself that I would have finishedI
have signed up for the Nashville Country Music HalfMarathon April
30, 2005, in which they have a wave start and allow 4 hours to complete
the 1/2 marathon. And I will be back to Disney to try again, if not
2006, then 2007. I'm not going to let them get the best of me.
Phyllis McCool writes:
I was one of the 200 who got stopped at mile 10
.. This was my
first 1/2 marathon. My 2 daughters and 2 of my friends signed up for it
back in January of 2004. We made our reservations on WDW's Caribbean
We are from Oklahoma and we took days off from work so we could have
a nice vacation and see all of the sight besides just do the marathon.
I had read all of the rules and it states that they will pull you off
at the 10k (not 10 mile)if you are not doing a 16minutemile.
I was at the very back, at corral N to start and it was at least 12
minutes before I hit the start line, the rules stated that it would
not start until the last person crossed the finish line.
I was constantly told by workers along the route that we were on schedule.
I did not take a potty break until the seventh mile because I thought
once I got past the 6.5 mile marker which is what the rules stated,
that I was doing well.
I was so excited to hit the 8 mile, 9 mile, and then suddenly at the
10, they stopped us (by my calculations I was right on schedule). I
was very, very upset, all I wanted to do was finish. I was so excited
at the thought of bringing back my Donald Duck medal to work, to prove
that this 50yearold woman could do 13 miles. I was so upset,
as were all of the people.
It was very unfair to the ones who were running for charities. I believe
that they did want to stop us just to open the park. That is basically
what they were saying to us. If I had of been stopped at the 6.5, I
would have understood, but to let me go 10 miles and think I had it
made, was so unfair.
And then after we had stood in the sun for 40 minutes, and they finally
got a bus to us, and we got on, they brought us a Mickey Mouse medal
that was from last year! I had not done the full marathon, I had done
the 1/2, I wanted the Donald Duck medal. Then when I got off of the
bus, I had to walk another mile to the finish line that was already
dismantled. I had to hunt for someone to take my chip and I insisted
that they take back the Mickey Mouse medal and give me the Donald Duck
medal, which they did.
I was so disgruntled with Disney that my daughters and I cancelled
our plans to go to another park. They lost $150 plus what we would have
spent on food and souvenirs. By the time they made us stand around for
all of that time, we could have finished the race and not bothered anyone
Cherie Ferguson writes:
Everything happened exactly as stated in your article. I actually finished
the 1/2 Marathon then met my mom at mile 8 to finish the race with her.
She was doing great. I timed her and she completed mile 9 in 15 minutes.
I told her she was on track. We reached mile 10 and the shut-off point
at maybe 8:55 at the latest.
I ran Disney as my first marathon in 2004 and convinced my mom, who
is 63, that she could do the half if she walked. She was really a good
sport about it all and happy to have completed the 10 miles. We have
since signed up to complete the Nashville Half Marathon on April 30th,
my mom's 64th birthday! One of the main reasons we chose this one is
that the cut off time is 4 hours.
Anyway, I really feel that Disney owes us all an apology and free entry
into next year's event
at the very least.
Debbie Buono writes:
Hi Lani. My name is Debbie Buono, and I was in that awful halfmarathon
in Disney World too. It was the first marathon I've ever been in and
probably the last.
My grandmother passed away last May 2004 of congestive heart failure
and about a week later, I received a post card from the American Stroke
Association asking for help fundraising in Disney's marathon. I decided
to do it in memory of my grandmother and started training and fundraising
I raised over $3,600 For the American Stroke Association, trained for
over six months, spent thousands of my own money to mail letters, postcards,
a membership to a gym with a track, air fare and hotel accommodations
for my husband, three children and my parents to stay in Disney World!
Not to mention all the money I spent the nine days after the race we
stayed in Florida for an extended vacation.
This was one of the most disappointing experiences I have ever been
through (and put my family and friends through) and it was supposed
to be for a good cause!
Anyway, the way we were treated was another story
And as far
as there only being 200 people who were not able to cross the finish
line is bull! There was probably 700 people or more, it was the 200
or more that were trapped like animals at the 10 1/2 mile marker that
day. I am personally writing letters to every board member at Disney
and requesting an official apology to all that were involved. My family
and friends will not be spending one penny at Disney World until this
is resolved. I hope something or someone takes care of this wrongdoing.
Hi Debbie Thanks for taking the time to write. I can't begin to
imagine how you must have felt after the incident happened. I do hope
that the rest of your vacation was a good one, and that you didn't let
this incident sour your whole trip.
Do let me know if you hear back from anyone about this.
