I am running (or supposed to be running – more on my injury later) the Walt Disney World Marathon next week. As everyone knows, Disney goes above and beyond on just about everything they put their name on. There is no difference with their races. If you’ve been around runDisney events in the past you may have come across the runDisney meet-ups.
RunDisney meet-ups are free events hosted by Disney that have included meeting Jeff Galloway, character meet and greets, a group run, free swag, and lots more! In order to be one of the lucky ones chosen to participate in the meet-ups, you need to RSVP by email to a specific email address. Historically, for the WDW race weekend emails needed to contain your full name in the body (one name per email) and be sent to email@example.com. The meet-up information would be posted in a blog post on http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/ at any time ranging from 10am-3pm, anywhere from 4 to 14 days in advance. Fanatics were known to “stalk” the blog, refreshing the page every minute for days on end in order to get in. The smart people would already have a draft email up on their computer or phone ready to be sent as soon as the post became live.
As time went on, the meet-ups gained in publicity and popularity. With each year, the time before the meet-ups reached capacity became less and less. Last year sending an email a mere 2 minutes after the blog post was made wasn’t enough to make the cut (I have personal proof on this). It’s tough competition to get into meet-ups and the enthusiasts looking to get in for 2014 were prepared to refresh the blog for days in order to not miss the announcement.
So there I was at 9am this morning, joining hundreds of other fanatics in stalking the blog. At 10am all of our hearts got a jump as a meet-up RSVP was posted, however it was for Disney Blogs and not runDisney. The meet-up, which the majority of us tried to RSVP to anyways despite not being a runDisney meet-up, was for food trucks in Downtown Disney the Thursday of race weekend (http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/01/rsvp-for-our-food-truck-meet-up-at-downtown-disney-at-walt-disney-world-resort/). I sent my RSVP 5 minutes after the post was made, but alas was not quick enough to make the cut. Luckily for me, in this meet-up attendees are allowed to bring guests and I was invited with one of the quick respondents (I will be blogging about this event next week Friday).
After spending another hour constantly refreshing the blog, I decided that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to a meet-up this year and resigned from stalking. I also still do not know if I will be able to run next week due to my injury and thought that a healthy participant would be able to get more out of the meet-up. Looking back in retrospect, boy am I glad I stopped when I did as just before 5pm today news broke that there was not going to be a runDisney meet-up this year for the WDW race weekend. Interestingly enough the announcement did not come from the official Disney blog but from a Disney fanatic blog (http://www.disneyeveryday.com/the-future-of-rundisney-disney-parks-blog-meet-ups-looks-bright/#sthash.2hdW4P3W.gbpl). It was further confirmed by other Disney insiders that this was indeed the case and that everyone should cease their stalking.
While the choice not to have a meet-up this year makes sense with the inaugural Dopey Challenge filling up the race weekend schedule, it disappointed many that Disney waited so long to break the news. Some stated that it was arrogant of Disney to allow people to think they were waiting for a meet-up when one was never coming, allowing Disney to use the extra hits on their blog for an extra marketing opportunity. I’m not going to lie, if I had spent all of today dedicated to the Disney blog I might have some bitter feelings as well. On the other hand, meet-ups are free and have never been guaranteed by Disney so there is always the risk of one never being posted. And, as Amanda Tinney posted on her blog disneyeveryday.com, “there are already so many things to do at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend besides the meet up. Four parks to explore. 4 endurance events, including a brand new 10k race. Kids races. Pasta in the Park Party. Special breakfast events. A Cool Down Party. And a four day Health and Fitness Expo chocked full of merchandise and seminars.”
In the end, despite not being a meet-up, WDW Marathon Weekend will still be a magical experience. For me there is even the added events that being a member of Team in Training has to offer. I’m excited to be able to spend 6 days in Orlando. If you will be at WDW Marathon Weekend, I hope to see you there. May it be a fun filled weekend for all!