The most magical of all places: Walt Disney World. But, a trip to the Magical Kingdom can be fraught with stress about how you’re going to get your training in. As a Disney aficionado, here’s my advice.
First: you’re on vacation! Stop worrying about running! You’re going to be walking 100 miles a day (okay, probably 10) anyway, so there will be plenty of exercise.
But, sometimes you need a little time away from your family or maybe you’re a bit type A about your training schedule. Or maybe you just honestly want to have the experience of running in Disney World.
If you really want the experience of running in Disney World, sign up for a RunDisney race. They range in distance from 5K to marathon (and sometimes multiple distances over a weekend, like the Dopey Challenge) and have themes (!!!) like Star Wars and Princesses. People wear costumes and there are mid-race photo ops, not to mention lots of Disney swag. Most importantly, the courses actually run through the parks! Running through the parks is not something you can really do outside of these races, so if that’s your goal, bite the bullet and invest in a race.
If you’re not actually doing a RunDisney race, there are still opportunities to run on your vacation. The worst option would be running on the treadmill at your hotel. Many of the Disney World Resort Hotels have full-service gyms available. I have never actually seen these rumored treadmills though because somehow running on a treadmill in a humid hotel gym doesn’t seem very #magical to me. Instead, I recommend choosing your hotel based on runnability.
The best option by far is staying at a hotel near Crescent Lake/Disney’s BoardWalk Area. I think these hotels are generally reserved for Vacation Club members or people in conferences, but the running is GREAT. You can run all the way around the lake, through the hotels and the boardwalk and then also run to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Once, when I stayed at the Beach Club Resort, I ran to Hollywood Studios at 8 a.m. – right when they opened for extra magic hours – and ran through the park before it filled up! Much more magical than a treadmill!
There are other resorts with running options too — the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian both have access to some winding paths. You have to work a bit to get any significant mileage in (lots of back and forth), but it’s possible. The Fort Wilderness area has some trails as well.
That said — you may end up at a resort with literally no running options, for example, Animal Kingdom Lodge, an absolutely beautiful building with giraffes outside but nowhere to run. If you’re really desperate, you can take a shuttle to the boardwalk area for a run … but I would recommend lap swimming which will feel amazing and therapeutic after all of the walking. Or, you could just sleep in and prepare yourself to tackle another awesome but long day!
What are your tips for running at the most magical place on Earth?