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Disney’s 2018 Princess Half Marathon Weekend: The Fit for a Princess Expo!

Happy Monday! Last week, I chatted about our Princess Half Marathon arrival day. Next up, the Fit for a Princess Expo! We woke fairly early on Thursday considering how late we were up the night prior. (After Shannon arrived, we were too excited to sleep and chatted instead!) Our plans were to eat breakfast at Olivia’s and then hit the parks for a while before heading to the expo later in the afternoon. None of us were interested in waiting in super long lines again after WDW Marathon Weekend’s fiasco!

Disney's 2018 Fit for a Princess Expo Recap: Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Breakfast at Olivia’s was AMAZING! I got a healthy omelet, since I knew that I’d be eating lots of junk over the next few days.

After that, we finished packing with Sara checking social media for expo news. Now that the new Arena building was opened and housing all the runDisney merchandise, it seemed like there were no line issues. In fact, we got the impression that they were letting people in earlier than the posted 12:00pm opening, so we decided to head to the expo first.

First, we had to haul our suitcases to bell service to be transferred to Bay Lake Tower, where we’d stay until Monday. Somewhere along the line, Sara got the notion that maybe we should just call an Uber and take our bags straight to Bay Lake. But she didn’t say anything, since we’ve never had issues with luggage transfers before. So we dropped them off and took a bus to ESPN Wide World of Sports instead.

Remember this for later. Some serious foreshadowing action going on there.

The new building is absolutely GORGEOUS and they were really celebrating the princess aspect with a carriage for photos and red carpet! Here’s the picture Kimberly Estabrook and I got much later:

We were happy to find out that buses were now dropping and picking up runners very close to the Arena building. So our walk was minimal and we entered the Arena at around 11:30. Another great thing they did was have tons of volunteers and employees out to guide us in the right direction. It was very organized!

There was also a huge, HUGE area with the entire floor taped in order to form serpentine-style lines. This area was hot and stuffy, though, so if you’re going to be at Star Wars, bring a fan! I got separated from Stephanie, Shannon, and Sara after talking with some other friends, so they ended up being much farther in line. But that was okay. I was blessed and lucky enough to meet SEVERAL Joyful Miles readers, viewers, and podcast listeners!

Seriously. My day was MADE every time somebody stopped to say hello. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Sara also knew what I wanted, so once they made their way inside, she grabbed my stuff and got in the super huge line. I made it in about fifteen minutes later and oh … my … gosh. The runDisney area was AMAZING with tons of merchandise, more than I’ve ever seen!

Truly gorgeous.

They also had lots of generic runDisney merchandise as well as a separate line for those wanting to purchase Dooney & Bourke bags or Alex & Ani jewelry. Very organized, very well-run! So while Sara, Stephanie, Maggie and Shannon waited in line, I went up and down every aisle recording for a video recap. I noticed someone trying on a gorgeous long-sleeve that I was considering buying and when I looked up, I realized it was Kristin, aka Bama Girl RUNS! I first met her at the Cigna Blogger Meet-Up in January plus she came on the podcast to talk about her Perfect Princess legacy status. So great seeing her!

I also ran into Juanita, a dear friend who Jackey and I first met at the Disneyland Half Marathon during our very first Joyful Miles meet-up! I’m so thankful we’ve been able to meet so many amazing people.

Me, Juanita, and Kristin!

Juanita and I then made it to the half marathon I Did It shirts … something I have VOWED to never buy again since I NEVER wear them! But dang if they didn’t look cute, so I grabbed one on and hauled butt to the checkout in case my friends were still in line. Stephanie was walking to the register so I threw it at her and said, “Buy this for me,” which she did with no hesitation.

I love great friends.

I then wandered over to the Dooney & Bourke section where they had several artists sitting with their art work. This led me to striking up a conversation with Eddie Smith, who’s been doing gorgeous character illustration for runDisney races for the past five years! Definitely check out my video recap so you can see my small interview with him.

I then caught up with the other gals over at the commemorative merchandise area, since they all had preordered pins, shoe ornaments, and tumblers. Michelle and her daughter, Hannah were now there as well, so once our wallets were emptied, we headed out of the merchandise area to a large section with two character spots.

Royal Minnie and Tiana? Awesome!

The weren’t due to come out until 1:00 so we waited in line. (And I snuck over the beverage cart for a beer. Cheers!) I had been texting Gerald who was over in the other buildings, so he headed our way for photos and chat time.

