Running Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K at Animal Kingdom

Up at 5am to get ready
Up at 5am to get ready

This weekend I was able to participate in my second runDisney race this year in the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K. I’ve done little actual running this year, but I’m going to be doing the inaugural Minnie 10K during marathon weekend in January so I figured I would try to do this as a warm up race. This wasn’t my first 5K, but I decided ahead of time I was going to take it easy since I am on antibiotics and medication for sinusitis.

I mostly wanted to do this race for the absolutely adorable Christmas medal (read: rubbery plastic medallion) that all finishers get. Training as a warmup for the 10K was a bonus too since I’ve just started running 2 – 3 days a week again in the last three weeks since my last 10K in August that didn’t go as planned. You can read about that adventure here. More training can only be a good thing.

The course was through Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which I’ve run through in three other 5Ks, but this was a slightly different course than what they had setup before. For those who have done the Expedition Everest Challenge or any other 5K races through Animal Kingdom, you may recall the first mile through the parking lot almost exclusively, then heading through the Oasis towards Africa before going towards Conservation Station for a switchback. After that you would run through Asia by Everest and Finding Nemo, then out by Dinoland and backstage to exit back into the parking lot. Instead of Conservation Station, we skipped that and had a switchback backstage almost just before exiting the park. This is where there were a few parade floats and character meet and greets setup. Previously on the Conservation Station section there would be floats with characters, but also some live animals with handlers, which I kind of missed to be honest. I’m not sure what the reason for the change was other than possibly avoiding running over the train tracks where Cast Members were always setup to warn those running of the potential hazard.

I knew this was going to be the first race for my friend Doug, so I got there early to support him and so we could hang out before getting in the corrals to start. The race start was at 7am and there were only four waves for this race. I was in the last corral for this one, but surprisingly was crossing the start line at 7:08, just about 10 minutes after the wheelchair participants started. I also found out that morning that my friend Scarlett was running too, which was a nice surprise. Several of our friends came out nice and early to come cheer for us and even made some signs. I especially appreciate those who came to cheer who were running in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon later that night.

With Scarlett and Doug before the race
With Scarlett and Doug before the race
Sign I missed in the dark on the way out the door
Sign I missed in the dark on the way out the door
Sign Shalon made me
Sign Shalon made me
Sign Shelley made me
Sign Shelley made me

For some reason, this race felt much more relaxed than some others did previously. I don’t know if this is because I put no pressure on myself knowing I was going to walk most of it, or what. Others also commented it felt like there were fewer people in this race and the corrals weren’t as crowded. It was a nice chill vibe where I didn’t even enter my corral until 5 minutes before the race started.

In the corral
In the corral
Start
Start
Mickey and Minnie waved to me at the start
Mickey and Minnie waved to me at the start
Christmas tree
Christmas tree

As I mentioned, the start was in the parking lot at the Animal Kingdom and the first mile marker was just before the turnstiles to enter the park. A little before the mile 1 point was a spot where I saw friends cheering, and then the Christmas tree lit up at the entrance. I was hoping for some nice Christmas theming with this race and I wasn’t disappointed. Spread out along the course were characters, almost all of whom were in Christmas costumes, mostly their outfits from Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade. Also, towards the end of the course, just before mile 3 was my favorite photo op, and my new avatar thanks to Scarlett’s insistence I get in the picture with her.

Running into Mike working was a bonus
Running into Mike working was a bonus
King Louie
King Louie
Selfie with a dino skeleton wearing a Santa hat
Selfie with a dino skeleton wearing a Santa hat
Donald with some guests running in Christmas sweaters
Donald with some guests running in Christmas sweaters

The race itself wasn’t bad. The temperature was just below 70 at start time, which wasn’t too warm. I tried out a 30 second jog and a 15 second walk interval for the first 10 minutes and was on a better pace than what I’d been doing on the treadmill recently, so that was nice. I was having a little trouble breathing since I forgot to use my inhaler ahead of time, so I walked for longer periods for most of the rest of the race. I was passed by Doug and ran into Scarlett waiting in lines for characters. Scarlett and I finished the race walking together which was nice, since I normally run alone.

Don't do it kid!
Don’t do it kid!
Favorite race picture yet thanks to Scarlett
Favorite race picture yet thanks to Scarlett
Finish
Finish
I got my Christmas medal
I got my Christmas medal

We had a fun time, which is ultimately what we set out to do. None of us, other than Doug, were out to set a personal record, and he did great in his first race! I got my medal and enjoyed the course, even running into one of my mom’s friends who was running in her first race. For those who are looking to just get started in running or walking even, a 5K at Disney is a great place. They say there is a 16 minute pace requirement, but that is very loosely enforced. I know people who were finishing at closer to an hour and 30 minutes from the race start time by the time they waited in lines for characters.

Have you found yourself running in a runDisney race before? What is your favorite course? Or your favorite medal? This was my ninth 5K and I enjoy them so I’ll keep at it. Next schedule race is the 10K in January and another 5K in February for Princess Half Marathon weekend. Still looking for another 5K next month as a warmup.

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Author: Betsy

Scorpio. Passionate about movies, music, sports, Disney and my friends who are more like my family. Fiercely loyal and competitive. My thoughts are my own.

2 thoughts on “Running Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K at Animal Kingdom”

  1. My husband and I are participating the 2014 Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K this November and i was wondering where they are allowing you to park your vehicle. We prefer not to take the bus because of the jarring on the knees if we have to stand since my husband had knee replacement surgery a year ago and still has some issues with it.

    1. Hi Cheryl! For the four races I’ve done at Animal Kingdom I’ve driven myself and parked in the parking lot. The lot is divided almost in half by the tram lane. They usually have participating guests and those cheering park on the left half since part of the parking lot is used for the start and finish. From where I’ve parked to the starting corrals is typically about a five minute walk. Hope this helps and good luck in the race!

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