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runDisney pares back complimentary full-day ticket to half-day for volunteers

DCBaker

Premium Member
Original Poster
Article from the Orlando Sentinel -

"After helping runners at Disney World’s runDisney marathons in shifts that can run eight hours or more, volunteers looked forward to receiving a complimentary full-day ticket to Disney’s theme parks in return.

But that changed last month, after volunteers at Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend said they unexpectedly received a half-day ticket after the event.

The disappointment ran deep for many who woke up hours ahead of the race’s 5 a.m. start time to set up, worked until the last runner cleared the finish line and helped clean up afterward.

“Over and over [during the event], you hear the announcements, ‘Thank you, volunteers! We couldn’t do it without you. We depend on our volunteers,’” said Michele Stone, who has volunteered with runDisney events for more than seven years. “And then they went and changed the tickets without anybody knowing. So that was just like, ‘You only half appreciate us now.’”

Though volunteers said they donate time because they enjoy helping at the event, they looked forward to receiving the free tickets. For some, it is the only way they can afford to bring their children or grandchildren to a Disney theme park. A half-day ticket cuts their trips short.

Volunteers interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel said they knew people in their groups who were backing out of upcoming events, including the highly popular Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Jan. 4-8, because of the ticket change.

They said people with volunteer organizer Track Shack said they are still seeking 1,800 volunteers between the January race weekend and the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February.

Track Shack did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Disney spokeswoman Rachel Monnier didn’t address the volunteers’ concerns. The Wine & Dine event tickets were gifts offered “as a thank you for the support of their presence at the race, and we hope the volunteers will enjoy their time in the parks.”

"In recent years, volunteers said Disney would mail them a full-day ticket within 60 days after the race. After the November half marathon, volunteers said they received their tickets as they were leaving the event and noticed they were not valid until after 1 p.m. No explanation for the change was given.

They said they were told half-day tickets would be their gift for helping at races going forward."

Here's a link to the full article -

 

Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
The ticket costs nothing for Disney to make and cutting it down to half a day doesn't save them any administrative labor.

They also know the longer people spend time in the park, the more likely they are to spend on merch and concessions.

This change will also make it harder to retain and encourage new volunteers for future events.

This is both bad PR and bad business sense.
 

ArmoredRodent

Well-Known Member
Why on Earth would anybody do this? Who could possibly value their own time so little?
I agree that changing the rules without notice is not only bad form for Track Shack, apparently the sponsor and administrator of the volunteer management program, but also for Disney, who probably contracted with Track Shack. Particularly if there's no notice of the change to the volunteers before the change goes into effect (i.e., the first time they learned that the tickets were a half-day is when they were handed the tickets). Unlikely to be a legal remedy (though I'm not admitted to practice law in Florida), but certainly deserves public condemnation.

But (and I hope I'm misconstruing your comment; if so, I apologize), if your comment is directed at the volunteers who don't "value their own time," it's misplaced. Volunteerism is huge in America, and should be honored, not discouraged. A vast number of the more than a million U.S. charities simply could not operate without volunteers. During and after the pandemic, there's a big challenge for charities across the country in getting volunteers.

And speaking as one who knows exactly the value of my time (and for many years, my time has been valued - and paid for - at far more than $1,000 per working hour), I freely give away hundreds of thousands of dollars of my time each year to charities, my neighborhoods, and other organizations. I am required to report my pro bono legal work and time provided without compensation to my state bar associations, so I know fairly well what those numbers are, and for many years, I've given hundreds of hours each year of pro bono work at the highest levels of my profession.

But some of the best times I've had have been volunteering at sporting events, including coaching youth sports, high school sports, and volunteering at international tennis and pickleball tournaments. It's often hot, sometimes miserable, and, as recent experience has shown, sometimes exposes me to disease or nasty fans (or worse: outrageous parents). I get a t-shirt, a thank-you dinner at the big tournaments, and often a free meal each day. But it's also been very rewarding to meet and talk to champions, like Serena Williams and Roger Federer at Indian Wells, and even better just helping "nobodies" who simply want to play, compete, or watch.

And that's probably what drives those RunDisney volunteers as well. Just read some of the comments from people who have done it; one person posted a while back about her transition from runner to volunteer, and apparently just loved it. It's not that they value their time so little, it's that they value giving to others and the experience more.
 

LAKid53

Official Member of the Girly Girl Fan Club
Premium Member
Those races can't operate without those volunteers. We runners appreciate them working at the Expo, cheering us on in the early morning and as we make our war through the course.

Shame on Disney for doing this. How cheap and mean spirited.

