Volunteer registration for the 2023 Wine & Dine race weekend events opened up on September 6th. At that time, what was long rumored was finally, unfortunately, confirmed:
Thank you for considering volunteering your time during the upcoming runDisney race season! Your passion for making a difference in the Central Florida community through our celebrated charities is truly valued. In keeping with that spirit of volunteerism, complimentary theme park tickets will not be distributed. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm for our magical running community
When Complimentary Tickets Were The Norm (through the 2021-2022 race season)
Arthur and I have volunteered for several runDisney race weekends at Walt Disney World. And getting the slots we wanted was tough! Before the brief Track Shack takeover during the 22-23 season, we could see the volunteer positions fill up before our eyes. Just like registering for race bibs, prospective volunteers needed to be online and ready to fill in all the necessary fields the moment registration opened up.
When Volunteers Received Half Day Tickets (2022-2023 race season)
The Track Shack races of the last year worked a different system -- prospective volunteers made their interest known and found out their assigned shifts, if any, close to race weekend. Changes could be requested by email afterwards. Arthur and I were lucky to be able to work a few of those race weekends as well. I don't have inside information but my understanding is that shifts for the half marathons and marathon (the longer shifts) were not filled up, and there was a scramble close to race day to get enough volunteers. For both Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend as I was on the bus to head out to a water stop, the team leaders asked if any aboard would be willing to switch to a different water stop due to lack of volunteers across the board. So with the half day tickets, filling volunteer slots already seemed to be a problem...
Wine & Dine Volunteer Registration 2023 So Far...
As of this morning, six days after volunteer registration opened up for this race weekend, none of the water stop volunteer positions are full for the half marathon. Only a few positions for that longer race are fully staffed, including some Cheering Fans; Medals (giving out medals to runners); and Volunteer Check In and Check Out (both air-conditioned positions). None of the 9 water stops have been fully staffed yet. This is really unheard of in my experience volunteering at various events since 2019.
For the 10K, only one of the three water stops is fully staffed. More other positions are full for this shorter race with a smaller volunteer need.
Most volunteer positions are full for the 5K race, the event with the least available positions. Heat Sheets / Cool Core and Recycling are the only two positions available right now. This to me is also unheard of though -- in the past it was my understanding that only longtime volunteers were able to get into the 5K at all. I've never been able to volunteer for any 5K event at Walt Disney World.
If you'd like to volunteer, or you'd like to keep track of how long it takes these positions to fill up like I have, click the button below.
Is It Volunteering If Compensation Is Expected?
Volunteering for runDisney races is a lot of fun, no doubt. Arthur and I have always had a blast working water stops, from filling the cups, stacking the tables, and handing out water, to the brief clean up and break down. The early morning wake-ups are worth it for the smiles alone.
It has been known, but never explicitly stated, that volunteers receive a complimentary full-day ticket following their volunteer shift. Prior to the Track Shack season, the tickets were issued in the mail some weeks after the race event. Last season, the half-day tickets were issued upon checking out from the volunteer shift.
So, is it really volunteering if compensation in the form of a free theme park ticket is expected? This is a big argument I see all over runDisney fan forums online. The volunteers are there on behalf of the "honorary charity", but they're really working for a huge corporation: Disney.
Compare volunteering for a local race versus volunteering for runDisney. You're looking at a 5AM wake-up versus 1AM wake-up. There's heading to your local park versus a potential long commute to (or hotel room at) Disney. Work a 3-4 hour shift versus a 6+ hour shift. Helping out a local charity versus working for Disney. These are some of the arguments I see presented defending the ire over Disney taking away the complimentary tickets. What do you think?
Arthur and I have decided to sit out volunteering for Wine & Dine Weekend this year. I'll be able to run a local race in person that weekend, which will be nice. And we won't have any 1AM wake-up calls.