Disneyland Blog Hop: runDisney Health and Fitness Expo

Hey guys! So I know I’m a bit late on my weekly recap (because THAT’S new…) but I hope you’ll forgive me because it was my birthday last weekend…and I’m still writing about the details. Will have that up by tomorrow or Friday!

But in the meantime, I’m participating in a Disneyland Blog Hop this week with a bunch of other bloggers who will be filling you in on everything you need to know for Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend! I selected the topic of the Disneyland Health and Fitness Expo. Mainly because I LOVES me a good race expo, but also because I feel like my compulsive need to get my hands on the latest and greatest race merch has made me something of an expo expert. You know, like, if that was a real thing. So I’m going to share the deets of the expo, and hopefully I’ll also have at least one or two useful tips here.


If you’re interested 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 Balance shoes was HIGH, and despite the lines that staff attempted to organize outside the Disneyland Hotel — one line for bib pick-up, one line for general expo entrance to the runDisney merchandise area, one line for the shoes — when the expo opened at 10am, it was PURE CHAOS. I fought swarms of people to get my hands on the coveted Dumbo Double Dare merch, and then stood in line for — I kid you not — TWO HOURS just to purchase said items.

But I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few details about this year’s expo…and, more importantly, some ideas for maximizing your time (and money!)


First, the basics:

The expo will be held in the Disneyland Hotel Exhibit Hotel, and the hours are:

12 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 28

9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 29

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 30

Arrive EARLY

Now, of course you must attend the expo in order to pick up your race day essentials — you know, like your bib — but let’s be honest. It seems very few people head straight to the expo just for packet pick-up. Unlike other major races, nobody really seems to care about attending the expo just for the sake of picking up your bib. In the world of runDisney, it’s all about the STUFF.

Want the 2014 New Balance sneakers? Want a Dumbo Double Dare hoodie or magnet? Want that Disneyland Half Marathon wine glass or limited edition Dooney & Bourke purse? My advice to you? GET. THERE. EARLY. I always save my packet pick-up for last, and at a runDisney expo, that’s my unwavering advice to you. If you WANT the opportunity to buy the goodies or shop the expo before the crowds have poured in, I wouldn’t worry about getting your packet right away. It’s not going anywhere!

The 2014 New Balance sneakers. Photo credit: runDisney

The 2014 New Balance sneakers. Photo credit: runDisney

If you can’t arrive on the first day or two of the expo, unfortunately, a lot of items do run out. But, you will also enjoy lighter crowds and shorter lines, so if spending your hard-earned money on tech shirts or mugs with running mice or flying elephants isn’t your cup of tea, you may want to wait!


I have some SERIOUS problems…

Divide and Conquer

I’m not sure if the New Balance situation will be the same for this race, but there is one trick I’ve found VERY effective if you happen to be attending the expo with someone else (like, perhaps an unsuspecting boyfriend who has no idea what he’s in for). Consider splitting up, just for the early part of the expo, so that one person can head directly to the runDisney merch and another can get on line for a Dooney bag or whatever else your heart so desires. You’ll save time and headaches that way, and then you can reunite to enjoy the rest of the expo in a leisurely fashion.

This year's Dooneys! Photo credit: runDisney

This year’s Dooneys! Photo credit: runDisney

Come Prepared

I never arrive to an expo empty-handed. For starters, I always try to have my printed race waiver ready to go (although accessing it and printing at the expo is a breeze). Keep in mind that you may be there a while, so I always come with a bottle of water to stay hydrated and snacks (assuming the free Clif samples aren’t sufficient enough, haha) to keep me going.

Be sure you have your photo ID and anything else you’ll need to pick up your race-day essentials, like printed waivers for your chEAR Squad. Your race To Do list will begin on the bottom floor of the hall with bib pick-up, and your race shirts and gEAR bags will be on the main floor. If you’re running Dumbo or getting  your Coast to Coast medal, you’ll also receive your wristbands that you’ll need to wear in order to claim your extra bling at the conclusion of your race! :)


Enjoy the Experience

After the runDisney madness — again, assuming you’re into that sort of thing — be sure to check out the WIDE array of other vendors. To me, a race expo is basically like I’ve died and gone to heaven…there are just rows and rows of gadgets and accessories and apparel and snacks dedicated to my addiction. And believe me when I tell you that runDisney expos are definitely among the BEST!

This year’s expo boasts some 40 vendors, including a lot of my personal favorites, who often have themed goodies to offer! You’ll find clothing and accessories at the likes of Bondi Band, Raw Threads, Sweaty Bands, sparkly race costume options at Sparkle Athletic or SparkleSkirts, and training essentials like PRO Compression, KT Tape, and The Stick.

In many cases, MarathonFoto offers some sort of pre-purchase deal for your race photos, which, while still expensive, I find to be worth it if you definitely plan to purchase a CD of your photos after the race. While the Disneyland expo isn’t QUITE as female-focused as, say, the Princess Half, you’ll still find lots of girly goodies like jewelry and BeeCause Charms for your favorite running sneakers. Definitely check out Sport Hooks because I looooove their Disney-themed medal hangers. :)

Navigating a ginormous race expo can be exhausting, and there’s no better way to take a brief mental (and physical) break than checking out one of the awesome speakers, who will talk everything from race-specific tips to general training and nutrition advice.

Oh, and of course…don’t miss the photo opportunities. :)


What’s your favorite part of a race expo?

Anyone else have tips/advice on navigating a runDisney expo? What did I miss?

