I know this has been asked and answered a lot, but I am obsessing over where to stay for my first RD race. Experienced RDisers, could you share where you’ve stayed for a race and the pros/cons? This rookie thanks you in advance
We’ve gone on three vacations (2013, 2015, and this past April) and each one has been anchored by a half-marathon. This past April we ran the Star Wars half and we stayed at the Poly and it was about a 7-10 minute walk to the start line (at the TTC parking lot). In 2013 we stayed at the WL and had to take a bus to the start (outside of Epcot). And in 2015 stayed at the CR and was able to taken the monorail to the start (again at Epcot).
We took the bus back to WL in ‘13 and it took forever (they have dedicated buses to the resorts from the finish) In ‘15 we took the monorail back to the CR and that was a looooooong walk from the finish area to the monorail. This past April we took the bus and got back nice and easy.
All the resorts really cater to the runners. They have a breakfast box available to order the night before but even the QS areas are open at the really early hours of the morning before the races.
We have really enjoyed our race experiences and I’m sure you will too!
When we do the full, we like to stay in the Epcot area because the race ends in Epcot's parking lot. After the race, we change, eat, and then grab a pint in United Kingdom and cheer on those who are entering Epcot for the last mile of the race. We walk around Epcot for a while and then walk to our resort for a shower and a nap. This year, we are staying at YC.
So I have stayed at Pop, POR, AKL, WL, BCV, and OKW as well as offsite. (I think that’s all!) All of the resorts worked out just fine in terms of getting buses or driving to the start. I always have rented a car (before they started charging parking fees), so have not experienced getting to the expo in any way other than a car. Usually have taken race bus.
Honestly, I think you should just pick a resort based on which appeals.
I have stayed at Boardwalk, YC, Poly and WL for various races.
The Epcot area resorts are really nice due to proximity to finish line, but the cost usually reflects that. My only other beef with the Epcot area is that there is only one bus for YC, BC, Boardwalk and Swan and Dolphin when going back to the resort. Just a little thing, but it's irritating when you just want to get back to your resort after the race.
I personally like to splurge for Deluxes for races because of the comfy beds
I've stayed at POP, The Swan, and ASMu for races. Epcot area is the best IMO since you can walk back to your resort after but you have to remember you will need to enter Epcot with a ticket to do so. If you don't plan to go to a park after the race, or you plan to go to a park besides Epcot and don't have parkhoppers, you will still need to take the bus and not walk back.
I stayed at the Poly for the Wine and Dine and it was nice to be able to walk to the start line from my room. It's still a pretty good walk but it was kind of a nice warm up before the race. I was lucky and my bus took off very shortly after I got on after the race and I was back in my room. I'm staying at GF for the Star Wars races and look forward to trying out the races from there.
Port Orleans Riverside
Bay Lake Tower
I have never had any major issues with any. I will say the deluxe options were definitely the best. If you have the means I would for sure do the Epcot resort area. However The MK resort area is a great option as well.
All worked equally well to be honest. I thought Poly and the monorail would be a big advantage, but honesty didn't find it any more convenient or easier than the buses. As others have said, I'd just pick whatever resort you enjoy most and fits your budget.
The only resort I've stayed at that I wouldn't recommend is OKW by personal experience and POR by location. I was at OKW for Marathon weekend and woke up to the announcements and fireworks for the other races. If you're racing the whole weekend this obviously doesn't matter. I was able to get back to sleep so it wasn't a huge deal but I wouldn't choose to repeat it.
Our favorites for race weekends have been Poly and BWI. As a runner, I like the Epcot area resorts for the reasons others mentioned. I haven't ever gone back through Epcot after any race, but I like to have Epcot nearby. I also like the variety of restaurants for pre- and post-race meals in the Epcot resort area and Epcot itself. And I tend to do a ton of post-race walking (which I enjoy) when staying in the Epcot area.
On the other hand, we find there is a huge spectator advantage when staying on the monorail. They can see me run by at TTC, Poly, and possibly the Epcot lot before heading to the Epcot finish. And they can do it all by foot and monorail, so no worries about traffic, etc. When we've stayed at BWI, my family has missed me at many planned spots because it's often hard to get around - they have used both Disney transport and cabs/uber. Just too many variables with both. And as much as I will tell my husband not to worry about it and just meet me at the finish, he insists! So I want to make it easier for him.
We're at GF next weekend, and while I'd love to be closer to Epcot, I'm happy knowing how easy it will be for my family to spectate!
I personally had no interest in immediately walking through Epcot all the way back to the resorts after running the W&D Half Marathon but your mileage (literally and figuratively) may vary. If you do so, I would definitely gear check a change of clothes and some comfortable shoes.....
When I do this race again some day, and assuming the start continues to be in the MK parking lot, and further assuming I have the financial resources to do so, I will stay at the Poly or the GF and walk to the start. Having that flexibility would have been very nice....
I love the Epcot resorts for the dining options. We've always taken the buses as opposed to walking back because as locals we don't always have APs. Generally our race weekends are about the races and enjoying the resorts. All but one race weekend has been kid free.
All Star Music (W&D half marathon 2011)
Wilderness Lodge (Marathon Weekend 2013)
Port Orleans Riverside (W&D half marathon 2014)
PoP (Glass Slipper Challenge 2016)
Animal Kingdom Lodge (Star Wars 2017)
Port Orleans Riverside (Marathon Weekend 2018)
The buses were all pretty good going to the races but on the he way back from the Princess Half races to POP the line were crazy long. I have found for me it is not as much about the buses but the hotel. I like having a hot tub at the resort just in case I want to soak. I took a hot bath after the the races at values and it just wasn’t the same. I also enjoy a nice quiet hotel to get my rest since most of the time I do one of the challenges.