Thursday, January 30, 2014

runDisney Meet-Ups

I was lucky enough to be part of the Tinker Bell Meet-Up last January!

Photo Credit: runDisney

[Feel free to check out the blog post I wrote explaining what a "Meet-Up" is and my excitement of being one of the few to be offered a spot at one of them!] A recap of the Meet-Up itself can be found here. If you aren't going to go read the post, please just know IT WAS AWESOME, but really - go read the recap!

I got to meet Jeff Galloway

See Mickey and Minnie in Buena Vista Street

Chat with Sean Astin

And pose with Ali Vincent

Now I understand there were "flaws" with the system. The main one being that you had to STALK the blog ALL DAY LONG (and sometimes ALL NIGHT LONG) to see the notification posted by runDisney. This is OBVIOUSLY a limitation for folks that have a job and cannot be continually hitting refresh on a website 24/7. Another issue was the fact that they normally announced the Meet-Up very close to the race weekends, meaning if you were coming in town for the race you may have to adjust your travel arrangements.

I also understand that runDisney is a company - and one that KNOWS how to make money!

You see, the Meet-Ups were a free event. Obviously Disney was hoping that the attendees would blast their social media outlets about their experiences, drumming up excitement for runDisney, the Meet-Ups, and the races themselves. And BLAST away they did. Twitter was always a-buzz with live tweets from the Meet-Ups, Instagram was full of pictures from the event, Facebook groups were all wondering who would speak or make an appearance, etc. Now please don't take it to mean that I believe Disney was "out" money for putting on these Meet-Ups, because I don't think that at all, but I do think it was an extremely generous activity that they put on.

Well, things started to change back around the WDW Marathon weekend. As per usual, folks were stalking the blog, waiting for news about the Meet-Up to be posted. They stalked and stalked, and nothing came... Finally it was released (forgive me if I get the details wrong, but this is how I remember it happening), through a blogger - not directly from runDisney - that they would not be doing a Meet-Up. Now they weren't saying they were NEVER going to do one again, but that they weren't doing one for that race weekend. Then Tink came and went without a Meet-Up (I was actually crossing my fingers they would have one, because even though I didn't run the race this year, I am local so would be able to make it up for the Meet-Up if I got my typing fingers going quick enough to send my email out in time).

This past week was public registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. [Check out my blog post about how QUICKLY everything sold out this year here.] It didn't take long for folks to realize there was something new on the registration page... A "Welcome Event".


This looks very similar to the Meet-Ups that they used to put on...

Now shoot, like I said before, although I love Disney for its MAGIC and the fact that it makes me feel like a kid again, I realize (even if I don't want to admit it) that they are a business and one that is in the money-making business. And whoa-doggy, they have a GOLDMINE with us runners!

runDisney participants were willing to PAY for this new addition because the Welcome Event is SOLD OUT! Yep, that's right, YOU CAN'T REGISTER FOR THIS ANY LONGER, THERE IS NO ROOM IN THE INN. The price was $89 per person. I don't know if I could put a price tag on the Meet-Up I was honored to be a part of, but obviously Disney, Runner's World (who is helping to put on the event), and runners themselves saw value in it for that price.

To be honest, I am sort of surprised how long it took for runDisney to start charging for the Meet-Up. Yes, "free" publicity is nice, but man, us runDisney fans are willing to pay a PRETTY PENNY to get into the races, so I was just a little shocked that they would have such an AWESOME event without it costing the attendees anything.

I don't plan on signing up for any of the Welcome Events - but obviously never say never. I just know me and I am "frugal", so don't think that I personally would be willing to pay for the event, but I know the experience will definitely be MAGICAL (not to mention getting into the Expo an hour early, especially when it comes to picking up the runDisney gear, could be priceless to some). I am definitely excited to hear what those folks that shelled out the $89 will think of the Welcome Event.

Would you (or did you) sign up for a Welcome Event? 


Andrea @ With A Side of Magic said...

I, too, can't believe it took them so long to charge for this event. I think they started these meetups as a way to get free publicity from the bloggers, and Run Disney obviously doesn't need the bloggers anymore to promote their product. It sells out fast enough!

I think $89 is actually a bargain for what these runners are getting, but I'm frugal too, and I won't be signing up for any of them.

Jennifer @ The Final Forty said...

I didn't sign up. I was lucky enough to take part at the meet-up for Dumbo Double Dare last summer, and had an absolute blast. I'm not surprised (at all!) that they started charging for this opportunity, but, I am a little disappointed. To me, it's no longer "special." And it would also mean flying in a day early, an extra night in a hotel room, etc. -- really not worth it, IMHO!

Jennifer K. said...

My perception of this may be unpopular with Disney fans, but the meetups always seemed to be a form of advertising to me. They weren't very appealing before. I'm certainly not interested in paying Disney money for them to try to sell me on more Disney. It's out of control. Honestly, I don't get why anyone would pay for this. It seems like people just want to be "insiders" and will pay for what they perceive as an elite special event that is really just more marketing in disguise.