Though I am not participating in the upcoming Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend, I did find myself curious about a reported delay in volunteer signups for the event. Typically this comes in the weeks leading up to the event and is just as competitive as signing up for the races themselves.
Word started trickling through social media yesterday that changes were coming to Disneyland based events, specifically the elimination of volunteers. RunDinsey has currently contracted two separate staffing agencies to recruit and hire temporary workers to staff events in lieu of volunteers. This change will be in effect as early as this May’s Tinkerbell Weekend.
As of right now, volunteering will still be available for Walt Disney World Events.
These temporary employees (cast members? I’m unclear now) will be earning $13 an hour for their time. Because they are now paid workers, the normal benefits of volunteering, including park admission, won’t be available to them. Applicants now complete an application and all the paperwork that comes with new employment.
Each applicant is then subject to a seven-year criminal background check and will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Much of the paperwork can be completed online but there are forms that need to be completed in person or by mail.
Workers then pick their shifts and can work up to 40 hours over the course of the weekend.
As a runner I’m curious about the changes that will come to the race experience from start to finish. The volunteers that I’ve encountered at RunDisney events in the past have been runners themselves, family members of runners or enthusiastic Disney fans wanting to help out. They have been some of the nicest and most amazing people I’ve met.
Now it’s going to be someone working for a paycheck. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. Considering that $13 is well above the California minimum wage it’s a fantastic opportunity to make money. But what about family members from out of the country that would typically volunteer to support their runners?
There have been many subtle changes in the way RunDisney has been operating this year and this is the first one that has really set me on edge. I was painfully irritated when registrations seemed to be opening up every other week and my bank account couldn’t keep up, but now this.
What really sets me on edge is what this change will potentially do to the cost of Dinseyland-based RunDisney events. From experience, these races sell slower than Walt Disney World races and rarely sell out completely. Will we see an increase in costs or will we see a decrease in staffing or potentially races.
I already feel like we’ve seen a decrease in quality in some aspects of the races. I found myself incredibly disappointed in race merchandise the last two times I visited the Disneyland resort for races. Even World has been lacking. I feel like less time and effort has been put into quality of product but the price remains firmly set at “one kidney please”.
As I mentioned, I am not running Tinkerbell this year but Erica will be. I plan on interrogating her thoroughly on her experience with these changes. I won’t be getting a taste of the new system until September for the newly rebranded “Disney Double Dare Challenge” followed by the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge in November.
For those still looking to lend a hand at the races in May and beyond, you can get in touch with the staffing companies Apple One (DisneyRun@AppleOne.com) and Volt (cbarraza@Volt.com).
Best of luck!