Category: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler

Another Race Off The Bucket List

When it comes to runDisney, we all have those race weekends that are must do’s for us.  The next one for me has to be Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend!  But for some of us, it’s not just one race in particular, it’s ALL the races!  Well that’s Randy’s goal and he’s here to share his most recent races that were crossed off his runDisney bucket list over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.


I remember a quote but cannot recall who said it, but it went something like, “We run not to beat each other, but to be with one another.”

I have been a ‘runner’ for many more years than I haven’t been a ‘runner’. And mostly I enjoy running by myself. With work, family, friends and other commitments and stresses, I find that my running time is my time. It gives me a chance to decompress, forget about my troubles and focus on some very basic things. Putting one foot in front of the other and breathing, two very basic functions. When I am running that is about all I have to think of and after a couple of miles it becomes instinct and I don’t even have to think about those things, they just happen. It allows me to totally zone out and forget about everything.

Six years ago I ran my first marathon and my first Disney race. It was a great experience. I loved being able to run through all of the parks as well as see some of the back lot areas. But what I really enjoyed was the camaraderie that was evident between all of the runners. I met runners who were considered elite as well as runners who ran for reasons much like mine and those who ran for other various reasons. What I found out that race was there was a social aspect to running that I had been missing. It was then that I decided I would run every race that Disney had to offer at least once and meet as many people as I could during those races.

Since that first race I have completed not only the Disney World Marathon 3 times, but also have ran the Disney World ½ Marathon 2 times, The Goofy Challenge, The Disneyland ½ Marathon, The Coast to Coast Challenge and the Castaway Cay 5K. So for 2014, I decided I would run the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler.

The 5K was a memorable event for me since I ran it with my wife and it was her first 5K as well as her first race ever. It was a special moment to complete the 5K by her side, even if the pace was slower than what I normally run at.

The one thing I hate about race day is not being able to sleep before a race. For the 10-Miler, I thought that since I got up early for the 5K that I would be able to take a nap that afternoon prior to getting ready for the race in the evening. As usual sleep eluded me and it was soon time to get ready for the race.

My wife went with me to the pre-race staging area and as usual Disney knows how to put on a party. The DJ, everyone dancing, all the runners that were in costume all made for a very festive environment. I really enjoy the time before the race and after the race because I have the opportunity to meet so many different people but being different doesn’t mean we don’t have things in common. Everyone there had at least two things in common, they like to run and they love Disney.


The race itself is another thing that Disney does so very well. Along the race route there were Disney Villain’s along with props and special effects along the route. Not to mention all of the volunteers, cast members and all the other people that were located throughout the route cheering us all on.   With all of the distractions along the route the race is over sooner than you think. The miles just fade away when you run at Disney.

I really only had one complaint about the race and the route. I did not like where it finished. You really finish the race behind the Tower of Terror and not a whole lot of people there to watch as you finish. But that being said Disney does take care of the runners. There was plenty of water and PowerAde along the route as well as at the finish. There were snack items you could eat to refuel after the run. There were plenty of opportunities for pictures. But the most important part of the race is when you finish and get your medal. My Disney race medals hang proudly at my home and in my office.


The park was open until 3:30am that night for the runners and their guests. So my wife and I went on some rides, ate some food and walked around. We met other runners from all over the country as well as from other parts of the world.

I still enjoy my “me time” when I run but I also enjoy the social aspect of running whenever I run at Disney.  So now I have two more races crossed off my runDisney bucket list and I can’t wait to see who I will meet during the next race weekend!

A Magical First 5K

When you start the journey of running your first race, it can be a nerve wracking experience full of doubt and insecurity.  But once you start training and eventually finish that race, it is amazing to see what you can do when you put your mind to something.  Randy is here today to tell us about his wife’s journey to her first race, the Happy Haunted 5k Trail Run, and how he supported her along the way.  There is nothing like a great support system!


“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”

– Don Williams Jr.

For a runner this quote rings true. We devote endless hours preparing ourselves for an event that in comparison to our training takes only a fraction of time to complete. During that preparation we find out a lot about ourselves. One of the most profound revelations is that we are capable of so much more that we may have ever though we might have been.

My wife ran her first 5K race at the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, but it wasn’t that destination where she learned that she could be a runner, it was the journey to that race where she learned that lesson.

After many years of telling me that she couldn’t run let alone be a runner my wife surprised me when I jokingly asked her if she wanted to run the 5K race the morning that I would be running The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and she said yes. Not wanting to give her the opportunity to change her mind I quickly signed us both up to run the 5K as well as signed myself up for the 10 miler.