Caroline McDonald writes:
Dear MousePlanet: Thank you for writing this article. As a journalist
who was at the 10-mile sweepbecause I raised funds for the American
Stroke AssociationI was surprised when I searched the Orlando
Sentinel Web site and found no mention of it. I also called the
managing editor to see if they were aware this had happened and he said
they were not. But there is still no mention that I can find on the
The events were as you described, but to make matters worse, I and
several others in my group who were swept still have not received medals.
Our time was good, but since we did not start at the front of the pack,
we were among the first to be stopped at mile 10. It was upsetting and
a lot of people were crying out of frustration, mainly because we were
assured along the way that our time was good.
Would I do the Disney run/walk again? No. I am planning to fund raise
again in the fall and will participate in the Phoenix half-marathon
unless another favorable venue is selected to replace Disney.
Hi Caroline Thanks for taking the time to write. Since we ran
the article, we have heard from a number of individuals in that group
of 200 who were shut out, and all of them without exception have been
left with a bitter experience.
If you talk to the managing editor at the Orlando Sentinel again,
tell him/her I will be happy to provide background information if they
want to pursue this. I realize this is somewhat stale news now, but we're
also still hoping for some sort of official press release from Disney
acknowledging anything related to this incident. We have yet to hear anything.
If you write to Disney and you hear back from them, please feel free
to let me know. I would like to find out what their public stance is on
Lucy Gratzon writes:
Hi Lani, I was one of the 200 people stopped very abruptly at the gate
of the first 5 to be exact. I trained as part of the Train to End Stroke
team and this was supposed to be a big accomplishment for me.
I had started out training to do the full and took it back to the half
when I learned of the time restrictions. I was keeping up my
I missed the previous sweeps and the fact that I was stopped
was completely unjustified.
I was put in the last gate so I was one of the last to cross the start
line somewhere around 6:17 a.m. In addition, I never did get any sort
I could not fit on that first bus they sent over so I
had to wait and take the monorail where I had to get off and wait on
the end of the line to get back on the monorail to Epcot.
No one from the marathon even talked to me or acknowledged my being
part of this marathon. I had my chip on all the way to the area where
I claimed by bag
.I asked the girl there to cut it off and I saw
her throw it in the garbage
can you imagine? I had to then search
through the garbage to get it out. She claims she did not know. I finally
handed it to a person at the Train To End Stroke tent.
I am extremely disappointed in the way they treated us when they stopped
us. You cannot imagine how let down I was
my mom was waiting at
the finish line and did not even get to see me. She paid so much money
to come along just to see me and because someone made an error and stopped
us when they should not have, she basically wasted hundreds of dollars.
I have written e-mails to Disney and not even gotten a response other
then to acknowledge that they received my e-mail. I have yet to hear
and apology from them for my pain and the stress I went through by waiting
45 minutes in the heat, no water, and no bathrooms. I just walked 10
miles and they just did not care. I am also waiting for a medal.
Thank you for printing this article. I am sorry to say that Disney
does not care about people as much as they say!
Hi Lucy I'm sorry to hear about your experiencing getting shut
out of the Magic Kingdom. You must have been very frustrated if you were
one of the first five people caught at the shut-out.
So far, everyone I've spoken to who was caught in the shut-out have been
very disappointed with the way they were treated by Disney, and it sounds
like you feel similarly.
I have yet to hear from anyone caught in the sweep about any formal and
personalized communication from Disney, but you can be sure that I will
get the word out if they publish an official press release for it.
Lisa Lebowitz writes:
Great article Lani! I am Andrea's pregnant friend Lisa (we met right
after we got our medals on race day). I sent my own email to Disney
regarding the race and am waiting to hear back from Guest Relations
(I'd be happy to forward it to you, if you'd like). Erica has already
heard back from them and they pretty much told her on the phone that
they felt they were right about the timing and they're sorry we had
a bad experience but they are not planning on doing anything regarding
I had suggested in my email refunding this year's race fees or complimentary
entry into next year's race. The latter would be a win-win situation
for everyone I thing, as Disney would make money off of all those participants
from hotel fees, food, park admission, etc.
If I get the same response, I most definitely will not returnnot
as a race participant or as a park guest. I'll spend my money next year
at the Miami Tropical 1/2 Marathon instead.
I feel very strongly that even if Disney was technically correct on
the timing (and I still dispute that, especially since we were all advised
to slow our pace by 30 seconds/mile due to the weather conditions) there
is no excuse not to have the necessary facilities at a designated cutoff
point. The participants being stopped were supposed to be stragglersI
would think they would be even more in need of fluids or medical attention.
We were very lucky that no one in the group got seriously ill.
Keep up the great work!
LaniAs I read your article, you mentioned something about the
timing being official by the last person crossing the starting line.
Well, on the way from the Magic Kingdom monorail to the Ticket and Transportation
Center, we sat next to a woman who said that she was designated by race
officials as the last person that should cross over the start line.
