Ah, the Princess Half Marathon. It was my very first runDisney experience back in 2013 when about sixty folks from my running group joined up for one epic weekend. So epic that on our final day, my husband turned to me and said, “You’re going to want to do that again, aren’t you?”
Twenty-one runDisney races later, yep, my answer was yes.
This year’s Princess was a different from my first three, (2013, 2014, and 2015,) since I stayed with friends instead of Bob. I also traveled to Disney a day early on Wednesday so I could help my friend, Sara celebrate her birthday on Thursday after an early, quick Expo visit.
The early part did happen.
But quick? Yeah. No. Didn’t happen.
TOTAL INSANITY. That’s the best way to describe this year’s Fit for a Princess Expo.
Let’s me back up a bit and start from the beginning. I left BWI at around 3:30pm on Wednesday, arriving at MCO with quite the Magical Express Line for the All Stars Resorts.
But that’s cool, at least I was able to get traditional pictures with The Weary Traveler and my guy Mickey first.
Sara arrived later and we spent the evening chilling at All Sports Sports, ready to hit the expo early in the morning. The next morning, we took a cab to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex which only cost around $12.00 including tip. Well worth it. Lovely being dropped right in front!
By 9:00am, a line had already formed. Not a super crazy one … crazy came later, but enough to make our anxiety kick in.
We both had our eyes on the cute pink zip-up jackets that I thought for sure would be the first to sell out. (It didn’t.) Other things on my to-buy list were pins, magnets, a coffee mug, and wine glass, stuff I thought for sure would not sell our right away. (Some of it did.)
I had also hoped that the expo would open earlier than the 10:00 schedule time, but here we were, still waiting at 9:21. Chatting with Sara is always fun, though. And look at the adorable birthday ears she made for herself! She nailed that bow.
Finally, the doors opened at 1o:00 and we power walked with the crowd straight to the Disney merchandise area, our plan firmly in place: Grab what was on our list and haul booty to the check-out line.
Now, later on, I heard of many stories of arguments, pushing, and actual fist fights breaking out. Sara and I must have been blessed, because while there was a massive crowd to wiggle our way through, everyone we encountered was stressed but cordial. I grabbed our jackets, Sara grabbed the magnets, and we each got our pins although by the time I got to the rack, there were no Glass Slipper Challenge ones to be found.
They didn’t have any Princess Half Marathon mugs this year and the wine glass shelf was quickly emptied. Luckily, though, I happened to see a gal about to put one back who was happy to hand on to me. Later on, we found out why the wine glasses were cleared out so because an eBayer bought cases of them to later sell.
Sweaty and anxious, we headed to the register line, meeting up with Denise, a gal from our running group who tried to find me a GSC pin with no luck. By this time, the crowd was insane, we just paid for what we had and got out of Dodge, thinking that’d be the last of the long, crazy lines we’d have to deal with.
Outside, it was complete madness with a line for the Field House stretching all the way down to the ESPN globe. Holy cow. It was unbelievable, although I do give runDisney total kudos for managing the crowd in a very orderly way!
Denise and I first jumped in the Field House Dooney & Bourke line which was long but moved rather quickly. I’ve purchased D&B’s for each PHM I’ve done, but while this year’s pattern was pretty, it wasn’t enough for me to pull out my credit card! Instead, I picked up my pre-ordered commemorative jacket and wandered through the second Disney Merchandise area. There were no wine glasses, no Glass Slipper Challenge pins, but TONS of pink jackets.
I’m never gonna predict sell-outs again.
Afterwards, we tried to get back to the Field House bib packet area, but I ended up leading us down a wrong path so we had to wait in the monster line outside … again. At least it gave Denise and me plenty of chatting time!
After getting our bib packets, we got our 10k, Half Marathon, and Glass Slipper Challenge shirts, with me trying on each one to make sure they were cut the same. (I’ve already learned my lesson about that.) We still had 5k shirts to pick up in the Josten Building, but once we saw how insane the line had grown … no thanks, I texted Sara and we decided to leave and come back later.
We then cabbed it back to All Stars, put our goodies in our room, and headed to Magic Kingdom to meet Angie and Robyn and have lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern!
After a couple rides, we headed back to the expo once more to where the lines were short and our mood greatly improved.
What a total improvement! The afternoon vibe was a 1000% more relaxed, making me seriously question whether or not I’ll ever brave the expo first thing on Thursday morning. No merchandise is worth all that stress.
With our bibs collected, shirts received, and to-do’s checked off our list, we took the time to get this cute photo at the Children’s Miracle Network booth!
We also paid a visit to Jeff Galloway, Olympian and hero to those who started running because of his brilliant interval strategy.
One thing that was a bit of a bummer was how there were no race banners near the globe. At least they had one for us to get a group picture at!
One more cab ride back to All Stars and a bus trip to Magic Kingdom, we continued Sara’s birthday celebration at Be Our Guest!
So what is the lesson that I’ve learned from this experience? If I really, REALLY want a certain merchandise item, then I need to get to the expo super early, packing plenty of patience in my back pocket. If not, then get there in the afternoon and actually enjoy the expo.
I think that’s going to be my pick from now on.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our Fit for a Princess Recap Video on our YouTube Channel!
And in our continuing effort to catch up, I’ll be posting the rest of my Princess Half Marathon recaps this week, since Megan, Jackey, and I will be heading to Philadelphia for the Broad Street 10-Miler next weekend. Then I’ll be Tinkerbell Half Marathon bound the following week!
Have a joyful Day!