I just returned from a trip to Orlando where I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Enchanted 10K. The combination of those two back-to-back races is called the Fairy Tale Challenge and its 19.3 miles over two days. See also, my feet still hurt. I know running the Disney Princess Half Marathon is a life goal for a lot of people out there and I’m here to tell you – it’s a life goal worth having and I’d do it again. But, princesses need a place to rest their heads before the big race, and that’s where Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek comes in. This is the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend (and all other runDisney race weekends) and I’m here to tell you why.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek kindly provided my room and meals during Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I paid for my transportation to Orlando and my runDisney race entry fees. This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase merchandise or make a hotel booking via this website, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!
The best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon: Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
The 2020 Disney Princess Half Marathon was my fourth runDisney race weekend. I’ve done two Star Wars race weekends and one Wine and Dine Marathon weekend.
This was the first time I stayed off property for a race weekend and although I have much love for the Walt Disney World resorts – especially the deluxe level resorts – I’m super sold on the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. It is the best hotel for the Disney Princess Half Marathon – and other runDisney race weekends – and I’m going to explain why.
First things first – Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is a Good Neighbor hotel
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is so close to Walt Disney World that it almost doesn’t count as “off property.” Aside from that, it’s a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor hotel.
What does that mean?
This means you get the same perks that guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts get. This includes booking your FastPasses 60 days out, which is important. You also get the Extra Magic Hours when you are a guest at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, which means you’ll be able to enjoy select Disney parks early or late on specified days.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek also offers complimentary transportation to the parks, onsite assistance with vacation planning, to include ticket purchases, and they have an onsite Disney store.
They do not offer transportation from Orlando International Airport, so no Magical Express if you stay here. An Uber from MCO to the hotel was about $30.
You get all the benefits of staying on the Disney World property at a huge savings. Your dollar will go a lot further at Bonnet Creek than it will at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and the standard room has way more space than a Disney standard room.
Sorry, Disney. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I do love staying on the Disney property as well but the runner’s amenities at the Hilton are pretty hard to top.
Marathon Weekends at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek – What’s in it for runners?
Why is this the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon? So many reasons! This location does a great job at catering to runners. Check out what’s included and you’ll see why I think this is the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend or any other runDisney race weekend.
If you’re leaving on Sunday (which I don’t recommend, by the way, but I get that people have non-Disney lives and jobs to return to) this extra pocket of time is GOLD.
Carb loading dinners
A marathon or half marathon is an excuse to eat aaaaaaaaaalllll the pasta, right? The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek does an awesome carb loading menu at their Harvest Bistro. The special menu costs only $18 per person and you can choose from a variety of pasta dishes. Bread service is available and trust me, you don’t want to miss that.
The Harvest Bistro is absolutely delightful and if you can, sit out on the terrace. runDisney race weekends typically take place when the weather is mild – well, Florida mild, which means you’re not broiling after sitting outside for five minutes – so take advantage of the beautiful evening weather.
The food and service at the Harvest Bistro is impeccable. They’ll offer a variety of carb load meals (with gluten-free options) and you can also order off the regular menu. I had the Fettuccine Carbonara and it was sublime.
There’s a special runner’s concierge you can check out upon arrival. You’ll get a goodie bag and an opportunity to sign up for the free transportation (half marathon and marathon distances only.) You’ll also get a discount card for reduced dining and spa treatments. The Hilton Bonnet Creek Orlando works hard to be the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend and all other runDisney race weekends.
Transportation provided to and from half marathon and marathon distances only. I break that down below.
Pre-race breakfast is provided for half marathon and marathon distances. Fill up on energy laden goodies and hydrate before your big race. And, there’s coffee.
Hilton offers discounts for runners on food and spa treatments during race weekend.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek goes out of its way to be runner friendly. I see you, Bonnet Creek and you are my new fave.
Can we just dish on this room for a second?
This is a standard room with a delicious view of the pool. I stayed here by myself and loved every single stinking minute of it because I didn’t have to make anyone a snack or do anyone’s laundry.
