Excitement seems to bubble over us as we set off on this annual weekend trip to Orlando, Florida. This year, we’ve added the 5k to our race weekend. Sis and I convinced mom to try this race, promising her it wouldn’t disappoint. So, being incredibly brave, she signed up – only waiting to tell us AFTER the race was over how nervous she had been!
On Thursday morning, we set off for Orlando. We booked a condo at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. This was a first for us. Typically, we book rooms on Disney property so we could take advantage of all the race transportation, but this year we decided to branch out. And boy, am I ever glad we did! As we pulled up to our condo, we were greeted with towers of rooms, multiple pools and even a lazy river. I was already feeling confident this was going to be the right decision. When we stepped foot into our condo, I was even more impressed. Right away, it was like a home away from home, exactly the feeling sis and I had been going for this weekend . We felt as if booking multiple hotel rooms in the past and being forced to eat out, we were always on the go and always being forced to eat more processed foods than necessary. This way, we had plenty of room to spread out, a living room and a full kitchen. This condo even had a fantastic little balcony we took advantage of one afternoon. So far, things were off to a great start.
Thursday turned into a pretty busy day, however. We dumped our luggage and set off for the expo. The expo turned out to be a bit more of a rush than we would have liked since time had somehow gotten away from us, but we managed to get all of our race bibs and packets with only one minor mishap. Note to self, make sure to bring a photo ID with you to race packet pick-up. Panic only slightly set in when one of us left our ID’s in the car, which was not exactly parked around the corner, and the expo was shutting its doors in mere minutes. I ran, literally, out of the expo, to the car and weaved my way back through the crowd in just enough time to deliver the ID.
Now that everyone had their race packets, we set off for Publix, managed to get a weekend’s worth of groceries in record time, and mad it back to the condo for a relatively early bed-time.
The next morning, the clock went off much, much too early. But sis and I jumped out of bed, more excited than we could stand. It felt like when we were kids, getting ready for dance recitals, putting on make-up (yes, don’t judge) and donning our costumes. We were even more thrilled to have mom join us this year so she could finally understand what the buzz was really all about.
Driving to the race was a first. And, to be honest, I was terrified. In all of these years, we have never taken our own vehicle to a race and I was worried this had been the worst idea ever. But, we managed to get out of the condo on time and traffic was not at all what I expected. We got this!
We made it to Epcot without a hitch, parking in a spot even fairly close to the finish and start line. While sis, mom and I donned our race bibs and running gear, other grandma and my beautiful niece P, got set to wave us goodbye. We stood around for a little while, enjoyed the subdued chaos, and took some pre-race pictures.
Other grandma and P found a fantastic spot on the bleachers where they could watch as we set off across the start line. We waved goodbye, setting out on this incredible course. On this course you run around the lake at Epcot, circling all of the countries. I had tried to explain to mom just how amazing it is when you follow the course through the back entrance of Epcot and suddenly, there you are, running alongside the lake as it’s lit up like Christmas with lights and music and volunteers cheering you on. The second we stepped foot onto this magical place, she completely lit up.
When we crossed the finish line, we were greeted by an excited P, thrilled to see us get our medals. Mom, as you can see, was more excited than anyone to finally get her first Disney race medal!
After the 5k, we ran back to the condo, did a quick shower, changed P into her race outfit and set off for the kids races! I couldn’t have been more proud at this little girl. Wanting to be just like her mommy, she donned a tutu and matching tank – this year wanting to be Jasmine – and was ready for her race. She flew through the course like the wind, more excited than she could stand to get her very own medal.
After her race, we set off back to the expo, did a little shopping and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the condo, lounging by the pool. I knew if there was one thing we needed to do, that was rest up. We still had a couple of big days ahead of us!
Stay tuned for Part 2 – 10k race. Don’t forget to check out my race tips below!
5k Race tips
Parking isn’t too much of an issue on this race. Yes, don’t get me wrong, it is definitely crowded, but if you want to drive to this race instead of taking the Disney transportation, don’t even hesitate.
Patience. I probably should put this race tip at the very top of the list for each of these legs of the race. Please, remember everyone is here to have a great time. Be patient and be kind to each other. I promise, everyone will make it to the finish line.
Character pics. If you just have to get your pic taken with a character along the route, my suggestion would be to pick one or two. The lines are INCREDIBLY LONG. Disney does an amazing job of keeping it flowing, but this will certainly cut into your finish time – if that’s something that’s important to you.
Have fun! Because isn’t that what Disney is all about?!
Hotels near the race site
Disney sponsored hotels: Okay, there is much to be said for this so I will break this up into a few different sections.
Luckily, for this particular race, all Disney hotels are now available with Disney race transportation! There is so much to say for staying on Disney property and the race transportation is a definite plus, especially when you’re talking about a 4:30 a.m. drive-time.
You will also see tons of other participants who are eagerly awaiting the races. This is a definite energy that you need this early in the morning. But….this also means longer lines to use Disney transportation. The more budget-friendly the hotel, the more crowded the lines can be.
You can decorate your hotel room window. This is so much fun! We got a little crazy creative here, but that’s half the fun. It’s a blast to check out how many other runners are staying right alongside you.
When we have stayed on Disney property, we usually choose the budget-friendly hotels. Warning – so do a lot of other runners. These budget hotels fill up fast! So don’t wait too long to make your reservation.
Staying off Disney property. If you decide to rent a condo, especially with a large group, this is the way to go. We have used VRBO and Trip Advisor to rent at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort – which is technically on Disney property, but not a Disney sponsored hotel. This is a fabulous resort, just a couple miles from the Disney entrance. However, if you stay here, you will have to drive yourself on race day.
There are also multiple relatively inexpensive hotels in the area. Most of these hotels do offer shuttles to Disney AFTER the race. I have heard rumor that some even offer transportation on race day to the corrals. Make sure to verify this with your particular hotel, though.