Every January, thousands of runners converge upon the Orlando, Florida area for the Walt Disney World Marathon, the most magical race on Earth. With multiple events spanning four days, the Disney Marathon offers something for runners, joggers, and walkers of all skill levels.
This race is truly a vacation destination, with plenty of opportunities for fun before and after your run. As such, a trip to the Disney Marathon can be a bit pricey. Between race registration, transportation, and accommodations, you may find yourself paying more for your jog with Mickey than you expected.
Here are some tips to save big on your Walt Disney World Marathon experience, so you’ll have a great time without worrying about breaking the bank with each passing mile.
First, check out some affordable vacation rentals near the start line.
5 Ways To Save At The Disney Marathon
1. Book Tickets at the Right Time
On any trip, transportation and accommodation costs are two of the biggest expenses. With costs of airfare and hotel rates fluctuating from day to day, it can seem pretty hard to predict when things will be most affordable, especially when more than 100,000 people are flocking the area to watch and run along with you.
Thankfully, there are a few tried and true tricks when it comes to booking flights and hotels. According to a report by USA Today, flights during the middle of the week are cheaper than their weekend counterparts. Furthermore, it’s best to book hotels as soon as you know your travel dates; their prices steadily increase, rather than occasionally dipping.
Savings Tip: When your registration has been paid for, mark the calendar, book your hotel and start looking at mid-week flights.
2. Skip the Pricey Hotel
If you’re traveling with a group, hotel rooms add up quickly. Hotels often charge additional fees for extra guests, as well, and cap the occupancy of each room, making a vacation home or apartment rental much more affordable.
Websites like Tripping.com have plenty of rental apartments available right near the parks, even within distance of public transportation. If you split the cost with your friends, this is way less expensive - and more fun! You can stay somewhere fun, like this deluxe, 2-bedroom condo. Another added bonus: you can cook your own meals in a vacation rental, which is a really smart idea before your race - and also very cost-effective.
If that’s still too expensive, ask relatives or friends; many people have condo rentals that they rent out most of the year that might be available.
Savings Tip: Avoid overcrowded hotels to save your money and sanity.
3. Find a Local Running Store
If you’ve ever raced before, you know that anything can happen in the days leading up the race, including losing your shoes, breaking your GPS watch and more. However, packing extra for these potential issues may not be possible. This is especially if you’re vacationing before or after, and packing for a full week, rather than just a weekend.
When this happens, you run to the nearest store to replace the items—but at what cost? Pinpointing a local store that has good prices ensures that you know exactly where to go when something is lost, stolen or broken.
In the case of the Disney Marathon, there are a few great options, including Fit2Run, a local, family owned establishment that can be your one-stop-shop for race weekend. With two locations in the Orlando area, you can head there for shoes, running apparel, trackers, cell phone armbands, and much more, all at a discounted price.
Another pro tip: you'll want to have warmer clothes on in the morning and take them off during the race. Consider cutting up long socks to use as arm sleeves so you can throw them away instead of your nice ones, and buy some sweat pants and a sweatshirt at a thrift store that you can toss at the start line.
Savings Tip: Find a good, local running store ahead of time so you aren’t left paying top price for lost or broken items out of convenience.
4. Avoid Flying
Naturally, this tip isn’t applicable to everyone. If you’re traveling internationally or are on a tight schedule, flying to the Disney Marathon will likely be the most practical option. However, if you’re a little more flexible, it’s wise to consider other options.
If you’re not too far, and have a vehicle with good fuel efficiency, the costs of driving can be considerably less than airfare. Plenty of websites like FuelEconomy.gov can help you estimate fuel costs, which you can factor in with tolls, food, accommodations (if you’re driving multiple days), and potential maintenance costs. If the added costs still beat those of flying, you’ll enjoy more flexibility and skip the stress of the airport.
Finally, don’t forget about trains. Amtrak and other train lines offer a wide variety of fare options to a many destinations, including Orlando and the surrounding areas. It will be nice to kick your feet up and watch the countryside fly by after you’ve run 26.2 miles.
Savings Tip: Don’t assume flying is the only option. Consider driving or taking a train for major cost savings.
5. DIY Your Costume
It may sound silly, but buying a full Disney costume can get expensive. And with so many people running as their favorite character, it’s not a part of the race experience you want to miss out on. Luckily, it’s easy to DIY your own costume for a variety of classic Disney characters before leaving for Florida. Here are a few tutorials to check out:
- 12 DIY Disney Costumes from Brit+Co
- 31 Disney Costume Tutorials from Buzzfeed
Savings Tip: Get into the spirit of the race without shelling out for an expensive (and soon to be sweaty) costume by flexing your DIY skills.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and the editor of Whooo’s Reading and Carpe Daily. When she's not writing or editing, she's trying new DIY projects around the house or training fitness clients. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.