But, if you do stay here with your family, this floor space is pretty sweet. This is a lot bigger than most standard hotel rooms and when you’re traveling with kids, that space is important.
The bathroom is extra spacious – there’s not a double sink but there’s an extra long vanity and luxury Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries. Swoon.
I stayed in this room by myself and I felt like a – wait for it – princess. Princesses need royal accommodations, and the luxurious feel of this room is part of what makes this the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. I truly felt spoiled and was able to relax before and after my races.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek provides to and from transportation to the races for the half marathon and marathon distances only. I’m providing recommendations for getting to and from the places the hotel doesn’t provide transportation for, such as the expo and lesser distances.
Transportation to the Health and Fitness Expo
You will also need to arrange your own transportation to the Health and Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. This stop isn’t optional – everyone needs to go here to pick up your race bib and get your tee shirts.
Minnie Van Service is also available from Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek but I didn’t realize this when I stayed there so I can’t tell you my personal experience with that one- next time! They don’t start running until 6:00 a.m. so this isn’t an option to get to the actual races.
Transportation to the 5K and 10K start lines
To get to the 5K/10K start line: I recommend reserving a Lyft or Uber. The hotel can also arrange a car service for you – talk to the folks who run the valet parking out front – but I think ride sharing is easier and cheaper.
Pro-tip: Make sure you’re looking at the runDisney race guide – typically published a few weeks before the race, so keep checking the website. This shows a map of the course and gives driving directions to the start line. Do not assume your Uber driver will know where to go or even what runDisney is. Have an idea of where you need to be.
It cost about $8 to get from the hotel to the start line. If you’ve previously stayed at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel for a runDisney race, the busses drop you off a little bit closer to the start line than an Uber will. You’ll have to walk a little bit but it’s easy to follow the crowd.
Transportation at the 5K and 10K finish lines
When you’re leaving the runner’s area after the race, going right will take you to the Walt Disney World resort transportation. You will need to go left. You will go past all the finish line vendors and completely exit the runDisney area completely.
Follow the sidewalk to the ride share area – it’s under a canopy and easy to spot. There will be cast members/security personnel around if you need a warm fuzzy that you’re going the right way.
Transportation to the half marathon and marathon start lines
This is provided by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the experience. You will need to sign up for this service with the Runner’s Concierge when you check in. You’ll be given a wristband you’ll need to wear for the transportation and show time instructions. Hint: It will be stupid early but you’ll have a good time. More on that in a minute.
You’ll be transported by bus to an area near the half marathon/marathon start line. It isn’t as close as the Disney resort buses drop off but it’s closer than the ride share drop off. You won’t mind the walk.
Transportation at the half marathon and marathon finish lines
The pickup point is a little confusing. The folks at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek provide detailed instructions on where you need to go to catch the bus from the finish line area back to the hotel but it is still confusing.
When you’re leaving the runner’s area after the race, going right will take you to the Walt Disney World resort transportation. You will need to go left. You will go past all the finish line vendors and completely exit the runDisney area.
Follow the sidewalk down until you get to the ride share pickup/drop off point. Then you will turn left and keep walking until you see the space allocated for private drop off/pickup. We were in spot 25, which is easily marked. The return transportation runs every 30 minutes.
All Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek runners will have a royal blue rubber bracelet so if you’re confused about where to do, look for people wearing that bracelet. The pickup point was hard to find and a lot of the other runners I talked to were confused as well.
The good news – once you know where you’re going, it’s easy. Just remember, when the crowd of runners goes right to get on the Disney buses, you go left and keep walking. It’s about a quarter of a mile to walk to the bus pickup point, so make sure you prepare for that.
Non runners staying at Hilton Bonnet Creek may make use of this transportation as well. If your family wants to meet up with you at the end of the race, they can do so free of charge. They will need to register for this service in advance.
My hack for expo transportation and 10K return transportation
Race transportation to the expo: It costs about $18 each way for an Uber to get you from Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to the Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports. I chose to save a little money and took an Uber to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Caribbean Beach and the newly-opened Riviera Resort are the closest Disney resorts.