However, she also told us that she actually was not the last
person to cross over the line.
In her excitement to get going, she got going and crossed the start
line before many others. She was a little embarrassed by that, and I
was honestly surprised to hear her even say something. But I think she
did because her running companion had kinda made a comment about it,
and I think she needed to clarify what she meant by it. Perhaps this
is another reason why the timing was off?
Hi Karen Wow, the mystery deepens, huh? I didn't realize Disney
officially appointed a designated person beforehand! I just assumed they
waited to witness the last person, and then kind of did a tag, you're
it as they crossed the starting line. Interesting! Thanks for this info.
Lisa Edwards writes:
Hi Lani! I just wanted to compliment you on your very informative and
well-written article. I am not a runner or walker, and was totally unfamiliar
with WDW's Marathon and HalfMarathon races (other than knowing
that they actually exist and are run annually).
I found your article very interesting, and I appreciated the chance
to learn something new about a WDW event. I found your reporting to
be admirable in its unbiased, fact-of-the-matter tone, and remained
entertaining enough for me to keep reading to the end, despite its length.
Thanks again for a great, informative MousePlanet article!
Sandy Behe writes:
Thank you Lani for reporting this mishandled, unmagical marathon event.
It was billed as a beginner's event; who are they kidding? It's all
about the money.
I had seven friends participating in the 1/2 marathon; two who were
swept at the MK gates, one who was forced backstage. I've listened to
them tell about rude cast members, long waits for the bus, no port-a-pots,
and lack of water. This didn't get my 2 friends down as much as the
disappointment in not finishing the marathon. They had trained for so
long to be denied because a park manager was worried some conventioneers
would be inconvenienced is deplorable.
The marathoners and their families spent a great deal of $$$s for the
privilege to participate. The charities lost money when the volunteer
marathoners were unable to complete the race through no fault of their
own. Good press? No. WDW the most magical place on earth? No way. What
can be done? Have you sent this article to Disney management? I feel
that all the runners ! involved and the charities affected should receive
a letter of apology for this horrendous mishandling of the marathon
runners. Thank you for speaking out on their behalf.
Sue M writes:
This was my third year running the Disney marathon so I was prepared
for the usual chaos that ensues when you try to coordinate 15,000 people
at 4 in the morning. However, the literature does indicate that
you will be assigned to corrals by predicted finish time. Because I
was attempting to qualify for Boston Marathon (as I have done for the
past three years), I indicated a predicted finish time of 3:40, assuming
that was a fairly good time for this field that would place me near
the start line. Much to my surprise I was assigned to the last
corral with a majority of walkers.
Now I love walkers and give them all the credit in the world
for their commitment and tenacity. However trying to run an 8minute
mile when I'm surrounded by people walking a 15minute mile made
for an incredibly frustrating experience. As I passed the onemile
mark, there were 23 minutes on the clock and any hopes of qualifying
for Boston were immediately dashed.
Like many, I have written to Disney to identify yet another flaw in
their system but given the other more serious issues that arose, I don't
expect to hear from them. I feel so badly for people who were
not even given an opportunity to finish nor were they taken care of
when they were stopped. I think this year will be a death knell for
the Disney Marathon.
Not everyone who entered the marathon events were caught up in the impromptu
sweep location. Marcia Mayne writes about her experience of being
swept at mile 18:
My Train To End Stroke teammate, Lorna and I decided to stay with another
teammate, Phyllis, who was in the last corral of the full marathon.
Her time was slower than ours, so she couldn't join us, we had to join
In the end, she developed leg pain and we had to leave her behind.
We crossed the halfway mark at 9:30, 18 minutes slower than my personal
best but I figured we could finish within the seven hours Disney had
allotted. We were taking it slower than my normal pace but I wasn't
worried. I was more concerned with becoming dehydrated so we stopped
at all the aid stations to get enough water.
We were having a really good time, enjoying the cartoon characters
and the party atmosphere. It was my first visit to Disney. By about
mile 16, we stopped for about 5 minutes so I could rub Biofreeze on
my feet. At about mile 18, a man on a bicycle asked how we were doing.
I said we were fine and he continued. But a little further on, we were
asked by a group of men if we needed help. We both said we were tired
but would continue. He said that we couldn't; that we were on public
roads and Disney had to open the park and he had to take us back to
Epcot. At first I didn't get it. I had assumed if we were to be picked
up, it would be closer to the 7 hour mark. It was between 10:45 and
10:50 a.m. We still had more than 2 hours to go and I know we could
have made it, even if I had to crawl.
He put a lei around our necks and handed us medals. Then he cut the
timing chip off our shoes. That's when it hit me: We were out of the
race. I was so mad, I took the lei off.
How can I wear this when I wasn't allowed to finish? I
asked.Everyone finishes at Disney, he replied. I felt like a fraud.
