Race Review: Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Saturday night, I ran the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 miler and it was a really great race. This is coming from someone who hates most things Disney. (I know. First strawberries and now this? I’m un-American.) A couple years ago, I ran the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and I didn’t love it, so I guess my expectations were low.

Anyway, the night started off when my friend, Sheila, and I drove down to ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was a ton of traffic and a 10 minute hair-pulling wait for the turn signal into ESPN, but we made it there around 8:15pm and immediately boarded the shuttle to Hollywood Studios. (I still call it MGM Studios. That name change has not worked for me). The shuttles were more like gigantic, super-fly buses with comfy seats. Loved it.

Once Sheila and I sat down, we realized that we were sitting right across from Danielle.

Danielle and I met at the Savannah RNR Marathon last year and I saw her again at Central Florida Blogger Convention a few weeks ago. Out of thousands of people, I ran into her within the first five minutes of arriving. Small world, right? It was around this time that I realized I left my Garmin at home. Blah.

Once we reached Hollywood Studios, Danielle, Shelia, and I spent our time hanging out in the port-o-potty lines chatting before the race. It was then that Shelia spotted the rarely seen mythical creature, Sasquatch, and I captured it on film.

Then Danielle wanted to get in on that picture action too.

WHY are my friends so small?!

We parted ways with Danielle once it was time to get into our corrals. Shelia and I were in Corral A. Isn’t that corral for fast people? I swear being in the first corral made me feel secretly awesome. We walked a few blocks from the corral to the start line and waited a good 30 minutes for the race to start at 10:00pm.

Shelia stretched and then handed out free high-fives. (First one’s free, then you have to pay for them. They’re that good.)

I took awkward pictures. What’s up with that dude? All I see is his nipple.

The race finally started and it was a cool 84 degrees and one million percent humidity. The first couple miles were along the highway – not the most scenic but it allowed the runners to spread out, which was nice.  I didn’t have to dodge runners for the first few miles like I did in the Wine and Dine half but I think that’s because I was in Corral A instead of D. The race looked way more crowded behind me at the turnarounds.

There was spooky Tower of Terror music along the way and characters dressed up in cool costumes to take pictures with. The line for pictures with some of the characters were 20 people long (wtf?). There was a lot less roadside entertainment than I expected but there were so many people running in costume that you always had something to look at. (To the two muscly guys dressed in towels and shower caps, my camera battery died but I will forever have a picture of you IN MY MIND.)

After the first few miles, we took a turn and ran on a “trail” which was basically a wooded,  gravel, back road from the highway into ESPN Wide World of Sports. There were cricket and owl sound effects playing so you felt like you were running in the woods, which was fun.

The next couple miles though Wide World of Sports was awesome. It was well-lit and pretty. Part of the run was through the complex on the sidewalk.

The other part was around the track at the track and field complex. (That’s the best picture I could come up with.)

After we left ESPN, we were back on the highway heading toward Hollywood Studios. Around mile 6, Sheila’s calf was giving her problems and my lower back was hurting, so we walked for a bit. Around mile 7, Sheila insisted that I go on without her for about 10 minutes until I finally did. I ran the last three miles on my own and felt surprisingly great.

The last two miles were a winding path through different areas in Hollywood Studios ending with the finish line behind the Tower of Terror. It was really cool to see the tower (and hear the screams from the ride) as you’re running toward the finish. Loved that.

I finished in 1:45:52. I think that’s a 10:35 overall pace.

I loooove the medal. So bad ass. It glows in the dark and the elevator part moves up and down.

Honestly, I was disappointed with my time because I really felt like I was running faster. I was passing people through the entire race (that never happens) and I was in Corral A (that’s for fast people, right?). Maybe they grouped us by when we registered instead of finish time? I thought I might be part Kenyan until I saw the finish clock. Nope. Just slow German.

After the race, I waited by the medals for Sheila to cross the finish.

We tried to find Danielle but had no luck. So, we went to the ice tent, grabbed some Tylenol (for both of us) and ice (for Shelia’s bum ankle) and sat on the ground for 10 minutes to rest.

Disney provided the runners with a box filled with an odd assortment of food afterwards – Clif protein bar, a piece of chocolate, gummies, trail mix, crackers, cheese, and a wet nap.

The food was kinda meh, but it was way better than Wine and Dine’s weird, un-packaged, individually Saran-wrapped muffins. I had most of my banana, half of the protein bar, and pitched the rest since it was basically all junk food.

