Disneyland Half Marathon 10th Anniversary Party Recap
The best way to have kicked off running every single race during runDisney's Disneyland Half Marathon weekend was by celebrating with a private 10th Anniversary Party at Disneyland. Sure the party was the night before the 5K, but who needs sleep when your mission is to meet all your favorite classic Disney characters!?
Those of us that registered for the party celebrated with special character photo opportunities, entertainment and attractions. We were also treated to an exclusive (as in: every seat was the best seat) viewing of the “Paint the Night” parade. Additionally, we received this sweet 10th anniversary sling bag.
The party began at 9:00 PM and ended at midnight. It took place on the West side of the park within Frontierland, Adventureland and Critter Country. I really liked that because the character lines never seemed excessively long and the walkways were not crowded. My friend Christine and I had dinner in New Orleans Square and immediately at 9:00 PM stood in line at the Haunted Mansion to see which ghoulish character might greet us. I had hoped it would be Marc Davis' Tightrope Walker. All my hopes came true.
We heard the Country Bears were in Critter Country so we headed that way to get our jamboree on. While we waited in line the Country Bears left and ALL the Brers came out in their place. Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox were in fine form.
There was lots of music playing and several attractions were open. As we tried to figure out what to do next we ran into King Louie and Balloo near Tarzan's Tree House. These guys are my favorite because they love to dance. "The Jungle Book" is one of my all-time favorite movies so I never miss an opportunity to swing with the jungle VIP.
My next stop was Aladdin's Oasis. We were standing in line waiting for Jafar and Jasmine, but they had to take a little break so Aladdin and Genie came to relieve them. Who doesn't love these guys? I can't help but think of Robin Williams every time I see the Genie.
As we entered Frontierland, we went straight to the Mark Twain and stood in line to meet Princess Tiana (my favorite Disney Princess) and Prince Naveen. It was at this point that a Cast Member explained to us that each character stop had 2 photo opportunities. Every 30 minutes the characters would swap out. That meant I would be able to go back to Critter Country to meet the Country Bears and back to Aladdin's Oasis to meet Jafar, etc.
The Shadow Man (A.K.A. Dr. Facilier) made his appearance just as Tiana and Naveen were leaving.
Outside of Rancho del Zocalo the character options were Chip and Dale followed by Jessie and Woody. I opted to just meet with Jessie and Woody.
It was starting to get pretty close to midnight. Christine had already gone off to watch "Paint the Night" and I stopped to listen to the Mariachi Band in Frontierland for a few minutes. They were great!
I decided to head back across Rivers of America towards New Orleans Square and Critter Country. I stopped at the runDisney logo projected onto the water screen to take a few photos and listen to the DJ. Lots of people were still out dancing and having a good time.
Finally, I make it back to Critter Country. To my surprise, there was nobody back there but the band, the Bears, a few Cast Members and me. What was supposed to be a quick photo stop turned into a private jam session and hoedown.
We sang, we dance, we played with flashing lights. It was probably one of the best times I've had by myself at Disneyland! Many thanks to all the Cast Members that made this part of the evening so special. Those Bears really know how to party.
When you're the only Guest, you get to lead the band! I can't even begin to describe the pure magical awesomeness that happened here.
I wanted to see if I could catch the bride at the Haunted Mansion on my way to meet to Jafar, but she was already gone. That was the only character I didn't meet that night. I was sad, but spent a little more time chatting with the tightrope walker before stopping by Tarzan's Tree House again. This time I met Jane and Turk. Turk loved that we both have the same haircut.
At midnight Jasmine and Jafar made their final appearance of the evening. He is scary. Not as scary as Darth Vader, but pretty close.
Shutting down the park is always something that has been special to me and my daughter. When she's not with me I always text her a picture of the castle so she knows I miss her. With the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration overlay, the castle is more beautiful than ever. I especially love to include King Arthur Carrousel in my castle shots.
The Disneyland Half Marathon 10th Anniversary Party was a lot of fun, and to me, worth the price of admission. It was very different from the runDisney Star Wars Wookiee Welcome Party I attended in January. That party was held in Tomorrowland and seemed much more congested than this party. Additionally, we didn't receive a commemorative item during the Wookiee Welcome Party, but we were treated to desserts and coffee. Also, a no-host bar was available for cocktails at the Wookiee Welcome Party. Several restaurants and stores were open for the 10th Anniversary Party, but nothing was hosted/complimentary.
With only a couple of hours to sleep before the Disneyland 5K wake-up call, I shut off the lights and crawled into my bed. If I had to do it all over again the only thing I would have changed was my choice to rely on the iPhone as my only camera. I really need a nice but simple DSLR for nighttime shooting. If you have any recommendations please send them my way!