Today was the first day of the 2016 Princess Half Marathon Expo at the Wide World of Sports. I have to say that it was crazier than I could have ever imagined; at least ten times worse than last year. Parking worked out great and I was able to get a spot not too far from the entrance, though it helped that I got there 25 minutes early. My parents and my sister with her son were almost there, so I decided to wait in line until it opened. The Expo was supposed to start at ten, but when I got up there people were already walking in! If I had known they would open it early, I would have gotten there a bit earlier.
There are two buildings to go in at the expo: The HP Field House and the Jostens Center. The Field House is where you pick up your bib and pre-ordered merchandise. It also has a small area for official runDisney merchandise. That line was very long so I decided to go
straight to the Jostens Center where the main part of the expo was. There was no hurry to get my bibs; the bibs would wait for me. I walked right in and was surprised at how few people were there on the expo floor. I made my way towards the runDisney merchandise section and couldn’t believe how many people were in that area! It was packed! I had to dodge and weave between people to get to the stuff that I wanted. I wanted a runDisney tech shirt that I am wearing in the picture on the left (Yay I got one and survived!) and two 5k magnets for my Mum and sister. I was able to get those things and then waited for my parents. My Mum decided she wanted the same shirt so I went and found one in her size and then we headed for the check out.
The check out line wasn’t too bad. It was long, but it moved pretty quickly. After we bought our stuff we headed to the KT Tape booth. My left foot has been bothering me a bit, so I thought it would be a good idea to get it taped. The line wasn’t too bad and my foot felt great afterward. My parents also got body parts taped.
Next we passed the Luna Bar table! This is one on my favorite parts of the expo. The Luna bar samples are so delicious and it is nice to be able to try out all of the different flavors. This year they had a new flavor: dark chocolate with almonds! Luckily those exact bars were included in our packets.
Once we filled up on Luna samples we headed to the Jostens center to pick up our packets. The line was even longer than when we got there. It was almost out to the parking lot! We got in line and it moved pretty well. As we got closer to the building it was a huge mess; the lines for each building met and there was total confusion. A Disney employee called us over and we had to go around the expo line and were able to walk right into packet pick up. I still don’t know the point of the lines; it wasn’t like they were stopping entry into any of the buildings.
Once inside and downstairs I found my line for the 5k bibs. They were ordered by bib number and I was in the first line! I am in corral A and my parents are both in corral C. This year there are more corrals because my sister is in corral F. Last year it only went to E. After I got that bib I went to the Glass Slipper bibs and I was in the first line again! I knew that I was in corral B for the half, but I found out that I got in A for the 10k! That was very important because I have a goal time for that race and I think I need to be up front to be able to achieve it.
After I got my bib, I was directed to a photographer where I had to get my picture taken with the bib. This way they will be able to verify that it was me that ran both races in order to get my challenge medal. That took no time at all and then I made my way to the booth to pick up my Glass Slipper shirts, which also had no line. Next I had to go upstairs to get my pre-ordered jacket. This also had no line and I love the jacket! It is very heavy for Florida, but will work great when I got to Canada next month!
When we left the field house we couldn’t believe how long the expo line was now. It wrapped all the way downstairs and around the corner of some fields. We stood there for a bit and then decided to eat first instead. On the other side of the Jostens Center there is a place to eat inside. We ordered our food at the counter and then it was brought to our table. I had a pulled pork sandwich with chips that was very good.
I had planned on seeing some of the talks so while my family finished up eating I tried to go watch one that was just starting. The line was still huge outside, so I thought that I could just go through the doorway where the talk was happening right on the other side, but that was not the case. This really mean employee told me I couldn’t go in there, and that I would have to go back around to the other side and stand in the long line. I tried to explain to her that we were just in there and the talk was starting (I could hear it) and I would miss it by the time I waited in line again. She did not care and was really rude about it. I couldn’t believe it! I went out and stood in the line where my family met me right before we entered the expo again, but I had missed the talk. I really wish Track Shack would give me an ID badge.
So we made it back into the expo and it was wall to wall people. On the way to get our 5k shirts we stopped at the Chiquita Banana booth. Our picture was taken in a line for a bean bag toss. If you get the bean bag through the hole you get a banana and a bag of sliced apples. If you miss, you get to choose one. Of course my dad was the only one that got it in; he is the baseball player!
We left that booth and got our 5k shirts. My sister left right after that to go to a movie with her husband and we watched her son. There were only a couple things that I had left to do. One was to find my pacer for the half and the second was to talk to MarathonFoto, both of which were not on the map. As we walked through, I quickly found the Cliff Bar Pace team booth next to Fit 2 Run. I talked to this nice lady who turned out to be the 1:50 pacer; just what I was looking for! Her name was Diane and she said that she would be in the front of corral B, on the right side holding a 1:50 sign. I was given a pace bracelet with my projected splits on it and I will just have to find her once I enter my corral on Sunday morning.
The last thing to do was to find the MarathonFoto booth to see if there was an expo discount for my pictures like last year. The event guide said they were in the Field House where packet pick-up was, though the exact location was not on the map. We asked several employee once we were over there, but no one knew what we were talking about. In the packet pick-up room I turned around and spotted the MarathonFoto booth right behind me. They had the same deal as last year; pay $75 for $100 worth of race photos. I went ahead and signed up right there and then we were finally done. I was ready to leave.
I accomplished what I wanted, but was very disappointed in how the expo was handled this year. It was not nearly this bad last year and I don’t remember standing in really long lines just to get in the buildings. The lines didn’t even make any sense. Why can’t people just walk through the doorways when they want? I also read online later that people were throwing wine glasses and one lady actually had one taken right out of her hand! That is unbelievable! There were even punches thrown over jackets and people using curse words at each other. The whole thing didn’t seem very princess-like and this may be the last time that I run Princess.
On the way out I wanted to stop at the Princess half banner to get my picture taken. Last year they had one for every race; don’t know why that changed this year. Anyways I had one taken with my Mum and one by myself. Then I headed to my car to get away from that mad house. I hope people don’t behave like that during the races. It’s supposed to be a fun time and everyone just needs to calm down and relax. We shall see what happens tomorrow during the 5k!