Recently (January 7th), runDisney announced on the Disney Parks Blog (see the post here) that a new club geared for Disney runners would be open for registration on January 18th, with the membership valid from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021. Since that time, there have been many people weighing in on whether or not it is a good idea, with most arguing that it's a waste of money.
Rather than taking the approach of most (it's just a big waste of money), I've decided to take a slightly different approach and look at it from the perspective of their target demographic to determine if it is good value for money and my findings might surprise you. I should also note that the club is only open to US residents and excludes us Canadians.
The costs to join Club runDisney range from $265.43 USD for Silver, $478.63 USD for Gold, and $798.43 USD for Platinum memberships, none of which include a 6.6% "Platform Service Fee". For those funds, benefits include paying the lowest entry fees to enter each race, merchandise (jacket, magnet, membership card), your membership noted on your racing bib, participation in the runDisney virtual marathon, and guaranteed early registration for races (Gold and Platinum memberships only), exclusive lounge, merchandise and character experiences (Platinum only).
How Club runDisney Stacks Up: Choosing Objective Comparison Criteria
The first thing that I needed to do in order to arrive at an objective value determination was to come up with criteria to do so.
Here's what I chose and why:
1. Value in comparison to other similar Disney Experiences. If I was to buy a similar piece of merchandise or experience, what would it cost? This helps to determine the value of a runDisney membership in relation to similar Disney offerings (note "Disney value" is often more expensive than "real world value".
2. Value in Comparison to runDisney Costs If I Paid Out of Pocket. Since runDisney has costs associated with some of these items, we can determine the savings if we pay less per race or take advantage of add-on experiences such as an expo ticket.
Value Comparison to Other Similar Disney Experiences / Merchandise
Let's start off with the jacket. Without actually seeing the jacket, it is hard to put a price on the jacket. That said, we can make some assumptions that it would be a jacket approprisate for a runner and that it would be disney themed. Taking all of the possible brand affiliations out of the equations, jackets for men (cheapest ones for adults) range from $50 to $100 USD so let's go conservative an assess $50 USD as the value.
Next, we don't have pricing for the virtual race but assuming it is similarly priced to the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon at $59 USD, we can use that amount to determine the approximate value of the virtual race included.
With respect to the magnet, let's assume a cost of at least $6 for the magnet which is an approximate value of an average low-cost magnet at the parks (and brings us up to an even $110 so far.
What about Tier One pricing? I'm not 100% sure about pricing for tier one but in light of the fact that early bird pricing for the Star Wars Rival Run this year has a $20 USD lower price than the final price, I'm going to estimate the cost to be $25 per race discounted for tier one for each of the 4 Walt Disney World Resort races for a value of $100 USD.
This brings the estimated value of the Silver package (I'm not going to price a membership card or logo on a racing bib) at $210 USD (which may, in fairness, be higher, when we see the merchandise and if we were to use actual tier one pricing discounts).
Now, for the Gold and Platinum added benefits.
Gold and Platinum members also receive guaranteed early access to enter races. Although technically this doesn't guarantee a spot, it sure does give runners a huge advantage in registering before it sells out. As a result, I'm going to use $15 USD per race for a total of $60 USD as a value of this benefit, which is comparable to the Disney MaxPass (Disneyland Resort's version of FastPass).
Adding in this to the Silver value, it places the value of a Gold member at approximately $270 per year, with all of the same conditions I assigned to the value of the Silver membership.
The final benefit was for the lounge and exclusive experiences. For this, I'm going to set the price as comparable to a Magic Kingdom party and assign a value of approximately $125 per race for a total benefit of approximately $500. I am not going to assess a value on the corral placement but for runners, this is priceless.
What is the Total Value for Money?
As promised, the findings of my (granted somewhat non-scientific) calculations are surprising.
If someone was to join Club runDisney, participate in all 4 race weekends, and try to use the benefits to the maximum benefit they can, it breaks down as follows:
SILVER COST: $265.43 SILVER VALUE: $210 DIFFERENCE -$55.43
GOLD COST: $478.63 GOLD VALUE $270 DIFFERENCE -$208.63
PLATINUM COST $798.43 PLATINUM VALUE: $770 DIFFERENCE -$28.43
So, with that said, the platinum membership seems, albeit without having all of the details, is the best value for money. That said, the membership is really only good value if you plan to go to all of the races, which makes it less within reach for many of the people who go once a year. Since it is new, we will have to see what (if any) pricing and benefit adjustments are made as they refine the club to entice runners to join.