It is time to kick off the 2017 runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend! First stop of the weekend (other than the hotel for a few hours of shut-eye) - the expo! Y'all know that I love race expos - between checking out vendors, shopping for merchandise and meeting up with friends it is just time that I always enjoy about race weekends. runDisney races have some pretty awesome expos, but you definitely have to have a plan in order to make the most of your time there.
Mom and I knew that we were interested in trying out the newest runDisney New Balance shoes. Due to the popularity of the shoes, New Balance utilizes a virtual queue in order to reserve your spot in line and your size (kind of like a fast pass). The first day of the expo, only registered runners may register for the queue (the other days it is stand-by line open to the public). The queue opened at 7pm on Wednesday and fills up quickly so mom and I made sure we were ready to sign up while Papa J drove on our way to Walt Disney World. We both got signed up for "Group 1" which was 10am appointment time.
After a successful time at WDW Marathon Weekend in January, runDInsey extended early access to Race Retreat participants which allowed us entry at 8:30am while the expo opened to the public at 10:00am. We arrived to ESPN Wide World of Sports about 7:15. When the taxi pulled up, there were a few others arriving as well, but not too many yet. We met up with Jennifer, got checked it to receive our Race Retreat wristbands and headed to the early access line.
The day before, some the official race merchandise was released via Disney Parks Blog (well, a good portion of it). Everyone has now had a weekday to analyze what they were wanting to get their hands on so it made it easier for me to know what I was looking for. From tank tops, to hats, to jackets, wineglasses and more, there was a lot of gear fit for a princess. In past years, the official merchandise would be released a week or so in advanced, but I personally like the delayed release because there is a lot less time for personal shoppers/eBayers to hop in an buy the merchandise just to mark it up so runners arriving later in the week have to pay a high premium for items.
Promptly at 8:30 we were let in to the expo! Wahoooo! We were probably about 10-15 people back in the line (of about 100 princesses lined up). When we headed in, just like everyone else we went straight to the official merchandise area. Man, Race Retreat totally paid for itself this morning! There were no crowds - we were able to just calmly shop. If you were at the first morning of the 2016 Princess Half Marathon expo, you know what I am talking about.
As I entered the official race merchandise area, I knew that the three main things that I was wanting were the Glass Slipper Challenge jacket, car magnet, and wine glass. I swiftly gathered my items and moved off to the side to try on the shirt for sizing. Can I just say how annoying women's cut shirts can be sometimes to try to judge what size you need. Anyways, I digress. Jennifer, Julia, Momma K and I got our final selections and headed to check out. It was soooo nice having early entry because there was no line to check out!
After leaving the official race merchandise area, I had an appointment to get my runDisney New Balance shoes! I have been waiting since January to get my Haunted Mansion shoes and they were finally going to be mine! The New Balance process was very quick and easy. We arrived to the New Balance booth, checked in with a team member, and waited about 5 minutes for a sales associate to assist us in getting our sizes/styles. For more info on the New Balance Virtual Queue for future runDisney race weekends, get the details here.
Next we made our way through the expo floor checking out vendors including our favorites Sparkly Soul and Sparkle Athletic to see what new products they had for the weekend. I think hands down one of the most popular expo items of 2017 was the Sparkly Soul Tiara. Don't worry y'all, Sparkly Soul wants everyone to be able to show their princess side, so you can buy them online here.
As we made our way around the expo, it wasn't too crowded on the expo floor. We were able to approach all of the booths easily and check everything out pretty easily. Granted, there were some booths that were a little crazy busy, but it wasn't bad. Of course we had to take advantage of some photo ops along the way.
BY FAR the best photo op was the display they had set up for the upcoming live action release of Beauty & the Beast! If you want to see a bunch of women in their 30s-40s (and beyond) FREAK OUT, let them take their picture with the rose. SWOOOON!
Remember how I said the official race merchandise line wasn't bad during early access? Well, it GREW....A LOT! The line to get in to shop was wrapped around out of the merchandise area. I must say though that the staff kept things very well organized and it was seeming to move pretty quickly. I am happy to report though that princesses remained very well behaved this year. There were no reports of shoving, throwing items, etc, as there was last year. Well done ladies! Thank you for being civil and not making a bad name for this race or other ladies.
We headed over to the HP Field House next to pick up our bibs and race shirts. I was crazy shocked at how empty the packet pickup area was, but I had to remind myself that it was still very early in the morning and most of the crowd was at the merchandise area.
We got our race shirts and gear check bags and made our way out within just a few minutes. Princess Half Marathon weekend expo 2017 was a success - now let's head to Epcot!
Question of the Day: What is your favorite part about race expos?
I love to run and most importantly I love to have FUN while I run....I am the "Funner Runner"
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