Stop Trying To Make A runDisney Bib Lottery Happen!

runDisney error page

Ahhh, yes. Another day, another runDisney race registration day disaster.

Okay, disaster’s a little strong; nobody died about it. People sure were pissed, though! And, to a degree, understandably so. When a runDisney bib absolutely mandates entering the virtual queue even before registration opens, people arrange their days accordingly.

WAIT, WHAT’S WRONG WITH runDISNEY RACE REGISTRATION?

If you’re not dialed into the exciting world of runDisney race registration, let me explain. Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend bibs were supposed to open to the public last Tuesday. When all runs smoothly, aspiring registrants enter the virtual queue together and are randomly assigned a queue order. Eventually your number is called, and you’re allowed to enter the main site, at which point you can pick your race bib from what remains available. When bibs sell out, you’re SOL, regardless of whether you’ve made it out of the virtual queue or not.

At least in theory. For Disneyland Half registration, the whole system crashed and no one ever got in. This has happened before, but this time registration was cancelled entirely for the day. runDisney is currently regrouping and has promised to announce a new registration date in the near future.

runDisney race registration is postponed for the Disneyland Half Marathon

And, as I said, people are maaaaad. Pick the social media app of your choice and wade through the comments. Many call for the heads of Disney IT, or runDisney customer service, or Bob Iger himself.

I noticed another more tempered but equally common refrain: runDisney needs to institute a bib lottery. While I do understand why some might think this is the obvious solution, I would beg to differ. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’d be shocked if runDisney chose to go the bib lottery route.

Mean Girls it's not going to happen

Why yes! Of course I’d love to tell you why!

A LOTTERY WOULD BE TOUGH TO EXECUTE

Behold, the core of my argument: given the multi-race nature of a runDisney race weekend, a lottery would be very difficult to execute.

Other races with bib lotteries operate simply. Lottery entry is open for a certain time frame from a few days to a few weeks. If you want to run the race, you throw your hat in the ring. After the time frame closes, the lucky names are drawn. Should yours be pulled, you’re in, and if not, you don’t get a bib.

That methodology won’t work for a runDisney race weekend, because the weekends themselves aren’t that straightforward. Each weekend includes three to four races (5K, 10K, half, and in one instance full marathon). Then there are the one to two challenges (10k + half at most weekends, plus Goofy and Dopey in January). We haven’t even mentioned sunrise yoga.

Figment registers for a runDisney race

As it presently stands, you go into runDisney race registration hoping for a certain outcome, but how it plays out is up to you. You’ll need to prioritize and potentially pivot.

Take WDW Marathon Weekend registration, for example. If the Goofy Challenge sells out before you make it out of the virtual queue, you could switch to the Dopey Challenge or the marathon on the fly if those bibs are still available.

Or, if you’d like to run the 5K and the half, there’s no bib that combines the two. You’ll need to pick which to register for first as the other could sell out from under you while you’re registering for the one. Which is more important to you?

A BIB LOTTERY IS TOO SIMPLE FOR SO COMPLEX A RACE WEEKEND

And that’s what would make a lottery system tough. runDisney could set up one lottery per race and let people enter all lotteries that interest them, I suppose? But what if your name is drawn for the half and the challenge? Now you have two half bibs when you only need one (and runDisney doesn’t allow transfers).

How about if your name is drawn for the 5K but not the half, and you only wanted to do the 5K if you were there for the half anyway? runDisney would be setting themselves up for a lot of customer service requests.

On the other hand, how would you communicate the complexity of your desired bibs? One way would be rank choice voting, wherein you would indicate your order of preference when entering a single lottery:

1. Goofy
2. Dopey
3. Marathon

And then so on through the half, 10K, etc. or left blank if none of those bibs appealed. But how would you draw for that? You couldn’t go in order because everyone’s order would be different. Maybe there’s an algorithm you could write that would simultaneously take everyone’s preferences into account and draw names across an array designed for maximum fairness?

runDisney confirmation email

Which still wouldn’t address people who want bibs for races that aren’t available as a single combined bib, like the 5K and the half. Would people who want two or more races be allowed to enter the lottery multiple times? How do we make sure that’s equally fair? If not, I guess everyone’s now limited to a single bib per weekend? I suppose that’s inherently fair, but I doubt it would go over well.

Wait, what if you’re specifically trying to run with friends and family? Do you then register in some sort of all-or-nothing category? Oh boy.

All of the above commands the bulk of why I think a runDisney bib lottery is never gonna happen. If that’s not enough for you, however, I do have some additional, lesser arguments…

MORE REASONS runDISNEY MIGHT BE RELUCTANT TO INSTITUTE A BIB LOTTERY

It would interrupt momentum. Many people continue to register for runDisney races because they’ve always registered for runDisney races. With that annual tradition comes the annual amount of money spent on hotels, park tickets, etc. A losing lottery year would poke a hole in the tradition, making it that much easier to skip the next year. And once you’ve skipped one year, it becomes easier to skip more. Which leads me to my next point…

Demand waxes and wanes. No, really! I know it doesn’t seem like it now in the boom times, but as recently as 2021 race weekends did not sell out immediately, or even within a day. It would make for some funny optics if runDisney got a bib lottery going only for it to become unnecessary. And speaking of optics…

It would make the optics for Club runDisney even worse. There’s already a fair amount of debate over whether Club runDisney is a cash grab. With a bib lottery in place, it would be hard to claim that runDisney isn’t a pay-to-play organization. Although there would be some ways to combat that…

The tech can handle it, but… Another popular social media comment in all this hubbub is that the website can’t handle the number of users, but that’s what the virtual queue is for – and we’ve seen it work fine as recently as 2025 WDW Marathon Weekend registration day. Which, incidentally, is the fastest bib sellout I can remember. The Disneyland Half is a much smaller event; no way the number of queue entrants was the whole problem.

But if that is part of the problem, add more tiers! I lay out my argument for more registration tiers here, but I’ll sum up: allowing DVC members and Annual Passholders their own tier of early registration would add value to these products and take some of the strain off of the virtual queue. As someone who tends to only buy an AP when it makes sense amortized across planned yearly park days, early race registration would add major weight when considering whether to renew.

IN CONCLUSION

I must confess, I don’t want a runDisney bib lottery. I’m in a position to always be there when the bibs drop, and thus I almost always get at least some semblance of the races I wanted. Perhaps I’m being selfish.

Still, the logistics just don’t add up for me. Something absolutely does need to change – that much I’ll grant you. Registration glitching is entirely too common for runDisney to brush off as an outlier. Nevertheless, I’m not at all convinced that a bib lottery is a feasible answer. Are you?

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!

2 Comments

  1. I agree with you that the bib lottery wouldn’t work mostly because of all the different races and combos you could do. They also make a big-ish deal out of “perfect” statuses, so they’d have to be sure to address that too.

    Nah, the answer is straight forward – fix your IT. My IT guy (aka Jason) says Disney has some of the worst tech he’s ever seen. It’s something they COULD do if they wanted to; they certainly have the money. But like anything, my belief is they see it as “if the race will sell out anyway what incentive do we have to spend money/time to fix it.” The only real incentive would be bad publicity. But your RunDisney people are pretty much your diehards so I don’t think Disney is working all that hard to please us because they know they already have us sucked in.

    It’s different with something like Genie+, where pretty much everyone visiting the parks for their vacation will potentially be using it. That’s when they might invest to fix things, not for us already committed folks 😉

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