Race Recaps runDisney

runDisney’s 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend: The Expo!

Oh boy. The 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend Expo. It was crazy and crowded, y’all. Seriously crowded because of two reasons: The large amount of 5th Annual Dopey Challenge participants and a later 12:00pm start for the general public to accommodate a special early bird entry for those who purchaed the VIP Race Retreat Package.

Now, even if money were no object, I’d still be hesitant to buy a race retreat package because I love the fun, pre-race atsmphere with character photos, dancing, seeing friends, and the excited comraderie. The expo early entry, however? Yeah, that’d be pretty awesome since I’m not a fan of big lines or dodging tossed elbows for a race pin. 

But since none of us had race retreat or a huge desire for runDisney race merchandise, we chose to relax at the hotel instead, decorating our Elvis race belts for the 10k. (And me, getting tons of glue gun burns.)

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap
Don’t mess with a woman who has a glue gun.

We were very happy with this decision after seeing photos of outrageously long lines full of people shivering in the cold. No thanks, I didn’t need a pin that badly! By around 2:30, however, we decided to bite the bullet and head on over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center since we needed lunch, anyway. If the lines were still too long, we’d just eat at the grill and have a beer. So we ordered up an Uber, ($8.25 from All Stars, worth every penny,) and headed on over. Rob was off having an adventure in Animal Kingdom and would join us later.

Wow. The WIND!! It was a struggle keeping my ears on and as we neared the HP Field House, we saw quite a winding line. It was nowhere near as bad as the official runDisney merchandise line, though, that extended past the soccer field. And since priority #1 was getting our bibs, we headed to the end and saw Heather from Running with Grace and Gerald from RezRuns!! It was a runDisney YouTuber reunion!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

Chatting with them made the time pass quickly and we were soon inside getting our bibs and race shirts. We also were able to meet many viewers and podcast listeners who stopped to say hello!!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

I have to say that being able to meet so many awesome folks and finding out that we have inspired them was one of THE GREATEST THINGS from our WDW Marathon experience. That topic will be discussed in detail in our Joyful Miles Meet Up blog post but for now … thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who said hello! We truly appreciate your support.

Okay. Where was I?

Race shirts! Of course, there’s always a gray shirt in the mix, my least favorite color. And while the white Goofy Challenge shirt is quite gorgeous, that sucker will be stained after one wearing. But I absolutely love the red marathon shirt, and you can’t go wrong with the half marathon’s black!


The green 5k shirt is cute and makes for a cute night shirt, since I’m not much of a tee-shirt gal.

After gathering our goodies, we headed back outside to the lower level where we saw the runDisney merchandise line hadn’t budged a bit. Jackey and I had both ordered commemorative jackets, so we headed that way instead … thanks to Heather knowing where to go. (Perhaps we should pay more attention to the race guides one day.) I’m really glad I ordered the jacket! Love it! And I’ve gotten my money’s worth since I wore it every day of Marathon Weekend and dozens of times at home.


I did have to exchange the small for a medium, though, since it was very tight on my arms. The volunteer who helped me was fantastic … she had me model both sizes before helping me with the call. Considering how many layers of clothing I had to wear underneath it, the medium was a very good one!

So what next? Did we brave the merchandise line? Snoop around the vendor booths in the Visa Athletic Center? Or did we say eh, forget it, and go to the grill for burgers and beer?

I really needed some Body Glide and Leslie had to buy fuel so we decided to be mature and get those things off the list before the beer. We did have to have some fun at the cute character cut-outs, though!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

We also ran into our good friends, Christopher and Kim.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

We then wandered around a bit, but we were both feeling cranky and in need of food, so when Jackey texted how she and Shannon had gotten a table, we abandoned our shopping and headed to the grill instead.

