For starters, this is pretty easy information to get and Disney has all of the schedule information listed here http://www.rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon/#schedule
Instead of giving you a minute by minute overview of the schedule, I thought I would give you some suggestions and recommendations based on the schedule and my past experience.
The Expo itself is open on Wednesday through Saturday. They open at 9am or 10am based on the day and close anywhere from 7pm or 8pm except on Saturday when they close at 4pm.
What is the best time show up? That is a great question. From my past experience, you can expect it to be crowded all the time. There are probably better days than others, but as you get closer to the weekend, it will be packed. I have not been on an opening Wednesday, but I would think that might be the best bet during the middle of the week because it will get more crowded through the week probably peaking on Friday. I have been on Saturday, the day before the 26.2, and it was not quite as bad. My personality is one that wants my number as soon as I get there though. I never quite feel settled until I have that bib! For that reason, I don’t like to wait.
The time of the day is up to debate as well. For most things in life I would say go first thing in the morning but there are so many others who have different ideas as well and the crowds just get thicker through the day. I have not been late so could be less crowded, but I can’t speak from experience.
Race Day Schedule
Both the 13.1 and full marathon have starting times at 5:30 AM. Yes, that is 5:30 AM! If there is an earlier start somewhere, I don’t know where it is. Bus and monorail transportation begins at 3 AM. We have been told in the past that you need to be on a bus by 4 AM to ensure getting to the start line. I have never tested that theory and don’t ever plan to. I set so many alarms and back up alarms on race morning that I can’t keep up with them all. I can’t imagine 20 weeks of training and missing my race! I will say this: if you are starting in A corral I would not mess around at all. The race truly starts at 5:30 AM for you. However, if you are starting further back you have more time.
After the race, transportation is also there for you. On 13.1 day bus transportation runs until 11 AM and marathon day until 2pm.
On any given race day you might have 25,000 runners and more families and spectators trying to get around. I would recommend allowing time and bring some patience. If you plan to drive, understand it will be crowded and plan extra time. Some of the toughest moments I experienced were probably after the race, but you just have to know that with so many finishers at the same time, it will naturally get crowded.
How you handle race day is up to your personality, but I would prefer early. If you are early, Disney does a great job of keeping you entertained. There is something to listen to, look at and people to talk with. It is race day so enjoy the moment and environment with the other runners.
Before we get back to the course and finish the marathon preview. Let’s talk a little strategy.
For 13.1 runners and marathoners your final long runs are just weeks away. For runners the upcoming weekends need to be our dress rehearsals. I would recommend doing everything you can to give it race weekend feel. Whatever you want to do on race weekend I would do it again these weekends prior. Test out everything you can. From your outfit, shoes, socks and whatever you plan to eat. I would recommend even running at a time close to start time. This is your last chance to test before the big day. Take advantage of this opportunity.
back to the course for MARATHON FINISHERS!
My first recommendation is to enjoy this last mile! It will go quicker than you think. The last mile might be emotional. That is fine, just let it be that way. Let’s finish this race.
After we pass mile #25 and go through France we begin to hit one country at a time around the World Showcase. RunDisney usually does a really good job and piping in the music and sound from the finish. As you go around the World Showcase there will be cast members out cheering you on.
After each country you pass, you will get more and more excited. Before you know it, you will pass Norway and Mexico and there will be a sharp right hand turn in your future. Once you take that turn you start heading for home. What you will see at this point will depend on your pace and start time. If you are quick it is possible you might not see too many folks cheering you on quite yet. If it is after 9am you will probably have a nice crowd encouraging you to the finish.
After a couple of turns and a backstage surprise or two you will feel and sense the finish area. It is an incredible finish area. There are a ton of folks cheering so enjoy the moment.
It has been 26.2 miles and probably 4+ months of training. Enjoy every single step of the final .2 miles. You have earned in. You will be a marathon finisher!
Next up…We talk how to see the expo without losing your mind.