Once I was at Caribbean Beach, I got on the free transportation Disney offers from their resort hotels to the expo. When I was leaving, I did it in reverse.
When I finished running the 10K, I got on the bus to go to Caribbean Beach/Riviera Resort (its the same bus) and grabbed a ride share from there. To get on the Disney resort buses, you’ll go to the right when you exit the runner’s chute and there will be signs to direct you.
I did walk around and check out the resort. I went in to the gift shop and I bought coffee. You don’t have to be staying at a Disney resort hotel to visit and look around. Doing this saved me about $30 total since I basically cut my Uber fare in half by making a stop at a Disney resort.
The BEST race send-off ever
My entire stay was great but the race send-off is a big part of what makes this the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon.
I was less than amused with my 2:45 a.m. show time in the Hilton lobby. The half marathon starts at 5:30 a.m. and getting to the start line that early did not mesh with my idea of how my day should start.
However, I started to perk up a little bit once I got downstairs. There were tables of goodies (bagels with toppings, fruit, granola bars) and plenty of bottled water and sports drink. There was also a beautiful urn of delicious coffee which made me feel a little bit better about being around other humans at that time of day.
That’s not the awesome part, though.
The awesome part is the energy that the Hilton employees put into welcoming us and sending us off. Everyone was friendly and happy to be there…maybe because they got to go back to bed after we got on the bus but they were 1000 percent awesome.
I was smiling – cheerful, even – as I boarded the 3:00 a.m. (ouch!) bus and that was all due to the solid gold attitudes of the Hilton employees on duty that morning. You just expect a certain level of service from a Hilton property but this send-off completely smashed my expectations and I’d stay here again just to have someone treat me like that in front of my race.
Post-run amenities at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
The runner’s amenities are what truly make this the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon – or any runDisney race weekend.
If a day in the theme parks isn’t your idea of post-race fun, there’s plenty of things to do at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek or their adjoining property, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Best. Pool. EVAH.
The pool and the Lazy River are primo. It was a little chilly for swimming when I visited, although there were a fair amount of kids in the pool. There’s also a hot tub for soaking those tired muscles and a poolside restaurant and bar if you want someone to bring you lunch and a margarita.
Also, if you’re there on a runner’s package, you’ll get a card at check-in that gives you 10 percent off in the restaurants. Winning.
The Waldorf Astoria Spa
It’s short walk from the Hilton lobby to the Waldorf lobby and they have a wonderful, luxury spa. I treated myself to a manicure before the race and a hot stone massage after.
There’s also a wonderful relaxation room with a steam room and a whirlpool where you can relax before or after your treatment, which is included. I hung out for about an hour and alternated laying on a lounger sipping a mimosa with soaking in the whirlpool.
If you’re there on the runner’s package, you’ll receive 20 percent off spa treatments. I completely recommend this experience – it’s a splurge as far as pricing goes but you’ve earned it with all those miles, right?
I need to tell you about this brunch
The Harvest Bistro has a seriously epic breakfast buffet. You HAVE to do it at least once while you’re there. It’s expensive – $29 per person – but it’s worth the price. You will find absolutely EVERYTHING you could possibly want to eat for breakfast here.
This would make a great treat post-race or fuel up before you go to the parks for a day. There was an omelette bar, which also had eggs to order, a selection of breakfast casseroles and meats.
Want to know more about why the Hilton Orlando Bonnet creek is the best hotel for Disney Princess Half Marathon?
The best prices for marathon weekends will come from booking early. I usually recommend sites like Booking.com but consider booking this one directly with the property to make sure your stay includes all the runner’s perks and discounts.
Read the 2020 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Guide here: Runner’s Resort Guide_Feb2020_web
Hilton will publish a race weekend specific guide for each event, but this will give you an idea of what to expect and what’s offered.
runDisney race weekends currently happen four times a year
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January
Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February
Star Wars Rival Run Weekend – April
Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek offers runner’s amenities for all of runDisney’s race weekends. Stay in the know by subscribing to updates from runDisney because things to tend to change over time.
For more info check out the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s website.