Hollywood Studios stayed open until 4:00am for the runners, so after our short rest, Sheila and I rode the Tower of Terror. Enclosed spaces with lots of sweaty runners is a treat.

How awesome is it to run the Tower of Terror and then ride the Tower of Terror? SO awesome. Didn’t even need to barf. So let’s add that to my list of talents: “Can run 10 miles and then ride the Tower of Terror without barfing.” That’s resume material right there.

Since we did so good not barfing on ToT, we ran right over to the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster.

I haven’t been on Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster in over 10 years. Let’s just say I forgot it started out at 60 mph and forgot the whole ride is in the dark. Still didn’t barf, so it was a win. Plus, both rides had waits of less than 10 minutes which I’ve never seen. After the rides, we walked back to the shuttle and headed home.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve had more fun at a race. The course was great, the race was extremely well managed, we never waited more than five minutes for a shuttle, the finish line was planned well, and being able to enjoy the park afterwards was awesome. Disney also has the only races I’ve found where the volunteers actually put the medal around your neck at the end. Not a big deal, but I think it’s a nice touch.

Usually I think Disney races are too expensive (I paid $90 for this one), but this was well worth the price.

43 Comments

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43 Responses to Race Review: Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler

  1. FoghornUnicorn

    That sounds awesome! Congrats!!! 😀 P.S. I would have eaten the shiz outta that chocolate!
    FoghornUnicorn recently posted…FU: It’s in the mail!My Profile

  2. YAY for a fun race! I am impressed with that resume material. People usually have to lie about that stuff.

    What did you think of that Clif protein bar? I had one in another flavor a while back. Just wondering whatcha thought?

    • I liked it. It was like a candy bar, basically. I have to be careful with protein bars. Most of them have sugar alcohols in them that are not kind to my stomach. My trainer calls protein bars “candy bars for stupid people.” Nice.

  3. So I’m beginning to think all of your racing issues are due to me. Why do you always have the best time ever without me? Ok, I’ll try not to take it personally – but I am suspect 🙂 Glad you had a good race!
    Michelle recently posted…TV Time – What I’m WatchingMy Profile

    • NO! OUC was a great race and we ran that together. My PR race was with you! Both Gasparillas were good. See? You are not bad luck. Although, I do think I poop more around you.

  4. marisa

    I can speak from experience…i was in corral d (last one)… and it was crazy crowded!!! had to duck and dodge others almost the whole race, even when I has to slow down I was still dodging around others! and ppl weren’t very courteous… lines of 4 and 5 ppl across walking together… or just stopping in the middle to take a group photo… grr…
    but I agree the race was well organized and a lot of fun! and riding tower of terror in the middle of the night was awesome too! 🙂

    • I was wondering about that. I was in Corral D for Wine and Dine and it was ridiculous crowded. I guess the key to Disney races is Corral A. Glad you had fun and sorry I didn’t see you out there!

  5. Danielle Dillard

    I’m SO glad to read your race went well. Don’t be disappointed in your time, I heard a lot of people around me saying they had a tough time with the humidity & just this race in general, perhaps because of the night time factor. I don’t think it was a very fast race. I can bet not many of us run at 10 p.m. at night.

    I personally had a tough time with everything this race (which was odd because I felt prepared/well-trained and pretty relaxed before going into it… and I NEVER feel any of that going in to a race! hah!)…from the crowds (to read you didn’t have any dodging people is amazing.. I was heavily dodging people at least until miles 5, and still after that until the very end. I never had any space… It was worse than when I ran Disney Princess Half last year!). I chafed where my clothes rubbed and that’s never happened to me before even in longer races (perhaps because of the humidity + extra sweat? I even took my shirt off toward the end and ran in sports bra.. I was dying!), I had stomach problems midway, and at the end I mentally gave up because I was having such a bad race. I had a plan going in, but came nowhere near it.. I think I finished in like just under 2 hours, like 11:06+/averages? I think something like that. I don’t know I didn’t even really pay attention ! Anyways, sorry for the novel I just wrote you but I figured you’d wanna hear about my race. I’m sorry I didn’t meet up with you guys after, I took my exhausted, disappointed, sweaty self and headed home immediately. Now that i read you guys went on rides, I totally wish I would have stayed and had some fun afterward. Oh well!

    • I stalked your time cuz I wanted to know if we missed you out there or not – with the humidity and not feeling well and the crowds, that’s a great time! I’m sorry you had a bad race but this one should just make the next one better, right? Gets the bad one out of the way. Anyway, I’m so glad we ran into you!

