Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Disneyland Weekend Recap: The Expo

I'm so sorry that my recaps are so sporatic! Between work and home life I've been swamped lately. Definitely running into the "there's so much to do and not enough hours to do it" syndrome. So thank you for hanging in with me on these, considering my recaps are almost a month after the races.

Ugh...that makes it sound worse.

So now onto the next big event and the official beginning of the runDisney race weekend: the expo!!! So let me preface this recap by saying I've had only one other experience with a runDisney expo and it was during the Princess Half Marathon this year, which from what I heard from the runDisney faithfuls, one of their worst. You can read my recap of that here. So when I went to Disneyland race weekend I was hopeful that I would encounter a better planned and laid out expo than what I had experienced earlier this year.

Friday morning I met up with Jen of Travel Girl on the Run, Kim of Kim Runs Disney and Beyond and Jen of Hello Fitness...We Meet Again. We decided to grab an early breakfast and get into the expo line early before it opens at 10am, so we figured meeting around 8ish would be good to scope out the line and grab something to eat. Well good thing we had done that because by 8am, there were two lines forming, one for bibs and one for the runDisney merch area of the expo. Both lines had at least 50-100 people each in them.  So we hopped into the merch line, as we knew from experience that the merch area is the one that fills up and items thin out the quickest. So if we really wanted something, we had to get there REALLY early.

We waited in line and one by one our friends met up with us in line. I'm sure the people behind us were thrilled when our group of four swelled to a group of about 20 people. Bad form, yes, but if you saw the line as the time went on, you would do the same thing. Both lines snaked endlessly back and forth in front of the Disneyland Hotel and there were EASILY thousands of people waiting to get into both venues.
This is a picture of the "short" line in front of us, the line behind us was crazy long!
Here is most of the group that was in line!
Just a minute or two before 10am, the line started moving, they were letting people into the expo!
Cue chaos.

I didn't get pictures of the merch area, though I wish I had because it was NUTS!!!! People were literally running around to all the racks and pulling items in their sizes, walking around with merch by the ARMFULS! As much as I hated to do it, I had to follow suit in order to get the sizes and items I wanted. I found a wall and started trying the items on. Good merch overall and runDisney certainly got plenty of my money because I ended up buying 7 pieces of clothing, plus magnets AND pins. Oye!
Me in line to buy my merch!
Now that I decided on the merch I was going to buy, time to get in line. I saw a couple of friends I'd come with in line, so I jumped in with them. About 30 minutes later, I got to the register, purchased my items and was done with the craziness of the runDisney merch area. I looked around for both Jen's and Kim, only to find them picking through the sickly remains of the picked clean racks. It was only 11am and all the magnets were gone, the Dumbo Double Dare clothing racks were empty and the other clothing items had only a few sizes left on their racks. It was dismal looking.
They did one last walk through of the area to see if they could find any misplaced items that they may be wanting, then went to go find the end of the line. We walked and walked and walked and walked following the snake of people in line for the merch registers all the way through the expo and around the outside to the lobby. The line for purchasing was UNREAL! I couldn't believe how long, complicated and convoluted the line was to get to the registers. I wish I had gotten a picture of the line snaking through the entire expo area, through the speaker session, through the lobby THREE TIMES and then finally back into the merch area. It was a nightmare. Pure and simple.
So the three of them waited in this line to buy their merch, which I'm sure there were people that walked out of the expo without paying for their merch because there were no sensors on the product and people were just milling around the expo with armfuls of this merch. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost some money that day because there were people that didn't want to wait in line and just left with the product. By the time the three of them got to the registers to pay for their merch, they had been in line for TWO HOURS! Two hours!?!?! That is just ridiculous! There is no reason why that should have happened and it was just dumb.
During their time in line, hubby and I decided we would go and try to get our bibs.  So we left the expo and headed to the bib area. Only to be greeted by the largest mass of people corraled together to get into the bib area. It was like herding cattle, only the herd wasn't going anywhere. Did I mention that it was hot and humid and the sun was blazing down on us? Yeah, not the best of situations. Hubby and I decided this was a horrible idea and decided to go back into the expo where there was at least air conditioning and grab our bibs later that night when the crowds calmed down. Only problem is that there was still an equally huge line to get into the expo that we had to stand in to get back into the area we had just been. 
Oh hell no.
We called Jen inside and had her open one of the exit doors we had just left from to get back in. What a circus!!!
So we walked around the expo, visiting with vendors, trying samples and enjoying the cooler weather inside while our friends were waiting in line.

