Beyond the finish line: Springtime Surprise Weekend closes out racing season

The Pixar-themed Springtime Surprise weekend raced into the history books April 13-16 and it was an epic weekend of fun with all the trimmings, rare character stops, and some of that famous Central Florida humidity! I’ll be honest that I was a little ambivalent when the Pixar theme was announced, but it ended up being loads of fun.

My adventures actually started on the day of the expo, a day I also planned to spend at Epcot celebrating my daughter’s birthday. Paramount to the day would be getting a Virtual Queue spot on Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind and dinner at Space 220. I’ve had varying luck with the GoG Virtual Queue in the past, so I was elated to get a spot this time around. Except somehow we snagged boarding group 12, which was a guaranteed conflict with my 9 a.m. shopping window at the expo. I was staying on property at Port Orleans, so the expo buses were not going to get me to ESPN by 9. I jumped in an Uber to get there ($10. Fine.) and sent the kids off to Epcot, which also opened at 9.

Well… at 8:40 I got the notification that our GoG boarding group had already been called. Whaaat? With a sense of extreme urgency I power-shopped for the few items I was looking for and headed for the exit trying to get an Uber to the park. Except the Uber app was glitching and wouldn’t perform any searches. The only thing that saved me was that I had Epcot in my history and was able to use that reference to request the ride. This time the ride (roughly the same distance as my previous ride a few minutes before) was $30. Womp-womp! The whole time my teenager was texting me.. “Mom, are you here yet? WHERE ARE YOU???” I got to Epcot a few minutes after our Guardians window technically closed, but the Cast Members allowed our party on to the ride, and we were off to save the galaxy! Big fun!

At this point I had my merch, I had my ride but I was still missing something… Oh. My bib! I still needed to get back to the expo to pick up my bib. So we poked around Epcot for a bit, rode the Three Caballeros ride in Mexico, and then Frozen Ever After, and I headed out the back of Epcot and grabbed an Expo bus from the Dolphin to get my bib. By the time I got back to the Expo, lines were gone, and it was another quick in-and-out. I dropped my stuff back at the resort and finally rejoined the family for a fun-filled day capped off by dinner in space. Totally worth it!

Race days felt a bit different for me because I was running solo for the first time all season. I decided on a new approach and instead of bolting for the corral on the morning of the 5K, I decided to stand in line for a pre-race character stop with Mater. Lines are long, and I was actually behind the “end of line” sign, which marked the cutoff for pre-race photos. I decided to chance it and ended up with my photo, and still managed to get a fairly decent spot in my corral D. They did 5 corrals for all the races this time around. Honestly I didn’t wait very long to start, even being towards the back. I think I started by 5:25 a.m. I was expecting to go closer to 5:45 so the shorter wait time was very welcome.

The race itself was a bit of a blur to me – the 5Ks happen so fast, it feels like you blink and they’re over. I remember some light rain, and hearing “Life is a Highway” on repeat! Character stop lines were crazy-long so I bypassed all of those and just held to my run-walk-run intervals. I finished before the sun was even up (that might be a first) and headed straight to my resort bus.

The Monsters, Inc. theme for the 10K brought out some of the best costumes of the weekend… I so much loved seeing the interpretations of Roz, the Monsters U. cheerleaders, Oozma Kappa brothers, and of course Mike, Sully, and all their pals. My race felt pretty good, but knowing I had 10 miles ahead of me the next day kept me a bit on edge. I was decidedly undertrained this time around. Even though I have Dopey under my belt, 10 miles felt like a reach and was looming in the back of my consiousness.

Can we talk for a minute about the character stop in Canada? None other than the boy band 4*Town from Turning Red! They were everything you dreamed the boy band could be, and they were singing live. 4*Town 4-Ever!

Sunday came and the capstone Toy Story 10-Miler was a run thorough thick pea soup. I struggled a bit lot with the humidity, and didn’t really enjoy the course, which placed all the highway miles at the end. That being said, with the close quarters of running in the parks, I was actually a bit relieved to hit the highway and have some space during the second half. As rough as I felt, I never caught sight of the balloon ladies. With shorter character lines today, I got a few pics and finished a sweaty, smelly mess. My body was telling me “no celebrating”, so I headed straight for the resort buses to go shower and put myself out of misery. And just like that my season was over.

