runDi$ney

IMG_7209A lot of people have noted that the price for a runDisney race has increased dramatically over the last few years. (BUT DOUBLE CHARACTER STOPS!) $40-$50 per race over a 3 year period without any real improvement in amenities, swag, or other tangible things runners can point to and say “Well, now at least I get this.” And a lot of people are, justifiably, annoyed and mad over the price increase that became apparent when runDisney released the prices for the Disneyland Half Marathon–$205 before Active fees.

My feelings on these price increases are multifaceted and rooted in the fact that Disney is my default vacation anyway.

I don’t normally factor in the cost of travel for runDisney races. The thing is, I approach race weekends with the attitude that I was going to Disney World anyway, now I am just planning on going on a weekend when I can do something else, too.  I went to Disney the second weekend in January for 4 years before I started doing the marathon, so for me this is like an added activity as opposed to just doing an entirely new trip on top of what I was already spending.

This makes it harder for me to justify going when I want to go just for a race. This approach makes it easier to swallow the cost increase at, say, marathon weekend. It’s a lot harder if I want to do a quick trip to do another race, say, the Darkside Challenge. After crunching those numbers, it became apparent that it was just flat out way too expensive to go for a quick weekend trip just to run the race.

IMG_8696-0I annualized my Disney costs. I now own DVC points and I’m annual passholder, so this means my trips are pretty much paid for once a year when I renew my annual pass and pay my DVC dues. My points and annual pass mean that for hotel and park time, I pay $1,375 total annually for both the November and January trips, which is less than half  what I paid to stay rack rate at the Boardwalk for Dopey in 2014.

And lastly, my park habits have changed over the years. My sister and I used to go on every single ride and jam as much as possible into a 4 day trip. Nowadays, I like sitting by the pool and just hanging out at the hotel a lot. I’m ok with spending less time in the park and an early bedtime never bothered me. The races end up accommodating my Disney park schedule anyway, so they they’re not taking away from what I enjoy doing but just adding to it. It’s also become a weekend I get to spend with friends I don’t normally see on a regular basis so any weekend with Kellie is a weekend well spent.

IMG_8722For all these reasons, it’s easier for me to swallow a price increase.  The reality is, though, I also make choices. I cannot afford to go to Disneyland every year in the manner that I want to go because staying at the Disneyland Hotel costs too much, so I simply don’t go. I opt out of doing the Darkside Challenge because “going down for a quick weekend” ends up costing around $1,000 and the Star Wars Disneyland edition would be an insane proposition (both financially and in terms of annual leave from work) immediately after Dopey. A significant part of the reason I’m doing Princess again is that I now go with my family, so it’s a family trip but even my father has balked at the rack rate for a room at the Boardwalk.

With the price increase, I think if nothing else it just forces people to consider these things and think about what else they’re missing out on to make a race weekend happen.  For people who, up to now, have done every race weekend… Well, you know, maybe you need to re-think that and that’s not a bad thing.  Critically thinking about where and how I spend my money is productive, it’s positive. I substituted Disneyland this year by putting in place a savings plan to go to Hawaii in 2017 because I was stuck in a blizzard watching Hawaii five-0 (and, uh, ever since I heard Aulani takes DVC points…).

Price increase thoughts? What’s a race that’s just too expensive?

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6 thoughts on “runDi$ney

  1. Interesting take, Nicole. I think there’s been a bit of an angry mob about the DL half since um the price only increased $6 from last year. But I get that the $200+ half has meaning in terms of how you see that price tag. I’d really like to do some of the races we haven’t done – SWs and Avengers but I’m not sure if that will happen this year.

    • The psychology behind the outrage of changing “199” to a “205” is pretty amazing. Honestly, I also think that people fixate on the registration cost but reality is the cost of a stay in Disney World at a Disney hotel is what’s gone up a lot more. Less availability, few to no discounts available is what really puts a damper on the race weekends for me.

  2. I can’t remember exactly what I paid to do the DL half in 2010, but I want to say it was about $125 – $145 (can’t quite remember) and that felt immensely expensive at the time. But, I felt justified because the exchange rate was pretty much at par, it was my 30th birthday extravaganza and it was something I had never done before – a Disney race. But if you consider what I paid then to now…that is a big price jump in six years for, like you said, very little change in what you get in terms of value as a runner.

    Adding another 40-ish per cent for registration, flights, hotel, park tickets, rental car, etc., because of the Can-US exchange rate, well, it gives me a lot of pause….especially as I’m contemplating doing DDD, as you know. Plus, like you said, there are no discounts on anything, really, anymore…so that sucks, too.

    That being said, I think you should come to run some Canada based races with me….like Ottawa (you’d get to run in two provinces – Ontario and Quebec) or Montreal or even the Maritimes (which I’ve heard is amazingly beautiful)…or you can visit me in the Peg…. which means I can bake for you. 🙂

  3. I mean, I already considered the registration fees to be exorbitantly expensive, so now I’m just kinda like, “Eh, more of the same.” I also only take this one big vacation/one big race each year, so I don’t mind quite as much. I’m sure it will eventually come to a point where I balk, but for now, it is what it is.

  4. People are going to justify it any way they like. For you, it’s just another piece of the vacation cost. For other people, “Oh, it’s so magical!”
    For me, locally in Southern California, the Disneyland races used to be slightly more ($20-30) than other races in the area. Now they’re twice what other local races cost. The last few I’ve done have seemed to all be very similar experiences, so I’m not quite sure what I’ve been paying so much for. I have as good a time at other races as I do at Disney, so that “magic” marketing phrase doesn’t sway me. I’m at a point where I’d rather pass on Disney and start trying to find races in places I’ve never been.

    • Yeah, it’s roughly 2x the cost of a local race for me (though the Nike half, may it rest in peace, was about $110, I think). It’s interesting the emotional, visceral connection people have to runDisney. I suspect in part because (like me) for a lot of people it’s why they started running in the first place. It’s fun finding new races, though, I really enjoyed doing the Philadelphia marathon and running in Philly for the first time. You never know where you’ll find your next golden race.

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