Severe weather is expected to affect the four theme parks at Disney World in the coming days, and as such, changes have been announced that will put a damper on an annual event being held this weekend.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first-ever runDisney event, the first of which was held in January 1994 and welcomed just over 5,500 runners in its debut 26.2-mile race. The 1994 race launched the Disney Endurance Series, which eventually became runDisney.
In the past, the marathon would have participants run through the parks, and until 1998, there were only three theme parks at Disney World. In 1995, during the second annual race, Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park was added to the course. A year later, the results of the race were measured with electronic timing for the very first time since the races began two years earlier.
Now, 2024 will also go down in the history books as a “different” kind of year for the annual runDisney event. That’s because severe weather has been forecast in the area, and the forecast has led to two significant changes in the event.
The current weather forecast for the Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday morning includes the chance for thunderstorms, and as such, modifications have been made to the course and to the start time for the race.
NEW: The Walt Disney World Half Marathon course will be shortened due to expected severe weather. In addition to the shorter distance, the race will begin 15 minutes early at 4:45 a.m. pic.twitter.com/eBVtceAqEy
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) January 5, 2024
Per an announcement posted on the official runDisney website, Saturday’s race will begin at 4:45 a.m. local time instead of 5:00 a.m., but the website notes that the earlier start time will not affect Start Group open and close times or pre-race transportation.
Also, in an effort to have runners off the course by 8:00 a.m. local time, as lightning is forecast in the area after 9:00 a.m., officials have announced a modification to the course. The announcement reads as follows:
As you prepare for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 6, we want you to be aware that our teams are keeping a close eye on local weather conditions. The safety of our Guests and Cast Members is our top priority, and we have made the difficult decision to modify the course due to severe weather, including expected lightning in the area after 9:00 a.m. Given this weather forecast, our goal is to have everyone off the course by 8:00 a.m.
We know this is disappointing news, but we look forward to seeing you along the course and hope you have a great race. Throughout the weekend, we encourage you to continue monitoring the Digital Expo & Event Guide, as well as follow runDisney on Facebook, Threads, and Instagram for the most up-to-date information.
Thunderstorms are part of the Saturday morning forecast as early as 7:00 a.m. local time, which means additional changes related to runDisney event could be necessary. As such, runners are encouraged to check the runDisney website for the most updated information on Saturday morning.