Tips for the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

The 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend events begin this Thursday, May 5, and continue through Mother's Day Sunday, May 8. This is the 5th anniversary of the event, with over 1,000 runners registered to earn their "Perfect Pixie" status for having completed all five half marathons.

runDisney expects over 24,000 runners plus their friends and family to visit the Disneyland Resort for the races, but the road closures and operational changes could impact anyone visiting during this weekend. Here's what runners, tourists, and spectators should know as we head into this busy weekend.

2016 marks the 5th anniversary of the Tinker Bell half marathon. Photo © Disney.


The Disneyland Resort is going to be very busy this weekend due to the race, a condition further complicated by the Mother's Day holiday on Sunday. The good news is that runners tend not to stay up late the night before races, so you should see lighter evening crowds than you might expect.

Staying at the Disneyland Hotel? The race expo takes place in that hotel's convention center, so expect extra crowds at the shops and restaurants. If you are staying at any of the three Disneyland Resort hotels, expect race-related noise Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, beginning in predawn hours, especially if your hotel room faces Disneyland Drive. If you are staying at the Grand Californian Hotel in a room overlooking Downtown Disney, expect to hear cheering from spectators starting around 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, as the course runs right through Downtown Disney.

While all of the races take place before park opening or outside the parks, you may still experience traffic delays and extra crowds. Give yourself plenty of time if driving to the resort in the morning; race-related road closures are scheduled from 12:01 to 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, and from 12:01 to to 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. For detailed road closure information, see page 14 of the event guidebook. [Note, many people have reported problems opening this PDF in browsers other than IE, so don't be surprised if you get an error using Chrome or Firefox]

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure open at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Early entry for hotel guests and eligible ticket holders is at 8:00 a.m. at Disney California Adventure on Friday, at Disneyland on Saturday, and back at DCA on Sunday.

2016 marks the fifth anniversary of the Tinker Bell half marathon. Photo © Disney.


Disney does not allow you to view the half marathon race course from inside either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure unless you purchased a silver ($45), gold ($69), or platinum ($99) ChEAR Squad package. Online registration is now closed, but you may be able to purchase packages at the Expo.

There is no theme park viewing for the 10K or 5K events. The 5K event no longer ends inside Disney California Adventure, and the finish line is the same as for the 10K and half marathon events.

If you want to come cheer on the runners without purchasing a spectator package, or plan to cheer at the 5K or 10K events, Disney recommends specific viewing areas on property. All of these viewing areas are accessible only by foot, so walk from either the Mickey and Friends parking structure, or from your hotel if staying nearby.

Event Time Recommended viewing areas
5K 5:00 to 5:30 a.m. Start line in Family Reunion Area Stage, Lilo Lot near Downtown Disney District
5:15 to 6:45 a.m. Finish Line, Lilo Lot
10K 5:30 to 6:10 a.m. Start line in Family Reunion Area Stage, Lilo Lot
5:45 to 7:00 a.m. Mile 3.5 at Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
6:00 to 7:45 a.m. Finish Line, Lilo Lot
Half Marathon 5:30 to 6:10 a.m. Start line in Family Reunion Area Stage, Lilo Lot
5:45 to 7:15 a.m. Mile 2.7 at Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
5:53 to 8:13 a.m. Mile 6.7 Walnut Street between Magic Way & Broadway
6:30 to 9:45 a.m. Finish Line, Lilo Lot

View the race courses on pages 26-30 of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon guidebook.

Runner tracking

You can register to receive runner tracking updates via e-mail, text message, or Twitter. It appears that Disney no longer offers updates via Facebook. Sign up via the runDisney webform. If you know your runner's bib number, you can text "DLTINK [bib number]" to 72147 to receive updates via text message.

Team MousePlanet Cheer Station

Team MousePlanet is known for our "Free Candy from Strangers" cheer stations at the runDisney half marathons. MousePlanet file photo.

Team MousePlanet will again host a cheer station between miles eight and nine of the Tinker Bell half marathon course. We will have Red Vines for the runners and walkers, plus support and motivation for as long our voices hold out.

If you're a runner, you'll see us just after you pass the Anaheim Ice Rink on Center Street Promenade.

If you're a spectator looking for something fun and unusual to do at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, we would love to have your help. Visit our MousePad discussion forum for details and to sign up.

Runners have quite a selection of fifth anniversary merchandise to choose from if they can get to the race expo early enough. Photo © Disney.

Detailed information for runners

Because the Expo remains open until 8:00 p.m. those nights, Thursday and Friday afternoons may be the best time to attend the expo if all you want to do is get your race packet and get out. If you're running the half marathon, you can visit the Expo between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday to get your race gear.

