After the 5k, I collected my bag from the bag check tent, changed into flip flops, and boarded a bus for Art of Animation, where my sister and I stayed back in October. I love Art of Animation, it’s adorably colorful and kitschy and the rooms are pretty well done plus it’s smaller and much more manageable than most other moderate/value Disney hotels and it’s right down the street from Wide World of Sports (so if you wanted to stay there and it’s not a host resort, the cab fee would be the lowest of any on property hotel).
Of course, I had to go into the gift shop. I had no choice, you see, because that was how you got into the food court. We saw these pens in the gift shop when we stayed there but by the time I got around to doing any shopping they were all sold out so I made a point of getting them when I saw them. It’s adorable. I got them and got to use this “new system” Disney is implementing that is in theory kind of cool and modern and high tech and then you think about it and it’s kind of creepy and weird. Anyway, it involves tapping cards as opposed to swiping them, which seems to me to be not that advanced but whatev, what do I know, right?
Afterward I headed into the food court and got two character waffles that looked like Nala or Simba and Dori from Lion King and Finding Nemo respectively. They were good, even if they were made from buckwheat (it sounds healthier but I have doubts about the veracity of that claim) and one pathetic piece of bacon, the upside was it came with a bottle of water which was greatly appreciated. I was starving and essentially inhaled them.
Then it was time to just kind of hang around and wait for the buses to start going to the expo at 8:30. I sat outside and talked with some other people who were there for the full and the Goofy. I know the Goofy runners were a minority, but they seemed to be the ones who were most out and about with their shirts/medals/etc. Much more so than marathon people and definitely more than the 1/2 marathoners. The expo bus dropped us off a 1/2 hour before the expo itself started so there was a lot of waiting in line… Well, it’s Disney, right? That gave me the opportunity to hang around and take pictures. If only I cared about sports… But alas, nothing here really piqued my interest so I just stood on line.
I have to say, Disney runners are not the typical stereotype you associate with people who run or who would attend a marathon weekend. Example #1: The runDisney sneaker lady. As you may all know, runDisney and New Balance entered into some kind of satanic sanctioned bargain whereby New Balance is the official “running shoe” of runDisney so out of this unholy alliance came Minnie and Mickey themed sneakers sold at the expo (if you haven’t heard this you either have a life or don’t runDisney).
Anyway, so runDisney sneaker lady was in line with her expo purchased outfit (sweaty band headband, runDisney t-shirt, Minnie sneakers, etc.) talking about how she couldn’t run (and did not walk any of the races) but she loved coming to the expo to shop and she was picking up more pairs of sneakers, presumably to stockpile in her Disney decorated house or to sell at a ridiculous mark up on ebay. (I can hear her screaming, “when it’s out of the box it loses its value!”) I was a little confused by this, but I guess if walking around a smelly, crowded expo is how she likes to spend her Friday afternoon who am I to judge?
Another funny conversation I heard in line was a child asking his parents if there was anything else to do at Disney and his mother responding, “Well, every year in January when we come the expo is really all there is to do, that’s why we stay here…” I can just hear the little boy telling his classmates, “Yeah, we didn’t ride Dumbo but I got to visit the Cigna booth and get a free insurance quote…”
So anyways, I headed in and picked up my number and my sister’s chEAR squad package and then went into the expo hall to pick up my shirt and of course my race souvenirs. There are usually two spots where you can shop for official race merchandise: one where you pick up your number and another in the expo hall with the other vendors. Go for the latter: more space and shorter lines because they have many more cashiers. You’ve just been schooled.
The place was overall a little annoying, there was one staircase going down to the level where the marathon/half marathon/chEAR stuff could be picked up and it took awhile to find said staircase, and then the line at the chEAR stand took forever because it was all people who had no idea what they were doing they “just went there because my daughter told me I had to pick something up!”
The packet so far already came with more than the DL 1/2 did: a temporary tattoo! That little square thing on top of the brochure was one that I would eventually put on my leg for the marathon. The volunteer was super nice and wonderful (everyone was) and congratulated me on my first marathon. Then it was time to head over to pick up my t-shirt.
Now, if you’re running a Disney race and unsure what size to get your shirt, get a small. No, seriously, you can trade it in for a large, and maybe even a medium, but those small sizes are impossible to come by. It might be that Disney anticipates having a variety of people with different sized bodies participate in their races, but they cut their shirts HUGE. I picked a large back in March before I knew better and got stuck with it–there was no trading that one in for anything. The “goody” bag also included 20th anniversary shoelaces and a button. Very cute, more than I expected, not dazzling but not bad either.
Then it was time to peruse souvenirs… Since my race shirt was never going to fit properly, I bought a few other options, including 20th anniversary marathon ears (currently sitting atop my television), a mug and pin for my office, and two shirts: one I Did It and another that says “it takes character to run a marathon.” All in all, cute. I also secured many free photos from the Cigna and HP booths, some samples, a sweaty band for my sister, and toyed with the idea of signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. When I sent my mom a copy of the Cigna photo, she asked if I was good now and could just go ride It’s a Small World instead of running a marathon.
That afternoon, I ended up having to come back to the expo: they gave me the wrong band for my sister’s chEAR squad thing, so we had to schlep all the way back. My sister ended up doing some shopping of her own and looking through booths, and then it was time for dinner.
The weather was most certainly on everyone’s mind: it was expected to be in the high 70s and into the 80s by 12 on Sunday, and miles on Florida highways in that heat with no shade or breeze wasn’t something everyone was looking forward to… Disney never sent out an email/communication about the weather, they instead posted signs in and around the expo hall.
All in all, the expo wasn’t bad. There wasn’t much in the way of discounts (Raw threads was selling shirts at or just above the online prices) and while Runningskirts.com was offering a discount on some skirts the price was still just a little bit steep for me ($60 for a Minnie style skirt). If you’re looking for anything red with white polka dots, this is a great place to be and do enough shopping to last you the year.
Finally, I left the expo feeling exhausted and tired and headed back to the hotel starving but waiting for my sister to arrive to have lunch.
While I waited, Tom from SparkleSkirts brought over a new skirt so I could trade my large in for a medium. They’re great like that and I thanked him profusely for doing this for me. I sat by the pool while I waited for my sister to show up and enjoyed the nice warm weather. Great for sitting by the pool, but what about running a marathon?