The night before the 5k was my brother’s 30th birthday, so I didn’t get to bed quite as early as planned. I woke up at 4:55 am (five minutes before my alarm was set to go off) and had butterflies in my stomach I was so excited. I was also exhausted. For one brief second, I considered shutting my alarm off and going back to sleep. I knew this wouldn’t be a true run for me as I hadn’t trained but instantly threw the thought out of my head and got up. I quickly dressed, took a selfie (no, I am not posting that selfie. I do not take good selfies. It was bad, really bad) and headed out the door. We were staying at one of the Good Neighbor Hotels across the street from Disneyland so I was about a five minute walk to the Disneyland main entrance.
One of the things I loved about the Neverland Family Fun Run (by one, I mean one of the thousand things I loved!!) was the course. The 5k race started on Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland Park. Aahhhh, it was amazing! It really, really was. I got to the start line in decent time and ended up being in what would be considered the B corral. I was pretty much right in front of the castle.
This is the map from the 2013 5k, but it’s the same course so you get the idea!
Soon, the double-decker bus lit up and race announcers, Carissa and Rudy came out. There was a whole story to go with the race, but I can’t remember exactly what it was. Comment if you know, but I think it was that the Darling children (or maybe other children but the pirates thought they were the Darling children) were kidnapped by Captain Hook. Carissa and Rudy were dressed up and kept the story up until the race started.
Race announcers, Rudy & Carissa
The castle lit up and the deejay playing music before the race start. I was directly behind the deejay. 🙂
Then the fireworks started. I kid you not, fireworks. (OK, if you’re reading this, you probably know something about the Disney races and already know that there were fireworks, but I thought it was amazing). To top it off, Tinkerbell was flying around the castle (as in a real person on a wire) while the fireworks were going off. I hadn’t started running yet, but I already knew I was VERY glad I got out of bed this morning!.
Fireworks before the race starts
The starting line right beside Pixie Hollow (to the right of the castle)
And we were off! I can’t remember exactly where we went anymore, but I know we went past It’s A Small World all lit up (which was beautiful!) and there was a character stop not far in (Pirates, I think). I didn’t stop and kept going. Soon, we crossed over into the backstage. These were some of the parts that I loved the most. As a huge Disney fan, getting to see backstage is worth the entry fee all on it’s own. There were floats set up as we ran by. I really didn’t get any good pictures because they all turned out blurry.
You’re probably wondering now if I ran the whole 5k? Absolutely not. I wouldn’t have ran the whole 5k even if I had been training…I’m more of a Galloway approach kind-of gal (run/walk). Basically how this race went, I ran for as long as I could and when I got tired, I pulled to the right side and walked for a bit. I found there were all types on the course: speedy runners, walkers, families, all different speeds, etc.
Another one of the thousand things I loved about this experience was the attention to detail. There were Neverland 5k logos projected onto the sides of buildings and marquees changed to congratulate the runners. Disney cast members and custodial staff were out all over the course cheering on the runners.
Custodial staff cheering on the runners. This picture doesn’t show it, but they also had signs.
5k logo projected onto a building backstage
The lost boys on the Rivers of America. This had something to do with the story line and they had microphones and were talking to the runners as we went past.
Eventually we left Disneyland Park and crossed through the plaza and entered into the Disney’s California Adventures through a backstage area by the Tower of Terror. It was right around the time we entered DCA that my body started feeling warmed up and I really enjoyed the running.
Lightning McQueen and Mater were out in Cars Land for pictures and I waited in line for a little bit and then ended up jumping out of line and kept running. Shortly after that, there were pirates and I did snap a quick picture with them (but I’m not sure where it is???)
Running through Carsland
Once we entered Paradise Pier, Peter Pan & Wendy were out for pictures (I didn’t stop). Something else I haven’t mentioned yet is the music. It was incredible running through the parks hearing the Disney themed music in the background the whole time.
See the smile? There’s no reason this out-of-shape girl should be smiling so much near the end of 5k….that’s what Disney does to me!
Carissa & Rudy at the finish
Close up of the medals
“Official” Race Photo
And there you have it. My first runDisney race experience. I am sitting here with another huge, silly grin across my face just thinking about the race and anticipating the next time I get to do this. Hope you enjoyed my recap and I hope you get the chance to experience this 5k. It was awesome! My hope is to come back again some day with my daughter. 🙂