Although I tried I could not convince my wife to attempt a straight out run on the 5K. Instead we would train for her to do a run/walk for the race. I developed a 3 month training plan for her so that she would never feel like she was going too far or too fast too soon. We did the training runs together and I liked seeing her change from someone who only a few month earlier would say that she could never run to someone who was running and starting to realize that she could do more than she had thought she could. There were even days when she would want to go a little faster or a little further on our training runs. It was nice to see a side of her where new things where possible.   Even though she was going to do a run/walk, she was definitely a ‘runner’.


Finally the weekend of the run was upon us. The weather forecast called for rain for the entire time we were to be at Walt Disney World and my wife was depressed about the forecast. I tried to calm her nerves by telling her not to worry about it and that she should only worry about running her own race. We ended up getting our “Disney Magic” because the only rain we saw besides a little drizzle when we arrived the Wednesday prior to the race were some small rain showers the morning of the race.


By the time we went to our corrals the rain had stopped. The whole forecasted week of rain amounted to only a couple of hours of rain.


In the corral, I could tell my wife was getting nervous. I just kept reminding her that all she had to do was ‘run her race’. Meaning forget about everything else just do what you came to do. We also had the opportunity to meet so many great people over the days leading up to the race. Many of those people were running the 5K also and my wife was surprised how many of those runners were also doing the run/walk method for the 5K. Finally our corral was called up to the starting line and our race started. As we went along the course she was pleasantly surprised by how pleasant everyone was to each other, and she really liked seeing some of the characters our on the trail also.

When we crossed the finish line she looked at me and smiled and said “I can wear my shirt now”. This was a reference to a little quirk I have about wearing a shirt for a race prior to my running and completing the race. I happily told her “yes you can because now you have earned it”.


We stayed around the ESPN Sports Complex for a couple of hours just cheering the runners on, meeting some of the other runners and taking pictures. Most importantly I could tell that my wife was beaming with personal pride for having accomplished something that only a few short months prior she had thought was impossible for her to ever do.


The Villain’s Bash! A Terrifyingly Fun 10-Miler After Party

When you run a nighttime race at Walt Disney World, the fun doesn’t just end there…there’s an after party to go to!!  This is such a fun way to celebrate your accomplishment, show off your new bling and just let loose!  Jenn is back this week (you might remember her tips on prepping for a night race vs. a morning race) to share all the fun from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler after party, The Villain’s Bash!  It looks like she had a terrifyingly good time :)


You’ve just run 10 miles! You are exhilarated, your muscles are sore…so now what are you going to do?   Obvious answers might be: “collapse,” “sleep,” or “eat my weight in doughnuts.” My answer? I’m going to the Villain’s Bash!


But… what exactly is a Villain’s Bash? I truly wasn’t sure what to expect from this event. I imagined that some Villain’s would show up at the party, and I expected a DJ and some rides. But in my mind, I definitely didn’t do it justice.

The Villain’s Bash is truly the perfect ending to this themed race. As you may know, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler is the absolute best race for those people who are fans of the, well, wicked side of Disney.   All along the race route there are photo ops with a variety of Disney’s best bad guys. Dr. Facilier, the Hyenas, the Big Bad Wolf, the Queen of Hearts, and the Evil Queen in witch form are only a sampling of who you can meet along the route. It’s a Villain-lover’s dream (nightmare?)!



But that was just the beginning! The Villain’s Bash totally upped the ante – but I’m getting ahead of myself. After the race, we claimed our medals and our snacks, and then began the rather lengthy trek back to Hollywood Studios. The path then diverged, one side heading to bag claim and the other straight to the Villain’s Bash. Although I was extremely excited for the after-party, my husband and I first made the obligatory detour to bag claim. We had stashed a little go-bag inside of the clear race bags with energy drinks, means to “freshen up”, and room for uneaten snacks; once we had this in hand, we was ready to go!

It is worth noting that there were conveniently located changing stations near Echo Lake for runners use; traffic flow took us directly past this area on the way back to the festivities. I realized that this was a very good thing, since the women’s bathroom lines elsewhere were extremely long.



Party time! As you can imagine, there were people everywhere. The area on Sunset Boulevard near where they sell Toluca Turkey Legs was packed with people snacking on their post-race boxes. It was also packed because the rides were open! As you might imagine, we headed for the Tower of Terror, which happens to be our favorite ride. What can be better than riding the Tower with your Tower 10 Miler medal? Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was also open, and I later discovered that other rides, including Toy Story Midway Mania and Star Tours, were also open. Of course, this is a big draw to the Villain’s Bash. But believe it or not, the rides were not the focus of the party.


