Running/Jogging
Trails and Tips


RUNNING AT WDW


There are places to run at just about every Walt Disney World Resort, though be aware that these routes are shared by other pedestrians and sometimes bicycles or surrey bikes. Many of these routes offer little shade, so between the traffic and the Florida sun they are better suited to early morning or late evening running.

In recent years New Balance has partnered with Disney to identify over 16 miles of running trails throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. These trails are clearly marked with signs, and the routes are marked on the resort map you'll receive at check-in.

 

Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Running Trail
Epcot Resorts Running Trail

 

In addition to the New Balance courses, some additional options are identified in the sections below.

Contemporary Resort Hotel

There are a couple of choices for guests staying at the Contemporary. The official jogging path is .9 miles and circles Bay Lake Tower and the South Garden Wing, passing by the pool area and the Marina. To add some additional distance continue towards the tennis courts and back.

Perhaps the more interesting option is to head toward the Magic Kingdom. After reaching the main entrance to the park, stay on the brick walkway, going past the boat launches to the resorts and to the left of the monorail station. The course continues for a short distance along the Seven Seas Lagoon until it ends at a small canal. This is a very flat course, about 1.5 miles long. But it is heavily traveled between the hotel and the Magic Kingdom and is particularly crowded during the hour leading up to park opening and on until lunchtime. It is also completely unshaded, and is best suited for early morning runs.

Polynesian Resort

The Polynesian offers a running course throughout its lush grounds and out towards the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The path, which is one mile each way, starts at the Moorea building and passes by the Seven Seas Lagoon. This part of the path is very pleasant, particularly in the morning, though it offers little shade despite all of the tropical vegetation along the way. Exercise caution to avoid collisions with others, especially in the marina and pool areas.

The path continues out of the Polynesian resort area towards the Grand Floridian Resort. Follow the signs. The brick path will lead you beside the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, where you can hear the small waves lapping at the white sand beach. The path turns to sidewalk as it continues past the Wedding Chapel and the DVC Villas, eventually reaching the themed swimming pool at the Grand Floridian. This is a very pleasant run, with a fairly wide path and views of the Magic Kingdom, beach, and the lake. The lack of shade makes this a better choice for cooler times of day.

To add on some distance the route can be extended at the start by continuing past the Moorea building towards the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Grand Floridian Resort

For guests staying at the Grand Floridian Resort, the path along the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Polynesian Resort, as described above, is the best option. With views of the resorts, the lagoon, and the Magic Kingdom, this is a very scenic route.

Fort Wilderness Campground & Cabins

This area offers runners and walkers several options. The Swamp Trail affords a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the primitive nature of this part of Florida. Begin at the Fort Wilderness Trading Post and follow the gravel road through the woods along the edge of Bay Lake for about 400 yards. The path crosses a small bridge, which is where the Swamp Trail actually begins. This trail winds throughout an actual swamp. All along both the path and the trail you are surrounded by cypress trees draped with Spanish moss. The trail is composed of sandy soil/gravel, which is a nice break from hard pavement, but be cautious of your footing. This part of the trail is roughly 500 yards, for a total out and back distance of approximately 1.1 miles.

The official Fitness Trail/Bike Path can be accessed from many areas of the resort. It nominally begins at the corner of Fort Wilderness Trail and Big Pine Drive. Follow either of these roads to complete an approximately 1.5 mile loop. This part is a paved road, shared with cars, golf carts, pedestrians and bicycles, so be aware of your surroundings.

After completing the loop the route continues towards the Settlement area and around Pioneer Hall. Near Tri-Circle-D Ranch the dedicated bike/running path begins. It runs parallel to West Wilderness Road for .75 miles, eventually arriving at Wilderness Lodge. Along the way, the path is shaded by tall pine trees covered with Spanish moss. Use caution as the path is shared by pedestrians and cyclists. And be aware that this part is not well-lit at night.

The entire route, including the loop and ending at Wilderness Lodge, is 2.5 miles. The return to Fort Wilderness will add another .75 miles.

Wilderness Lodge

From Wilderness Lodge the Fitness Trail/Bike Path to Fort Wilderness (described above) starts near the Marina. It is .75 miles each way to Pioneer Hall. For a longer route, complete the full campground loop and return to Wilderness Lodge for a total distance of 3.25 miles.

In the past another option has been the Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail, but this is currently closed due to construction.

