RunDisney has announced dates for the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon, as well as other events that have been added to the schedule between Fall 2023 and Spring 2024. This post shares the announcement, plus thoughts about the timing of the flagship Florida and California races.
Here’s the announcement from runDisney: Mark your calendars as today we are excited to share event and registration dates for the 2023-2024 runDisney race season, including information on the much-anticipated return of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in January 2024!
From exciting races through Disney parks to virtual events you can run almost anywhere, a runDisney race is anything but ordinary. As we look towards the new year, runners can gear up for even more miles and magic to come during next race season – take a look below at the dates and calendar:
2023 runDisney Virtual Series
Event: June to August 2023
General Registration: April 25, 2023
2023 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Event: November 2-5, 2023
Club runDisney Registration: March 14, 2023
General Registration: March 21, 2023
Virtual Event Registration: March 24, 2023
2024 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
Event: January 3-7, 2024
Club runDisney Registration: April 4, 2023
General Registration: April 11, 2023
Virtual Event Registration
2024 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
Event: February 22-25, 2024
Club runDisney Registration: June 13, 2023
General Registration: June 20, 2023
Virtual Event Registration: June 23, 2023
2024 runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend
Event: April 18-21, 2024
Club runDisney Registration: August 15, 2023
General Registration: August 22, 2023
Virtual Event Registration: August 25, 2023
Along with this schedule, runDisney also revealed details about the return of races on the West Coast in 2024, and the fan-favorite Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend taking place January 11-14, 2024. The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend will offer up multiple race distances including a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Challenge in 2024.
Registration opens February 7, 2023 for Club runDisney Gold & Platinum Members, February 14, 2023 for the general public, and February 17, 2023 for all virtual events. With the return of the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, runDisney will also be reintroducing the Coast to Coast Race Challenge in 2024! More information about the Challenge and how to qualify will be available later this month.
The most interesting and surprising part of the 2023-2024 runDisney race calendar is without a doubt the timing of the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon, which are now only one week apart. While the former is occurring as normal, the latter is moving to the opposite side of the calendar, having previously been held in the early fall off-season.
This is undoubtedly going to be met with disappointment by runDisney diehards, many of whom previously planned on running both races. That’ll now be difficult to accomplish with only a week separating the events, except for those with the most relaxed winter breaks.
While I’ve yet to hear runDisney offer an official explanation for this, my guess is that they’re try to spin this as being deliberate–perhaps even making a combined ‘Land & World’ package that immerses runners in more magical miles from coast-to-coast or other such nonsense. There’s no way that’s true.
There are a number of other potential (real) explanations for why both the Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon are scheduled for the first half of January 2024. The best explanation is that tradition dictates the timing of the WDW event, and attendance projections determined the scheduling of the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon.
Walt Disney World’s Marathon has long been scheduled for the first two weeks of January in an effort to draw crowds to what was once the sleepy off-season. Crowds used to plummet in early January, as tourists headed home from holiday trips. It was a sharp contrast to the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, with attendance and wait times more than cut in half in the span of a few days.
That’s past tense not just because of the Walt Disney World Marathon, which has been buoying attendance for years, but also because of Annual Pass blockouts plus Osceola and Orange County winter breaks. Honestly, I’ve been surprised that Disney hasn’t moved the Walt Disney World Marathon to later in January because of that.
It’s possible that’s precisely the scenario that led to Disney moving the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon from early September to mid-January. For one thing, the early fall off-season is not as pronounced as it once was. Halloween Time has exploded in popularity, and Oogie Boogie Bash is a big draw. By contrast, mid-January is still relatively uncrowded at Disneyland Resort.
On top of that, it’s possible that the 2024 D23 Expo will be held in early September. That’s its own huge draw, and both events cannot occur simultaneously. (There isn’t enough total hotel capacity in Anaheim.)
My guess would be that scheduling the race weekends during the least busy time of year and not coinciding with other major events is why the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon are essentially occurring back-to-back. In the past, runDisney might’ve hesitated to do this, especially as the Disneyland races were waning in popularity.
However, their calculation for the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon is likely that there’s more than enough pent-up demand to easily fill this race even without the runDisney diehards who cannot or will not do both. If the last couple of years are any indication, they’re probably correct.
I’d be more surprised if the 2024 Disneyland Half Marathon does not sell out on its first day of general public availability than if it does. If recent precedent with all things runDisney or Disneyland is any indication, there will likely be a multi-hour virtual queue, and some runners will get shut out.
Another explanation that’s plausible is that the City of Anaheim only gave them a handful of options, and this one was the most viable. This will be an attractive explanation for those who are sympathetic to Disney, and is one that passes the smell test because standoffs with the Anaheim City Council were one big reason why runDisney events stopped being held at Disneyland. (Construction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was simply a face-saving excuse.)
The difference now is that the City of Anaheim is much more “sympathetic” to Disney’s interests than the one in place back then. After a series of standoffs, Disney “remembered” the importance of local politics, and invested heavily in getting its preferred candidates elected. Disney has had zero issues with the city since, and it’s very difficult to believe they would with race scheduling. (Even beyond politicians, Anaheim learned how dependent it was upon Disney in 2020-2021.) So, while possible, I’m highly skeptical of this (potential) rationale.
Ultimately, we will likely never know the real reason for scheduling the two flagship runDisney events one week apart. If Disney does offer an explanation, it’ll likely be marketingspeak and not grounded in reality. The real reason(s) could be a mixture of the above explanations, or something different entirely that I didn’t consider.
Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see the race themes for the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon, Disneyland Half Marathon, and the rest of the events. RunDisney has been crushing it with these lately, and if they can continue that run, it’s likely that these events will continue selling out in record time. As a very casual “runner” who dislikes the act of running but very much enjoys “themed things,” I’m hoping for something that compels me to lace up my shoes at Walt Disney World or Disneyland once again!
Excited about the 2023-2024 runDisney schedule of races? Planning on doing the 2024 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend or Disneyland Half Marathon? Disappointed that the two flagship events are one week apart? Which race(s) will you run? Planning on doing any of the virtual races? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!