What has been your favorite runDisney expo experience?




  1. this is so helpful! disneyland expo this year will be my first expo ever, as i haven’t really done a big race. i’m trying to tell myself to not go overboard with buying things, but we’ll see how that turns out. i’m so excited; only two more weeks!

    • Ahhh, so excited for you! You are going to LOOOOOVE it. My first expo was the Princess Half, and it was such an incredible experience. It’s a really exciting way to kick off the race weekend.

      It can be really, really hard not to go overboard, but it’s totally doable. Be sure to check out everything first — there’s so much to see!

  2. I love RunDisney race expos. I have done over a dozen races at WDW, including 2 Goofys. It is like Christmas as a child for runners!!!! I love getting taped by those in the KTTape booth, knowing it is done right. I didn’t have a chance at marathon weekend to get some of the New Balance shoes. I’m going to try again, but not mission critical. We fly in on Friday before lunch and heading straight to the expo! Thanks for they good info. This is my first Disneyland race. Check out my blog hop post on the medals at http://www.doombuggyrunner.com

    • YES! Completely agree. Hope you get your hands on the shoes! They may have changed “the system” for getting your hands on the shoes since WDW Marathon Weekend, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t already.

      You’ll have a blast. Last year was my first time in Disneyland, and it was SO much fun. It’ll never replace WDW, though, not gonna lie. ;)

  3. So my friends and I have come up with a completely new and innovative runDisney expo strategy…we arrive about a half hour before the expo CLOSES and we buzz in and out of there in about 10 minutes!

    Luckily none of us are really concerned with getting any merchandise or the New Balance shoes, so we’re just sneaking in, grabbing our packets and getting out of there! Not for everyone, but it saves time & money!

    • Yes! I remember reading about that on your blog. That’s honestly a genius plan. If you’re not some sort of whacko like I am and just want to take care of business, then that’s a really smart way to avoid the crowds!

  4. All the other expos I’ve been to are just sooooo small compared to rD expos. I am in that crowd, though, of just going to pick up my bib. I didn’t even go at Disney this year, my parents picked up my stuff for me.

  5. Great advice. Do you know if the tinkerbell expo is located in the same place?

    • Thanks, Meranda! I believe it should be! I’m hoping they execute a different crowd control plan, because whatever they did last year, sadly, did not work. It could have been because it was the inaugural Dumbo, though — who knows?

  6. One day, I will get there early enough for my Minnie Mouse shoes. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get my act together though. For Tinker Bell I just gave up on buying anything and went to Disneyland.

    • Hahaha, nothing wrong with that. It can be such a hassle to try to get your hands on some of this stuff — which is I guess why it’s so coveted in the first place?

  7. Happy Birthday! Can’t wait to hear about it. Let me guess: was a long run involved? The idea of running at Disney totally overwhelms me!

    • Thanks, Amy! Haha, believe it or not, I interrupted my regularly scheduled long run for a beach weekend. I did tackle it the following day, though!

      I can completely understand why…navigating one of these races can be more difficult than actually running one, between the travel and the expo craziness and the early wake-ups and the massive amounts of people. To me, it’s all TOTALLY worth it, though. ;)

  8. I always SAY I’m not going to buy anything at the expo, and consider myself lucky if I get for under $50.
    It’s a sickness…

  9. Fellow blog hop :)
    Your post is SO helpful. I’ve been to health expos(as a non-runner) before so I know they can get really packed but never a Disney expo (insert freaked out face). Since I’m in San Diego and I’m running the half on Sunday, I wasn’t planning on heading up until Saturday morning. I had no idea they had special shoes and I want them haha. I might just have to make an extra trip up there on Thursday to try and nab a pair of the new balance shoes.

  10. Since I just started a new job, I had to postpone my flight so I won’t get in until Friday night, which means I’m going to have to rely on my hubby to pick up a lot of my expo items! Eep! And that makes me REALLY antsy because we are doing Dumbo and Coast to Coast so I will for sure want to BUY ALL THE THINGS!! :P

  11. Great post! I always end up at the expo a day or two into the weekend so I usually don’t have to deal with the crowds. You’re right- stuff definitely sells out! I agree with your tip of getting there early if you have your heart set on any of the merch. I love visiting the expo- so much neat stuff! It’s hard on one’s wallet. hehe. ;)

  12. I agree wholeheartedly about hitting the runDisney merch area FIRST! I was in that insane line for merch last year, grabbed my stuff and hopped into the checkout line before it turned into that MESS you were in! I was in line for about 25 minutes, my running companions were not quite so lucky, they were stuck in it for over 2 hours like you! :( This year’s virtual queue for the New Balance shoes should be a nice change for that fiasco too! I also like that you have to be a runner (you have to give them your bib number to register!) in order to have first dibs at the shoes. All non-runners can purchase but only on Saturday. BRAVO NEW BALANCE! I like that, I just with runDisney would do that with their merch as well, maybe the items wouldn’t sell out quite so quickly. :(

  13. I have to admit that I chuckled to myself while reading through your post- all of it is right on the money! Last year’s Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Expo was pure chaos; I picked up my bib, had Jeff Galloway sign one of my books and I left. (Despite standing in line for an hour before the Expo opened.) BUT, runDisney responded with a much improved experience for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, so I’m betting that this year’s Expo will be smooth sailing. I can’t wait to see this year’s photos- you really got some cute ones! Thanks so much for joining the hop Jennifer. We have loved getting to know you better- happy racing!

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