This past weekend was the inaugural Tower of Terror 10-miler race at Disney's Hollywood Studios that brought back a long distance run to the Studios after a few years absence. The event attracted about 10,000 runners and offered a post-race hard ticket party in the Studios. Now that the dust has settled and a few days have past, we can look back at the event and evaluate what worked and what didn't.
The post-race party was a big success I thought. Cast Members were on top of every aspect of the event and there wasn't any hint of confusion. The attractions that were open ran well and there was plenty to do. In fact, the first hour or so of the event saw no wait at all at most attractions during the party, which was an advantage for those attending the party. Even after, lines for attractions weren't terrible, although having an event that goes until 4am may help with reducing wait times.
In terms of the race, the pre-race festivities and corrals all worked out quite well. While there were long lines for bag check and the restrooms, it didn't appear to be a major problem as by the time runners had to be in their corrals, most were able to get to where they needed to be. There was lots of runDisney staff and volunteers around the park, some wearing bright orange vests that said, "How can I help?" written on them. It may sound silly, but that sort of flagrant helpfulness really helps when you just have a quick question.
While I did not run in the race, I did talk to a number of runners who reported that the race portion at ESPN's Wide World of Sports was a nice touch with the Haunted Mansion grave diggers and other entertainment in the area. In addition, the runners seemed to enjoy running through the stadium.
The biggest complaint I heard about the Tower of Terror 10-miler was the heat, but since Disney has absolutely no control over the weather, the next biggest complaint I head about was the race course. Basically, the course is the worst part of the Walt Disney World race course. Moreover, runners found the course boring with not enough characters along the course and even more importanly, not enough time running in the parks.
As an example, at Disney's Animal Kingdom, runners got to the entrance but then turned around and left. Even in Disney's Hollywood Studios, the race course barely spent time in the park, compared to the Tower of Terror 13k race, which allowed runners to go up Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Much of the course was boring with not enough to see, which is a staple of other great runDisney events.
Probably the worst feature of the course was "the gravel path". During the 5k race in the morning, it was quite muddy but during the 10-miler, the path was narrow and hard to run through. When you have 10,000 runners, a narrow area like this will become an issue. It seemed to cause a lot of congestion as well as physical issues for the runners involved.
Lastly, the bus situation. For the Tower of Terror 10-miler, guests were not allowed to park in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Instead, Disney offered shuttle bus service from ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex as well as the Walt Disney World resorts. Personally, this worked out better than I thought but others had issues. I opted to park at Disney's Caribbean Beach resort and the bus there ran fine, however, I heard reports of people that parked at Wide World of Sports having trouble with getting a bus. To be honest, I'd much rather prefer to be able to park at the Studios but the bus scenario wasn't terrible, just not great either.
Overall it's safe to say the Tower of Terror 10-miler was a good event. This was the first time this event was held and it seems the first time a running event is held there are always some problems that pop up, but usually the runDisney team addresses most of them for the next event. The 2013 Tower of Terror 10-miler is on schedule to happen next fall so let's hope the big issues that were brought up are taken care of so we can enjoy an even better race next year.