I’ve been told that the title of this post is a bit extreme but that was coming from someone who has never been to a Run Disney Expo before.
Recalling my experience from the Inaugural Dark Side Weekend, it’s pretty much the hunger games depending on your approach to the experience.
My first ever Expo was the Tower of Terror 10-miler back in October of 2014 and I did it wrong. I went, picked up my bib and I left. That is the in and out approach that many take when it comes to the expo if they have no desire to walk the booths or shop the merchandise.
I didn’t know what I was doing and I regret this simply because I have nothing to really commemorate my first ever race.
Now, if you want to hit up merchandise this is where it can get tricky. Like I mentioned, Dark Side got ugly. When it comes to inaugural or anniversary events, merchandise becomes a hot commodity. Mostly due to the scum-of-the-earth people that come in, buy a ton of everything and turn around to sell it on ebay.
Run Disney doesn’t do anything to stop or limit this simply because they want to get rid of this stuff so as not to have loads left over to have to sell at discount. I can’t even be mad about this approach because it’s business, but I can be annoyed.
There’s been a lot of complaining on the message boards and groups and it seems Run Disney has tried to limit the madness by not posting available merchandise until closer to race day. It’d be nice if they offered registered racers a chance to get in there first but that runs the risk of people with no intention of running taking up registrations. Ebayers make enough money to justify throwing away a registration.
If you are keen on snagging merchandise I suggest getting there early. For Dark Side weekend I arrived about two hours before the main expo was to open and there was already about 100 people lined up. Andy and Carmela joined me about an hour into my wait and we came up with our plan of attack.
We knew what we wanted to buy and each of us was put in charge of finding specific items and sizes.
The doors opened and it was true chaos. I was yelled at and elbowed by ebayers. It was miserable. But we got what we wanted.
If you don’t care about merchandise, you have a lot more flexibility in your planning and can go whenever depending on when your first race is.
Moral of the story- if merchandise is your goal, stop in there first and worry about your bib after. It’s not going anywhere but that awesome jacket might be.
But let’s talk about this weekend in particular.
I had no choice but to attend this weekend’s expo on opening day because I’m running the Dopey Challenge which starts tomorrow morning. I decided I wanted to get it over with sooner rather than later and arrived at 11:30, about 30 minutes before everything was officially open.
Now, because of the enormity of this particular weekend, bib pick up for the 5k, 10k and Kid Races are outside of the field house where packet pick-up normally is. This allows for people running just these events to get it over with a tad earlier.
This was different from last year as I remember picking up 10k inside so who knows if this will stick.
Anyway. Half Marathon, Marathon, Goofy and Dopey pick up were all inside along with picking up shirts.
Now, when it comes to merchandise, WDW Marathon weekend is a lot different in that is hosts a separate auxiliary merchandise location in the field house. I was actually able to get everything I needed without going anywhere near the Josten’s Center.
Now this location doesn’t have everything you could buy but it had what I wanted specifically so I was happy. I was also able to pick up my pre-ordered jacket.
I’ve learned to always pre-order the jacket. At some events, the pre-order has been a lot nicer than what was available to the general public. And example was during Avengers 2016 where the general jacket was horrible and I’m madly in love with my pre-order.
I did stop into the Josten’s Center because I wanted to check out the commemorative display options. I had purchased one for my first marathon and really wanted to see what they had for Dopey. The price tag was a bit much for me but I love checking out the vendors regardless.
I recommend checking out the actual expo if you’ve never been to one before. You can chat with fellow runners, check out awesome gear from vendors and take in the speaker series.
This is your weekend so do make sure to make the most of it. There is nothing wrong with the “in and out” approach if you’re eager to get to the parks. Truth be told, I bolted out of there as soon as I was done because I had a date with Donald Duck in Mexico.
Not even kidding.
Happy running ya’ll. See you out there for the 5k in a few hours!
[Featured Image Copyright Disney/RunDisney]