Never Land 5K Marks First Nighttime Disneyland Run

Disneyland run, run Disney, Tinker Bell Half Marathon

Runners wait for the start of the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K. Photo by Karla Bruning.

The inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend kicked off on Friday with the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K. An estimated 4,000 runners lined up for the 10:30 p.m. start of the very first nighttime Disneyland run in Anaheim, Calif. I was on hand to take in all the action and run the debut event.

The atmosphere was more like a party than a race. A DJ dressed as a fairy helped runners warm-up with Top 40 hits under the lights of Main Street USA and Sleeping Beauty Castle in the Disneyland Park.

Who better to kick off the evening than Tinker Bell herself? The famous fairy swooped down from the sky and flew over Sleeping Beauty Castle, sprinkling pixie dust just before the start of the race. The spectacle drew audible gasps and applause from the runners in the corrals.

Disneyland show director Robin Throwbridge said Tinker Bell was the reason runDisney opted for a nighttime event.

“You can’t really see her during the day when she’s flying. So we needed to do it at night,” Throwbridge said. “She flew around the castle for us and we were all very excited.”

The entire race was themed to Peter Pan. “Following the Leader” played over loudspeakers as runners crossed the start, and characters from the film lined the course, including the Lost Boys, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, a cadre of pirates, and, of course, Wendy and Peter Pan himself.

Floats from Mickey’s Soundsational Parade also entertained runners along with classic Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie.

The course took runners through the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks past many iconic attractions like It’s A Small World in Disneyland and Paradise Pier in California Adventure.

The Never Land Family Fun Run was just that—the race was not timed and results weren’t recorded. But it was no matter to the 4,000 runners who enjoyed the rare opportunity to run the Disneyland parks at night. Many were dressed in costumes. One runner donned a full body Tigger costume, while a few more dressed as pirates. But the costume of choice for the night was, of course, Tinker Bell and a legion of other fairies.

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend is a new annual event produced by runDisney. In addition to the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K, 1,300 kids took to the streets of Disneyland in the Kid’s Races on Saturday. The weekend culminated in the debut of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on Sunday, Jan. 29.

As part of the running media, runDisney is providing me with complimentary race entry, hotel, and park tickets for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. But as always, all opinions are purely my own. I really do believe in being honest about my experiences and Disney is no exception. For more information read my Disclosure Policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


01 2012


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