Sunday, February 3, 2013

2013 Disneyland Never Land 5k Race Report and Video

Let's play a little catch-up. We left Disney World in Florida so early on Tuesday morning that we got back to Chicago in time to put in full days at work. On Wednesday Dave got a massive head cold and ended up staying home with a fever on Thursday. Friday was a bit better, but not much. Our plane took off for Disneyland in California in the afternoon. At this point we figured he'd play each race by ear.

We landed with enough time to catch a cab from Santa Ana Airport to Disneyland, check-in at the Grand California Hotel, and complete all our tasks at the race expo before it closed at 7pm. We were on assignment covering the weekend for The Mickey Miles Podcast so we made sure we got plenty of photos up on Twitter. With all that complete we went over to Trader Sam's in the Disneyland Hotel to have dinner with Dave's cousin and her boyfriend.
The Never Land 5K started at 5:45am in the Disneyland Park right in front of the castle on Main Street. The course covered both parks and the finish line was in the Paradise Pier area of Disney's California Adventure Park. It was quite different to start a race in the park. They corralled us based on first-come-first-served status. We were at the "south" side of the hub in Corral A. Corral B started on the north side. The actual start line was at the path leading to the Matterhorn side of Fantasyland. The DJ did a great job keeping the crowd happy and involved. There was a short skit with the race announcers on an elaborate pirate ship stage in front of the castle. There were several walk-around pirates interacting with the crowd. It was also a bit chilly this morning so we were wearing garbage bags (clean ones) for warmth.

Usually a RunDisney race starts with fireworks over the start line. Today, the fireworks were longer than usual, and over the castle. To add more fun, Tinker Bell flew in. We were having technical difficulties with the brand new GoPro camera so no pictures were taken.

This was our first time in a park this trip so we weren't expecting Christmas decorations. They were up in one place - It's a Small World still had its Chritmas overlay (retheme for the holiday) on and it was gorgeous. We could not stop staring at it. We passed Small World on the right and headed backstage for a while. They brought out a couple of parade floats for photo opps. Along the way you could look into open buildings and see more floats and props. There were a lot of single ride vehicles just sitting around outside the various buildings.

Mile one was close to the area where Fantasyland meets Frontierland. Soon after we found a meet and greet with Captian Hook and Smee. There were some Pirates in New Orleans Square motivating the crowd over the loudspeaker. We stopped at Haunted Mansion for a photo opp with The Lost Boys (from Peter Pan). While on line we saw RunDisney's youtube host Dennis Marsico. We said hello and started a conversation about Coast to Coast and Dave's GoPro strapped to his head. That turned into an on-camera interview. We'll see if it makes their video.

After that we were off to Critter Country. More backstage, including a pass by Imagineering's trailer. We left the park for a little bit, hit the Mile 2 sign (11 minutes faster than last week), and went down then up a tunnel into California Adventure. We had another small portion of backstage to cover until we hit Tower of Terror and moved to Buena Vista Street. Next, Bugs Land then Cars Land. This was our first look at the new section of the park and it was amazing. lots of neon and highly detailed. We stopped for a photo opp and then pressed on towards Paradise Pier.
We finished in over an hour, mainly due to the Mickey meet and greet line at mile 3. We got our rubber medals and started back out of the park. Now our hotel had an entrance connected to the park, which we passed on our way to the main gate. When asked if we could use that door (and presented our room key) we were told no because the park was closed (but we were already in the park and the hotel was open). Sometimes Disneyland logic can only be described as baffling........ So we added another ten minutes to our walk back to the hotel. After showers and breakfast we went to Disney California Adventures for rope-drop.

We both agreed this was the best RunDisney 5k we have seen. The in-park start was a lot of fun and there was almost always something to look at. You can't beat the fireworks over the castle or the Tinker Bell fly-in to keep with the theme. The course did get dark and narrow at many points, but there were very limited bottlenecks. The race was 45 minutes earlier than a WDW 5k, but that was acceptable given the quality of the course. If only we could get the "Following the Leader" song from Peter Pan out of our heads..... They played it constantly along the course.

 Here's our video from the race taken with the GoPro along with the course map:

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