Why I Joined Club runDisney

April 19, 2022 is a date that is going to live in infamy within the runDisney community. Not to spread unnecessary negativity, but Marathon Weekend 2023 registration was in no uncertain terms, a logistical and public relations disaster. Pent up demand for races converged with server traffic overload, and a total meltdown was in progress.

The registration queue waiting room opened up as expected at 9:45 am, and visitors, expecting registration to open at 10 as promised patiently waited for the “Thank You For Your Patience” spinner to change to the estimated wait time screen. That is, those who were lucky enough to get into the waiting room at all.

Another cohort of visitors reported they couldn’t get in to the waiting room –the entire runDisney site was reduced to an error page with the Seven Dwarfs insisting “We’re working on it.” That ceased to be cute in short order. As time ticked by, social media sites started lighting up when would-be registrants started to panic, cancel plans for the day, and of course, gripe.

The dreaded Dwarf screen

At 10:37, the waiting room page flashed a message asking us to stay put, and not to refresh the page. It was very ,very difficult to resist refreshing – whenever someone tells you not to push the red button, all you want to do is push it, right?

So another message flashed at 11:15…11:30… 11:45… you get the point.

At this point, social media anxiety was out of control, people were calling their congressmen, claiming conspiracy theories that this was planned by Disney to boost registration in the incredibly overpriced Club runDisney, and of course, the memes were flying.

Finally, around 12:20, they announced that registration would begin at 12:30. Thousands, THOUSANDS of anxious people had been sitting at their computers on standby, not even daring a potty break for two and a half hours. I was just lucky because I happened to have the day off from work, but I know that there were many people who had changed their schedules so that they could register, and just weren’t able to stay by the computer. Seriously who expects that they need to take a day off to register for a race?

This time it went off as planned, but wait times were lengthy. I was lucky and got a place in the queue in about 40 minutes. I managed to get the races I wanted and get checked out. By the skin of my teeth. Nearly as soon as I got my confirmation email, races began to sell out.

The whole experience left me drained and exhausted, but as the social media posts started rolling in, I realized how fortunate I was. So many people had waited it out only to end up at the end of the queue and missed out completely. Even more heartbreaking were the stories that had races in their shopping carts to get a “Not Available” (sold out) message when hitting “I’m ready to pay”.

As dreams got crushed, normally positive social communities (understandably) turned their anger towards Disney and sometimes on other community members (bad manners, folks!). Many people were bitter. Others set their sites on alternatives – looking for a charity bib and thinking about fundraising, selecting a virtual race, or looking for a different race all together,

I knew I wasn’t up for this type of emotional roller coaster again, and frankly who knows if they will have the time to sit and wait in the queue on a future registration date? At this time in my life, I still have the endurance for long races, and I’ll look for any excuse to get to Orlando. Who knows if my circumstances will change and running at Disney is no longer an option for me?

The other route for peace of mind registration is joining Club runDisney. It’s the super pricey way to buy a jacket, and at some price points, a guaranteed opportunity to register for future races and better corral placement.

Three tiers are currently offered, and these are the benefits highlights

  • Silver, which gets you a jacket, a virtual race and bragging rights will set you back $265.43
  • Gold also guarantees you the opportunity for registration for yourself for a full year of races and early access to merch at the expo for the low, low price of $531.93. Keep in mind that this is not your registration fee. This is an extra tax to give you the chance to spend even more money to register for next year’s events.
  • Platinum offers the lower tier benefits, the chance to register 2 people for all race weekends, an upgraded expo experience, and an upgraded corral placement. I hope you’re sitting down or very, very rich, because the total with taxes and fees is $851.73

I guess that there are enough runners with money to burn here, because when the Club runDisney memberships went on sale today, the Platinum level sold out within an hour. So… again I guess Disney proved that they can charge whatever prices they want, because there’s always someone willing to pay it.

To save myself from going through the registration hell again, I opted for the Gold level. Will I have to eat ramen for an extended time? Yep. Will I need to wait a little while before changing out my running shoes? Yep. Will my kid get to go to college? No clue. Will the Club runDisney expense be worth it? Only time will tell, I guess. Until then, I’ll be waiting by the mailbox for my jacket to show up!

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