I began to realize this as we left the Tower and headed toward the heart of the party. We noticed that the shops were open, and we headed in to check out the merchandise. Of course, in keeping with the evening’s theme, we paused in the store specializing in Villain’s merchandise; it also happens to sell some delectable sweets – guilt-free of course, since you’ve just run 10 miles!



We also passed two wet bars on the way to the Sorcerer’s Hat, available for those participants wishing to indulge in an adult beverage after the race. This was certainly a detour from what I normally see in the Studios! Music from a live DJ permeated the immediate vicinity, and there were several people enjoying the music – even dancing, if you can believe it! Even after 10 miles, the festive atmosphere was energizing enough to overcome our tired muscles.



We were taking it all in (and be-bopping to the music), when I noticed two lines off to the side.

As it turns out, the Villain’s Bash truly hosts a multitude of – you guessed it – Villains! Cruella de Vil was at that time welcoming her fans. I have never had the pleasure of seeing Cruella in person, and it was fascinating to watch her in action. I was informed by the Cast Member that Cruella was toward the end of her greeting period, but that the Queen would soon be coming in her stead; she would then return later in the evening. It seems the two were alternating on and off throughout the event. I decided to beat the rush and get in the line for the Queen, another larger-than-live Villain who I had yet to see! Since I had just managed to get a picture with the “old hag” version of the Queen, I thought it fitting to get her Majesty’s picture as well!


I was so excited about the photo ops that I headed off in search of more! I headed back up Sunset Boulevard, and I located meet and greets with Gaston and Shan Yu (from Mulan). I have seen Gaston before, but never Shan Yu. This was one of the most fun character interactions I’ve had. I was amazed at how short the line was! Shan Yu is pretty much never out, so I decided to take full advantage of the photo op. Since Gaston was on his “off” period, I headed over to the opposite side of the Studios, near the old Soundstage and Star Tours.





Next up, I found Pain & Panic from Hercules.


As I left the line after my picture, I noticed another little merchandise area selling some apparel from the event.


Then, I continued my journey in the pursuit of Villain pictures. I ventured over to Star Tours, and found, as you may guess, Darth Vader and two Storm Troopers. I have to say that I saw some of the best poses here before I had my turn. My favorite was the group who got on their knees with hands behind their heads, pretending they’d been taken hostage by the Sith lord and his cronies. As I continued on my journey, I also noticed that Boba Fett was receiving visitors nearby.


Much of the Street of America was quiet, as was Pixar Place – even Toy Story Mania’s line was relatively short! Of course, at this point it was after 3 am, and things were starting to wind down. And I will admit, fatigue was most definitely setting in. Since we were walking back to our resort (a short walk, but I can honestly say it felt much longer!), we did a quick tour of the remaining shops and headed for the exit.


The event was wonderful, and I had such fun getting my picture with so many infamous Disney Villains! The face characters were especially entertaining, but I have to say that all of the characters really did a fabulous job acting their … well, worst! Although there is currently no 10-Miler scheduled for next year, I truly hope the event will return so I can take part in it again!


Jenn has been a lifelong Disney fan. Her passion for the Mouse has only increased throughout the years. She visits Disney Parks 2-3 times per year, often in conjunction with Disney Races. In addition to being a fan, she plans Disney travel for others, hoping to share the Magic with everyone. Through Disney-themed blog & Facebook pages, she regularly tracks new and exciting changes to the Disney parks so she can share them with others.  Check out Jenn’s blog DISining Memories and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

A First Time Disney Runner Gets In The Race Spirit

Costumes are a BIG part of running a Disney race.  Some people go all out with very elaborate costumes, some enhance their running gear to represent their favorite character, and some (like me!) just like to take it all in.  I love to hear when first time Disney runners get in the costume spirit even before they’ve experienced the festivities first hand.  This month Colleen ran her first Disney race, the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, and put together a fun costume out of items she had on hand.  Here’s her story along with some tips on how to create a fun and inexpensive costume of your own!


I became interested in runDisney this past summer.  Many of the races for this season had already filled, but I was able to get a spot running the Happy Haunted 5K for a charity during The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler weekend.  Initially, I planned not to run in costume.  I just wanted to wear my normal workout gear.  But, when I purchased tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party, I noticed a girl wearing a Minnie Mouse costume on the Disney website, and I thought it was so cute! So, I decided to dress up for the party.

