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runDisney serves up a major menu change for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon

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After putting registration on hold for the 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Disney today has announced a change to the race format and event weekend schedule that has some runners reconsidering their plans to participate this year.

The Wine & Dine Half Marathon was unique among runDisney races in that it was the only remaining nighttime race on the annual schedule, with both the Tower of Terror 10K and Expedition Everest events canceled in recent years.

It was also runDisney's only Saturday half-marathon, making it attractive people who couldn't commit to the multi-day vacation needed for most runDisney events. A runner could fly in on Friday, attend the Expo to pick up their race bib Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, run Saturday night and fly home Sunday. With a 5K event scheduled Saturday morning, runners who wanted a challenge could run both events the same day.

The half marathon race concluded at Epcot park, with runners invited to stay and enjoy a post-race party at the annual International Food & Wine Festival. The unique night race, the Saturday schedule and the festive after-party experience all helped make this event very popular with some runners.

Disney has now announced the half marathon will move to Sunday morning, to make room for a new 10K event on Saturday morning. As expected, the addition of a 10K race also comes with a new "challenge" event – Lumiere's Two Course Challenge – for those who want to run both races. runDisney moved the 5K event to Friday morning, and scheduled the post-race party for Sunday night.

It's easy to see how this move will create extra revenue for Disney, even without considering the increased registration fees. Where an out-of-town runner could previously enjoy the whole event with just a two-night stay, that same runner must now extend their trip by several days, arriving on Thursday to attend the mandatory race expo, and staying at least through Monday if they want to enjoy the "post race" celebration. Disney will get two additional room nights from many runners as a result of this change, plus the additional meals associated with a longer stay.

It's still possible to enjoy a quick runDisney break – fly in on Saturday, run Sunday morning and leave the same day – but runners who do so will miss much of what made this race unique, and nothing replaces the experience of running through the theme parks at night.

RunDisney's announcement was met with disappointment from many runners. Postings to the runDisney Facebook page include some people who are happy about the move to a daytime event, but many more complaints about the new schedule. A sampling of the criticism:

"And I'm out for W&D. I would have done it with the old schedule since it would allow Sunday to be a travel day. Disney won't get my money this time."

"Why did you have to murder Wine and Dine? It was the best race you had. I guess I can go and cancel our room reservations now. Thanks for saving me a lot of money....I guess."

"Can you guys bring back at least 1 night race a year? Pretty please?!? Now wine and dine is like every other race out there."

"Awful move with the Wine and Dine changes. The nighttime race was what made this event special. It provided such a unique view of the parks, and provided lots of opportunities for really unique experiences on course. The ultimate runners night out. Finishing through epcot with your family and friends waiting for you at the after party forming that giant cheering tunnel was the highlight of the course. I'm very sad to see these changes."

What do you think about these changes? Are you now more or less likely to register for this event for 2016?

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  1. Lani's Avatar
    What a terrible decision on the part of runDisney. They took what was best about the weekend and turned it into yet another runDisney weekend.