You may or may not have heard about the runDisney meet ups. They are a special FREE, that’s right I said FREE, meet up a few days before the half and full marathons that Disney puts on at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. I know, you’re still stuck on the free because how often do you hear that for an event at Disney? Any who, they are a special treat for a select few runners, and for this Wine and Dine Half meet up it is not even 1% of all the half marathon participants. Why yes I do feel special and lucky!
I ran my first runDisney race in February when I participated in the Princess Half Marathon, and I loved it so much that I convinced my husband to run the Wine & Dine Half with me. I figured we go to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot anyways, why not work off some of those tasty morsels. A few weeks before the Princess Half I started hearing a lot of buzz in my half marathon group about a special meet up before. It intrigued me, so I paid attention to the buzz and did some researching on the internet. Turns out they are special events that they do for anywhere from 20-100 participants in the past. The runners typically meet in the early morning for a fun run with former Olympic marathoner Jeff Galloway and then get to hear some great advice from professional athletes and celebrities on running and nutrition.
I listened to everyone and found as much information on the internet I could about getting into these meet ups, and if you couldn’t tell there truly isn’t much for how large the internet is. Between them only starting these meet ups in 2010 and the limited number of participants allowed, there aren’t a lot of people who have shared their experiences. There seems to be a lot more reviews of these after this year’s races, so I found enough info to get me in for the Wine & Dine Half Meet up!
Here’s tip #1: You must be on Twitter!!
That’s because runDisney and the Disney Parks Blog send out a tweet about the blog post going up that says to send off those emails. Typically they do teaser tweets leading up to the blog post that run over almost 24 hours. Well, not this time.
They tweeted this out at 1:12 pm.
And then 49 minutes later was this tweet.
Lucky for me my daughter was asleep and I was just washing dishes, so I saw my phone flash, checked the blog post to make sure it was an email and I had the right address and bam, my email was sent. I was pretty confident since the tweet went out at 2:01pm and so did my email, and I was right, I was number 19 on the list!! Although I had to anxiously wait for them to post the list. They said by 5pm, but it was more like 5:30pm when they posted the list and I got confirmation I was in. This meet up looks a little different as we get a reserved viewing of Illuminations and we get to sample some food and wine from the Festival. Twitter and Facebook blew up with comments after the list was sent and it didn’t calm down until the next morning. If you want to check out the Disney Parks Blog post to find out a little bit more, you can read it here.
Lucky for you I have a few tips. Now keep in mind that I am fortunate enough to be able to have my phone on me, where some people are not allowed to due to work. You say this is not fair to everyone? Well my response to you would be this: I worked in management for a long time in a corporate world, so I get it. For Disney this is a business tool and one of the social media world. While you may not think it is fair, I’m pretty sure that Disney is looking for people to attend that are active in the social media world and can participate in it at any given time. For them, it is strategic marketing to spread the word and make their runDisney events known to the world. Even though it is Disney, you would be surprised at how many people don’t know that they do running races at Walt Disney World and Disneyland let alone these meet ups before hand.
That being said, I am going to share with you what got me so quickly in because I believe that everyone should have a shot at getting in to these amazing experiences.
- You must be on Twitter and follow @runDisney and @DisneyParks. You can check the Disney Parks Blog on the web, but are you really going to sit there refreshing the page for hours on days?
- Turn on your notifications for their tweets. That way, as soon as they tweet that teaser and the blog post is up, your phone will light up with the tweet! But be warned, they have been changing things up this year and I’m sure they will continue to do things differently to allow new people to go.
- This is the important one! Draft your email in advance. I’ve read a lot of blogs that gave the email addresses, but I haven’t read to have it typed up. Everyone said you had to email within the first 2-3 minutes of the tweet, so to me, it was a no brainer to already have it sitting in my draft box. I just labeled it with the race name meet up and put my full name and email with a little “I would love to participate” comment.
- Use these email addresses: Walt Disney World races-WDW.SportsMeetUps@disney.com and Disneyland races-DLR.Sportsmeetups@disney.com
- Use a web based email provider. They tend to send faster. I used GMail.
- After your email is sent, find something to do otherwise you’ll be checking your phone nonstop!
That’s it. It really is that simple. There are no guarantees that you’ll get in if you are fast enough because you still have to meet their qualifications, which nobody really knows what those are as they do not post them. They just post “details” for you.
While this will be my first runDisney meet up and am super excited that it’s at night and we’re getting treated to the Food & Wine Festival, I already know I will try to get in again. Luckily they have steadily been increasing the number of participants they allow to these meet ups, so more people have a chance of going.
Enjoy Your Adventure, Samantha
FTC Disclosure: All thoughts and opinions are my own and no compensation was made for this post.