Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Recap: The Expo

Okay, so my post on the expo may not be quite as warm and fuzzy as my previous recap of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Meet-Up. It was…an experience, to say the least.

Immediately following the meet-up, I headed straight for the expo. Okay, wait, that’s a lie…first I grabbed a much-needed iced latte and a bagel since I knew I’d need my energy (and caffeine) to wrangle with the crowds at the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo.

Little did I realize that by 9:15, the lines just to get into the building were already ridiculous. Stepping outside of the Disneyland Hotel, I was met with what could only be described as pure chaos. I had to talk to a few different people to figure out that there were three lines: one for packet pick-up, one for the expo, and one for the runDisney New Balance sneakers.  My first priority is always access to the expo, because I learned really quickly at the Princess Half just how fast official race merchandise can fly off the shelves. I didn’t want to be among the people who couldn’t manage to get their hands on an “I Did It!” shirt, so I proceeded directly to the line for the expo.


When they finally started letting us in at 10am, that’s when things got crazy. The only word I could think of to describe what happened in the runDisney official race merchandise booth was that it was a stampede. Literally. Hundreds of people threw themselves into one small area of the expo and starting running and grabbing for race t-shirts and hoodies and jackets and stickers and everything else you could possibly imagine. I had to circle the area twice before I could even spot the racks of the Dumbo merchandise, which I soon discovered was because they were completely taken over by mobs of runners.

I maneuvered my way in as politely as I could only to find that the women’s shirts were in scarce supply – nothing but a few larges and extra-larges remained in most of the shirts. Instead of joining the angry mob demanding that expo staff bring out more sizes, I tried a different approach – I started following people around who were carrying around a bunch of the same shirt in different sizes to try on, and managed to get my hands on size mediums in several shirts that way! Of course, I saw that they were restocking (slowly!) but I knew that the line was getting longer and longer and time was of the essence, so I was pretty much running around like a maniac at that point trying to figure out exactly what I wanted and making sure I had the sizes I needed.

It was absolute madness. Chaos. Insanity. By the time I had my armful of goodies and it was time to check-out, I realized that I pretty much had to venture to Narnia just to find the end of the line. It literally wound through the expo and out into the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center and then back into the expo and across the area for speakers and then back into the runDisney section.

I stood in line to pay for my stuff for – wait for it – TWO HOURS. And, mind you, it was still only about 11am by the time I got in line, so this is all happening within the very first hour that the expo was open. I would have hated to see the lines as the day went on.

After I paid for my goodies, it was time to go pick-up my race packet and then do some more browsing at the other vendors.


 I was starving (and exhausted) by that time, so thank goodness Clif was offering samples! I also made time for a few quick photo opportunities, of course.



I picked up a few of BondiBands’ new Disney-themed headbands, and then invested in my new favorite toy…The Stick. I’ve read rave reviews about it, so I thought it was time to give it a try…especially since I don’t spend nearly as much time with my foam roller as I should, and I was looking for something a bit more travel-friendly since I’ll apparently be flying to Florida every five minutes for my next runDisney race.

I used it the night before the 10K and then every night after that during my trip, and while it HURTS LIKE HELL, I’m pretty sure it saved me and my poor aching legs this weekend! It DOES work!

I also visited my beloved Sparkle Athletic booth (nothing new that I don’t already own, haha) and Raw Threads, but I had already ordered my adorable Dumbo-themed “Fly” shirt on-line, so no business there, either.

As a side note, I did meet a few readers/Team runDisney/Dumbo Double Dare Facebook group members at the expo during the madness, so if you’re reading, it was awesome meeting you! It definitely made my day. I’m excited to be blogging about my various runDisney exploits more and more, and hope to make lots of new runDisney friends! :)

Anyway, the good news is that if you get there SUPER early (and are a little bit aggressive), you CAN have a smooth runDisney expo experience. Just expect to deal with lots and lots of people! And have lots and lots of patience (something that, sad to say, I sorely lack).