I began searching for a skirt online, then I realized my party costume could easily transfer to a race outfit.  The only items I had to purchase were the skirt and yellow crocs to imitate Minnie’s yellow heels.  I already owned a black tank and black biker shorts.  The only lingering issue was Minnie ears.  I was reluctant to wear a headband with ears because I suspected it would fall off or distract me somehow.  I even briefly considered buying clip-on ears.  About two weeks before the race, I realized I could put my hair in two buns, high on each side of my head, for Minnie ears.  That seemed like the easiest, cheapest, and most comfortable option.

I set out my entire outfit the night before the race so I could get ready quickly, although one of the best features of the Happy Haunted 5K is a 7:30 a.m. start time, later than most runDisney morning races.  I didn’t have to be on a bus until 6:30 am.  Another major advantage is starting at the ESPN Wide World of Sports because there is a lot of covered/indoor space to wait.   It was drizzling, but that was never a problem because I could easily find shelter.  While the restroom lines in the stadium were long, the Jostens Center (expo site) was open and there was no wait for the restroom.  While I was stretching, a little girl pointed at me and said “Minnie!”  I was so excited that she recognized my running costume.  At the same time, I noticed more and more costumes on other runners, and I started planning for the future!


About 7:15, I walked to my corral, which was the fifth to start.  I have read a lot about how crowded runDisney races are, but that was not my experience with this race.  After half a mile, everyone spread out comfortably.  My only disappointment was the lack of theming.  This race is a trail run, away from the parks.  There were a few character photo ops and two “decorations” (a truck covered in cobwebs and some spiders dangling from trees).  But, I think runDisney could have done much more to enhance the course with Disney/ Halloween features.  Still, the finish line energy was wonderful, and I was so happy to receive my medal, which featured the hitchhiking ghosts!


The snack box was more than adequate, and I appreciated the water, Powerade, and bananas.  I decided against asking  my family to come to the finish line, so I left the post-race festivities pretty quickly.


When I think about my experience, one of the biggest surprises was my excitement about dressing as a character.  Two months ago, I considered a costume to be an impediment, but now, I am writing a blog post about my costume experience!   The most important lesson I learned was that a running costume does not have to be expensive, elaborate, or uncomfortable.  If you would like to dress up, consider your character’s major colors.  Ask yourself if you already own any items that could work for your costume.  For example, I already own a blue tank and a red cape, so if I want to dress as Snow White, I only need to buy a yellow skirt and a red hair ribbon.

I have marked my calendar for November 2015 for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend.  Will I dress as Snow White or Princess Anna? I have a year to decide!


A Terrifyingly RAD First runDisney Race!

It seems like even the most seasoned runners always have a runDisney race on their bucket list.  I mean how could you not?!  They are so FUN!  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler is a great introductory race for those new to runDisney and Cheyanne is here today to share her experience.  Let’s just say, she might have caught the runDisney bug…


It finally happened: I registered for my first runDisney race! My boyfriend’s mom wanted to register for her first race in several years and we agreed that The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler would be perfect. A racecation (yes, I made that word up) at the happiest place on earth? Yes please! I’ve done many races in my life, including 7 half marathons and a bunch of 10ks and 5ks. A runDisney race was on my bucket list because it combined my love for running and all things Disney. It almost sounded too good to be true!

I learned through various blogs that most people wear a costume to the Disney races. I was never one to wear a costume, but I figured if I was going to do it, gotta do it big! My race costume was Princess Anna from Frozen! I know, the TOT is mostly villains, but I love Frozen and knew it would be somewhat easy to make. I got most of the costume from Sparkle Athletic, but knew the design on the top would complete the outfit. My mom is very talented and crafty, so she offered her help. She made the design using puffy paint and threw on some glitter. I may be bias, but she did a fabulous job! Thanks mom :) Since I never wear a costume to races, this was exciting.


Even though I am a seasoned runner, training for this race wasn’t the easiest. See, I live in Phoenix, Arizona where the Summer heat is BRUTAL! It is not unusual for it to be in the 90s at 4 or 5 in the morning June through the end of September, which means you either have to run very early in the morning, late at night (um, yeah not safe) or on the treadmill. I did a mix of treadmill and outdoor running. Shout out to the best running store in the nation Runners Den for hosting an amazing training group that motivates me to get out of bed every Saturday morning :)

Before I knew it, race weekend was here. I made sure to pack all my race gear in my carry on so I wouldn’t risk losing all my gear. My main concern about running a race in Florida was the humidity. Heat? Bring it on? Humidity? Yeah, we don’t have much of that in Phoenix. I checked the forecast the week of the race and saw the high chance for thunderstorms. Shortly thereafter, there was a message from runDisney warning about inclement weather. Lots of rain? NNNOOOOO!!!! One, I’m not used to it. Two, I had a cute costume to wear. My boyfriend’s mom was running the race too and was also concerned about the weather. Either way, we were prepared to run, even if it meant getting wet and muddy.

