Tips for the 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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The 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend events begin this Thursday, May 11, and continue through Mother's Day Sunday, May 14. This is the sixth anniversary of the event, and runDisney expects over 24,000 runners plus their friends and family to visit the Disneyland Resort for the races.

Last-chance registration is still open for the event. Runners can register for the 10K, half marathon, or combined Pixie Dust Challenge events. Visit the runDisney website for information.

Even if you're not participating in one of the race events, 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.

Non-runners

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.

While all of the races take place outside the parks or happen before the parks open, 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 10 of the event guidebook. [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.

Spectators

This year, the only ChEAR Squad package offered is a $79 Spectator Viewing Package for the half marathon. Online registration is now closed, but you may be able to purchase packages at the expo.

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.

There is no theme park viewing for the 10K or 5K events. The 5K event begins inside Disneyland, and the finish line is the same as for the 10K and half marathon events.

5K recommended viewing areas

  • 5:00 to 5:20 a.m. – Family reunion area stage at the Lilo parking lot near Downtown Disney District
  • 5:15 to 6:16 a.m. – Mile 2.7, Downtown Disney

10K recommended viewing areas

  • 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. – Family Reunion Area stage at the Lilo parking lot
  • 5:45 to 7:00 a.m. – Mile 3.5 at the Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
  • 6:00 to 7:45 a.m. – Finish line, behind ESPN Zone

Half marathon recommended viewing areas

  • 5:30 to 6:10 a.m. – Family Reunion Area stage, at the Lilo parking lot
  • 5:45 to 7:00 a.m. – Miles 1.5 and 2.9 at the Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure
  • 5:50 to 7:40 a.m. – Mile 5.5 at the Zazu parking lot, south of the Disneyland Hotel
  • 6:20 to 10:00 – Finish line, behind ESPN Zone

View the race courses on pages 17-22 of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon guidebook, or click the links below:

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 "TBH" to 38909 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 is making plans for our Tinker Bell Half Marathon cheer station, and we're looking for volunteers. The race is on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 14.

We will offer our popular Red Vines (a.k.a. Free Candy From Strangers) for race participants, plus support and motivation for as long our voices hold out. If you find yourself looking for something fun and unusual to do at 6:00 a.m. on Mother's Day morning, we would love to have your help—and the 12,000-plus race participants will certainly appreciate your support.

We will set up on the corner of W. Center Street Promenade and S. Lemon Street in Anaheim, just before mile marker 8 on the course. With lots of parking options and the ability to avoid most race-related road closures, this is a great location.

Volunteers are needed starting at 6:00 a.m. There is plenty of parking in the Vons shopping center at Lincoln Avenue and N Anaheim Boulevard, with a walkway leading onto Lemon. There's a Starbucks in that center, so you can get coffee to keep you going. We stay in place until the sweep has passed our location, which is usually around 8 a.m., so that we can cheer on every last runner, walker, and (by that point) limper and crawler. If you need to leave earlier to meet a runner at the finish line, it's not hard to get back to the Mickey and Friends parking structure from that location—just head west on Lincoln then turn right on S. Manchester Avenue.

MousePlanet provides all supplies for the cheer station, including pop-up tent, Red Vines and the Team MousePlanet banner. All you need to bring is yourself, a great attitude, and whatever supplies you want—a chair, sunblock, snacks, and drinks. Noise makers of any type are a great ideas—you will be sore from clapping and hoarse from yelling very quickly! We also encourage volunteers to bring fun signs.

Visit our MousePad discussion forum for more details and to sign up.

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 4:00 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 2016 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 advice 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.

Costumes and security

runDisney modified its policy on running in costume, bringing it more in line with the policy put in effect at the theme parks in late 2015.

As before, runners age 13 and under can still wear costumes and even masks, as 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 cites 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.

PhotoPass

Disney PhotoPass cast members will again take the race photos for the 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend events. Race photos will be available to view at Disneyland.com/PhotoPass and on the Disneyland app within 24 hours of the event.

If you are an annual passholder with a pass that qualifies you for free PhotoPass photos, your photos are included in that benefit, and are 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. Visit Disneyland.com/PhotoPass for details and pricing.

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 – 2017-TINK-KIDX-XXXX
  • 5K  2017-TINK-B5KX-XXXX
  • 10K  2017-TINK-10KX-XXXX
  • Half  2017-TINK-HLFX-XXXX

To add your photos via the iPhone My Disney Experience smartphone application:

  1. Open the app and log in.
  2. In the My Photos section of your main My Account view, tap Link PhotoPass.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Link Photo, Card or Purchase.
  4. Tap Enter an ID.
  5. In the "Enter the ID number" field, type the event code for your event, then replace the X-XXXX portion with your bib number. For example:
    • If your bib number is 12345 for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, you would enter 2017-TINK-HLF1-2345.
    • If your bib number is fewer than five digits, add zeros to the beginning to make it five (so 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.