Flip Side: runDisney’s Race Retreat

Race Retreat 2009

Race Retreat 2009

FLIP SIDE: Spirited Discussion

While there are multiple things that we agree on – like our love of Jeff Galloway and runDisney – there are other running topics where we at RunAllTheRaces have a difference of opinion.

The great thing is, we use it as a way to open a discussion and never let it get in the way of our friendship.

Hearing both sides of a running issue enables our readers to think about things from multiple view points and make the decisions that are right for them.

In the spirit of a good debate, RunAllTheRaces will occasionally post under the “Flip Side” banner. These posts will address a running topic that that keeps us talking and we hope it gets you talking too.


runDisney offers Race Retreat for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend races.  Race Retreat is a special an add-on to your weekend.  It is basically a special climate controlled tent where there’s seating, television, computers, food and Race Retreat only port a potties.  There are also photo opportunities with characters.  Prices range from $125 to $225 for this service.

Race Retreat 2009 - See in the back door to Women's & Men's potties

Race Retreat 2009 – See in the back door to Women’s & Men’s potties

In this The Flip Side post we will plead our case – is Race Retreat worth it?

Here’s the official runDisney information on Race Retreat:

Pre-Race Amenities

  • Pre-race bagels and fruit, plus coffee, water and PowerAde
  • Temperature-controlled tent with lounges
  • Private restrooms and bag check
  • Padded stretching area
  • Disney character Meet & Greets
  • Self-treatment and First Aid station
  • Breakfast (Half)
  • Brunch (Full)
Race Retreat 2009

Race Retreat 2009

Post-Race Amenities

  • Internet access to check live results
  • Brunch with hot and cold beverages
  • Changing tents
  • Self-treatment and First Aid station
  • 10-minute massage for only $10 (based on availability)
  • Designated location to meet friends and family to celebrate your accomplishment!*
  • Disney character Meet & Greets

Other Amenities:

  • Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend commemorative giveaway items
  • Disney Character meet & greets
  • Live video feed from the Finish Line
  • Information Station


Race Retreat Pricing

  • Walt Disney World® Marathon – $120
  • Walt Disney World® Half Marathon – $120
  • Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge or Dopey Challenge – $225
  • 2015 Princess Race Retreat has not be posted to date


Kimberly:  The Flip Side:  NO, Race Retreat is NOT worth it

I have been running runDisney’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend every year since 2009.  My only experience of Race Retreat, the last 6 years, has been my first WDW Marathon in 2009.  I also believe 2009 was the 1st year of Race Retreat.  I chose to purchase Race Retreat because:

  • It was my 1st marathon experience
  • I was intimated by the enormously of the event
  • Was racing alone
  • Wanted breakfast and post race snacks
  • Wanted a comfortable area to sit and rest prior to the race
  • Easy access to the facilities
  • Easy bag check


When I picked up my race package I also received a Race Retreat bracelet.  The bracelet was my ticket in and out of Race Retreat.  I felt like a VIP when led into the Race Retreat heated tent.  Inside was a breakfast buffet, banquet tables, leather sofas, mats for stretching and then a door which lead to our own port a potties.  Note, these are the regular run of the mill port a potties, but since they are only for Race Retreat, the lines are shorter.

Prior to the race I did not eat from the buffet.  I brought my own breakfast because I live by “nothing new on race day”- a banana and a bar (this is still my go-to breakfast).  I did sit and relax, but mostly spent my time in Race Retreat going to the bathroom.  I did use the Race Retreat bag check.  In 2009, we were given a special bag with flip-flops.

Post race I picked at the food from the buffet, I took my character photos with Mickey and Minnie, picked up my bag and took the Expo bus back to Disney’s Saratoga Springs.  All in all – I feel I didn’t use the service enough to warrant the additional cost.

Before the 2010 WDW Half and I did see snow

Before the 2010 WDW Half and I did see snow

When I returned to WDW Marathon Weekend in 2010 to run my first Goofy Challenge, I decided to secure a studio at Disney’s Old Key West, skip the bus and walk to the corrals (please note – you are not allowed to do this anymore and will be disqualified).  It was the coldest WDW Marathon Weekend I have experienced thus far.  It was so cold in Florida the weather in Connecticut was warmer.

I was the 1st person in my corral at 5am and yes, I did see snow and yes it was freezing.  During the Half it was freezing rain with water stops of ice and the during the full it was freezing, but sunny.  Both days, I didn’t miss the Race Retreat at all.  We had scheduled ADR’s for breakfast right after the races and that’s where I chose to spend my money.  In 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 I walked to the start of the races.  In 2014, with new No Walking rule, I took the bus.  However, I thought long and hard about registering for the Race Retreat, but couldn’t justify the additional cost – especially traveling with my family and my jam-packed race calendar.

Before the 2010 WDW Marathon

Before the 2010 WDW Marathon

If it is ever as cold as it was in 2010, I will drive myself to the Epcot and sit in the heated car until it is time to walk to the corrals.  Even if I were to win Powerball tomorrow, I don’t think I would purchase Race Retreat for my runDisney races, however, I would love to have to make that decision!


