WDW Marathon Weekend Park Selection Dilemma/Help Requested!

The family is heading down to WDW 1/7-1/12/20. Since we have 11 people, we will be staying offsite in a rental house. The space worked really well for us last year, and we have free parking anyway since my mom is a CM. This happens to be marathon weekend, but it actually looks to be like some of the lowest predicted crowds for January as of now (although anything will be an improvement in crowds after our MLK weekend trip last Jan!). Plus my SIL may participate in the Dopey Challenge while we are there. No one else will be participating in the races from my group.

The challenge now comes in selecting parks. We will be very likely just be doing one park per day and would aim to be there before or right around RD each day. I had the below park days based on the best crowd levels for each park/day:

W (1/8): Overall 4/10 - MK (6/10) EP (5/10) HS (4/10) AK (6/10)
Th (1/9):5k - Overall 5/10 - MK (6/10) EP (4/10) HS (5/10) AK (7/10)
Fr (1/8): 10k - Overall 4/10 - MK (4/10) EP (3/10) HS (6/10) AK (4/10)
Sa (1/8):half marathon - Overall 5/10 - MK (3/10) EP (4/10) HS (5/10) AK (6/10)

However, I hadnt really taken into account how the races would affect transportation, especially from offsite, to each of the parks. It looks like the 5k/10k are around Epcot, and I assume wont make a huge impact on traffic outside of EP, but trying to decide if it is worth switching around our park days to avoid MK on Sat because of traffic issues? If anyone has experience with how the traffic situation is and has any thoughts on how you would approach park selection, I would love to hear it!

I had also considered adding a solo 1/2 day on Sun to go back to MK for PPO BOG and a couple rides before driving home, but since that will be the full marathon day, is that a mistake? The route there is done in the MK by mile 8, but hits all 4 parks, so should I just go ahead and drive home in the morning and avoid it all?

We were just at Disney for the Wine and Dine race weekend and we had a car and drove to the parks. We did not have traffic issues on the days for the 5k and 10k. But on the day of the half marathon there were traffic issues for us. I think marathon day would be even worse. My advice would be to go early so you leave plenty of time for traffic issues or wait until after 10 am on half marathon day (and probably later on marathon day).

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Which park were you going to on the half marathon day?

Epcot. Which is were the half marathon ended so that was a part of the reason but the course path that includes the actual roads have at least one lane blocked. There is an alternative way into MK which I don’t think would be impacted by the race.

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We went to MK on a race day and encountered slow traffic once we got close to parking. Part of the course closed off traffic lanes, so it was slow going coming in from off site.

Based on photos, we were just past the exit to Epcot Center Drive at 8:28 (took a photo of the insane number of racers!) and on tram (with two kids/strollers) to the entrance at 8:55, if that helps give you an idea! About the distance shown:


That does help! I think we can probably look at taking Vista Blvd in to World Dr as well. Seems like since there is still that route to MK, if we plan to leave the house early and give a bit more buffer time to get to park, we should be fine at MK on Saturday. I may wait a bit before adding the extra day to the ticket and going back to MK on the full marathon day.

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Please report back on what approach you took to traffic and how it went! I’m headed for the Princess next month. Especially curious to know if it affected your route to HS and on which race day!

Th (1/9): 5k - HS (4/10) No issues at all getting to park by 6am. 5k was around Epcot though, so no impacts to roads around HS.
Fr (1/8): 10k - EP (4/10) No issues getting to Epcot either. We arrived around 8:15am for a 9am open and ran into no issues at all. We did have to park further away than normal for this time of morning because 10k runners were in close spots, but this was super minor.
Sa (1/8): half marathon MK (7/10) - this was a mess. We left our offsite house at 7:45am. Had three cars, and I took the Google suggested route which was to go up World Drive, take Buena Vista to the right to Bonnet Creek Pkwy and then Vista Blvd over to MK. This was the posted detour on the road signs as well but was a mistake. The other two cars in my group continued straight up World Dr and were parked by 8:15am. However, when my car got on to Vista, things slowed down dramatically. They had us turn on Seven Seas Dr, but there was no opportunity to go into MK on Vista or Seven Seas. They then directed cars into the Guest Drop Off parking lot just to circle around and take longer, then forced cars to turn right towards Polynesian. Once we got to Floridian Way I talked to one of the traffic guys and explained where I was trying to go and he had me do a U Turn to go back down Seven Seas, turn right onto Vista where they had finally opened an entrance into the MK parking lot. At this point I was incredibly frustrated because there was just no communication once you got to Vista after following all the MK detour signs how to actually get into the MK! The traffic controller said things were a mess, so I’m not sure where things broke down. We were parked at 8:45am, so what should have been a 12 min drive without traffic took an hour. I’m not sure what I would suggest as the best route for the Princess marathon except to leave early and accept it might be a long ride. It did seem like others had trouble with the traffic, or had just taken a bit of down time after the race, because even though it ended up being a 7 CL at MK that day, lines were very short until around noon. If I did it again I would probably just avoid MK/EP the long race days if the routes are going to be similar.

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Oof. Thank you. We do have MK planned for the Sunday of race weekend and now wondering the best way to maneuver there. Sounds awful.

I’d just double check the route once its released, if it hasn’t been yet. There was a map of road closures and times on the Run Disney site as well. For the half marathon, World Dr northbound from Buena Vista to the MK parking gates opened back up at 7:30am, but I assumed there would be traffic so still avoided. Now looking back, I shouldn’t have (since the other two cars in my group got through with just some traffic). I would expect it to be about the same timing, so I’d suggest that route! I’m not sure what I’d suggest if you were trying to get to the park super early for a PPO reservation or to be first at RD though.

Thank you! Neither the PPO nor first to the rope are super important to us; we just want to have a nice morning there. So if we end up ditching both and aiming slightly later arrival, hopefully we will be fine. I will keep my eye on the route you suggest and look at the maps they provide for the closures!

P.S. When yo usay World Drive NorthBount to the MK parking gates, you are referring to the TTC, correct?

kind of! I meant the gates you go through to pay and park at the TTC for MK. When you take the detour from Vista Blvd you hit World Dr after those gates, so they had actually opened a side entrance to let people in to park so you never officially went through the Magic Kingdom parking “gate”.

Got it. We’ve always stayed on the monorail so I know nothing about the street routes or parking!

We had exact same horrible experience you described at MK on Sat. half marathon day. Followed detour signs same but then nothing about where to park and dozens of workers franticly waving us to drop off area. Nobody knew anything. Told us to turn left out of there for parking but then would not let us turn left. After much driving in circles and high stress levels we pulled into Poly and told gate we were picking up our friends who had been dropped there by Uber (true). But by time we got in they had walked to TTC. So we said screw it and parked in Poly.

We also had problem 1/8 getting into Epcot from Swan. We walked all the way past Boardwalk and then someone told us we could not us World Showcase entrance! Said to go back to BW hotel and get bus to front of Epcot. Bus never came. Went inside BW to concierge, they had no idea what was going on or that back entrance was closed. Finally just called an Uber for $7. No problems or delays after that nightmare

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