Downward trend in runDisney?

rteetz

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I love a good discussion especially when there is no right answer.

So I wanted to start a thread discussing what everyone thinks about the downward trend in runDisney race registrations. What do you think are the factors or reasons for this?

Also are you or do you see yourself cutting back on runDisney and why?

I think there are a few factors.

1. Cost
2. Value for the dollar
3. Overall decrease in running races worldwide
4. Non-anniversary years

I’m interested to hear what everyone thinks!
 

ZellyB

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 18, 2010
I'd agree with your points for the most part. I'm not sure if the non-anniversary years are as big a factor as the other 3. I think that for a lot of people as well that Disney may be a bucket list race and so they don't return to run it again. Given that the numbers of people who will ever do these kind of races is decreasing, it make sense that Disney numbers would go down as well.

I also think Disney may have had a few too many races going after some of their additions. Now the (I hope) temporary hiatus on the Disneyland races might temporarily boost some at Disneyworld, there are still more options for races than there were a few years ago which would make any individual race possibly go lower on participation.

I wish the lower numbers would get them to drop the price some, but given that they still get tens of thousands of participants, I don't see that happening.
 

rteetz

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I wish the lower numbers would get them to drop the price some, but given that they still get tens of thousands of participants, I don't see that happening.
Yeah I do wonder if this trend continues if they would consider this. runDisney used to do a scheduled pricing system like other races do. So maybe they could give incentive to people who sign up early.
 
  • GreatLakes

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2015
    I stopped doing rD races completely after the 2011 full. This year I did W&D but I suspect that is my last one for a while. There are a couple reasons for me. The top is price. I run better races for a fraction of the cost in other places. I also don't like all the additional add-ons that cost more. There are some races I do repeat but Disney just costs too much for what you get for me to skip doing a new race to run Disney more than occasionally.

    I think the overall trend has to do partly with cost, partly to do with less people running in general, and partly to do with the face people can run races anywhere, why keep running an expensive race in the same place year after year (or multiple times a year). There is also a cookie-cutter feel to them. The 5K, 10K, Half, challenge formula is stale and the few unique races they did have (night time or scavenger hunt) made way for another cookie cutter race.

    Disney stopped being about the experience and turned into a blind chase towards higher earnings and it shows. I do still love Disney in general but don't feel the need to add another big chunk of money to an already expensive vacation by adding a race all the time. I would rather spend a few days in Tampa or Melbourne, run a race there, and then spend a shorter amount of time on property.
     

    FFigawi

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 28, 2009
    I love a good discussion especially when there is no right answer.
    There are always right answers: Bananas, bad. Cilantro, good. Parking lot beer, better. #Pandamonium2019, best.

    So I wanted to start a thread discussing what everyone thinks about the downward trend in runDisney race registrations. What do you think are the factors or reasons for this?

    Also are you or do you see yourself cutting back on runDisney and why?

    I think there are a few factors.

    1. Cost
    2. Value for the dollar
    3. Overall decrease in running races worldwide
    4. Non-anniversary years

    I’m interested to hear what everyone thinks!
    Cost is definitely a factor. With the cost of a resort stay increasing even faster than the cost of the races themselves, many people probably have a hard time justifying running a Disney race more than once or twice. Plus, with the race weekends losing much of their uniqueness now that most of them have the same 5k/10k/13.1 format and use the same or similar courses, there's likely less incentive, aside from the theme, to run Star Wars if you ran Wine & Dine. Anniversary years certainly have some impact (e.g. Dopey 2018 vs Dopey 2019), but I don't think that's as big a driver as cost and value/sameness.
     
  • Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    Without Coast to Coast or significant thematic changes, there's just not an appeal to repeat races right now - at least for me.

    I'm doing Marathon Weekend mostly because I want to spend time with all my DisFriends - but I'd be happier to do it without having to wake up at 3:30 a.m. and run a race. But, that's the excuse I have to get to see my DisFriends.

    I thought I would have Dopey FOMO but it really hasn't happened, so now I'm pretty sure I can cut RunDisney cold turkey and be fine.

    The only way I'm back in 2020 is if the Disneyland Half comes back. That's probably my favorite race weekend just because the theme changes from year to year, so it's like a brand-new race each year. Also, I don't get to go to Disneyland as often as I do World so that's another draw.

    As far as cost goes - it's called "the way it is". It's expensive but I don't feel like I'm being totally fleeced for it (except for the stupid 5K in January - but that's my bad for caving to FOMO). I've been pretty vocal about how I think RunDisney is basically a break-even venture having spent time volunteering on race weekends the way I have and seeing "how the sausage is made" so to speak.

    In 2019, I'm choosing to spend my race money elsewhere and focus back on local races or destination race-cations with friends.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    Such an interesting topic. I remember when people were convinced that Walt Disney World would end Star Wars races because 2017 Dark Side did not sell out. What they weren't accounting for is that runDisney had more than enough slots available to all interested runners. I think I heard 20,000 runners in the half that year which tells me that runDisney had plenty of participants.

