Do You Need A Club runDisney Membership? (No)

Club runDisney page screenshot from

Club runDisney memberships go on sale to the general public on May 23, and I’m here to tell you… you don’t need it.


Okay, that’s a blanket statement and therefore automatically inaccurate. So disclaimer to start: if you want to buy into Club runDisney, do it. There are valid reasons to. Worth, it must be remembered, is never an absolute. Worth is personal. For you, it could be worth it.

Maybe you really love the membership jacket. Maybe you’re gunning for a perfect runDisney season and you’re happy to trade some coin for a year of lower-key registration days. The expo crowds might freak you out so bad you’re willing to pay for a quieter packet pickup. You might have a slower proof of time and live in fear of the balloon ladies. Or maybe you have a ton of money and can too easily afford it to give it any further thought. I’ll admit, there are some nice perks in the higher tiers. We’ll talk about that.

Princess Half Marathon race expo

But I would venture to guess that a lot of you are like me, and have considered Club runDisney for one reason and one reason only: early registration access, even for just a handful of bibs over one or two race weekends. After my most recent runDisney race registration day, the possibility popped back into my mind. Still, I hesitate. Club runDisney memberships – the useful ones – don’t come cheap.

Then a very wise woman (follow @whatthefickclt! Her charity is Girls on the Run!) said a very wise thing to me. She said she would rather run on a charity bib and give her money to a cause. And a little lightbulb went off in my brain.

Shall we watch together as I torpedo any chance I ever had of being invited to an official runDisney influencer event? Let’s!*



All screenshots below (as well as the banner above) come direct from the Club runDisney page on the official runDisney website as of May 6, 2024.

The first thing to recognize as we consider a Club runDisney membership is that there are three tiers, and they are NOT created equal. If you’re after early registration, the $279 Silver membership will get you… not that.

Club runDisney Silver tier perks

You get the jacket and some tchotchkes and a special virtual race. I know some people are super into virtual races, so I could see that being compelling for that subgroup. Tier one pricing, however, is meaningless in a landscape where bibs sell out within hours.

Now we’re getting somewhere with the Gold membership, assuming you’re cool with doubling the price.

Club runDisney Gold tier perks

In addition to the Silver tier perks, you’ve won yourself early access to race bibs AND expo merch. Perhaps you’re big into the merch – Lord knows the best stuff sells out fast enough. But if you’re open to being absolutely technical about it, what you’re getting there is the opportunity to spend more money. I like to tell myself, when I can’t find my size in the merch I want, that at least that’s $40+ still in my wallet, you know? I find it soothing.

Also! Add the membership pin to your tchochtke tally.

For those of you with $959 just lying around, take a gander at the Platinum tier. And for those who don’t, take a gander anyway, for kicks.

Club runDisney Platinum tier perks

Your additional $300+ nets you not only early registration, but the ability to grab two bibs per weekend ahead of the game. You’ll also get an exclusive “expo experience” (a lounge or something, I guess?) with Platinum members-only packet pickup. Oh, and that upgraded corral placement everybody else hates, although I hear the number who get moved up is so small as to be immaterial to the greater problem.

I could’ve sworn Platinum members also had a special pre-race tent with their own bathroom access and stuff like that? Am I making that up? Has it been removed? Or is it just not explicitly mentioned? I feel like that would really add something.

We’re not going to even touch the possibility of needing multiple memberships for larger families. Suffice it to say that in theory, you could drop enough money on Club runDisney for Scrooge McDuck to take a nice swim. And hey, if you’ve got enough money for Scrooge McDuck to take a nice swim, why shouldn’t you?

Scrooge McDuck takes a nice swim

Still, if you don’t…


Maybe you only run one or two runDisney race weekends a season, but they mean a lot to you. Race registration day is scary because you don’t just want a bib, you WANT. THAT. BIB. Whole plans revolve around it. Therein the Club runDisney temptation lies. I can relate!

But what if in this case the best offense is a good defense? What if, instead of putting money up front for a Club runDisney membership, you keep the option of a charity bib in your back pocket for emergencies?