Honestly, I thought the Princess Half’s expo was crazy because its relocation to the Coronado Springs Resort made for a really cramped official race merchandise booth, but even with all of the room at the Disneyland Convention Center, there HAS to be a better way to distribute race merchandise to the crazed runDisney fans. I understand why the merchandise is in such high demand — it’s great stuff! –  but the fact that I had to nearly kill myself for the shirts I wanted and then stand in line for 2 hours means that it might be time to add more inventory or streamline the purchase process somehow.

Still, I clearly managed to do some damage…


Next up…my recap of the 10K! :)

How did you fare during the Disneyland Half expo? What are some of your tips for successful race expos?






  1. Ah I love your post. I sadly avoid the expos as much as possible. I sent my parents my husband and my stuff so they got our bibs when they picked up my moms. I wish I had some I did it gear.. But I also would rather spend my time in Disney parks where the views in line are at least less crazy more magic..

  2. That pretty much agrees with everything I heard about the expo. There are other complaints too, so I don’t know if it was this year or other factors.

    • Yep, I’ve definitely heard a bunch of complaints. I don’t know how they can fix these issues…but there has to be some way to stop the madness!

  3. I think it would be helpful if they allowed you to purchase merchandise online.

    I understand that they create demand for the items simply by making the merchandise so… exclusive (?), but perhaps each person could get one promo code with their registration that can be used to checkout with runDisney merch one time.

    IDK but there has to be a better way to go about the whole thing!

  4. Wow, I can’t believe you waited 2 hours! I have to be honest I saw the line and left, I figured I could deal without any merchandise (and I saved myself some $!). I did hear that people who went back later in the day or even Saturday didn’t have much of a line and there was still a pretty good selection of stuff available. runDisney fans are clearly just very passionate!

    • I hear ya! I believe it, it did seem like they were restocking the items…I just hate the idea of not being able to have something I wanted because there wasn’t enough inventory and I waited too long. Getting there first thing at opening clearly didn’t do me any favors, though!

  5. Shew! I was following people on twitter as the madness of the expo went along and I have to say that I’m scared for PHM in 2014 because of the GSC! My only hope is that everyone will be trying to get GSC stuff and it’s my first half, so I’m just doing the half. Two HOURS in line though. Ugh.

    • UGH, tell me about it! You should be okay…my advice to you is, as always, GET THERE EARLY. It really can be insane. And yet…somehow, still worth it. :)

  6. That is a lot of CUTE merch!! Glad you were able to find your sizes through all the insanity :) It seems to be the general concensus from what I’ve read so far that the expo was C-R-A-Z-Y!

    Looking forward to your race recaps!

  7. Just writing my posts up now – thankfully I decided 3 race shirts were enough so didn’t enter the official merchandise madness. I was however the slightly deranged British girl who accosted you in the queue – I was very jetlagged, stringing words together was not my forte at that moment in time.

    • Hey, you’re definitely the smart one here…haha. It was pure madness!

      Aww, it was SO good meeting you! I absolutely knew who you were — I’m glad you stopped over to say hi! Believe me, it was not my finest moment, either…I had been up early for the meet-up, and was SO crabby about sitting in line just to get IN to the expo for an hour, haha.

  8. Since my flight came in that morning, I sent people with lists. I’m very thankful for them and me not having to deal with it. The crazy part was, the lines died down that afternoon. 2 hours?! ouch.

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] After landing on Thursday and getting a little preview of the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, I hit the expo at opening on Friday morning. Held at the Wide World of Sports, I was expecting to find the mass chaos that I was faced with during both my Princess Half Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon experiences. [...]

  2. [...] The next morning, I made sure we arrived at the expo at least an hour early. I was anticipating (and fearing) another insane expo experience like last year’s Princess Half expo or the mass chaos I witnessed at the Disneyland Half Marathon. [...]

  3. [...] in reading my full recap of last year’s Disneyland Half Marathon expo, you can check it out here. To sum up, I arrived early, but not quite early enough…the demand for the runDisney New [...]

  4. [...] They opened the doors a little bit early, and led us back upstairs and outside into the hotel, where we then we organized into ANOTHER line to actually enter the expo. We inched closer and closer to the runDisney merchandise booth, and I discovered that they were letting small groups of people in at a time, presumably to avoid the MASS CHAOS that I experienced during last year’s expo. [...]

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