Has runDisney Reached its Saturation Point?

runDisney is a Disney organization that offers running events at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris. They offer races from diaper dashes for little ones to the Walt Disney World Marathon held every year in January. In 1993, 24 years ago, runDisney started the Walt Disney World Marathon as an event to bring people in during a slow period of travel at the resort. Since then the organization has grown to have four race weekends in Disneyland, four race weekends in Walt Disney World, and one race weekend in Disneyland Paris.

With this huge growth in runDisney, we as runners normally jumped at the opportunity to run through our favorite theme parks. runDisney puts on multiple different themed races throughout the year, such as Star Wars in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Disney Princesses, Tinkerbell, Super Heroes, and Wine and Dine in addition to the big Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and Disneyland Half Marathon Weekends.

Just a couple years ago, we saw almost all of these race events sell out within in days, some even in minutes. Now, as Wine and Dine Half Marathon registration recently opened up, it’s more evident that these races are not selling like they used to. Right now the only race weekend that has sold out in general registration is the Princess Half Marathon Weekend. That race weekend can still be purchased through travel agencies though.

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I posed this question on the DISboards and many longtime runDisney veterans weighed in to share their feelings on the point we have reached in this now almost 25 year history of runDisney.

Poster Ariel484 said:

“For me…
– it’s expensive
– I don’t like that they don’t have deferrals or an option to purchase registration insurance
– I don’t like having registrations so incredibly early
– the race weekends are becoming super similar – same distance options (no more 10-miler), same courses, no more night races”

Most posters, including myself, agreed with her. runDisney races increase in price every single year. Most recently, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon itself costs $199 without the Active registration fees that are later added onto that. If you want to run the Two Course Challenge (10K + Half Marathon), it’s $340, not including registration fees. Looking at next year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, the Dopey Challenge (all four races) will run you $560 without registration fees; the half marathon or full marathon each cost $185 respectively, up from $180 in 2017.

Poster Opusone said:

“I think there are several factors that affect this trend:
1. National running trend (defined by number of running event finishers) has been decreasing since 2013.
2. National number of running events has actually increased (at least through 2015 – don’t yet have data for 2016).
3. runDisney has added more running events in recent years.
4. runDisney has reduced the unique features of their races (or altogether canceled unique races), so less motivation to attend multiple races in one year.
5. runDisney races are very expensive (not just the entry fee, but the combination of entry fee, hotel, flight, food, car rental, add-on family vacation, etc).
6. Many folks first races were with runDisney (because they were Disney fans before they were runners), and then they either stopped after they checked it off the list, or they liked it and continued (maybe even increased their Disney trips because of the running weekends), but maybe they finally ventured out into the larger running community and found that there are many options for good races (especially local races). Plus, they may want to PR once they get more into it, and rD is not always the best for this (depending on corral placement).
7. runDisney races have huge economic risks for participants: I think Disney has been lucky in the past; however, in just the past few months, we have had a race shortened and a race cancelled (both for good reason). For a local race, it’s no big deal if it’s changed or cancelled, but this is much different if it’s a destination race with huge expense. Also, they have increased economic risk of injury/pregnancy/etc by not allowing for a deferral process. Sure, they graciously provided a refund for the canceled half, but that is minor compared to all the costs associated with the race (for most folks).”

Both of the posters I quoted bring up excellent points, most that I agree with. runDisney has become quite expensive as a race itself, but then add in travel costs like airfare, park tickets, and hotels. Many people love to run inaugural or anniversary races as well; if it isn’t the first ever event or a special anniversary, people aren’t interested. Then we come to a stagnation or point of runDisney being too much of the same. Wine and Dine used to be a night race which was something only done at Walt Disney World during that weekend and the now retired Tower of Terror 10-miler. Last year, runDisney changed that race to a morning race like the rest of them. Finally, the courses: many of the race courses are now the same when there used to be differences between them. With so many races so similar ,why would people sign up for more than one a year?

What are your thoughts on runDisney races not selling out? What do you think runDisney could do better to reverse this trend?