First off, if you have made the decision to runDisney, YAY & Congrats! You are about to have the time of your life! Participating in runDisney races has been a huge positive in my life the last couple of years. Combining my love for Disney, exercise, tackling personal goals and making new friends, doing runDisney events has been very rewarding for me. Something I noticed when planning my 1st Princess Half Marathon was an interesting add-on option called the “VIP Race Retreat”. The 2018 Race Retreat consisted of:
- Early entry into the Expo. Be among the first to shop & make sure you get what’s on your list before it sells out! Plus, pick up your bib before it gets super busy!
- Private Finish Line Hospitality Tent with live video feed and runner results ~ It was nice to watch as the other participants crossed the finish line! And, the tent is climate controlled!
- Pre-Race Snacks and Beverages ~ We enjoyed a bagel and PB, plus I grabbed some mustard packets for the run in case I got muscle cramps
- runDisney Keepsake ~ 2018’s gift was ice packs that said Princess half weekend
- private restrooms (port-a-potties) ~ These were nicer than I expected!
- padded stretching areas ~ This really is a nice extra! Make sure to use it before the race!
- Following the race, an area containing changing tents was available, and there was a medical self-treatment station, and 10-minute massages were being offered for a small fee (I will be hitting this up next month)!
- Character Experiences ~ short lines and photo ops with some favorite characters!
- Catered Post-Race Brunch ~ This made life after that 13 miles so perfect!
Lots of runners are left wondering whether or not the Race Retreat will be worth the extra cost. I personally didn’t dwell on that question for too long, as the benefits for the adding the retreat seemed worth the cost for my daughter and me. She hadn’t ever participated in anything like this before, and I thought it would only add to her experience and comfort. It was a huge relief to me to know that she had a balanced meal waiting for her after we finished the race. It will set your vacation budget back another $120 per person, but it will give your half marathon race day a more streamlined feel.
We did visit the tent the morning of the Half Marathon, just before heading to our corrals, and made
It was hot and sunny out by the time we finished our race. I was especially thankful that we had the VIP Race Retreat tent to make our way to after getting our medals, refreshments, and pics were taken. The tent was very well air-conditioned with huge fans! My daughter and I, Natalie, found a table that literally sat right in front of one of these aforementioned (huge) fans! After we were cooled off, the first things we grabbed were liquids. There were Coolers of canned soda, Powerade and water bottles on ice. After that, it was buffet all the way! We loaded up on eggs, granola, potatoes, and muffins. Everything was absolutely fantastic and tasted fresh. It seems weird to me now, mostly because I don’t drink milk very often, but I even enjoyed a small glass of that cold chocolate milk, and it was
I can’t remember the flavor of these muffins, but we did enjoy the carbs, for sure! The eggs and salsa station was a big hit! This dish really hit the spot, especially with the shredded cheese on top. I don’t remember if I had the turkey sausage or not, but the potato wedges were a really good addition.
The oatmeal station was my favorite. I feel like the goodness just completely healed my tired and sore body pretty much at once haha! I think this may have been the main thing that Natalie ate. She nibbled on a few other things, but this was also her favorite.
Parfaits are super yummy, and like dessert. These Greek yogurt parfaits were a great addition to the buffet. I had a small one right before we left!
Of course there was an “adults only” beverage station! I can’t remember if this was cash only, or not, so make sure you bring some cash if you are interested in a post race drink!
Pro-tip: Don’t forget to bring a little cash, maybe about $10-$20 if you want to get a massage. I’m pretty sure they are cash only!
Pro-tip: The private bag check made checking your belongings so easy! We don’t usually bring change out clothing or anything we have to check because bag check can be a zoo, but anytime we are able to add on the VIP Race Retreat, I will be bringing a change of clothes, flip flops, a hairbrush and deodorant! ~ Maybe a fresh ball cap, too!
Every Cast Member was helpful, friendly and ready to sprinkle some pixie dust on us tired runners! I don’t remember a single one that wasn’t wearing a big smile or wishing runners a big congrats on earning that medal! There was always someone tending to, and refilling the buffet, asking if we all had everything we needed or bussing a table for the next wave of runners coming in. I appreciated them all so much!! Great job Disney & Cast Members, you guys rock!! No, there weren’t Mickey waffles (sad truth), but the Cast Members really made up for that with their sunniest Disney dispositions! We definitely felt pampered, welcomed, stuffed and completely rested by the time we left to make our way back to the monorail. We were more than ready for a nap now!
I don’t think that the ride on the monorail from EPCOT back to the TTC has ever felt as long as this one did! It was packed, but a very kind gentleman gave up his seat for me, and although I kindly declined, he absolutely insisted since I had “Just ran 13 miles!”, and I did not want to his kindness to go unappreciated, so I finally gave in… without regret! My feet needed another rest! Thank you, kind Disney stranger!
Once we arrived back at the TTC, we made the (thankfully) short walk back to our room at the Polynesian Villas, and our Half Marathon journey ended, several hours later, right back at where we had started. What a journey it was, and it will forever be my favorite race, as I got the opportunity to share it with my only daughter, who made me so proud that day with her determination to finish!
We absolutely recommend the VIP Race Retreat, and my husband & I have added it on for the 2019 PHM weekend. It made our long race day so seamless, with comfortable chairs, good food, and a fun atmosphere, Natalie and I felt like Princesses (which was fitting)! For the 2019 race, my husband and I added VIP on before they even announced that early Expo entry was going to be apart of the perks of being a VIP, so yes, I would recommend it even without that addition. Drop me a line if you have any questions, I would be happy to help you plan your runDisney trip! Happy Disney Racing, and wishing you many magical miles!