Guest Post: Disneyland Expo & Pasta in the Park Party

Over the Labor Day weekend, thousands of eager runners descended upon Anaheim and the Disneyland area to participate in Disneyland’s 5K race, brand new 10K race, Half Marathon, and/or the exciting new “Dumbo Double Dare” – both the 10K and Half Marathon on consecutive days.

My intrepid reporter (otherwise known as my sister, Rachael) was one of those runners, and she was kind enough to put her thoughts down on virtual paper to share with all of you.  First up – the nitty gritty, aka the Expo and the ever debated “is it worth it” Pasta in the Park Party.

character shot
Let’s do this!

Take it away, Rachael!


Having only the marathon weekend at DisneyWorld as a basis for comparison, the Expo was quite a bit smaller than I expected, in physical space and number of vendors. It did not, however, seem to be any smaller in number of people attending. I followed some sage advice to line up early for the Expo and do that first. We lined up at a bit less than an hour before the doors opened.

I’m not convinced the organizers were prepared for the number of people trying to attend. The RunDisney merchandise store had to be closed off within about a half hour of show opening, and friends reported wait times of two to three hours for the cashiers. The store sold out of every bit of Dumbo merchandise, as well as most other merchandise on the first day. I went back to the expo on Saturday to a couple of racks of sweatshirts and one of pins. For the rest of the space previously occupied by the RunDisney store, even the shelves and racks had mostly been removed from the space, with only a couple of empty ones left on the floor. I might have seen some tumbleweed and heard a coyote. I’m not sure.

I would have liked to pick up a fridge magnet or two, but not badly enough to wait over two hours to pay for it, or pay some magnet-scalper highway robbery prices for it. It would be nice if RunDisney had an option to pre-order certain souvenirs when we sign up for the race, or to place a purchase limit so that one person can’t buy a whole shelf, all sizes, of tech shirts, for example. I was speaking with another Dumbo participant who was lucky enough to be one of the first into the expo, and she said that people were just grabbing all of the merchandise by the armload, without even looking at it. And it started showing up on eBay within a couple of hours.

Apart from that fiasco, even if you aren’t itching for RunDisney stuff, it’s still absolutely worth lining up early and going to the Expo first. I was able to get in and out before the space started getting too crowded, and accomplished the three “must do” things on my expo to-do list (visit RawThreads to pick up a skirt I had pre-ordered, visit SparkleSkirts to pick up a skirt my sister wanted, and get a hydration belt to replace the one I had forgotten in Toronto), and the one “nice, but optional” thing on my to-do list (get a Garmin foot pod so I can work on improving my cadence and try and keep up with Tabetha when we run the Niagara Half Marathon in October). By the time I left it was becoming very apparent that some 20,000 people all needed to do stuff in the same average-size hotel ballroom.

So, to summarise – if you want any RunDisney merchandise on the Disneyland half marathon weekend, line up a couple of hours before the expo opens, make a bee-line for the RunDisney shop as soon as they open the doors, be prepared for a lot of VERY aggressive (elbowing and shoving) shoppers, and be prepared to stand in line for another two or three hours to pay.

Once I finished my business at the expo, I headed back outside to go line up – again – for my race packet pick up. Then I had to go and line up – again – for runner relations to get my corral placement fixed. Then I had to go back into the expo (which by this time was completely koo-koo-bananas) and line up – again – to get my run gear. But hey, you’re at Disney, you gotta be prepared for some lining up for things, right? Hindsight being what it is, next time I will do the expo first, then go to the parks, and come back for my race packet when it’ less busy.

Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who did a pretty darn great job when faced with so many people.

Pasta in the Park party

If you like character photos, then Pasta in the Park is a great chance to get a whole lot of them. It’s a fun and cute way to carbo-load and hydrate. Plus, your wristband gets you access to a reserved viewing section for the Disneyland parade.

Parade reserved
A great view of the parade from the area reserved for Pasta in the Park guests.

There is crazy tons of tasty food. Green salad, steamed veggies, pasta with cream or tomato sauce, fresh lemonade and ice water, and assorted desserts. There was also roast chicken and a cash bar, neither of which I can personally vouch for. They had face painting, and balloon animals, and a DJ spinning the tunes and running trivia contests throughout the evening. As far as I can tell, the only prize for the trivia games was bragging rights, but it kept everyone engaged and entertained.



Sounds great! Thanks for the report Rachael! Next up, the Dumbo Double Dare!

Also, Rachael is running in the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  If you would like to sponsor her (And you really would, wouldn’t you? Breast cancer is a bummer), please go to this link and give generously.