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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Part One-Arrival and the Expo

To say I'm finally caught up after Wine and dine weekend would be a lie, but as the dedicated blogger that I am, I am here to give you the first of probably quite a few recaps from this past weekend. While I was only there for 3 days, there was a whole ton of fun packed into my weekend.

I arrived in sunny and warm Orlando on Friday morning. It was a refreshing change from the cold weather that has settled into North Carolina. I moved south to avoid this winter stuff, get it together NC. I had a smooth flight and was greeted by the mouse upon my arrival.
This trip gave me my first taste of Magical Express. We normally drive to Florida but after finding a great airfare deal, and in an effort to gain even more time at WDW, I flew and took the ME bus to my resort.
Checking in with ME was very easy thanks to the new Magic Band. I am planning on doing a whole separate post on my Magic Band experience, so you'll just have to wait for the real deets on that. It wasn't terribly long before I was greeted by this familiar and happy sight.
I was home. Our resort, Port Orleans French Quarter, was new to me, as I like to try and stay at a new resort each trip. Stepping off the bus, I was greeted by the music of New Orleans and a cast member putting beads around my neck. A festive looking man held the door inside open for us.
Bless his heart, I'm pretty sure I scared that poor man as I rushed up, stood next to him and held my phone out in front of us. The picture was snapped before he even knew what was going on, but he was nice enough about it. Of course he was, he is a cast member after all. I had a quick check in thanks to online check in before my trip, and I walked around a bit before I heading to the expo.

The resort has a New Orleans/Mardi Gras theme and looked much like the French Quarter would.

I headed back to the front of the resort quickly, as I did want to get to the expo. We had tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party that evening and I could get into the park at 4, so I needed to hit the expo, get back to our resort to get into our room and head to Magic Kingdom.

Buses picked us up at our resort to take us to the expo, which was held at the Wide World of Sports complex. This was new to me, as the Princess Half Marathon expo this year was held at the Coronado Springs resort. That expo and this expo were so very different.

runDisney expos are notorious for being absolutely insanely crowded. This year, I hit the PHM expo first thing in the morning, going in as soon as they opened. Things were already slightly crowded, and while I had no trouble picking up my packet, my wait was long to check out at the runDisney merchandise booth, and by the time I had finished there was a long line of people waiting just to get into that booth. It wasn't long before the highly coveted I Did It shirts and other items commemorating the race were sold out. I have heard things were even worse at the Disneyland half expo. I was nervous about the waits I would face during this expo and had little hope of picking up an I Did it shirt or a vinyl decal for my mom-mobile. I was in for a shock.
What the what? Are my eyes playing tricks on me? No lines, no hoards of people. I walked right up to my assigned booth and picked up my packet.
I also had very little wait at the runner's relations booth. When I registered I put an estimated finish time of 2:45, which put me back in Corral H. I was bringing proof of my 2:12 time at the Rock and Roll St. Louis half marathon(keep in mind, this was the last race that you were able to bring proof of time and switch corrals at the expo), and this moved me up to Corral E. I headed over to the first of two runDisney merchandise booths, where I was even more shocked.
It was rather empty. There was plenty left, and I was able to pick up a race Sweaty Band and I Did It t-shirt with no problems. I literally walked right up to one of the many available cashiers to check out.

The rest of the expo, including race shirt pick up, was in a completely separate building, which probably aided in the lack of crowds in the first building. I walked over and found things to be slightly more busy, but still rather calm.
I stopped first at the runDisney booth to take a gander at the other race medals, mainly to spy all of the loot I would be earning in January and February, when I take on the Tinkerbell 10k and half marathon and then the Enchanted 10k and Princess half marathon, earning the Glass Slipper Challenge and Coast 2 Coast medals.
I have to admit, I'm rather underwhelmed with these medals. I'm also disappointed that the Tink 10k and half marathon combo isn't a challenge as I'm doing the same combo of races during PHM weekend next year, and it is considered a challenge earning an extra medal.

I headed back to pick up my t-shirt and the rest of my swag, glanced around to see if any other shopping opportunities called my name, but being short on time as well this being a budget trip, I made my way back out of the building, to head back to my resort so I could get ready to leave for the Christmas party.

Look out for my next post, a recap of the VERY Merry Christmas Party. Trust me, it was way merry.


  1. The expo was night and day to DL Half and Princess Half. Crazy!

    1. I know, I felt like I was taking crazy pills!

  2. Wow those expo pics are CRAZY!! My first Tink expo was not really crowded after the initial rush, but I have never seen a runDIsney expo that empty before!!