What would I tell my family, my friends, my supporters? The money I
raised was for the Stroke Association. This, this was for me. This was
my personal goal. I ran the half at the Toronto Marathon in 35 degree
October weather in cold and rain (and completed it in 3 hours) plus
several hundred miles in Central Park just to get ready for this and
I wasn't even given the satisfaction of finishing!
I returned to my hotel only to discover that my roommate, Maxine, was
among the 200+ halfmarathoners who were swept at the 10th mile.
It made my blood boil even more. I decided not attend the victory celebration,
but my roommate made a point: if we didn't go, we'd have to pay Disney
for dinner and we certainly didn't want to give them another cent!
I had to ask our Train To End Stroke director, why TTES participates
in a marathon that is unfriendly to its participants, most of whom are
walkers. I haven't been given a satisfactory response. At this point,
I really don't care if they respond or not. My mind is made up: Disney
will never see me againneither for their marathon nor for their
theme parks. And I will continue to spread the word about Disney's unfriendly
behavior to everyone I know. That was my first and last appearance at
this Mickey Mouse marathon.
Hi Marcia Thanks for taking the time to write. If your various
time points are correct, it does sound like they swept you a little prematurely.
Did they load you on a sweeper bus? This is the first I've heard of this
happening to folks on the full marathon.
If you hear anything more from your TTES director or from Disney, do
let me know. I would be interested to find out what their official positions
Lorna Reid writes:
Like many other participants, we were picked up by bus at 10:40 as
we were coming up on mile 19. The reason we were told by two men wearing
Disney uniforms was, We need to open the streets for visitors.
We did not cross the starting line until 6:18am. We were maintaining
16 mins/mile as we were asked to. I decided to do this for a good cause,
to raised money for stroke awareness.
We felt like no one cared, no one listened to us, they got their money,
what the hell? Just imagine going back to my job, to 98% of the people
who sponsored me, to tell them we could not finish the marathon because
Disney had to open the streets. My family was so upset. My husband
called it a Mickey marathon, and sadly I had to agree with him.
Disney had the nerve to offer us generic medals to appease us, (medals
that can be picked up at any Disney store ) while the people who were
allowed to finish had medals with 2005 hanging at the bottom.
If I wanted a souvenir I could pay for it myself. Walking a marathon
and receiving a medal is an accomplishment. There is a difference.
I believe Disney cheated us out of our big accomplishment, and because
of that I believe we deserve an explanation, as well as an apology.
I had to put money from my own pocket to meet the fundraising amount,
as well as spend money for breakfast, shirts, and sweatshirts for my
Believe me, I will never ever participate in another Disney marathon,
nor anything that Disney will benefit from.
Pam Meyer writes:
I'm sure you have probably heard enough of us gripe about the WDW Marathon/Half
Marathon already. I have a transportation story for you if you want
My daughter and I stayed at All-Star Music Resort and were told the
buses to the marathon would run from 3 to 4 a.m. we were in the food
court and out by 3:30 and standing in line for a bus until well after
4 a.m. (there were at least 2-3 bus loads of people after us in line)
all trying to get to the starting line.
Neither of us had a problem getting swept but getting back to the resort
after the race was a different thing entirely! I finished before 9 a.m.,
met with teammates and took pictures, etc., for awhile. I'm sure that
by 10 we were leaving. My daughter had some friends along (one had volunteered
so had a car) as there were four of them I said I would take the bus
back to the resort (five people in a Mercury Sable after two of us running
for almost 3 hours was more than I wanted to experience).
The line for the bus from the family meetandgreet area
was about 3 miles long and not moving. Disney reps (cast members or
volunteers, I don't remember) told us we could walk to the TTC. No problem,
a good workout for my legs to keep cramping at bayI walked. From
there I was told to get in line for the monorail to Epcot. Why? I don't
knowwere they not running buses from the TTC to resorts that morning?
The poor people on the monorail that weren't runners (needless to
say we weren't the sweetest smelling bunch to ride and enclosed (heavily
packed) monorail with. After arriving at Epcot I then walked to the
AllStar Music Resort bus stop. There was quite a line there and
a bus was loading at the timenot everyone waiting got on the bus
so we waited patiently (in the sun) for another bus. Well over 35 minutes
3 buses came and left empty from the stop next to the All-Stars stop
while we were standing there and we could see buses parked (with drivers
in them) the entire time. Why weren't all the buses with drivers being
utilized? I didn't get back to the resort until well after noon. Although
I enjoyed the halfmarathon experience I can't believe this was
something WDW couldn't have prevented.
Thanks for listening!
Thoughts, questions, or comments about the marathon article
(or about the Walt Disney World Marathon in general)? Contact Lani here.
To send general comments to our Mailbag, contact us here.