Disney Marathon Weekend 2014 – Expo Madness

There really isn’t a good way to capture the spirit of Disney Marathon Weekend in a blog post. It’s such a wonderful experience from start to finish that there is almost too much to say. Again this year, the happiest race on earth didn’t disappoint. In an effort to capture all the fun, I’m going to break up my race recap into a few segments. First, the expo and my quest to buy the commemorative shoes

I arrived in Florida on the Tuesday before the race, with plans to go to the expo Wednesday. I was determined to get a pair of the special limited edition Cinderella-themed runDisney New Balance shoes and thought that my best chance for success would be on Wednesday. I watched the videos and read online information about securing my special shoes. I was ready to follow the shoe signs and get my pair without waiting too long in a line, as promised. Wednesday morning came and my mom and I got to the expo just as it was starting. We immediately got into an already long New Balance line. The line was barely moving. It wrapped around and into the Champion Stadium, past vendors, and back outside. As the line moved along at a glacial place, mom and I began to take turns looking around. We visited a few vendor booths. We talked to cast members and found out that they had to stop the line from growing twenty minutes after the expo opened. It was madness. People were everywhere and starting to get hungry. Two full hours later, we got to the head of the line. Sadly, it was just the line to put our information into one of four (four, seriously!) iPads to be contacted when it was our turn to shop. We were told the wait was four hours. Four more hours. And, we had to respond to the text message within twenty minutes, so we were stuck at the expo. The Wide World of Sports complex is so far away from everything else, we had to stay put.

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Later, we would learn that this information wasn’t totally true, but it was repeated by three separate NB employees. We began what would be a long day of waiting. Mom and I visited every single booth at the expo. We entered drawings. We tried products. We killed two hours. With two more to go, we simply sat down and waited. We ate in the little cafe. We took lots of commemorative photos.

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Four hours after we put in our data we still didn’t have a call from NB. We decided to investigate. We went to the entrance and saw that there was a large display listing the current numbers being seen (like at a deli). Sadly, there were still more than 200 people in front of us. We talked to a nice young man from NB and he told us they were able to serve less than 100 people an hour and that things were moving much more slowly than expected. Dejectedly, mom and I wandered away. By this time, I was exhausted. I had been at the expo from 10am to 4:30pm. My legs were starting to hurt, so I got a new pair of my favorite Zensah calf sleeves. They helped.

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Finally, seven hours after we began our quest, we were called and it was our turn. I got my precious Cinderella shoes. And a Minnie pair just to be safe. It was totally worth it.

To be sure, the wait was worth the outcome, but I didn’t find it to be an improvement over last year’s strategy nor did I find it a pleasing process. The wait was ridiculous and the NB staff outside the store not as helpful or kind as expected. Mom and I found out in the store that we could have come back any time after our call time, something that would have been life changing a little earlier. Spending an entire day at the expo was not what I had in mind. New Balance and Disney could do a much better job of entertaining those of us who waited all day, or further limiting purchases (runners only first? An express lane for long time NB customers who know their size?). It would have helped to have had the correct information sooner and for the process described in the online information to have had more details. It would also have been nice to have had more iPads. Had I not waited two hours in the freezing cold just to put my data in an iPad, I might have been more cheerful. I wouldn’t have minded waiting at home for the five hours had I just gotten correct information. Despite all the hassle, I’m delighted with my shoes and am wearing them with a smile on my face.

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