There have only been a few times I've been critical of runDisney and the way they handle their business. The races are all very well ran, the support is top notch but the registration process leaves a lot to be desired.
These races are becoming increasingly popular and so the number of people not being able to get into these races in also increasing. It used to be that those who wanted it the most were rewarded with a race bib. Whether it was for a multi-race challenge or not, if you were ready and waiting at 9 a.m. (most even earlier) you could log on and register with ease.
That ship has sailed. The benefit, or perk if you will, of being a Disney Annual Passholder (AP) is having early access to race registrations. Yes, I understand that this is a benefit, not a guarantee, that can be taken away at any time, yadda yadda. But for now it exists. Most AP early registration periods are a week or two before the public has a chance to register. It's given that the number of people wanting to register for this race who hold AP's is greater than the allotted number of slots available. Yet, it’s maddening when the system doesn't reward those who are the most hungry. If you stayed up on dates, set multiple alarms, did research and were well prepared for registration and still didn’t get in, I feel for you. If you did all of that and still registered other, non-AP holders for races, then shame on you. I don’t know what the solution is and i’m sure there are plenty of people who have ideas. One race registration per Annual Pass, anybody?
Two weeks ago, the early AP registration period began for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend and as usual, the links to the 3rd Party registration site, Active.com weren't up. It took a few, very looong minutes for them to appear. Rumor has it that the links were up and running on the East Coast before they were on the West Coast, where the race is being held. There goes home field advantage.
Regardless, the time spent refreshing pages, frantically completing online forms, made the playing field a total crapshoot. The servers did not perform well. Heck, they didn’t perform at all. The Dumbo Double Dare (DDD) challenge was what most people wanted to register for. We were in that group of people. More importantly, we wanted to register our two oldest sons for their very first 10k race. No success with that distance either. We were prepared, patient and hungry and we were not rewarded for our efforts.
I was only able to register for a single half marathon before all others were “sold out”. Our hand was forced. Do we register for another Half Marathon now or take a chance on DDD on public registration day? When the servers go crashing down for an audience that is supposedly smaller than the general public, something is wrong.
Fast forward to public registration day. The servers held up commendably compared to two weeks ago. The number of people attempting to register is much bigger (yes, I know there are more slots available) but I can’t help think a huge ball was dropped on early AP registration day. So, our family of six is now registered for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon weekend - thanks to a 3rd party Disney blog, I found a direct link to the active.com registration page no less - and it was a very stressful process. It shouldn’t have to be.
We won’t officially be doing the Dumbo Double Dare challenge but we’re running the same exact races. We have three of those awfully cute Dumbo medals to look at already anyway. It wasn’t about that. It’s about the 10th anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon, and more importantly our kids’ first 10k race.
The challenge is on runDisney to fix a broken system. I'm not saying the system isn't fair. It is. We were all given advance notice and multiple reminders. Again, i'm not sure what the solution is. There's an idea of moving to a lottery system. Yes, it means we may not get in but it is a "cleaner" process than what we have now. If the registration process is handled the way the races are managed, we'd all be a little better off.
Did you have a good experience registering for the race? What do you think needs to be done to alleviate this stress?