During most of the year, but especially the spring and summer months, the trails and paths in the Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge areas will have gnats and mosquitoes. They will be most present during the early morning and early evening hours - which of course are the prime running times. Even so, these paths and trails are among the most pleasant for walking or running at any of the Disney World resorts. Because these areas are relatively well shaded, they can be suitable for use even during the hotter parts of the day, while other members of your party are either napping or enjoying the swimming pools.

Caribbean Beach Resort

The running path at the Caribbean Beach Resort is a pleasant 1.2 mile route around Barefoot Bay. The promenade is a paved path and is easily accessible from any of the villages which circle the lake. This course offers excellent views of the grounds along with the lush island feel of the resort. You may encounter several varieties of birds - including the "early bird" walking to Old Port Royale for its first cup of coffee - so be alert.

Port Orleans Riverside/Port Orleans French Quarter

The running path loops around the Riverside area as well as following the path that connects the two resorts. The Riverside loop follows the Sassagoula River and is 1.7 miles long. There is plenty of scenery to look at as you wind along past the Riverside Mill and look toward Ol' Man Island in the middle of the river. The paths are wide and provide some shade along the way, though you'll probably encounter congestion near the food court area.

To extend the course, instead of crossing the bridge near Magnolia Bend, continue on towards Port Orleans French Quarter. This pleasant path along the river will also afford a look at the picturesque grounds of the French Quarter section before it ends at a parking lot. The round trip from the bridge to the French Quarter and back will add an extra .7 miles.

Old Key West Resort

The designated running course for this resort is about 1.4 miles long and begins at the basketball and volleyball courts in the recreation area near the Hospitality House. The path follows Peninsular Road to South Point Road, past the pool area and on to Old Turtle Pond Road before joining Peninsular Road again and proceeding back to the starting point. This course is quite wide and provides excellent visibility. What it does not offer is shade, so it is best used during cooler periods.

Though Old Key West is surrounded by golf course, runners are not permitted on the grass or the cart paths.

Epcot Area Resorts

There are four running courses in this area, which are identified on the map. There is very little shade on any of these courses, and most also have a lot of pedestrian traffic, making them more appropriate for cooler, less busy times of the day.

The official New Balance course is .8 miles and travels around Crescent Lake. This is the most central course to the area, and can be reached easily from all of the resorts. This route in particular gives the runner a chance to sample the varying "flavor" of each resort as you pass by them. The running surface is a combination of concrete walkway and wooden boardwalk. Be cautious when the boardwalk is wet, as it can be very slippery.

Another option is the path that runs 7/8 miles round trip along the Boardwalk Canal out towards the Studios. This course is most easily accessed from the Dolphin, Swan, and Boardwalk resorts. When you reach the overpass where Buena Vista Drive crosses the canal you'll need to take the side path up to Buena Vista Drive to cross on the bridge, then go back down to the canal path on the other side. You can extend your run by staying on the path as it continues under the bridge to Disney's Hollywood Studios, then return back and cross the road.

There's a lot of pedestrian traffic on the Boardwalk side of the canal since it's the walkway to the Studios, making this route more appropriate for an early morning run.

A third course is essentially a large loop around the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts while following Epcot Resorts Boulevard. It covers 1.3 miles and is fairly easy to reach from any of the resorts. Starting from the Swan or Dolphin will add another 1/4 mile.

At the ends of the Yacht Club and Beach Club Resorts this one takes some fairly narrow paths that are intended more for room access than for running. Be especially alert and courteous in these areas.

The longest route is about 2.4 miles and follows the sidewalk along Epcot Resorts Boulevard and part of Buena Vista Drive. It has some rolling hills, and some shade. There is not usually much pedestrian traffic, but the sidewalk is relatively narrow, so use caution when passing.

Exercise extreme caution on the section between the Beach Club and the Boardwalk where you will have to run on the road, sharing it with Disney buses and other vehicular traffic.

Throughout this area you may catch glimpses of Epcot, including Spaceship Earth and the Eiffel Tower. For a longer or more challenging route you can connect some of the courses together.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House/Kidani Village

There's no official running path at either Jambo House or Kidani Village, but you can run the walkway between the two and add some loops around the parking lots. Watch out for cars and be aware that there won't be any shade.

Coronado Springs Resort

This moderate resort is built around Lago Dorado ("Golden Lake"). Surrounding the lake is a 3/4 mile path. Most of this course provides wide walkways with good visibility but no shade. Be more alert in the areas near the theme pool and El Centro where there are more people.

