Disney parks truly offer something for everyone. Every budget and every interest can find their own magic at the parks. The running community is one such group that’s embraced Disney as their own. There are eight runDisney event weekends in the US alone! What are the real costs of runDisney racecations? Welp, it won’t be pretty, but I’m ready to candidly reveal how much it can cost to run through the magic at a Disney park.

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

This medal: WORTH every cent! Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

Every now and then I do something crazy. Like run a marathon or a half-marathon for “fun.” This typically involves a castle and a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. runDisney: my healthy addiction since 2011.

The running, believe it or not, is not the crazy part. The crazy part comes in when I sit down and look at how much I spend on these runDisney racecations (as I call them).

Um, ouch.

To clarify, I do write this down every year. Like most families, we have a budget when it comes to travel, and we don’t just jet off whenever we choose. Believe it or not, I try to stay under $600 for any trip to Disney during a race weekend.

If you are thinking about running a Disney race, I’ll break down my typical expenses to give you an idea of what you may need to budget for.

Real Costs of the runDisney Princess Half Marathon

Walt Disney World is where my money seems to fly out of my pocket versus the sister park in California. So let’s look at a Walt Disney World resort race. I’m going to use the Princess Half as an East Coast example.

Race bib: $2300

Kidding. I ran for charity, so my out of pocket was $0.00 in this case. I was asked to raise $2300 for the charity, however.

Normally it would be $340-ish for a Glass Slipper Challenge bib.

If paying for the very high cost of the runDisney races holds you back, there are many charity options available for each race. Find one that calls to you and go for it! You will not regret it. I ran for the Children’s Miracle Network this year.

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

The emotional moments before the Enchanted 10K with my friend and fellow charity runner and Miracle Maker, Julie. Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

Another option is to book a package through a travel agent. Many agencies offer bibs these days, and some will work with you on a payment plan.

Lodging: $285 total for four nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

We got a great deal by renting DVC points. I roomed with 8 of my besties, and we split the costs.

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

The more, the merrier certainly applied to this crew! Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

If you have champagne tastes with a beer budget, consider renting points and splitting with a bigger group. If rooming with friends is an option for you, DO IT. The laughter we had alone was worth any bathroom sharing we had to do!

We had perfect accommodations and the bonus of “running” into Jason Bateman on the way out of the hotel. Alright- I didn’t meet him, but the girls did. (And yes, I’m still pouting.)

Airfare: $12 for the 9/11 fees. I used my Southwest Visa frequent flier points to cover the airfare for this one. If you don’t have travel specific card, you might want to check out these tips on choosing the right card for you.

Oh wait, plus $16. Wifi both ways. We could cut this expense out, but we aren’t savages, are we?

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

We “luv” our Southwest card and the reward program. Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

Transportation around Walt Disney World: $25

When you arrive at MCO, you can hop on the very convenient and very free Magical Express to get to your resort. And when you stay on property there is the option to use free bus transportation to the parks. What I’m saying is you don’t need to rent a car.

Sometimes, however, a car service like Uber or a taxi are excellent options when time is of the essence.

Example: you are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge but have dinner at ‘Ohana in the Poly. Uber will cost you about $10 one way and save you an hour of travel time. It’s so worth it.

Dining: Um… a lot? $200ish.

I ate out quite a bit. I love dining at Walt Disney World! According to my credit card bill, I spent a total of $200ish on meals and drinks.

So, yeah, my food was almost as much as my room.

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

You can cut costs by eating quick service rather than sit down meals. Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

That’s something to think about for future planning. If I can scale back my love for expensive food, I could make this whole trip a heck of a lot cheaper. But it’s oh-so-good!

All in, for my trip to the Princess Half Marathon, I spent $538. 

See? I’m not crazy; I did keep things under my $600 threshold.

Did you, really, Patty?  Really?

Nope. Not even close.

#DisneyMath as follows that was conveniently left out.

If we add in the race bib (as most of us aren’t running for charity) then the total bumps up to $918. I also left out expo expenses. This would be where you buy race specific souvenirs or items you need for the run. I don’t spend a lot at the expo. If you do, your cost will go up.

What else is missing?  Theme park tickets, of course!

I bought an annual pass in January during Marathon Weekend.  This cost me $798. It sounds like a lot- and trust me, it felt like a lot when I bought it- but in the end, I saved money with the Annual Pass. No, really!

Many of us love to runDisney. The problem usually lies in the costs of these trips. The candid costs of runDisney racecations revealed!

Annual passes can lower your costs if you run multiple runDisney events a year. Photo: Patty Holliday, Candid TravelingMom

I ended up with three runDisney trips scheduled at Walt Disney World this year. Plus there’s a blog conference happening in the fall. And my pass will still be good for Marathon Weekend 2017. Huzzah!

At this point, I’m looking at 20 park days for the year of my pass. Essentially the park tickets now cost $40 a day instead of $100+.

#DisneyMath: it’s a real thing, yall!

If I look at $40 a day, then I spent $160 on tickets for the Princess Half trip.

Real total of my Princess Half racecation: $698.  Not too bad, but not quite the under $600 I was going for either.

So that’s how I manage to make runDisney work. I share rooms; I use frequent flier miles, and if my trips add up, I’ll buy an annual pass to help with the overall ticket costs.

Say you are a typical traveler looking at their first runDisney event. Your budget might look more like this:

Glass Slipper Challenge bib:  $380

Room:  $250 at a value resort, if you split the room with a friend.

Flight from Arizona:  $375 

Food:  $200

Tickets:  $346 for 4-day single park tickets

Transportation:  $25

Real costs are more like $1550 rather than my $698 example.

All this is to say: no, you aren’t imagining things. Disney races can add up and cost quite a bit. If you break it down per mile for the Glass Slipper Challenge, you’ll pay approximately $80 per mile.

But can it be done a little less expensively than rack rates? Sure!

Strategy, planning, a little help from friends and frequent flyer programs can make all the difference in your magical racecation budget.

The real costs of a runDisney racecation candidly revealed.