Disney Marathon 2014 is this weekend, and to kick things off the Health and Fitness Expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports opened yesterday. This is where runners can pick up their race packets, meet with various vendors, and be inspired during the extensive speaker series. It is also where you can purchase lots of Disney Marathon gear such as shirts, hats, jackets, Dooney & Bourke bags and of course the exclusive New Balance® RunDisney running shoes!
Last year was the inaugural year for the exclusive shoe, and they sold out quickly. This could have been because they allowed each person to purchase up to 20 pairs of shoes, because they underestimated the popularity of anything Disney, or a combination of both.
This year they changed things up a bit – they offered more styles, limited the number of shoes each person could buy to 4 adult and 2 child sizes, and set up a sign-in system so that each customer had to meet with a New Balance Sales Representative to be fitted and get any additional shoes. However, once again demand seemed to WAY outweigh the supply, and a lot of people were left out.
Here is a quick overview of the procedure they set up: Each guest had to sign in on the iPad app, and then they were given a number. They could then browse the Expo and receive a text when it was their turn to come back to the New Balance® tent to get their shoes. The way it was advertised was that no one had to wait!
Here is how it really worked: The Expo opened at 10 am. I arrived at 10:35 and there was already a huge line to sign up for the shoes. At 11:10 they closed the line to any more customers for the day – and started a Standby line, which MIGHT allow you to get shoes. That’s right…1 hour and 10 minutes after the Expo opened the line was shut down to any new customers!! We then proceeded to wind around the Wide World of Sports Stadium for the next 3 hours in order to put our names on the list. That’s right…3 hours to get a Fastpass to buy shoes!!
There were maybe 10 people in line behind me, and then a Cast Member “bouncer” whose job it was to keep all of the newcomers from trying to get into line – and there were a lot of those! I can understand people’s confusion and frustration that they just wanted to get shoes…but really, if a Cast Member tells you that you can’t get in the line, he is just doing his job and watching out for those of us who have waited for that long. Puppy dog eyes, death stares, and bribery are really not necessary!!
After my new line friends and I made it to the front we simply had to put our names, email and phone numbers into an app, got our magic number, and were told that sometime that evening before the Expo closed at 8 pm that we would get a text. Yep, up to 6 more hours of waiting for shoes. The last number given out was 1,204 and then they shut down the machines and did not take anyone else for the day (I was number 1,995 and my husband was 1,201).
Now, you may be thinking – phew, well at least you know you are getting your shoes. Well, not so fast. I now had a Fastpass to see if the shoes I wanted to get would still be available when it was my turn to ask. The smaller sizes of Men’s shoes and little kids shoes were already gone by the time I even put my name into the system! I was a little bit worried what would still be available that evening!
My husband left to pick our son up from school, and I headed over to the Expo and toured the booths, signed my name on the “Good Luck Runners” board, sampled some treats, and even bought a thing or two. From time to time I would check in with New Balance® to see how far along they were – not very. So, I decided to leave, get some dinner and come back when I got my text. Probably a good plan, since it was 8:05 when we got our texts (5 minutes after the Expo officially closed).
I will say that once I was allowed in, the process was smooth sailing. I was getting a pair of shoes for me, and 3 for friends. My husband was getting ones for himself and my son. We all tried on our shoes fairly quickly, had to make some adjustments for the exact style we wanted, but ended up leaving with some cute comfortable shoes. By then they were out of any women’s shoes under size 8, and any men’s shoes over 12.5 (and we bought the last of those), small girls and boy sizes were also running low (with many specific sizes and styles gone), and larger women’s sizes were also out, so hopefully those around me in line were able to get the shoes that they wanted too.
The shoes themselves are very nice looking. For men there is a Mickey and a Goofy version. For women there are Minnie and Cinderella versions and for kids Mickey and Minnie. Each comes with some signature style and even a few hidden Mickey’s thrown in for good measure. They plan is for new styles to be released each year – but yet to be seen if they will only be available during RunDisney events or all year long.
I am not sure how things went today at the Expo, but my understanding is that they are restocking all sizes each day, and holding some inventory for Saturday as well, so hopefully those that want shoes will be able to get them (without having to go the eBay route). Next year maybe they will allow registered runners to pre-buy the shoes – that seems pretty fair to me. And, if they go with the same sign in procedure, maybe they could pass out those paper wristbands so you know who is really in line, provide more than the 6 iPads that they had available, and then maybe, oh I don’t know…walk the iPads around….I do hear that they are mobile devices J That would certainly have helped cut down on the initial part of the process!
For those shopping for shoes I wish you short lines and lots of supply…and for those running I wish you all good luck and fast times!!