Alebrije Dante race costume

I ran on a charity bib, once. All I had to do was raise $500, and even that stressed me out. I don’t like asking people for money, and I haven’t run on a charity bib since. Don’t get me wrong – I give to charity in smaller amounts regularly, and will make it a point to donate to help others earn their bibs. It’s just so much comfier to give than to ask, you know?

Yet the Club runDisney possibility has reframed my thought process. If I’m open to considering $613 for a membership, shouldn’t I be open to the same for a charity?

With that in mind, I’ve gone through the fundraising requirements of quite a few nonprofits offering charity bibs for WDW Marathon Weekend. To give us a hypothetical to work with, let’s say you’d like to run the WDW Half.

While amounts do vary, I’d say the minimum fundraising requirements for the WDW Half tend to most frequently fall between $800 and $1,000. Let’s say you pick up a bib with a $1,000 minimum. Feels like a lot, right?

Let’s reframe it. All you really have to raise is $400, and even if you wind up paying the remaining $600 to the charity yourself, you’re no worse off than if you’d gotten that club membership… except now your hard-earned money has gone to a worthy nonprofit organization instead! Subtracting that $613 makes the whole thing feel less daunting.

The system admittedly begins to break down if you find yourself wildly out of favor with Lady Luck and have to run for charity more than once in a year. That’s the risk you take. On the other hand, if you find enough nice, generous people to donate to your fundraisers, you might find yourself out little to no money at all!


Look, I’m not trying to go the whole EVIL CORPORATIONS!!! route. If I was, I doubt I’d go to Disney parks at all. Shades of gray, blah blah blah. Objectively, runDisney (/Disney generally) is expensive. And Club runDisney, I would argue, is a pretty blatant cash grab. But that doesn’t inherently make it bad, because it’s not exclusively a question of cost. It’s a question of value… and as I said, value is subjective.

Myself, I simply don’t see the value in Club runDisney. Perhaps you disagree, and that’s fine! Yet the perk I want most – early registration – does not warrant $613 in my eyes. Especially when making sure you’re in the virtual queue and ready to go at the public registration date and time will frequently get you the bib you wanted anyway.

2024 WDW Marathon - finish

Not always! you shout. You’re right, not always. That’s where your charity bib backup comes in. A backup plan soothes the anxiety. A backup plan saves you in case things don’t go your way. Club runDisney kinda assumes you wouldn’t get your way otherwise, no?

Who knows – maybe someday the value perception may shift. My needs may change, or the offerings may change, and I’ll decide it’s a fiscal fit for me after all. For now, though, it’s a no. Whereas with a charity bib, I see the value.


Once again, let me get out ahead of you: if you want a Club runDisney membership, get one! Godspeed! I wish I could harness some of your big purchase energy! I know my tone was a bit dismissive there at times but don’t forget my core point, which is that worth is personal.

However, if you’re on the fence in the face of the price, I’d say: don’t. Keep your money. Six hundred bucks can buy you up to an entire race weekend if you want it to. Vie for a bib in the general registration melee; you’ll probably find you get lucky more often than you don’t. And if you don’t, all you have to do is raise enough to only owe your charity $600 in the end. You’re still $13 ahead of what the mouse would’ve charged you, and your money is going to a good cause.

If nothing else, something to ponder.

P.S. If you DO get the bib you want outright, pay it forward and contribute to someone’s bib fundraising! And if you’re in the market for donations, let me know.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!


  1. I am definitely a fan of running for charity but just a few other things to keep in mind! It may depend on the charity, but those can also “sell out” quite quickly. You should plan to run for charity before regular registration opens, because lots of people who miss out on regular reg will immediately go to charities. The amount can also be quite high if you’re doing a challenge bib, and fundraising is a lot of work. BUT there are a lot of other benefits running for a charity too (besides the whole making a difference thing!). At least when I’ve run they’ve been very supportive throughout the process, hosting zoom get-togethers to brainstorm fundraising or just talk about running and the races. With ACS also have some meet-ups while in Disney, a costume contest, and other fun giveaways. It’s really awesome to have a little community who is also running Disney and supporting the same charity!

    1. You’re totally right – as far as I can tell, the lower the fundraising minimum, the faster those bibs go! I saw one that only required 1K for a DOPEY bib, which is nuts. Needless to say all their bibs were sold out. >D

      You should do a post on your charity bib experience!

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