The Pasta in the Park Party is an event that takes place during most runDisney race weekends. It’s a great way to fuel up for the big race while enjoying the Disney magic. At Walt Disney World, the event is held at Epcot and includes a private viewing area for Illuminations! Today Bianca is taking us inside the Pasta in the Park Party over Princess Half Marathon Weekend…let’s take a look!
Last year, I made a goal for myself to participate in my first ever runDisney event. After some research, I chose the Princess Half Marathon weekend. I decided since this was my first runDisney event (let alone my first race in years), I would seize every opportunity to make the experience as memorable as possible. Many “firsts” occurred for me over the weekend, including the Pasta in the Park Party.
Held in Epcot’s World Showplace Pavilion, the party took place the Friday and Saturday evenings of race weekend. You don’t have to have a separate park ticket to attend the event, which is pretty nice for someone who doesn’t have an annual pass. You get to enter Epcot as early as 6pm, even though the party doesn’t start until 7 (a nice perk in and of itself). The party featured a full buffet, rare character appearances (more on this later), live music, and the best part, reserved viewing for the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks!
I participated in the 5k (Friday morning) and the 10k (Saturday morning). I opted for the Saturday party, which turned out to be the right choice. It gave me plenty of time after the 10k to go back to my resort, take a nap, and get ready to head to Epcot in the evening. My son and I arrived at Epcot right at 6pm and got our wristbands for the party. We had an hour to kill before it started, so we got in line to meet Baymax at the Character Spot (number one on our list of character appearances at Epcot this weekend), and went to the party shortly after.
The World Showplace Pavilion is nestled between Canada and the United Kingdom, and it’s huge! I’ve never noticed it before, but it’s a bit recessed, so it doesn’t really interfere with the World Showcase scenery. Once inside we found ourselves seating, and before I could even check out the spread, I was shocked to see Pain and Panic from Hercules doing a character meet! I was totally “fangirling”. Remember I said there were rare character appearances? Well, if there’s one thing this girl loves, it’s meeting “rare” characters. I immediately dragged my eight-year-old with me and got in line for a photo and signatures.
Once we were finished with our first meet of the evening, we went to make ourselves a plate of food. The spread was fairly robust. There were several types of pasta dishes, salad, vegetables, and of course, breadsticks. If you’re participating in the half marathon the following morning, this is the perfect way to carb up. Water and lemonade in large pitchers were provided and a selection of sodas, beer and wine were available for purchase.
The food was delicious! My favorite was the green beans and assorted peppers mix. They also had Mickey-shaped ice cream bars and sandwiches for dessert which my son couldn’t get enough of. I think he grabbed a second one while my back was turned! After we were done stuffing our faces, we got in line for a few more character meets. We met Megara and Hercules together, and then one of my favorite Disney Villains, Hades. After meeting characters we got on the dance floor. They had a host for the evening and a live DJ who did a really great job of playing old and new music, as well as some pretty cool Disney mash-ups.
Around 8:30 they started to wrap up the party, so we went outside for the fireworks. If you are attending the party Saturday and have to be up extra early for the half marathon, you may want to consider skipping this part. I, however, never miss IllumiNations, and would rather run on fumes than skip it. But I understand not everyone works that way, so to each their own. Our spot for the fireworks was between the two gift shops (Disney Traders and Port of Entry) at the entrance to World Showcase from Future World.
It was an amazing spot for the show, and separate from guests who had used FastPass+ for their viewing area. We found a spot right in front, sat the whole time without obstruction and enjoyed the show. IllumiNations is, in my opinion, the most beautiful nighttime spectacular (though Wishes is a close second). So if you skip the party, make sure you carve out some time during your trip to see it.
All in all, I think the Pasta in the Park Party was very well done. I was kind of surprised when I saw three empty tables near the back of the party, assuming it would have been a sold-out event. But hey, that just means more pasta for me! I would purchase these tickets again and recommend it to anyone who may be on the fence about it. Between the food, the music, the family-friendly atmosphere, the awesome character meets, and preferred seating for IllumiNations, this just might be one of the best-kept secrets for race weekend!
Bianca is a Disney mom of one, residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. She runs a Facebook group for local Disney enthusiasts, Cincinnati Disney Junkies. A running newbie, Princess Half Marathon Weekend was her first runDisney experience and certainly not her last! With a little bit of faith, trust and pixie dust. Follow her on Instagram for all things Disney related as well as personal photos.