Perfectly Goofy Gail:  The Flip Side:  Yes, Race Retreat is ABSOLUTELY worth it!

2008 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge. This was a VERY hot year and, as a result, I signed up in 2009 for the Inaugural Race Retreat.

2008 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge. This was a VERY hot year and, as a result, I signed up in 2009 for the Inaugural Race Retreat.

As with most of my feelings on all things running (and in life, if I’m being honest), this is not “YES – you HAVE to get Race Retreat EVERY SINGLE TIME you runDisney!” post.  I have purchased Race Retreat 4 -5 times (only for WDW Marathon Weekend, not Princess Weekend) since it’s inception in 2009. I’ve purchased just the Marathon Package, the Goofy Challenge Package, and twice experiences Race Retreat as part of the Runner’s World Challenge Package (which we will cover in a later post).  Several of those times WERE absolutely worth it, others maybe not so much (although all the “extras” never totally suck!).

Do I purchase it for every runDisney race in which I participate? No. But I do always consider it.

SO – what makes Race Retreat worth it or not worth it in my eyes?  A lot if it has to do with what my situation is going into the race: am I running alone or with friends, do I feel like I’m totally prepared for the race, do I have my own car where I can hang out prior to the race, am I looking for that “extra special” experience, is the Central Florida weather cooperating…

In cases where I’m running alone, I feel I need some extra support or pampering before and after the race, I don’t have my own car, and when the weather is awful in either extreme (I’ve seen sleet and snow and pre-5:00am 80 degree starts) I say YES, Race Retreat is ABSOLUTELY worth it.  While you can’t control all the items I’ve mentioned – especially the weather – if any of these have a tendency to impact your running or how you feel about your running on any given day, you should definitely consider Race Retreat.

2010 Full Marathon_8

2010 Walt Disney World Marathon: The COLD Year. This is almost 13 miles in and I Just Volunteer Now Melissa and I still have ALL our throwaway clothes on. DEFINITELY wish I had purchased the Race Retreat this year!

I’m also a big advocate of Race Retreat when you plan a “one and done” for that particular runDisney race.  Now, if you know anything about Kimberly and I, we are most definitely NOT “one and done” kinda gals.  That being said, the perks that come with Race Retreat can totally make for a over-the-top race day experience and if you don’t think you’ll be back, GO BIG OR GO HOME I say!

When I LOVE the Race Retreat:

  • When I was new to running and was intimidated about going into a big race weekend. The big white tents provide a bit of a sanctuary before the race.  They are well lit and, I feel, it’s easier to walk up and talk to people in the tent than it is in the dark corrals where everyone seems to be uber-focused on the race.
  • When I have traveled to WDW Marathon Weekend by myself.  Having a place to hang out and meet other runners definitely adds to the experience for me – especially prior to the social media explosion when you couldn’t “find” like-minded runners online.
  • When it was pouring rain before and/or after the race. I MOST DEFINITELY regret not having purchased Race Retreat in 2010 (known in runDisney circles as “The COLD year”), but who’d have thought it would snow?!?!
  • When I was able to get a Diet Coke, scrambled eggs, and bacon after the race.  BACON!
  • When I moved to Arizona, traveled to WDW, and just missed the “full Disney” experience.
  • When I was part of the Runner’s World Challenge. It was SUPER AWESOME to hang out with the folks from Runner’s World before the races and get expert tips right before you hit the pavement.
Disney Mom's Panel runDisney Mom Faith and I hanging out in the 2014 Runner's World Challenge area of the Race Retreat.

Disney Mom’s Panel runDisney Mom Faith and I hanging out in the 2014 Runner’s World Challenge area of the Race Retreat.

When I thought I did not take the best advantage of Race Retreat:

  • When I was running with friends who had not purchased Race Retreat.  It’s an all-in or all-out kinda thing if you are traveling with others.
  • When I lived in Central Florida and I could visit WDW often and runDisney were my “local” races.
  • When I had a bad race day and just wanted to leave right after the race. NOTE: I still enjoyed the pre-race part 😉
  • When the numbers of Race Retreat packages offered increased and the tent began to feel over-crowded.  If it feels just as crowded as the general pre-race area and corrals, I would just rather hang out in the areas that cost me no extra money.

I totally suggest giving Race Retreat a consideration for your next runDisney race.

Have you purchased runDisney Race Retreat?  What were your experiences?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Perfect Goofy Gail & (soon to be Delightful Dopey) Kimberly

One thought on “Flip Side: runDisney’s Race Retreat

  1. I bought Race Retreat for Princess in 2013 and in 2014 someone gave me a band.
    I purchased for #Dopey15 since I won’t have a dining plan and this will take care of a couple of breakfasts!! I do enjoy the private potties and the food. And having a place to meet up with friends — and I guess in 2014 Princess,they had phone charging lockers which…hello!! Yes!!!

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