Navigating the Princess Half Marathon Expo

Friday, Feb 22nd, we left Tallahassee around 6:30 am, arriving in Lake Buena Vista 4 hours later. Was worried about the change of venue from ESPN WWOS to Coronado Springs. With Atlanta Braves spring training, runDisney had no choice but to move the Expo. But with no expo parking at Coronado Springs, I prepared myself to wait a long time for the shuttle buses.

We get to the Downtown Disney West End parking, and surprise - Lots of buses! No waiting!

We got on the bus, I put on my tiara, and we set off.

There was a line to get into the expo itself, but the line moved quickly. Arrived about 11am and the place was PACKED. (By the time we left, 2pm – the crowds had thinned considerably.)

No line to get our bibs and my pin. Separate line for the necklace (commemorative items) only 3 ppl deep. This is where the speediness ended. The line for race shirts snaked around the aisles and back out the entrance doors. The beginning of the line was just a mass of people pushing and shoving - some were just coming into the expo, some trying to get 5K shirts, some trying to get Half shirts. In one word: chaos. A staff member came over and pointed people in the right direction. This did the trick and the line began to move forward. I'm estimating about 250 ppl deep when I got in line.  I knew it could be a while. 

DG doesn't do well in crowds and said to me, “Just forget the shirts. We don't need them.” Well, if the expo was this packed now – I wasn't looking forward to coming back on Saturday – and I wanted my race shirt! So I decided to stick it out. I was so grateful DG was with me. He patiently stood in the line for our race shirts, and sent me to get in line for the runDisney merchandise booth. Yes, there was a long line to get in there too. I had also wanted to pick him up a pair of the runDisney New Balance shoes... but you guessed it... the line for that booth was the longest of all!

He gets our race packets and I am still in the line for the runDisney Merchandise booth. I still need my Dooney bag, so DG goes off to find out where that pickup is. When he gets back, I am inside. Turns out that the Dooney bag pickup was inside this booth all along. I could've avoided the wait to enter completely. (sigh) Well, now I know for next time.

The runDisney Merchandise booth was like a Macy's Black Friday sale: eager shoppers and items were literally flying off the shelves. DG stood in line for me while I shopped and we got out in a decent amount of time. He had also stopped at the SPIBelt booth and got me a Minnie print belt to wear on Sunday.

The contents of the race packet, plus Dooney bag, pin, and necklace.

This is my haul from the Expo.

I wandered back towards the New Balance booth and now there was no line at all! This is a peek of the stock area.

So before our luck turned, I found one of the employees and got DG to try on some shoes. He loved them and I could tell he was glad we came back when we did! He traded in his old Mickey adidas for the new runDisney Mickey shoes.

DG had run into our Run Disney So I Can Eat Disney buddy, Linda, and she had prepared a little surprise for me. A little bag contained a Princess Monica sash and a hot pink boa. LOVED IT! I wore them the rest of the day!

We made a brief stop at the runDisney Races booth and said hello to Jeff Galloway, again. Having first met him at Wine & Dine, then again at Marathon Weekend, and more recently at our local Galloway Training Group kickoff, it was like greeting an old friend. He is such a nice guy.

It was past lunchtime and we were starving, so we started to work our way out. I had spent more $ than I intended, so I didn't browse too many other booths. I noticed Team Sparkle had some new shirts: one style had our blog name printed on it. Cute and very tempting, but I already own too many cotton tees.

Got some pics with the footmen. Handsome, aren't they?

One last line for the buses and that was it.

The change to a smaller venue and parking shuttles was not ideal, but I can see it was necessary. I think runDisney did the best they could with the situation. The place was full of runners, and we were all pumped up and excited for the weekend. Yes, it was crowded, but overall, most people were just happy to be there, and were polite and cooperative with the crowd situation.

My experience was a positive one. I got some good shopping done, but like my previous two expos, I felt like there was so much to see and do, I could never get to it all.  I still have yet to hear a speaker!  So, will definitely make time for that in the next expo.

My best tip for future runDisney expos: Divide and Conquer. Bring a buddy and take turns standing in line for each other.

Next up: Princess Tea Party meet-up and more!

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