Day Time Event
Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo (Disneyland Hotel)
Friday 5:00 a.m. Never Land 5K (Disneyland Resort)
Noon to 8:00 p.m. Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo (Disneyland Hotel)
Saturday 5:30 a.m. Tinker Bell 10K (Disneyland Resort)
9:00 a.m. runDisney Kids Races (Downtown Disney)
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Disneyland Health & Fitness Expo (Disneyland Hotel)
Sunday 5:30 a.m. Tinker Bell Half Marathon (Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim)

Event merchandise

This is a topic that generates a great deal of controversy at every runDisney event. Under the current policy, shoppers do not have to be registered for one of the races to have access to the official runDisney merchandise area. As a result, a great deal of the merchandise is snapped up as soon as the expo opens by people who have been waiting in line since early morning, only to wind up on eBay hours later at greatly inflated prices.

Following the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon weekend in Walt Disney World, all Disney-operated retail outlets implemented a new policy imposing a purchasing limit of 10 identical items per person, down from the prior limit of 25 for open-stock items. This will go some way towards making the hot items—challenge pins, car magnets, and wine glasses—last a bit longer, but it's pretty much a given that Disney won't have enough inventory to satisfy all runners.

Since you do not need to collect your race packet—or even be registered to run in one of the events—before you enter the expo to shop, we recommend that runners who want the best merchandise selection arrive well before 10:00 a.m. to get in line, and head straight for the sales floor Thursday morning. You can get your registration materials and gear bag after you shop, but at least this gives you a somewhat sporting chance at getting the items you want on Thursday.

For those runners arriving Friday or Saturday, we have no advise for you, other than to make friends with someone who could pick up your coveted souvenir on Thursday for you. runDisney does not restock the expo each morning, so once an item is sold out, there is little chance it will become available later that weekend.

runDisney provided a "first look" at the merchandise that will be available this weekend, but as one commenter said, this may be both your first and last look if you can't be there to shop in person on Thursday.

These Dooney and Bourke handbags will be released at the Tinker Bell half marathon expo. Photo © Disney.

Costumes and Security

runDisney earlier this year modified its policy on running in costume, bringing it more in line with the policy put in effect at the theme parks last fall.

As before, runners age 13 and under can still wear costumes and even masks, so long as the mask does not cover the entire face, and the eyes are visible. The following rules apply to all runners, regardless of age:

  • Weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon. Remember that Disney's theme park rules now include water pistols and bubble guns under this category, so make sure your young Buzz Lightyear leaves the Astro Blaster at home.
  • Sharp objects, pointed objects, or materials that may accidentally strike another Guest.

For runners age 14 and older, the rules now also prohibit:

  • "Layered costumes that could conceal prohibited items." Disney specifically provides Jedi robes as an example.
  • Costumes that reach or drag on the ground. Disney uses Princess Dresses as an example.
  • "Costume props, including those that surround the entire body."
  • Masks of any kind.

The following items are still allowed, some with restrictions:

  • Dresses that do not reach the ground.
  • Capes, but only so long as they are no longer than the waist.
  • Hats and headware, so as long as it does not cover the face.
  • Transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords, and tutus. runDisney suggests that runners wear their wings upside down, to avoid poking other runners in the face as they pass.

All runners and spectators must pass through security screening before entering the family reunion area or the corrals, so be sure to leave extra time for this. And please remember, selfie sticks are completely prohibited from the race.

Disney has created a series of phone cases to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Tinker Bell races. Photo © Disney.


As was the case at last month's Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon weekend, Disney PhotoPass cast members will take the race photos for the 2016 Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend events, and the photos will be made available through that PhotoPass program after the event. If you are an annual passholder with a pass that qualifies you for free PhotoPass photos, that means yours are now free.

If you don't have an annual pass, you can purchase race photos through the PhotoPass program, including any bundle purchases that will include other photos taken on your trip to the parks. Registered runners can purchase the PhotoPass One Day product for $39, and receive all of their race photos plus any photos taken in the parks that day. Click on the link in your "iGiftBag" for more information.

To add the photos to your PhotoPass account, you will need the race-specific codes provided by runDisney. They are listed in the Event Guide, and also shared on social media by the runDisney team. The codes for Tinker Bell weekend are as follows:

  • KIDS RACE: 2016-TINK-KIDx-xxxx
  • 5K: 2016-TINK-B5Kx-xxxx
  • 10K: 2016-TINK-10Kx-xxxx
  • Half: 2016-TINK-HLFx-xxxx

    To add your photos via the iPhone My Disney Experience app:
  1. Open the app and tap the menu button at the top left (three horizontal bars).
  2. Scroll down and select PhotoPass.
  3. Tap on the "Link Photos" icon (barcode at upper right).
  4. Tap on "Select to Link Your Photos."
  5. Tap on "Enter a PhotoPass ID."
  6. Tap on "Enter the ID number" and type in the event code for your event, placing your bib number in the place of the Xs. For example, if your bib number was 12345 for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon you would type in 2016-TINK-HLF1-2345. If your bib number is less than five digits, add zeros to the beginning to make it five. (e.g. a bib number of 999 would be entered as 00999).

Your photos may take some time to populate once you have entered your code. Make sure to look under the image when they are loaded for a note indicating the photo is from a set (e.g. 1 of 2, 2 of 3, etc.). Swipe left to see the other photos taken in a burst from the same location.