The course can be lengthened 1/4 mile by following the walkway that goes through the Cabanas and Ranchos, and around the Casitas.

All Star Resorts

A one-mile-long path runs on a sidewalk along West Buena Vista Drive and passes by all three All Star resorts. One end point is outside the entrance to All Star Sports and the other is at the end of Buena Vista Drive past the All Star Movies resort. It's away from the resorts themselves, so there's very little to see.

For a longer route, this sidewalk continues past All Star Sports towards the McDonald's. It passes Winter Summerland/Blizzard Beach and ends at the entrance to Coronado Springs Resort. The sidewalk comes to an end there - do not run on the grass along the road. It's about 1.3 miles from All Star Sports to Coronado Springs. Be very alert at the multiple intersections and parking lot entrances along this route.

Pop Century Resort/Art of Animation Resort

The two resorts share a jogging path that is a 1.29 mile loop around Hourglass Lake. To add some additional distance, take the paths that circle around the '50s buildings at one end of the Pop Century Resort, and the '80s and '90s buildings at the other end. Along the way you can enjoy the colorful buildings and the many large sculptures. There's not much shade for this one.

Saratoga Springs

The primary running path at Saratoga Springs is a .8 mile loop through The Paddock and The Springs areas. In The Paddock section it follows the waterfront. When approaching The Springs the path turns up towards Broadway Road, past the pool and Community Hall. To add another .6 miles on to the route turn right off of Broadway and take the loop around Congress Park, then cross Broadway to complete the circuit back to The Paddock.

To Hotel Plaza Boulevard & Beyond

Staying off-site at one of the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels still offers some opportunity for running or walking. The boulevard, running from Highway 535 to the intersection at Buena Vista Drive (the Marketplace area of Disney Springs), is 0.8 miles in length, and nicely shaded. For a longer route, cross Buena Vista Drive on the pedestrian overpass and go right towards Saratoga Springs to the running path in the Congress Park area.

With all of the construction in the Disney Springs area, the condition/availability of sidewalks proceeding south along Buena Vista Drive is unknown, and running there is not recommended.

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Tips for Running at Walt Disney World


1. Orlando is a very warm and humid place for much of the year. When possible, try to run early in the morning when it is cooler. Your legs will also be fresher than they are after walking around all day.

2. If you have younger children, you may want to consider running during an afternoon break from the parks while the rest of the family naps or enjoys the pool. You may even want to take a dip in the pool yourself after your run. Try to find a course that has some shade and drink plenty of water. Most of these courses do not have any convenient water fountains, so consider bringing a water bottle with you. Pay attention to your body to prevent overheating.

3. On courses that also serve as bicycle or surrey paths, pay extra attention to the vehicles that may be coming up on you from behind. On some routes this also includes the golf carts used to transport guests and their luggage. Consider leaving the headphones in the room, or if you absolutely must have music, only use one earbud.

4. During dawn and dusk hours wear light-colored clothing so that you will be more visible.

5. Some trails close at dusk for safety reasons, such as poor/no lighting or animal activity. Please heed any warning signs.

6. Use extreme caution when passing through parking lots, driveways, or intersections. Many of the cars contain children and lots of luggage and plenty of distractions. It is often a good idea to assume that the driver of any vehicle cannot see you. Make eye contact with the driver before proceeding.

7. Consider reducing your mileage to compensate for some of the time you will be spending on your feet in the parks. If done properly, your running can help your legs recover from all of the time you will spend standing and walking.

8. Bring a separate pair of running shoes. Do not wear the same shoes you will be wearing in the parks. This will allow your running shoes to dry thoroughly between uses. It's healthier for your feet and will help keep the odor down.

9. Enjoy your surroundings as you run. The horticulturists at Walt Disney World work hard to make the landscaping enhance the resort experience. Take time to smell the roses.

10. If you are planning on doing any type of speed work be careful to avoid other people. This is not only a matter of courtesy, but one of safety. Make sure that your course allows a clear view of people who may be in front of you for at least 30 yards. Better yet, save the speed work until you return home.

11. Do not run along any of the golf courses at Walt Disney World. Runners are not permitted on the cart paths or the courses.

12. Don't forget that you are on vacation - it's ok to miss a day or two, or stick to a more relaxed and easy pace. Don't allow running to be a distraction for the rest of the family.