“Take a magical run on the most enchanted course on earth!”
September 23rd – 26th 2016 saw Disneyland Paris host its first ever Run Disney weekend, a race series designed for everyone to enjoy regardless of age or ability. Run Disney started in 1994 with the first Walt Disney World marathon and has grown from there bringing together the Disney community and the running community over 9 themed weekends a year, the focus of the races is on the magical moments and memories you will create on the course and is an experience not to be missed.
I was lucky enough, or stupid enough, to sign up for the first Run Disney event in Disneyland Paris this year and this is my experience of the race weekend from the perspective of someone who hasn’t been to a Run Disney weekend before.
I arrived on Friday at around mid day having taken an indirect Eurostar that morning, our first destination upon arrival was the Expo which was held at the back of Disney Village, this is where you could collect your race bibs, party wristbands and also buy race merchandise, the expo hall was huge, and luckily for us relatively quiet by the time we had arrived though i hear a much different story from those who queued to get in at 3pm on Thursday when it first opened! My only frustration was having to queue in so many places, there was a different queue for your 5Km bib to your half marathon bib, then 2 more queue for your free race top one for each race, then a queue for merch, and a queue for photopass! Not ideal when you’ve got all your luggage still with you.
The merchandise is a bit of a sour point of the weekend, compared to the US race weekends Paris had a much smaller collection of merchandise available, I would have loved a hoodie or jacket to commemorate the weekend, but settled for a T-shirt instead. Limited pins were offered but in such small quantities they sold out in no time, i was luckily able to get the pin I wanted most, but other than the logo pin these were the only ones left by the time we arrived on Friday, no replica medal pins for me =(
After getting everything sorted at Expo I popped over to the Santa Fe where I stayed for the weekend to check in and drop off my luggage, my room was already ready for me so i was able to leave everything safe and just take a park bag out for the rest of the day. My room was situated right at the back of Santa Fe right by the river which worked out perfect for me to walk to and from the races each morning.
Back into the parks and a chance to Finally see Mickey and the Magician and then hop over to catch magic on parade and ride small world. Before we knew it it was time to head over to the studios for the kick off party, a ticket only event for runners and their friends and family. The even started at 7:30 but by 7 there was already quite a queue forming outside, once the turnstiles opened things started to move quickly and we were each given a special park map with a list of what was open for that evening, We saw Sulley was meeting guests on the scare floor so as a huge pixar fan this was my first stop!
Having seen how heavily photo pass was being promoted at the expo, and knowing how sparse photo pass photographers usually are at DLP i was impressed to see sulley ready and waiting with a photographer, the run weekend Photo pass was €40 and covered all of your race photos for up to 6 bib numbers as well as your park and ride photos from Friday until Sunday, unfortunately for anyone like myself who owns an annual photo pass you run photos could not be added to this so if you wanted them you were forced to buy a new photo pass which is a shame, but due to the number of bibs you could add i was able to split the cost with a friend and get my annual pass discount, which made it less of a pain.
After Sulley we ran round to back lot to meet Captain America, this was his first ever appearance at DLP and we were expecting it to be busy, we got there about 10 or 15 mins before his set was due to start and joined what was already a busy queue. This was the one meet of the night that in my opinion could have been better organised. Cap was due out only for 3 30 min slots, although the cast members did stop the queue once it got to a set length there were already more poeple than Cap could see in the allotted time. He did stay out and finish the queue but by the time we got to him 10 mins after his first slot should have ended he was looking rather warm and sweaty! Also i asked a cast member if Cap would be signing autographs and told no, however we saw him sign for multiple people before us in the queue, luckily I still had my book and pen with me, as i got a lot of comments over the weekend from CMs who saw his autograph at the front of my book!
After cap we got some food from Studio one, the food was included in the ticket price for the party and you could go up again for a 2nd meal if you wished, there were 3 meals to choose from though when we got to the till we were advised they were having issues with the pasta dish, so burgers all round, I know quite often the food in studio one gets a bad wrap, but honestly it was very enjoyable and i would eat there again.
After food we rode ratatouille as it was a walk on, the cast members were fantastic and even stopped the ride at the last second to make sure Duffy got some 3D glasses to enjoy the experience too! After ratatouille the rides and meets started to close, this was a little disappointing as it was only around 10pm and the party was advertised as running till 11:30, As i had already managed to do all the things I wanted to in the studios we took a quick trip to meet Spider-man and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for Saturday’s early start.