Theme Park Bits: A runDisney Club, Disney Villains After Hours Foodie Guide, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • runDisney has unveiled an exclusive new club.
  • Prepare for Disney Villains After Hours with some special cuisine.
  • And more!
  • runDisney logo

    It's rare that Theme Park Bits ever highlights one of arguably the most popular traditions at the Disney theme parks: running events. (That may be due to the fact that this writer is not himself a runner / a person who is in shape.) But you may be the kind of person who enjoys running and takes part in runDisney-sanctioned events in the parks. Well, this news is for you: starting February 18, you can buy a membership into their exclusive new club, Club runDisney. You'll get benefits extending from October 2020 to September 2021, including access to a Virtual 10K (which I have to imagine isn't that virtual).

    As mentioned in a recent Theme Park Bits column, Magic Kingdom Park over at the Walt Disney World Resort will be the home of some special nighttime fun with Disney villains from February to July of this year. There's plenty of new stuff you can experience, from character meetings to unique shows. There will also, of course, be new food, and the Disney Parks Blog has a foodie guide for you to salivate over. Though I won't be able to attend, I'm enjoying vicariously looking at these dishes, especially the Five Dozen Eggs Slush pictured above, which is frozen custard with whipped cream, cinnamon, and an instant case of diabetes. (At least it's not actually five dozen eggs.)

    Happening sooner, though, at the Walt Disney World Resort is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. The event goes from January 17 to February 24, but if you're an Annual Passholder, there's even more excitement in store thanks to some cool exclusives. You can get exclusive merchandise, along with a complimentary Artful Mickey magnet, and discounts on dining packages and Disney on Broadway events. The event's also going to usher in the arrival of three new films in the Canada, France, and Land pavilions, so you won't want to miss out.

    Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

    The end of a year means that there's going to be awards to give out, and it's no different for the world of theme parks. Over at Theme Park Insider, one of their annual awards is about what's adjacent to the parks themselves: their Best Luxury Hotel award went to Loews Portofino Bay, one of the hotels in the Universal Studios Orlando Resort area. Portofino Bay has now won the honor for a record ninth time. Sorry, Disney — the only honor you can get here is honorable mention, for Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

    A Disney Legend has fallen. Bob Mathieson passed away recently at the age of 85. Don't feel too bad if you can't come up with who Mathieson was: though he was an integral figure within the development of the Disney theme parks, he did so in the background. At the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, he served as Director of Operations, moving up to Executive Vice President of Parks by the mid-1980s. He was part of the Walt Disney Company for 34 years — if you love Disney World, you can thank Mathieson for his hand in its earliest development.