Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Princess Half Marathon Expo 2020

Have you ever been to a runDisney Expo on day one of opening at opening time? Well, I'm here to tell you that it was definitely one of the most interesting experiences of my life! I'm getting ahead of myself, though...let me back up...

For the Princes Half Marathon this year, we arrived the week before race weekend. Our usual plans include race weekend followed by the week after, but due to our annual pass expiration, we had to choose the week before. This worked out in our favor though, because I was able to attend the Expo on day one of the opening, that morning! Prior to this experience, I'd only ever done that at one other expo and it was for one of the Disneyland races

So, my plans were to wake up that morning, run the Derby Dash at Saratoga Springs, then shower and get in line for a bus to the Expo.

With coffee in hand, I was ready to go for exactly 9:15 a.m. The Expo was set to open at 10 a.m. and I wanted to be on the first bus out of our resort.

The line of people once I arrived at the bus stop should have been my first clue that this was not going to be an easy walk in the park...

The bus arrived a little late, but we were still at the Expo just a few minutes before 10 a.m.

I decided to first stop in the runDisney official merchandise area before moving over to pick up my bib. Walking up to this building was a bit deceiving because I didn't see any lines! I thought I happened to be lucky!

To my surprise, we were allowed inside the building (I thought they had opened the Expo early), but instead of being shown to the merchandise area, we were ushered into a "queue" room where we were asked to wait.....check out the people!

In true Disney fashion, this room had tape all over the floor, signaling the way for us to walk and the path for us to follow. The room was filled with people! I couldn't believe it!

After 40 minutes in the merchandise queue room, it was finally my turn to go shopping! :)

To be honest, it was interesting being at the Expo on the very first day and seeing all of the fully stocked shelves. I was able to snag a spirit jersey for myself and pins for all of the races I was running. (I was bummed at the Wine & Dine Expo  that all of the pins were sold out by the time we made it inside.) Also, the frenzy of people grabbing items, tossing others to their friends, and stuffing their baskets was quite comical. It felt like Black Friday but at a runDisney Expo!

After selecting my items, I joined yet another line to check out. By the time I finished my purchases, I decided I was done with lines forever. :)

Outside of the merchandise area were several photo opportunities, character stops, and a food/beverage area.

My next stop on the Expo journey was to pick up my packet. I was literally standing at the bus stop back at Saratoga Springs when I realized I left my race waiver back in my room (but I wasn't about to leave my spot in line). For those of you who are absent minded like me (sometimes), you can always print your waiver at the expo. Usually though, there's a bit of a (you guessed it)...line...to get to the computers. Oy.

Somehow, I missed the big race banners altogether. They were moved over to the far side and I didn't see them. Instead, in their old spot were these decals on the concrete!

Once inside the bib pickup area, I waited in a semi short line to print my waiver, then picked up my race bib. The shirts were located inside the Visa Center (another completely separate building) which also houses the main expo floor.

I also loved these number photo ops. I could have/should have waited to take a picture with them but...you guessed it...another line!

The Visa Center was buzzing with activity and people by the time I made it over there. My main focus in this building was to pick up my race shirts and find a shirt from Raw Threads to wear for the 10K!

It didn't take long before I found what I needed, and I was done!

In total, I spent three and a half hours (including travel time) navigating the Expo. In theory, I could have spent more time exploring, but about an hour and a half of that time was spent waiting in lines and I was ready to go! I am SO glad I didn't bring Brayden to the Expo with me. I never felt rushed but I know if he had been with us, that would have been a different story. Instead, Jason and Brayden spent the morning at the pool since the weather was beautiful! (This was of course before the weather turned and it froze for the 5K the following day!)
So, would I be tempted to visit a race Expo on opening day at the time it opens? Unless there's an item I absolutely HAVE to have and I'm worried it's going to be a hot ticket item, or unless I'm with a group of friends, probably not. :) 

Now you know my thoughts and experiences from the Princess Half Marathon Expo! If you want to see more, I do have a coordinating video linked below. Have a fabulous day! 

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