You’ve registered on time, trained for months, and the moment is finally here: your runDisney race weekend! Whether you’re running in a 5K, 10K, 10 mile, or half or full marathon event, it’s a big accomplishment to have made it this far, and you’re ready to run…but before you can line up in your corral, there’s one stop left to make the magic real: a visit to the Expo!
Although each race weekend’s size dictates its corresponding Expo’s size, it’s always a hurricane of activity that can be overwhelming to anyone attending one for the first time, especially with wide-eyed kids (or spouses) in tow. Fortunately, I’ve uncovered a few tips and tricks to getting in and out in one piece – so whether it’s your first or fiftieth expo – these pointers should be helpful.
BEFORE THE EXPO:
- DO: print out your waiver from the runDisney website before arriving
- DON’T: worry if you forget to print your waiver – there are computers/printers there just in case, but you can avoid waiting in another line if you already have your waiver.
- DO: Check the schedule to see when Expo hours are. There are NO race day pickups for “day” races so check the runDisney site for optimal planning.
AT THE EXPO:
- DO: bring your photo ID – volunteers will check this against your waiver. (If you absolutely cannot attend the expo, you may have a friend/family member pick up for you, but you will need to complete the “Pick Up Authorization” forms – these are available on the runDisney event sites, under the “Runner Info” tab – and provide your “picker upper” with a copy of your photo ID).
- DON’T: meander off course! There are two important stops you must make: (1) Bib pickup (which is divided by bib numbers, as denoted on your waiver) and (2) T-Shirt & Goody Bag pick up. Shopping and strolling the expo floor are optional.
- DO: Wear comfortable shoes! Between parking (or walking from the bus) and walking the Expo floor, it is not uncommon to travel several miles on foot.
- DON’T: forget to bring your cash and/or credit card if you want to shop – there will be many vendors selling everything from running shoes to Clif Bars, fun themed souvenirs, and more!
- DO: take advantage of the water coolers stationed around the expo! Being hydrated is very important, especially when you’re about to run a race.
- DON’T: be tempted to purchase an entirely new race outfit and shoes at the expo. You SHOULD be racing in something you’ve worn before, and this includes the race shirt. Celebrate your accomplishment post-event!
- DO: consider attending the runDisney speaker series! Talks are free of charge, and past speakers have included runDisney official Nutritionist Tara Gidus and Former Olympian and runDisney Coach Jeff Galloway. Plus, it’s a chance to get off your feet for a while!
- Special runDisney merchandise is often sold in limited supply, so if purchasing these items (often previewed on the Disney Parks Blog) is a priority, consider attending the Expo on the first day as close to opening time as possible.
- If shopping is not a huge priority for you, consider visiting the Expo in the middle of the day or late in the day, as locals often stop in “after work” hours (4-5 PM).
- Concessions, such as sandwiches, salads, and snacks are sold on premises, in case you need a bite to eat.
- Official runDisney merchandise is subject to the same discounts that you would find in the parks (i.e. Annual Passholder discounts, DVC discounts, and Cast Member discounts), so don’t forget to take advantage of those as possible. Please note, however, that there may be restrictions on quantity.
- The race program is often posted ahead of time on the runDisney site, complete with Expo map, so you can plan your shopping route in advance.
What am I missing? What tips do you have about runDisney Expos – or if you’ve never been, what questions do you have that haven’t been covered?