  6. Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups

    This sounds like SO MUCH FUN, except for the fact that I can’t run 10 miles to save my life. But in my dreams of being a runner, this would be the first race I would sign up for. Everything about it sounds awesome!
    Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups recently posted…Hot OlivesMy Profile

  7. Amber K

    This almost makes me want to enter a race until I remember the actual “racing” part of the agenda.

  8. Deb

    WOW – what a great time! An evening race – gotta love it. I’m an evening runner, so that would have been perfect for me….except I’m usually snoozing by 10 (ha ha). I rode the ToT with my son MANY years ago. He was just tall enough to ride it, but they put him in the “isle” where there was only a chain over his lap. I had to LAY across him the entire ride to keep him in the seat! It was scary and awesome at the same time. Then when the doors started opening, I thought he was going to pull all my hair out. When we got off I aked him if the wanted to … that’s as far as I got before he said NO! I couldn’t even get him to stop long enough to look at the pictures. ahhhh hind sight (so funny). Anywho .. enough about me… So glad you updated us on this awesome run! Love the medal. Like the shirt too (we never get tanks here, and that’s all I run in). 😉

  9. Nicole

    Awesome medal. WTG girlie! Sounds like a great time 🙂

  10. Kara

    I’m not sure I could function at a race that started that late. I would be snoozing in the corral, potentially leaning up against Nipple Man.

    I always feel like I’m running faster than I really am when it’s dark out. At least I’m not alone in that 🙂
    Kara recently posted…8 months and 2 yearsMy Profile

  11. How did I not see you? Man I’m a terrible announcer! I’m glad you liked the race…it was NASTY hot though!

    ps- Princess is the same weekend as Gasparilla so I won’t be running that one. Sub 2 will have to come in November.
    Carissa @Fit2Flex recently posted…Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 MilerMy Profile

    • I saw you! I even waved and you waved back but I could tell you couldn’t see it was me. By the way, when your announcer friend said corral B was for “Better than A”…we could hear that! hee

  12. 1) there is nothing wrong with having short friends. If you don’t like short people, we can’t be friends (pretty sure I am close to the midget category)
    2) this sounds like a fun race minus it starting so late at night. Not sure I’m down with the late start.
    3) LOVE the medals. Almost makes the price worth it
    Leigh recently posted…Highlights of the weekendMy Profile

  13. What an amazing experience! I´m moving to Orlando next Xmas and I´m looking for activities like this.. I´m gonna stop by more often through your blog!
    Hi from Venezuela!
    😀

  14. Woot! Good job! That medal looks ginormous! And I’m digging your race day ensemble. Cute!*
    Army Amy* recently posted…While I Was HomeMy Profile

  15. Stefanie

    I think tall giants like ourselves are just drawn to the short ones. I have two good friends that have to be close to a foot shorter than me. At least they do me the courtesy of wearing heels when we are together. Congrats on a great race!

  16. Michelle

    That medal is so cool! I want to run a Disney race one day for the big, crazy, theme experience. We don’t really have many theme races in Boston and they seem like fun!

  17. Denise P.

    Nice! The price definitely limits my Disney involvement, but they sure do know how to put on a race. The Tinkerbell Half this year went so smooth, I was impressed.

  18. Allyssa

    I’m glad to hear your experience was good this time. And that there were improved things from past times (the post-race food).

    My first and only Disney race was two years ago at the Princess 1/2. I was in a back corral due to not submitting an expected time and I dodged people the entire 13 miles. I also found huge disappointment with the post race offerings of warm bottled water and wrapped muffins. I said I’d never do Disney again because of those (and other) things but my friends talked me into running the full marathon this coming January. I should have a good corral placement this time with my PR’d half marathon time I submitted and I pray they do something better with the finish area items.

  19. That medal is amazing and I love that they kept the park open! I don’t think I will ever have a desire to ride Tower of Terror, though. I think I’d puke. I love that they included a wet nap in the food box.
    Sarah S @RunningOnWords recently posted…Stuff I found–guy on the sidewalk editionMy Profile

  20. Well, at least you got a wet nap if the food was going to be crap.

    Aw Paula, you are so cute. And that is still faster than I would have been able to finish (and also further than I have ever ran), so you are still a hero in my eyes. I would LOVE to run a Disney race.