Rather than a burger, though, I was happy to see that they had some pasta with grilled chicken meals! At least I was somewhat mature with my food choice. And it was awesome being able to sit at the table, relaxing and chatting with friends who had stopped by to say hello, like our dear friend, Jennalyn!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

Rob had stopped by during this time but didn’t stay long since he had dinner reservations. Not sure where … this is what happens when you do recaps a month later, details are forgotten … but the rest of us were content with our counter service food and hanging out.

That is, until Jennalyn told us how Mickey was out for character photos! What??? It was nearing 6:30 … already way later than we had planned on staying, but we couldn’t pass that up. So we headed back to the Field House once more to find Mickey with no line! Awesome!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

And we just had to get a photo in front of this banner.

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

The line for the official merchandise was non-existant so we wandered down to see what was left. I’m so glad we did because we ran into more Joyful Milers!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

And there’s Kimberly Estabrook in the red Minnie ears, another YouTube friend who will be running the Star Wars Half Marathon with us! Her dad was going to be running his very first marathon and it was so great chatting with him. What a sweetie!!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

I didn’t get too crazy with my purchases. By then, the Dopey Challenge magnets had already sold out, (and were available on eBay for tons of money, grrr,) but friends had already picked up magnets and pins for us. I couldn’t resist a cute black Marathon baseball cap, the wine glass, plus marathon magnet. Thank goodness for Annual Passholder discounts!

It was getting late and nearing the 8:00 closing time, so we headed on out. But despite the freezing temps and darkness, we still had to get photos by the banners!

2018 WDW Marathon Weekend & Dopey Challenge: Expo Recap

So overall expo thoughts?

I wasn’t a fan of the later start time. Yes, runDisney is a business and businesses need to make money, but having the VIP time earlier would give the many Dopey Challenge runners a larger time frame to spread out the crowd. Even 9:00 to 10:00 instead of 10:00 to 11:00 would have helped. Having so much runDisney merchandise being snatched up by eBay shoppers is a continuing issue that isn’t going to go away any time soon. I also preferred it when there were two Disney merchandise areas, one in the Field House and the other in Jostens, (now Visa.) Without there being a merchandise area in the Visa Athletic Center, there was less reason for attendees to pass vendor booths, so you know their sales took a hit. They did for us!

But from a personal aspect, we had a great time visiting with friends, even with the crowds and colds. Again, thanks to those of you who stopped by to say hello! And next up, the 2018 WDW 5k race recap!

Until then, you can see our adventure in this video over at our YouTube Channel.

We also talk more about it in Episode 35: Part 1 over at the Joyful Miles Podcast! We’re all over the place, aren’t we?

Now what about you? Were you at runDisney’s 2018 WDW Marathon Weekend Expo and if so, how were the crowds for you and what did you buy?

Take care and have a joyful day!


Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, wife to an amazing guy for 26 years, mom of two wonderful boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that plus she can quote most lines from Talladega Nights. Shake and bake!

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  1. I was lucky and purchased race retreat for the marathon. This is the first time I’ve ever done race retreat, mainly because I love the pre-race festivities. However, for the marathon, I wanted to have a little bit of “weather insurance” (especially after surviving 2014 Splash and Dash). However, I was so glad to have early expo access. I got my wristband, bib, and headed to the merchandise area and was in and out in about 45 minutes…given the lines later in the day…totally worth it!

    1. Oh man, I bet it really was worth it having race retreat in January!! Especially during that crazy expo. Things were MUCH better during PHM weekend, thanks to the new building being open. So hopefully those crazy days are in the past!! 🙂

  2. Mark Zavodnik says:

    This was my first RunDisney event at WDW and I have been to multiple expos for running events. This expo was a mess! The organization for this expo was confusing and did not have a good flow. I felt sorry for the vendors because everyone seemed to be at the other building getting bibs and Disney merchandise. I think for the first day of the WDW marathon weekend, the only people allowed are Dopey Challengers and 5K participants . Thanks for the recap!

    1. Oh yeah, that was a nightmare for those vendors. Things were MUCH better for PHM’s expo, though, now that the new building is opening. Hopefully those crazy expo lines are in the past!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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