Daniel Staten
Staten the Facts

Staten the Facts

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon: Review

Part 1: In January, I ran my first half-marathon and first runDisney race! This is part one of a multi-part trip report.


It never occurred to me that I would have the nerve or endurance to run a half-marathon. You see, sports have never been my forte. During my early years, I played for a church soccer league. I'm pretty sure I thoroughly enjoyed playing in the moment, but looking back on the experience, it sucked. Having to wake up early on Saturday mornings and kick a ball in the wrong direction only to receive a Hi-C and the opportunity to reach into a cooler swarming with yellow jackets and oranges? No thank you. 

Dusk at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Team sports are not my calling. Since I graduated college a couple of years ago, I've longed for a way to stay in the tip-top physical shape that I've never been in. Travel for work often leaves eating at restaurants as a necessity. When you arm me with a per diem, you can rest assured I'll go all in and order a half-BBQ chicken, macaroni and cheese and fried okra. With a side of cornbread and chocolate pecan pie for dessert. Gotta eat, right? Those debaucheries have begun to take their toll on my gut and I'm not about to let myself go! Keeping that in mind, I found my passion in a sport. Running. 

A long, steady, quiet run is one of the most satisfying ways to relieve stress. Last May, I received an offer from Disney Visa to sign-up early and cheap for the 2013 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. Anyone familiar with my Instagram feed or credit card bill can tell you that I'm game for any excuse to visit Walt Disney World. I couldn't pass up this offer. So, I enlisted the support of my friend Patrick and we began our mission to complete a half-marathon at the Happiest Place on Earth. 

North Carolina summers can be oppressively humid and winters can be a schizophrenic roller coaster of warm and cold. When the big day finally came, I was a ball of nerves and unsure of how I was going to run 13.1 miles without being swept up into a golf cart of slow paced athletes.

Day 1: Arrival, Pop Century and Disney's Hollywood Studios

We flew into MCO and arrived around 10:30. Staying with a theme of firsts for this trip, I took a risk and booked my first Value resort. I’ve always heard mixed reviews of the Values, however Pop Century provided the best mix of convenience and economy for this trip. We also received Free Dining, so that helped as well. I was pleasantly surprised with Pop Century and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to do Disney on a budget. The rooms were comfortable, accessible and the resort was well kept. Since this was Patrick’s first trip to Walt Disney World, I knew we would be touring the parks gangbusters style, and couldn’t justify shelling out for a Moderate or Deluxe.

Our first day was pretty relaxing. We checked-in at Pop and headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Later that night, we had reservations for the Flying Fish Cafe, so we wanted to be somewhat fresh after a day in the parks. 

My buddy Patrick sustained a training injury a few weeks prior to our trip, and he broke his leg a few years back. Not wanting to make things worse, he wore a compression sock on one of his legs. The Citizens of Hollywood “streetmosphere” characters at Hollywood Studios picked up on it immediately! 

“I like the one long sock, one short sock look,” the director said. What a perfect way for Patrick to get introduced to the world of Disney Parks. We laughed for a few minutes and continued on. After lunch at Pizza Planet, with yummy cappuccino cupcake, we took a few minutes to watch the Jedi Training Academy.

One long sock, one short sock!

There is one specific Cast Member at this attraction that had us belly laughing! Her quick wit, sarcasm and overall great sense of humor intrigued us enough to watch the entire show that was full of stranger’s kids! She was great and I’ve been back to see her shows a couple of times since January.

If I had to choose a Jedi trainer, it would be this one!

Pat and I wanted to try out some artistic shots with our DSLRs, so after both of us seeing Lights, Motors, Action! for the first time, we casually strolled back to the main entrance, taking time to stop and capture a few shots. We headed back to Pop Century for a quick nap before dinner at Flying Fish Cafe. Look for a review of Flying Fish coming soon.

Coming up next: Another first! The Keys to the Kingdom tour! 

Gertie the Dinosaur, currently serving ice cream and hot dogs at Disney's Hollywood Studios.