Reflecting back on my nearly-perfect season (I missed 2 Princess races), I have to say I would – and will do it all again! If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t interact with more people. Even though I write and put my thoughts out on the internet for the world to see, I am a complete introvert, so starting new social interactions is kind of tough for me. The runDisney community is an amazing, generous and caring community! And I am so proud to be part of it. So for the close of the racing season, I’ll just sign off with “To Next Season, and Beyond!!!”

Springtime Surprise is around the corner!

After months of planning it’s finally time to go to the finish line and beyond for the Pixar-themed Springtime Surprise Weekend! Today we’ll take a look at the final details including the Expo, course maps and some discounts available for racers.


All runners MUST attend the Health & Fitness Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at least 1 day before their race to pick up bibs and t-shirts. This is where the (in)famous merchandise sale happens. For those new to the runDisney procedures, or if you’ve been away for a while, access to the merchandise shopping on the first day (Thursday, April 13) is by Virtual Queue only. You can join the Virual Queue in the My Disney Experience app if your are within 45 miles of Wide World of Sports. The Virtual Queue access opens at 8:30 a.m. (SHARP). Keep in mind that even if you’re on-the-spot with queue registration, your callback time might be several hours away. Normally we have seen some sort of merchandise preview by now, but so far that hasn’t turned up. When and if that happens, you can read about it here!

Expo hours:

  • Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 14, 2023 | 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 15, 2023 | 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.



The 5K course is pretty typical for what we have seen lately. From the back of the Epcot parking lot, it’s a skirt around the parking to the backstage park entrance between Mexico and Norway. Usually there is some quick character stop in the backstage area. Once in Epcot, we’ll take lap around the World Showcase Lagoon. I’m a little bummed the “Harmonious” barges have been dismantled, because they were a beautiful focal point in the dark during the Harmonious era. Oh well. Then it’s back through World Celebration and World Discovery to a backstage view of Cosmic Rewind, a choir, and the finish line!


Again there’s nothing new or different about the 10K course this time around. Other than it being twice as long as the 5K and running in the opposite direction, you’ll see all the same things. Plus a bunch of highway.

You will get to see some backstage areas in World Nature and take a swing around the slippery Boardwalk. (Caution runners!!!)

There’s also a jog behind France that adds a little variety. Then it’s back into World Celebration for another look at all the contruction walls and stuff you can’t buy in the Creations Shop because it’s not open yet. The finish is the same as the other races, and just as welcome a sight!

10 Miler

I’ll just say it, I am not a fan of this course. Mostly for the reason that they have front-loaded all the fun in the first 5 miles and the last 5 miles are a whole lot of highway. Also, the very narrow stretch between the Studios and the Boardwalk is very early in the course, which is when congestion is at it’s worst. I would say don’t plan on doing any running here. It will be an epic bottleneck.

I would actually really like this course if we ran it in the reverse direction, but I don’t get to make the rules.

What I do like about it is that we get to spend more time in Hollywood Studios that some races. Appropriately, we get to sample all of Toy Story Land, so I’ll be looking forward to running through Andy’s back yard before tacking miles and miles of highway running.


runDisney is inviting runners to “Race, then relax” at the Typoon Lagoon water park! Up to 4 members of the runner’s party will recieve a 50% discount at Typhoon Lagoon during race weekend. Here are the details:

  • 50% off 1-Day Water Park Ticket valid 4/12/23 – 4/19/23. Ticket valid for seven days from the date of purchase.
  • Purchase at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, or at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • Runner must show race bib for visual validation. Check-In Pass will be accepted as validation on 4/12/23.
  • Offer valid for runner and up to 3 guests.

Disney Springs: While it’s true that some merchants at Disney Springs have offered race weekend discounts in the past, there is no official notification in the event guide, so I can neither confirm nor deny that that is happening. That being said I know I saw an announcement that the Fabletics store at Disney Springs is offering a race weekend discount, but I can’t find that source right now. I’ll update this post when I find it. Bottom line though, if you need some athletic racewear, make sure to ask for the discount at Fabletics.


All that being said you might have more questions. I can help! Drop me a comment and I’ll help you out.