January 19, 2014
I waited too long to buy the ChEAR Squad package for my cheer-tator for Tinker Bell weekend. Luckily, there were still packages available but you had to purchase them in the packet pickup area at the Health and Fitness Expo.
After I picked up my bibs for the weekend, I had to ask a volunteer where I could purchase ChEAR Squad because the booths were labeled but I was unsure of whether I could go to the “ChEAR Squad Pickup” booth or if had to go somewhere else. The volunteer got me sorted out and I waited in line at the ChEAR Squad booth to make my purchase.
I only waited a few minutes as the line only had two people ahead of me. One thing is for certain, even though I waited in a lot of lines, the volunteers are super efficient and always so friendly. I had wanted to purchase the gold package again but, they were sold out. My only option was the platinum package. I purchased the platinum package for $99. It included the same t-shirt from marathon weekend, the stadium blanket and clappers, and reserved seating in the grandstands at the finish line. The platinum package also included complimentary parking onsite (which was unnecessary given I didn’t have a car) and entry into the VIP area (basically the Race Retreat area). Since I didn’t purchase Race Retreat for myself, my cheer-tator would get to experience that one without me.
The ChEAR Squad package was only good for the half marathon. I ran all three races and there wasn’t much of a finish line area for the 5k. In fact, my cheer-tator and I had a bit of trouble finding each other afterwards. For the 10k, we finished in the same area as we would be finishing for the half marathon. There were grandstands that were basically open to everyone. Cheer-tator said that people were just standing around there but no one would go sit down. He finally asked a volunteer and they said to help yourself to any spot you like. He basically led the charge as several other spectators followed behind him to the stands.
On the day of the half marathon, once again, there was an armband required for access to reserved ChEAR Squad sections. Since we had the platinum package, and we were both sick, cheer-tator went to the VIP area for awhile. This is his take…
The VIP area was nice. Given the cool morning, the warmth of the tent was nice. It was also nice to have some reserved bathrooms. The lines for the porta-potties were pretty long. I watched the live feed of the finish line for awhile and had a little bit of food. There was fruit, pastries, bagels, and an assortment of drinks. Basically, it was like a continental breakfast at a hotel. It wasn’t anything special but what I did have was good. As runners started coming in from the half marathon, the food started going quickly. I sent a text to B to find out if she wanted anything so I could grab something for her before we met after she finished.
We signed up for text alerts so I knew about the time she would finish. I made my way to the finish line and got a good spot so that I could see her. She sent me a text as she was coming down the final leg before the finish line so I was even able to get a video of her crossing the finish line. We had already arranged our spot to meet so I exited the grandstands (which was really great seating for the reserved spots in ChEAR Squad) and headed back to the VIP area to get her some hot chocolate and fruit before we met.
We met in our designated spot so I could stretch a little and refuel after the race. I really appreciated the hot chocolate from the VIP area. Since runDisney races only give out bananas for fruit after the races and I HATE bananas, the apple from the VIP area was also a welcomed snack.
Overall, we didn’t feel the platinum package was of great benefit to us. It was great to have the reserved seating, but the free parking and even the VIP area weren’t of great value. Sure, we did take advantage of some of the VIP items but, to us, they weren’t really worth the extra cost. We would have preferred the gold package and wouldn’t buy the platinum package again unless we had to.
ChEAR Squad in general is definitely worth the price of the package with reserved seating. If you don’t have this package at minimum, you aren’t guaranteed a good view of your runner at the finish line. That alone makes this a good buy in our book.