We flew in Orlando the night before the race, which was kind of a bummer given that we missed the first day of the expo. Hey, we did what we could. We stayed at the Shades of Green, which is on Disney property and is a great place to stay for military families. We went to the expo at the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex bright and early the next day. I must say, the crowds weren’t nearly as bad as I read about. Like most expos, we spent way too much money on race gear. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Galloway. What a nice man! We also saw the tail end of the Haunted 5k taking place that morning. We were officially pumped for the race!



After the expo, we took the advice to lay low. I snuck in a 2 hour nap, but I was too excited to rest more than that! After saying good bye to my boyfriend and his dad (they do not like those kind of crowds!) we headed over to the Polynesian Resort to wait for the bus. We got off the bus and saw the sea of runners dressed in awesome costumes! That crowd had an energy level unlike any race I’ve ever done. The weather ended up being a clear, beautiful night. Still more humid than I’m used to, but not as bad as the predicted forecast. I drank a lot of water that day hoping that would help. We stretched and waited for race time to begin.



We got in our corrals to get ready to go. I was shocked to see we needed to be in our corral 45 minutes prior to the start. My plantar fascitis was not happy about this! I was set in corral D while my boyfriend’s mom was set in J, so we wished each other luck and got in our place. I was happy to see runDisney volunteers being firm about coral placement. I’ve been in way too many races where people were clearly in the wrong corral and that can be a pain. Anyway, it was getting to be time to go and we walked almost a quarter mile to the start. It was so cool to see the fireworks go off for every coral, but they didn’t do it for D! Boo! Oh well, I was about to run a Disney race!

I felt great getting started. There were a couple of hills the first couple miles (If you’ve been to Arizona, it’s pretty flat), but I was still feeling good. I was going between a 10 and 10:35 pace, which was good considering I was stuck in the 11 minute range for a long while. I was happy with my pace, so I originally decided against stopping for pictures with characters. I ran by the Queen of Hearts, the Hyenas from Lion King and Captain Hook. There was a line for each one and I was worried it would drop me below the 16 minute mile. I threw that thought out the window when I came across a picture opportunity with Jack Skellington and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. No way I was missing this!


It was around that time I decided to let go of my competitiveness and enjoy what the race had to offer. I could run a PR at home, but I can’t take pictures with Disney characters at home! I got pictures with Stitch and the Haunted Mansion cast among others. Even though I stopped for pictures, I was still able to maintain a good pace.



One of my favorite spots to run on the course was through ESPN World Wide Sports. My joints were thanking me. This was also the part where I really started feeling the humidity. I stayed hydrated with the water and Gatorade combo, which works well by the way.

Before I knew it, we were running back into Hollywood Studios. Yay, almost there! I loved the part where we ran by Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat and down the Streets of America. What a sight! The one rough thing was the sharp turns. Oh my!


Just when it seemed like the finish line was a long way away, I was crossing it! Oh yeah, I did it! Loved the medal and the fact it glowed in the dark. I was so happy to be done with my first runDisney race!


Even though I was done running, the walking had only just begun! Wow, we walked about a mile after the race. I know the volunteers had to keep things going, but wow! I walked over to the family reunion area to wait for my boyfriend’s mom, and she finished about a half hour later. Her goal was to not get swept and finish, which she aced! We met up and got ready to go on the Tower of Terror, but she decided to sit it out and told me to go on her behalf.  A couple runners learned the hard way that wearing their medal on the ride is not a good idea. Luckily, I tucked it in the seatbelt. I had to go get our bags and with it being 3 am, we almost missed our chance to get them! I hate to brag, but I got directions around the park from THE Jeff Galloway :) We finally got on the bus and passed out at the hotel around 4:30 AM. Woo! What a night!


We went to Epcot the next day in our race shirts. I didn’t know about the Food and Wine Festival, but that alone made the trip worth it. Whoever planned the race around that event is genius! All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I’m so sad to now learn that this race won’t be happening in 2015, but we already agreed to do the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon next year. No shock here, but I am officially addicted to runDisney! I’m already brainstorming costumes. Sorcerer Mickey, Merida, or Belle? Stay tuned :)

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