Kelly the Culinarian: Jenny's #runDisney Experience: The Happiest Expo on Earth (Part 2 of 3)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jenny's #runDisney Experience: The Happiest Expo on Earth (Part 2 of 3)

In September last year, whilst Chicago marathon training, my friend and I decided it would be a great idea (ha) to sign up for the Disney Marathon. 2013 would be the 20th anniversary of the marathon so it would be extra special. So we both dashed home and signed up excitedly.
As part of our plans to run, we decided we would give back and volunteer to work the expo. We figured that it would be awesome to see some of the behind the scenes action at one of the major race players (plus get some awesome free stuff).
The expo was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and we arrived at 7:30 a.m. an hour earlier than scheduled. The expo was due to open at 10 a.m. and we were taken into the back room to sign in and get our official volunteer shirt (not so awesome) and lunch.
We were assigned Gear Duty, which meant we were assembling the Runners race bags, which included their official race shirt, WDW Marathon laces, Cliff bar, Marathon 20 pin, safety pins and race bib. I hate to criticize but the organization was terrible, too many chiefs and our supervisors had seemed to lose their manners. 

As we spoke to the other volunteers we quickly learned that the Disney volunteer gig was highly sort after and competitive. Many made it their full time hobby and were rewarded with free park tickets for working 16 hours. Those who worked the courses were given free jackets and park access and many of the people I met were repeat volunteers who lived locally.

One advantage of arriving too early was that the exhibitors were already set up and we were able to take a sneak peek before the crowds arrived. I was very excited to see the new Team Sparkle Headsweat visors and we were given a coupon to collect our limited edition Disney Marathon artwork too. We did happen to stroll upon the official marathon merchandise and a number of volunteers who were frantically picking up the official pins after one of the major stands fell over(oops). We also ventured outside where there was a huge photo of the medal. I had heard from another runner on the flight over that a lot of the official merchandise had already sold out and I was very dismayed to see lots of empty racks and very little official gear to buy. However, I was not surprised to see next years ‘WDW Marathon 2014 in training’ shirts already on sale.  

For those who were spectating there was a ChEAR Squad option for purchase and a booth to collect their packets.

ChEAR Squad – BRONZE Package includes:

  • E-newsletter!

ChEAR Squad – SILVER Package includes:

  • The E-newsletter included with the Bronze Package plus...
  • ChEAR Squad gear which includes:
·         Waterproof Stadium Blanket
·         Mickey clappers (exclusive to ChEAR Squad!)
·         ChEAR Squad T-shirt

ChEAR Squad – GOLD Package includes*:

  • All of the Silver Package amenities plus...
  • Reserved ChEAR Zone viewing location along the course (first-come, first-served)
  • Entry into the Finish Line ChEAR Zone which includes:
·         Reserved grandstand seating (first-come, first-served)
·         Hot and cold beverages
·         Private restrooms

ChEAR Squad – PLATINUM Package includes:

  • All of the Gold Package amenities plus...
  • Entry into the Race Retreat** which includes:
·         Disney Character greetings
·         Brunch plus hot and cold beverages
·         Temperature-controlled tent with indoor lounges & family style dine seating
·         Internet access to check live results
·         Private Restrooms
·         Information Station
·         Live video feed from the Finish Line

After checking our bib and Dtag worked we headed to do all the fun stuff. HP and New Balance had two very fun photo booths and we left with digital images and a free lanyard. The rest of the booths were the usual exhibitions, Mizuno, Asics, Garmin, etc and it wasn’t very long before the hall was crowded and the atmosphere was tense with PR excitement. My friend and I headed to the Runner Tracking computers to enter all of our friends cell numbers and then onto the KT booth to be taped up before heading off to a pasta lunch (carb up!)

Overall the day was fantastic and the expo was just as I had imagined. We had to get a taxi because there was no shuttle from our hotel. Free parking is available or bus transportation is available from Disney's All-Star Sports Resorts, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort on a limited schedule.

My Tip: If you wish to volunteer sign up the minute it becomes available and don’t wait. It is too competitive otherwise.

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