    I would also add a 5th factor. Saturation on the runDisney only market. Meaning sufficient races to handle runDisney participants.

    When I registered for my very first runDisney event, they offered the following choices:

    Walt Disney World:

    Marathon Weekend
    Princess
    Everest 5K only
    Wine & Dine

    Disneyland:

    Disneyland Half only

    When I registered for my 4 runDisney event 3 years later, they offered the following races:

    Walt Disney World:

    Marathon Weekend
    Princess
    Everest 5K
    Tower of Terror 10 Miler
    Wine & Dine

    Disneyland:

    Disneyland Half
    Tinkerbell
    Avengers
    Star Wars

    Now Disney World replaced the 2 "shorter" distance weekends with Star Wars. If Disneyland races resume, I believe they will continue to offer at least 3 race weekends. However, the only "safe" themes are Disneyland Half and Star Wars. Avengers had really low numbers so I think it could see a retheme and Tink will remain a women's themed race, but possibly with a new theme. I could see them doing a Coast to Coast Fairy Tale Challenge similar to the Kessel Run if Disneyland Races come back.

    Since I first started runDisney, their race offerings have increased even with Disneyland going away at least temporarily. More race choices could well mean decreased registrations at other previously sold out race weekends. I chose Wine & Dine as my first Disney World race because at that time it was the only Disney World race weekend that worked for me timing wise.

    I think this does play a factor, but perhaps moreso in returning runDisney veterans. More race weekends per year also means more travel costs for non locals. A Disney fan talked into it or someone who just wants to try runDisney may be less inclined to obsess over cost because they may view it as more expensive one off race. Now someone who runs Disney races frequently may say I can only run 2 races at Disney this year.

    2. Value for the dollar
    This one really depends on each individual's perception. Frequency also plays a factor here, which is also why I think they've started to switch to new medal designs every year instead of the same design slightly tweaked until an update. If you run the same race every year and all you get is the same medal with a new ribbon, it could get real old, real fast.

    3. Overall decrease in running races worldwide
    This one definitely plays a factor. A decrease in running is going to effect everyone.

    4. Non-anniversary years
    Another bigger factor especially as legacy runners begin to come in. I can also see a runner deciding "I want to have legacy status for this race through year 5, but after that we'll see." And now that runners expect something extra special for anniversary years, they may well attempt to plan runDisney trips tied into anniversary races. This also plays into cost because for non locals, travel and lodging also come into play.
     

    Capang

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 8, 2014
    I've only done one rD weekend and I plan on returning next year. But price is probably number one. Everything at Disney gets more expensive while people feel they are getting "less" (whether or not this is true is a whole other topic). I loved the W&D weekend but again, my race experiences overall are pretty limited. I have been trying to talk some friends and family in coming down with me next year to run (I've even offered to cover the room with my points) but no one wants to pay for the race, airfare, park tickets, food....when you aren't local those costs add up.

    Also, just getting time off work isn't always easy either. Good jobs can be difficult to come by around my neck of the woods so just asking for time off is a no go for lots of folks.
     
  • VAfamily1998

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2008
    I'm one who has backed off of RunDisney quite a bit. My first Run Disney race was in 2013 (Tower of Terror 10 miler.) In 2014 I did most of the Run Disney races, 2015 and 2016 I did several, but by 2017 I was down to just two (Dopey weekend and Star Wars 10k) and in 2018 I just did Dopey--and truthfully I only did that because I felt like I had "unfinished business" in not really completing Dopey in 2017 (due to thunder storms cancelling the half.)

    I'm just kind of over the "cookie cutter formula" like others have mentioned. I really LOVED the night time races and would register in a heartbeat if they brought those back!
     

    rteetz

    Rumors and News Moderator
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    Also, just getting time off work isn't always easy either. Good jobs can be difficult to come by around my neck of the woods so just asking for time off is a no go for lots of folks.
    Time off is a big factor as well.

    For me marathon weekend is the best weekend for me right now as I am on break and don’t have to worry about school. The other weekends I have too.

    Some people aren’t able to travel at certain times of the year.

    I’d love to do other destination races but many are during the school year. My running group is doing Flying Pig and that’s around the time of Finals for me so no way I can run that right now.
     

    Sleepless Knight

    Jedi Knight Seeking His Jedi Princess
    Joined
    May 15, 2008
    The only way I'm back in 2020 is if the Disneyland Half comes back. That's probably my favorite race weekend just because the theme changes from year to year, so it's like a brand-new race each year. Also, I don't get to go to Disneyland as often as I do World so that's another draw.
    I'm the same way about Disney World races. In fact my last 3 and soon to be 4th Disney World visits happened because of race weekends. But travel costs will make it so that there is not another 2019 runDisney race for me unless Disneyland returns.

    As far as cost goes - it's called "the way it is". It's expensive but I don't feel like I'm being totally fleeced for it
    I run few enough races that I just deal with the cost because I still feel like I get good value out of the experience. I've looked at other races in California and learned that runDisney is not dramatically higher all things considered.