🤬
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
I agree that changing the rules without notice is not only bad form for Track Shack, apparently the sponsor and administrator of the volunteer management program, but also for Disney, who probably contracted with Track Shack. Particularly if there's no notice of the change to the volunteers before the change goes into effect (i.e., the first time they learned that the tickets were a half-day is when they were handed the tickets). Unlikely to be a legal remedy (though I'm not admitted to practice law in Florida), but certainly deserves public condemnation.

But (and I hope I'm misconstruing your comment; if so, I apologize), if your comment is directed at the volunteers who don't "value their own time," it's misplaced. Volunteerism is huge in America, and should be honored, not discouraged. A vast number of the more than a million U.S. charities simply could not operate without volunteers. During and after the pandemic, there's a big challenge for charities across the country in getting volunteers.

And speaking as one who knows exactly the value of my time (and for many years, my time has been valued - and paid for - at far more than $1,000 per working hour), I freely give away hundreds of thousands of dollars of my time each year to charities, my neighborhoods, and other organizations. I am required to report my pro bono legal work and time provided without compensation to my state bar associations, so I know fairly well what those numbers are, and for many years, I've given hundreds of hours each year of pro bono work at the highest levels of my profession.

But some of the best times I've had have been volunteering at sporting events, including coaching youth sports, high school sports, and volunteering at international tennis and pickleball tournaments. It's often hot, sometimes miserable, and, as recent experience has shown, sometimes exposes me to disease or nasty fans (or worse: outrageous parents). I get a t-shirt, a thank-you dinner at the big tournaments, and often a free meal each day. But it's also been very rewarding to meet and talk to champions, like Serena Williams and Roger Federer at Indian Wells, and even better just helping "nobodies" who simply want to play, compete, or watch.

And that's probably what drives those RunDisney volunteers as well. Just read some of the comments from people who have done it; one person posted a while back about her transition from runner to volunteer, and apparently just loved it. It's not that they value their time so little, it's that they value giving to others and the experience more.
Voluntarism is a tremendous good... when you're giving your time to youth sports, homeless shelters, churches, community groups, senior centers, municipal beautification, etc.

I don't think there's any reason to be donating your time to a multinational media conglomerate so that they can increase their profitability. Disney should pay for their own damn labor. Not with a park ticket; with actual wages.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Those races can't operate without those volunteers. We runners appreciate them working at the Expo, cheering us on in the early morning and as we make our war through the course.
If you (the runners) pay Disney to put on the event, then Disney should adequately STAFF the event. I'm not convinced that calling unpaid workers "volunteers" in a for-profit enterprise is even legal under US labor law.
 

Hakunamatata

Blood Orange Please
Premium Member
If you (the runners) pay Disney to put on the event, then Disney should adequately STAFF the event. I'm not convinced that calling unpaid workers "volunteers" in a for-profit enterprise is even legal under US labor law.
The decision to provide a half day ticket could have something to do with this exactly. They may not be able to consider them volunteers legally and have to compensate and do so with a ticket. The ticket “value” may have hit a threshold where it becomes taxable so the “halved” it to avoid the issue. This is just speculation on my part but I do know where I work if a gift or award exceeds a certain amount, its taxable.
 
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wdwmagic

Administrator
Moderator
Voluntarism is a tremendous good... when you're giving your time to youth sports, homeless shelters, churches, community groups, senior centers, municipal beautification, etc.

I don't think there's any reason to be donating your time to a multinational media conglomerate so that they can increase their profitability. Disney should pay for their own damn labor. Not with a park ticket; with actual wages.
Yes I have never quite understood why runDisney requires "volunteers." I am assuming its is because they are a standard thing in most running events. But most running events don't take place in a theme park resort that has resources on hand to deal with these types of crowds.
 

JMcMahonEsq

Well-Known Member
Voluntarism is a tremendous good... when you're giving your time to youth sports, homeless shelters, churches, community groups, senior centers, municipal beautification, etc.

I don't think there's any reason to be donating your time to a multinational media conglomerate so that they can increase their profitability. Disney should pay for their own damn labor. Not with a park ticket; with actual wages.
In addition to the cost savings on Disney's side, if I am living in Florida, and I have some time to volunteer my services for this type of event, I am assuming such people are Disney fans, and would much rather get tickets to the park that they are going to use, and never claim as income, as opposed to be 1099 filings on likely min wage payment for 5-6 hours.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
If you (the runners) pay Disney to put on the event, then Disney should adequately STAFF the event. I'm not convinced that calling unpaid workers "volunteers" in a for-profit enterprise is even legal under US labor law.
It is surely a huge labor savings for Disney to staff with volunteers. Your point regarding for profit is correct but there goes the saying “ many do it “.
 
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