    Also, I feel you on the little friends thing. I am usually the token sasquatch, unless I am in flats and my friends are all in heels. Then it evens out. And I prefer to be called the Glamazon.
    Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry recently posted…Shower Snacks & Fun FriendsMy Profile

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  22. I seriously hope I can do this race next year! I want a medal like that! I DO!
    Lunajubar recently posted…Soft Scrub Review & Giveaway!!My Profile

  23. First of all, I need to comment on how cute you are looking lately. I love the new left corner pic and you look adorable in these photos. I secretly like having tall friends and a tall husband because it makes me feel small. I also feel the same about carrying a large purse and sporting a big watch….they are all optical illusions…try it!

    This looks fun (minus the nipple guy), but I think a night race would be the worst thing ever. My stomach would revolve and I would be a nervous wreck all day long. I like the 10 mile distance though….I just signed up for a 15K in November.
    Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement recently posted…The Bridal ShowerMy Profile

    • Aww, you are so sweet. <3 I'm going to try this big watch and purse idea. I like it!
      I was a little worried about my tummy for the nighttime race, but I made sure not to eat 3 hours beforehand and then just ate my race food after that. Seemed to work out ok this time.

  24. The two guys in the towels and shower caps were my favorite costumes too! I don’t know if you noticed, but they were Hollywood Tower Hotel towels (that you can buy at the Tower of Terror ride) and they had the hotel keys hanging out of the pocket. While I could never imagine actually running in one, I love how creative people get with their costumes!

    • I didn’t notice! That’s fun. I also loved the guy dressed as the actual tower. I wish I had taken a picture with him. I even saw him at the end of the race.

  25. I really enjoyed your write-up of the ToT run. Disney runs are usually a lot of fun (and more expensive) than your usual races, and this one didn’t disappoint. But alas, it sounds like you had a lot more fun than I did; I was also in Corral A, and it wasn’t until just after 3 miles in that the effects of some mild food poisoning from eating lunch at Chicago UNO kicked in! Made those last 6 1/2 miles or so a bit of a nightmare. I finished but oy, putting one foot in front of the other was a Herculean effort. 🙁

  26. I ran the first Wine and Dine two years ago as well the race last year, and it was night and day how different my experiences were! The first one, I will agree, was horrible. I think there were still so many kinks that Disney needed to work out. I almost didn’t go for the second year, but we were going to be down there for vacation anyway, and I figured why not. The entire experience was fantastic and pretty much every complaint I had from the first year had been fixed. It sounds like they’re getting pretty good at the night races, which I’m glad to hear since I’m planning to do Expedition Everest in May!
    Amanda @ Running On Waffles recently posted…Mai ThaiMy Profile

    • Glad to hear they improved things at Wine and Dine! Looks like Disney was listening to the runners and making the races better. I didn’t know there was an Expedition Everest race. I’m going to have to look that up now!

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  28. tina

    I freely admit that I am NOT a runner, but I am the mom of the running prodigy. My 13 year old finished the Marine Corps 1/2 Marathon in 1:37. Now ordinarily I am more than happy to indulge my son’s passion for running, but before I shell out several grand for a vacation scheduled around a race, I want to make sure I research it, which is how I found your blog. Apart from the picture of Nipple Man (which will haunt me for at least the next few days) in your opinion is this race suitable for young teenager? I am not asking if there is bad language (if I ran for 10 miles there would be PLENTY of bad language) what I am asking is are the runners there for fun and respectful of the other runners and are they behaving in a “Disney” appropriate way? The last night time race we did was the Glow Run and he was introduced to the joys of glow in the dark boobies! Kid you not, I saw more naked breasts there than I did in New Orleans at Mardi Gras! We have not yet booked our vacation, but we will need to do so soon. Is this race worth it for a running fanatic who is also Disney obsessed and only 13 years old?

    • Wow, 1:37 is awesome!
      There were definitely no boobies at ToT, but people do dress up in costumes. I think the race is kid friendly. I have 14 year old nephews and I wouldn’t think anything wrong if they wanted to run it. I’ve done the Wine and Dine Disney race too and it was the same: extremely crowded, fun costumes, and entrance to a Disney park afterwards. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

      • Tina

        Thanks so much, that helps. I think we are going to try to come for the next ToT and build our vacation around it. It’s hit or miss with him and some of the longer races because he is so young. Some of the races people are great and they just think it’s cute that this little kid wants to run with the adults, other races people actually get annoyed and ask him to get to the back of the line or will actually go so far as to try to push him out of the way. He is in his element when he is running, so he has learned to “push” back at the nastier folks. His favorite line is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.”

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  31. I’m so glad I found your blog. I love the Disney races and just did my first TOT in 2014. I had no idea that 2012 was the inaugural 10 miler race! I am sad that they will not be bringing TOT back for 2015.