One thing I was very grateful for over the weekend was the chance to get to know Gerald better, since our previous interactions have always been with cameras and Go Pros in hand!

He waited with us for character pictures…

Then we ran into some mutual viewers for a lovely, long chat!

The other gals went on ahead since they knew I was bunkered in for a long chat. 😉 While heading to get my bibs afterward, I took in all the colorful race banners and how they had these pop-up hammocks in the grassy area, all lending to such a wonderful, festive vibe!

I caught up with the other gals and got my bib before heading over to the (formerly known as) Josten’s Center for our race shirt and to do some shopping. Here’s where I ran into Kimberly and I was able to meet the most adorable girls ever, who watch our videos!

My cup was runneth over. Like, way, WAY over!!! Such an honor to meet so many lovely people!

Reunited with all the other ladies, we of course had to have some shenanigans at the many photo opportunity places.

The other ladies were ready to call it a day, so they headed on out to rest in our now-ready room while I hung back to chat with Kimberly for a while. This was something that happened quite often throughout the weekend … there were so many wonderful people I wanted to spend time with!

Speaking of wonderful people, Kimberly and I ran into Jennalyn on the way out! She has such an amazing spirit that she shared in a previous post about her family’s 5k tradition. I’m so excited about rooming with her, Kimberly, Leslie, and Jackey during Star Wars weekend!

We also ran into Erin from Miss Erin Says and Ana, gals Jackey and I got to know during our Disneyland races last year. They’re all amazing gals!

And of course, Kimberly and I couldn’t leave without having some fun at the many colorful banners.

Afterward, we headed to our separate resorts and I changed into my favorite Home shirt before meeting up with the others at Hollywood Studios!

Always must give Coke Man some love and attention! And as usual, I totally stunk on Toy Story Mania.

We rode rides, chatted with friends, and said hello to an Army Man.

Then came what we lovingly joke as an epic pizza failure. We didn’t make an ADR for that night, thinking we’d find some counter service, but most of them in Hollywood Studio had closed early. Shannon and I desperately wanted pizza and NO BURGERS since that’d a tad heavy for this gal so early in a runDisney weekend.

Our only choice? ABS Commissionary.

Ugh.

I’m not a big complainer … well, most times, but I can honestly say that the steak I got there was the WORST meal I’ve ever had at Disney! It was the color of chicken liver and didn’t taste all that better, either. Sara, Shannon, and I were extremely grumpy while eating and I’m surprised Shannon doesn’t have a scar for the evil look I shot her when she asked how my steak was.

Lesson learned: We will ALWAYS make an ADR for PHM from now on!

But we were able to run into Kimberly again and the bunch of us rode Tower of Terror, my absolutely favorite Disney World ride.

It was getting late, so we decided to go back to the resort in order to line up our outfits for the Princess 5k and get in bed for plenty of sleep. One more Photopass picture for the road, though!

Now, there’s a chance that I might be responsible for the following situation.

On the crowded bus ride back, I mentioned to Shannon, “How horrible would it be if our suitcases weren’t in our rooms.”

Well, guess what.

Our suitcases weren’t there. Cue the panic. Worst of all, they didn’t even know WHERE THEY WERE, at first and considering how many bags we had … two for each gal plus many carry-ons, this was scary. They finally found them back at Old Key West and were delivering as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, Megan had arrived after ten to find us all wide awake and pacing.

By ten-thirty, we had a game plan in effect. If our luggage did not arrive, we’d wear the gray Home tees we still had on plus flip-flops to the race. Megan had offered us her makeup remover to wash our faces, but we needed to keep whatever makeup we had on! This notion of rolling to the race in park clothes actually became quite comical … surely that’d be a story to tell!

But still. We wanted our suitcases, especially since it was Maggie’s first runDisney race and she was excited about her costume.

Thankfully, they finally arrived after 11:00pm. We grabbed our bags and then did the world’s fastest unpacking and lining up for the race. I was also very thankful for being able to get to sleep for a couple hours, since I often have problems at races! Before we knew it, the multiple alarms rang and it was time to get ready for our next adventure … the Princess 5k, which I’ll chat about next!

Until then, what about you? Have you ever had issues with luggage transfers? And if you were at runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon Fit for a Princess Expo, what goodies did you buy?

As always, thanks for reading and have a joyful day!

About the author: Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, mom of two college boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.

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