    Also, just getting time off work isn't always easy either.
    This one is huge. Offering more races at different times can help with that issue for some, but may also result in cutting back on other races. For instance, in 2014, I had heard rumors of a Star Wars race coming to Disneyland. When Avengers was announced, I knew that I could only afford one race registration so I decided to wait in the hopes of a Star Wars race. That worked great for me, but I know of some people who had to skip Star Wars because they chose Avengers.
     

    ZellyB

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 18, 2010
    And, for me, one of the big reasons we keep going back for marathon weekend is that it's a good excuse for a trip to Florida in January. :D

    I love Disney (as we all do or else why do we post on a Disney fan site), so the races just give me that additional reason to make a trip to a place that I enjoy as a vacation regardless. Without the races, we would still go to Disney, but less frequently I feel sure. Regarding the burn-out of the races, it's funny because after we ran marathon weekend for two years in a row, Chris and I both were like, "Meh, not sure we should do this again. It was too repetitive." THEN...we skipped 2015 and I was so sad we didn't run it and we did miss it a lot. So, then we went back in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and while it's obviously repetitive, I find that I still love it. We just find some different things to do to keep our interest alive. Each time we go back, I think, maybe this year will be the last for awhile. And, I think that again this year, but I seem to always end up getting sucked back in.

    I blame this board and all of you, by the way.
     

    rteetz

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    And, for me, one of the big reasons we keep going back for marathon weekend is that it's a good excuse for a trip to Florida in January. :D

    I love Disney (as we all do or else why do we post on a Disney fan site), so the races just give me that additional reason to make a trip to a place that I enjoy as a vacation regardless. Without the races, we would still go to Disney, but less frequently I feel sure. Regarding the burn-out of the races, it's funny because after we ran marathon weekend for two years in a row, Chris and I both were like, "Meh, not sure we should do this again. It was too repetitive." THEN...we skipped 2015 and I was so sad we didn't run it and we did miss it a lot. So, then we went back in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and while it's obviously repetitive, I find that I still love it. We just find some different things to do to keep our interest alive. Each time we go back, I think, maybe this year will be the last for awhile. And, I think that again this year, but I seem to always end up getting sucked back in.

    I blame this board and all of you, by the way.
    I’m with ya. If it wasn’t for runDisney I don’t think I would have an AP right now or go as frequently as I do.
     

    ZellyB

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 18, 2010
    The only way I'm back in 2020 is if the Disneyland Half comes back. That's probably my favorite race weekend just because the theme changes from year to year, so it's like a brand-new race each year. Also, I don't get to go to Disneyland as often as I do World so that's another draw.
    I really wish that Disney would mix up the theme for Marathon weekend. I mean, I get the tradition of it all (after all, I don't think Oswald was a well-received exchange for Pluto and the 5K for a lot of people), but as a repeat racer, I'd love it if they mixed things up. Lord knows they have enough franchise characters to select a different group for each race weekend for years to come. It would certainly reinvigorate my interest. I love my Mickey medals, but suddenly offer me a series of medals for Little Mermaid or Mary Poppins or Jungle Book or or or... and I'd be over the moon.
     

    rteetz

    Rumors and News Moderator
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    Feb 20, 2013
    I really wish that Disney would mix up the theme for Marathon weekend. I mean, I get the tradition of it all (after all, I don't think Oswald was a well-received exchange for Pluto and the 5K for a lot of people), but as a repeat racer, I'd love it if they mixed things up. Lord knows they have enough franchise characters to select a different group for each race weekend for years to come. It would certainly reinvigorate my interest. I love my Mickey medals, but suddenly offer me a series of medals for Little Mermaid or Mary Poppins or Jungle Book or or or... and I'd be over the moon.
    I think Mickey is sort of certain to stay for the marathon but otherwise sure why not change the other races. The challenges are kind of stuck too.
     

    Capang

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 8, 2014
    Time off is a big factor as well.

    For me marathon weekend is the best weekend for me right now as I am on break and don’t have to worry about school. The other weekends I have too.

    Some people aren’t able to travel at certain times of the year.

    I’d love to do other destination races but many are during the school year. My running group is doing Flying Pig and that’s around the time of Finals for me so no way I can run that right now.
    I'd love to run SW weekend but that is right around state testing time and there is no way I can take a sick day then, let alone a few days for a race. W&D works well with my schedule but telling my boss I had plans to go back was a bit bumpy. Especially since I may end up taking an extra day without pay but oh well.

    Bummer about missing Flying Pig. I've heard that's a fun one.
     

    rteetz

    Rumors and News Moderator
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    Feb 20, 2013
    I'd love to run SW weekend but that is right around state testing time and there is no way I can take a sick day then, let alone a few days for a race. W&D works well with my schedule but telling my boss I had plans to go back was a bit bumpy. Especially since I may end up taking an extra day without pay but oh well.

    Bummer about missing Flying Pig. I've heard that's a fun one.
    Yeah I hope to do Flying Pig someday.
     


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