The expo area was spread out much better than the expo at Princess this year. They had room to do that and it was nice to be able to walk through leisurely. The organizers also had water stations around the expo area to you can keep hydrated, nice touch because they were life savers! 

The speaker series was happening between the runDisney merch area and the rest of the expo. So you could hear what was being said wherever you were, also a nice touch. See the people standing in front of the stage? Yeah, that is about half way through the merch checkout line. Sad.
When they were done with their purchases and we finally grouped back up, we all agreed that we were hungry and wanted food. So we went to drop off our merch in Jen and Kim's room in the DL Hotel (where the expo was being held) and then we were off to get food and play at the parks a little. Well as we left the expo we saw that the bib entrance had NO LINE!
The bib collection area was located in the Disneyland Hotel underground parking lot. Good idea since there was plenty of room and VERY separate from the expo area which helped to separate the congestion between the two areas.
We are finally getting our bibs!!!

Jen was with us too! She had to get her bibs and pick up her roommates as well.
We got in and thankfully the line inside the bib area were short as well!  SCORE! First bib collected: 5K!

This bib was just too cute!!! I loved what they did with the theming of the bibs!
Next up, time to get my Dumbo Double Dare bib!!!
Again, great job with the bibs! It was really well done and I liked the graphics on it!

Oh yeah...and I also got to pick up my Coast to Coast wrist band!! This is when it all became VERY real to me. I was going to do this. I was going to RUN ALL THE RACES!!! With the very shiny bling waiting for me at the end, this turtle had the carrot dangling out in front of her, it was just about time to get moving! And yes...I was one of those CRAZY people that decided to run all three races for that weekend; the 5k, 10k and half. I had signed up for the Double Dare and the 5k, not sure how I would be able to logistically get from the 5k to the 10k, as they were being held back to back. Though as course information kept being released and I did some calculations, I was certain I would be able to run both races back to back with little issue. I just had to be mindful of my time!!!
Now that we had our bibs, we had to sneak back into the expo to get our shirts and bags. We got in and right into the t-shirts lines, grabbed our bags and were officially done with the expo. WHEW!!!
We went upstairs to drop off our stuff for the afternoon, when we did I got to see the refurbed rooms and LOVED them so much! The headboard itself was great! There were fiber optics that lit up and make fireworks that went along with a song, a nightlight of sorts. LOVED IT!
Now that our shopping was done and our stuff was dropped off, time for food and fun! We got lunch at Tortilla Joe's, it was disappointing, their food had been SO much better in the past. I felt like it was on par with a Chipotle, so I wasn't too thrilled, but I was starving so I ate my whole burrito! Then we were off to California Adventure! On our way to the park though, we spotted the Start Line!!!! It was all becoming VERY REAL!!
I hadn't been to California Adventure in years! Well before they made all the changes to the park because the last time I was there they still had the Golden Gate Bridge up at the main gates, just to give you an idea on time frame. We met up with Brandi and her mother Karen when we got there and spent the rest of the day riding rides at CA and walking around.

 Jen and Brandi getting some character time and us having fun "Under the Sea".

Cars Land was GREAT! The theming was so wonderfully done! It's not very big, but there is still lots to see!

