2013 Fit For A Princess Expo: Too Close For Comfort
|March 14, 2013||Posted by Running at Disney under Health & Fitness Expo, Princess Half Marathon Weekend, runDisney Races|
When I first heard that the Fit For A Princess Expo was going to be held at the Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center, I was actually looking forward to it. I had never been to that resort and it was going to be a nice change from the usual ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS). This was until I started reading about the transportation restrictions on driving to the resort and hearing reports of how crowded the expo was. This smaller location was proving to be a bit challenging for an expo of this size.
The expo took place in the Coronado Ballroom, which is a little over 60,000 square feet in size. This area was split in half to accommodate both packet pick up for the half marathon and the 5k, and the exhibitors area for the expo. To give you an idea of size, the Jostens Center at WWOS is almost 45,000 square feet and is used only for the vendors (well except for Tower of Terror Weekend). Yep…this was packed in there.
Before even entering the ballroom, I headed to a few computers set up in the lobby to print my race waiver. I print that waiver at home for every race and without fail forget it in my room…EVERY TIME! I’m always so thankful that runDisney has these set up. This took about a minute and we headed over to the ballroom entrance.
When Amanda and I walked in the doors, we were greeted by a giant line. Everyone in line already had their race bibs so we could only assume that this was the line to pick up your race shirt and clear bag. We went to the right to pick up our bibs where thankfully there was no line (the only one of the day!).
The first thing I noticed was all of the empty space in this area. I could’ve done numerous cartwheels in the space and not touched anyone…thankfully I didn’t because that wouldn’t have been attractive. What was beginning to fill up the space was the giant line of people waiting to get into the expo area. Are you detecting a pattern here?
So after a brief stop at Runner Relations, we got on that line and probably waited about 20 minutes to get into the tiny area where shirt and bag pick up were.
After that craziness we thought, “Hey, you know what would be fun?? Getting on another line!!” So that’s what we did to get into the official runDisney merchandise area.
This area is always crowded, but this was just ridiculous. We waited another 15-20 minutes just to get in the area, but once inside you couldn’t move. The checkout line was winding through the entire merchandise area so it was very difficult to get close to the actual merchandise! I was able to grab the few items I really wanted (including this tank!) and quickly got on yet another line.
40 minutes later we were at the registers to check out and quickly realized why there was such a back up…about half of the registers were empty! Sigh…
My patience was starting to wear thin at this point. I had just spent well over an hour standing in line and still hadn’t see any of the vendors. I mean, I know you are supposed to expect lines in Walt Disney World, but there wasn’t even an attraction at the end of this one!
We headed over to the New Balance area to check out the runDisney running shoe situation and find our name on the giant wall of participants. To the delight of many of the princesses in attendance, New Balance came prepared with enough runDisney shoes this time!
Apparently this giant wall of participants was at the Marathon Weekend Expo in January, but I must have been too sick to even notice. I would’ve loved to see my name on the marathon wall! But this was still pretty cool! Sadly Amanda’s name was missing…total fail.
We looked down the aisle of the expo and decided it would be best if we just left. I have never seen it so crowded before! I actually felt bad for the vendors because I’m sure a ton of people left for that same reason.
Clearly, this was not the best place to hold an expo for a runDisney event, but unfortunately this was the only option that weekend. There were numerous events going on at WWOS including the Braves spring training and an MLS Soccer showcase, so there just wasn’t space. Knowing Disney and how they always improve on their events, I’m hoping that these issues will be remedied for next year. If it had to be held here again, the easiest solution would be to have packet pickup in one of the other rooms and just the expo in this space. That would relieve a TON of the congestion!
But hey, even with the craziness, I managed to walk away with some pretty awesome swag from the expo!
What did you think of the Fit For A Princess Expo? How could it be improved?