So, I returned from Walt Disney World three weeks ago, and if you read my post last week, then you know that I’m dealing with the Disney blues. While I had a blast running 48.6 miles around Walt Disney World, I’m so sad that it’s over. Over seven months of training…..and Dopey is complete….wow!
But, all good things must come to an end, and I’ve finally decided to start my recaps. First up: the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Expo!
We arrived in Orlando on Jan. 3 at about 10:30 a.m. We knew that the expo didn’t open until 12 p.m. to the general public, so we decided to take the Magical Express from the airport to our resort (Pop Century) to see if our room was ready. We were very impressed with how short the trip was from MCO to Pop Century. We’ve never stayed at a resort that took less than 30 minutes to get to from the airport, so this was a pleasant change!
By the time that we arrived at Pop Century, we still had not received the text that our room was ready. So, we used the restrooms and dropped off our carry-ons at the luggage assistance station outside of the lobby. And, by the way, that has to be the coolest thing ever.
We then made our way to the bus line for the expo. On the way through the lobby, we ran into some friends from our hometown! We knew that they were coming down, but we had no idea that they were staying in our resort – how weird is that?!
After catching up with our friends, we got in line for the bus. We were able to get on the next bus, which came in about 10 minutes. While on the bus, we were told that we were one of the closest resorts to ESPN Wide World of Sports, which is where the expo is held – we were actually less than 10 minutes away!
After a short trip, our bus entered the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex (it was just about 12 p.m. at this point). But……as soon as we passed the sign, we were stuck in the expo traffic. This was my first experience going to the expo on opening day. I usually arrive on the second or even third day, so I was not expecting the traffic (and crowds) to be that bad.
After about 20 minutes, our bus made it to the drop-off location, which was moved to the opposite side of the parking lot from where it was in previous years. Steve and I ran off the bus and headed straight for the Dopey Challenge packet pick-up line, which was also the location of the official merchandise and commemorative item pick-up. And….this is where it all went downhill…..
The Dopey Challenge packet pick-up line was about 15 minutes long. In our “packets,” we received our bibs, a commemorative luggage tag for the 25th anniversary of the full, and some BibBoards, which had runDisney symbols on them.
We were then corralled around the corner to pick up my shirts.
I actually really liked this year’s shirts! So cute and colorful!
In years past, I was always able to head straight to the official merchandise tent to begin shopping. But, to my surprise, we were told to head outside to get in line for the official merchandise AND commemorative items. At this point, I was slightly annoyed because I knew that the items were all in the building that I was currently leaving. But, there had to be a reason for us to go out and around, so I followed the directions and headed out of the building.
YOU GUYS…..the line for merchandise/commemorative items was ridiculous. Like wrapped around the complex ridiculous. If you follow any runDisney bloggers who attended this event, I’m sure that you’ve seen pictures. As we started to approach the line, I went over to a cast member to see if I needed to wait in the line for my commemorative items. For the first time ever, I was OK with skipping the official merchandise tent. That line was just way too long. But, the cast member told me that the line was for the official merchandise tent AND commemorative item pick-up (you had to go through the line to get into both areas). UGH!
So, at that point, I told Steve to go sit in the bar and wait for me. There was no sense in both of us waiting in that line. I headed to the back of the line and waited….and waited….and waited….
One hour and 20 minutes later, I finally made it into the official merchandise area. And, I decided that because I waited that long, I was going to shop. I deserved it! I knew going into the expo that I wanted to get the Tervis Tumbler water bottle and a Sweaty Band (which is something that I get every race weekend). I quickly picked up those two items and then took a look at the Dopey Challenge items. By this point, a lot of the merchandise was selling out. I found a shirt and a tank top that I liked, grabbed my size, and then headed to check out. The check out line was only about 8-10 minutes long, so it moved pretty quickly.
My favorite model 🙂
I then headed over to the area that said “Commemorative Item Pick-Up.” But, when I got there, the area was blocked off…..completely. I asked the cast member that was standing there how I could access the area, and he said that the commemorative item pick-up line was outside. WHAT?! I told him what the original cast member had told me, and he said that I did NOT need to wait in the original line. He let me slip through the barrier (probably because he could see how defeated I looked), so I’m very grateful for that.
I got through the commemorative item line in about 20 minutes. I grabbed my pre-ordered jacket and headed out of there (I do not have a picture of my jacket because it’s in the laundry – you’ll see it in my pictures throughout my recaps though!). By that point, I was SO ready to leave, but I knew that I wanted to exchange my shirts for smaller sizes since they seemed a little larger this year. I called Steve and we met at the V Center (previously Vista Center, previously J Center, previously Josten….I don’t even know). We headed straight for shirt exchange, grabbed my correct size, and then headed back to the buses. We were so excited to be heading back to the room for a quick rest before dinner at Morimoto in Disney Springs.
Overall, the expo experience was pretty…I’m not going to sugar coat it…horrendous. I’ve never had that much trouble during any of my other runDisney weekends. While I’m happy that I got my Tervis water bottle and Sweaty Band, I’m annoyed that I was told to wait in a line that I didn’t have to for an hour and 20 minutes. And…those shirts I bought? Yeah….they were WAY TOO TIGHT….like the “I can barely move” type of tight. Luckily, I was able to exchange those in the gift shop of our resort, so I did get my money back for those.
Other than the crazy lines and misinformation, I didn’t think that the new expo set-up was too bad. I know that there were a lot of people who did not like it (separating bib pick-ups into different buildings and moving the official merchandise out of the main expo), but I sort of liked it. It felt like there was a lot of room to shop (once you actually got into the official merchandise area), and the regular expo floor was slightly less crowded than usual, so people could easily browse vendors if they wanted to.
I hope you enjoyed part 1 of my Dopey Challenge recaps. Keep an eye out for my race recaps next week!
Have a good weekend!