Hubby snuck into my picture. Not a bad way to be photo bombed. :)
After we left the park late that afternoon/early evening, we hung outside of Disneyland Hotel and got off our feet a bit. We talked and chatted with friends and acquaintances that happened to pass by us while we were there. We also were talking about all the people that had decided to wear their race shirts and "I Did It" shirts that, the races hadn't even taken place yet people!!!! It kept us entertained for a couple of hours!
That night we went to DL and spent some time on rides there and left before the fireworks show that night. We had to get to bed, there were races very early that next morning. Usually I have a tough time falling asleep the night before a race, but the great thing about runDisney races is that usually you are so busy during the day before the races, that falling asleep is no problem! We fell asleep that night to the sound of the fireworks going off at DL. A little bit of magic before we pound the pavement the next day!


  1. I have never ran a Disney race and your posts do not make the expo/bib pick up appealing in any way. I know a lot of people love their races, but they are super expensive and considering how well the parks are run, you would think they would do a better job. I thought my wait at MCM for merch was long at about 25 minutes. Glad you had a good time.

    1. There are definitely kinks in the system that need to be worked out. I think with so many people needing to get their bibs on the first day of the two day expo, made the crush of people that were there, way too overwhelming. Spacing out the 5K and 10K in the future may help the first expo day be a bit less chaotic.

  2. Sad to hear that the expo was so crowded! I was following on FB and Twitter all day and I just could not believe what I was hearing! Really hope that they get things fixed before Tinkerbell.

    I have never been to Disneyland! Looking forward to it! :)

    1. It was unfortunate, but I don't think Tink will be that bad because there is no challenge (people needing to get their 10k/half bib on the first day of the expo) so that will help relieve some of the congestion.
      I hope you enjoy your time in Disneyland, it's so much fun and I do love it more than the MK. :)

  3. I love Tortilla Jo's. Not so much the walk-up fast food part on the ground level, but the restaurant is one of my favorites at Downtown Disney.

    1. You know, I've never been in their restaurant, but have always enjoyed their walk-up part. Maybe I'll have to venture into the restaurant next time!

  4. Better late than never! Thanks for sharing. This gets me excited for the PHM at WDW, although I do hope that the expo is not as crazy ( which it probably will be seeing that is another challenge race). Congrats on your coast to coast. I hope to accomplish that one day!

    1. Well lucky for you, the PHM expo will be back at ESPN Wide World of Sports again, so the experience should be MUCH better this year compared to last year. I think runDisney has decided that they will not hold the expo at Coronado Springs again.

  5. I heard about the craziness at the Expo! I'm so so so hoping that it's not that bad at the PHM but worried it will be with the inaugural GSC!

    1. Well for your sake with the GSC, I hope runDisney takes a cue from the chaos that happened during DLH by separating the 5K and 10K races on separate days. That helps to mitigate the crush of people who ABSOLUTELY need to get their challenge bib on that first day of the expo because they have to race the next day. If the races are separated, then it gives those racers another day to go to the expo to get those bibs, making the traffic not so bad.
      Luckily for you, you can go on the last day of the expo to get your bib since you are only doing the half and not be caught in that craziness. But that also means you will miss out on a lot of runDisney merch.

    2. I'm too nervous to go on Saturday for that very reason. I really want an "I did it" shirt and I'm hoping they are still available on Friday since most people will be trying to get GSC merch, right? We arrive on Friday and I'm hoping many people who are doing the GSC will go to the Expo on Thursday, but who knows. I know I won't get there until Friday afternoon, so I'm hoping the opening craziness has passed by then!

    3. If you can, connect with someone who will be going to the expo on that first day to get you an I Did It shirt. Then when you arrive, you can go patrol the expo at your leisure and not panic about not getting the one thing you really want (and that is usually in high demand!).

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks! I didn't realize it was showing that much. I still don't feel like I have a "bump" I just feel like I've got a big belly! Dress me up as Santa Claus!! HA!