With the recent hiatus of Disneyland half marathons, you may be wondering what other runDisney races are like across the globe. I had a recent chance to do the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Challenge at the Disneyland Paris Resort. Here’s what my experience was like…
The Expo and Check-In
Check-in really began at the Hotel Cheyenne. That was my place of stay during the trip to Disneyland Paris. It was part of a great race package that I purchased through Get Travel. Since this is mostly about the race, I’ll save Hotel Cheyenne for later.
The expo was somewhat the usual race check-in. It was in a tent structure with various walk ups for the correct races. The time that I went was a couple hours before the 5k (which was at night instead of the morning) so it was rather busy. The challenge line was long to get the shirts, but once I got them it was onto the next few spots.
I purchased an opening party ticket and PhotoPass with race registration. Yeah, I went all out for it. Those were separate areas of pick up, but the lines were quick. In between I picked up my bracelets for the Castle to Chateau medal that I would receive after the half marathon.
There was a merchandise area with some shirts corresponding to races, pins, and some other items like water bottles and mugs. A few vendors rounded out the expo experience with running related shops, like compression gear and even shoes.
As far as expos go, this wasn’t flashy. It was a fairly simple area. There was a stage for various speakers to appear and give some advice and lessons in health and fitness. Again, this all was right before a 5k, so it may have been different from other times throughout the race weekend.
An opening party was held after the 5k at Disney Studios Paris. It was an extra ticket event that had special characters and runDisney entertainment. Unfortunately it took a long time for it to open to ticketed guests because they were having the 5k finish in the park. It was a bit of a weird decision.
The party was a great opportunity to get on key rides without much wait. One of those was Crush’s Coaster, which usually has the longest line any day. Many other rides, like Tower of Terror and Ratatouille were open as well. I think I went on Ratataouille at least 3 times that night.
Some character photo opportunities were throughout the park, and it surprised me who they had to offer. One spot was some of the Fab 5 in race gear, which you normally see on the course as not a photo op. Towards the entrance of the park there were characters from Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I personally haven’t seen in years. The Aristocat children were near Ratatouille. With the exception of Marie I didn’t even know they had the other two that could go around the parks!
It may be a little pricey for just a half a day amount of time in the park, but it was a fun party with a lot to do and good opportunities to do it all.
The Start Lines
Even though it was later in the morning than usual races, it was still fairly dark. All the Disney hotels are within walking distance of the parks (think Epcot Resorts, or Disneyland Resort) so it was up to runners to get to the start on their own. It was a fairly easy warm up.
There were only three corrals for both bigger races. Corral A was for the very competitive. The more veteran types (like me) were in Corral B. There was a large screen and speakers set up for the corrals that made it very easy to see the stage festivities. The announcers were more exciting than ones in the US! No offense to ours, as I think it seemed more of a French thing.
Because there were only three corrals there were waves from each corral that would start at a time. So, even though you may be in Corral A, you could be the third group to start. It made it a swift process and there were great fireworks to kick off each wave!
This non-timed race was all about fun for a lot of us. It’s the one I planned on stopping for photos with characters. This was also the way that I first saw Disneyland Paris! I have seen photos and videos of the castle, but my first glimpse was running around the corner of Main Street and seeing it. It was the perfect reveal!
The photo opportunities were amazing! Characters were abound and some very rare ones! Sultan from Aladdin, the Three Little Pigs, Cheshire Cat, and my favorites: Kuzco, Kronk and Yzma were all available! But, not just characters were around. A couple of set ups for good background pictures were there, like in front of the castle or in a fairy garden. The tram tour in Disney Studios Paris was part of the course and though it may not have been something that was supposed to be open many got photos next to movie vehicles and sets from Dinotopia.
This was my favorite course that I’ve ever ran! I’d say 90% of it was in the parks, and the rest were through Disney Village and backstage. With characters, setting, and other entertainment, it was such a fun run.
The half marathon had much the same beginning and end as the 10k. It started a lot in the parks and then ventured out. For me, venturing out was a highlight because of running in a nearby Parisian town. Many residents were out cheering runners on, and it was such a unique experience to run in a French countryside. I’d imagine for many local French it was their usual settings for runs. For someone like me, it was a unique experience.
Characters for this race were a little different. There was Mickey and Minnie, but also Scrooge, Hyenas, and more! I was thinking I’d run the whole time and not stop, but I ended up stopping a few times for photos. I just couldn’t resist!
Towards the end of the course it took everyone past the Resort hotels. From that morning walking from my hotel room to the course I knew I was in for something funny: my room was right by the course!
Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Experience
In all, it was a very fun race that I would love to run again! The characters were the best I’ve ever seen for a race. The setting is beautiful. And it’s very nice that the start time is 7 am instead of 5:30 am! Even with any time difference and jet lag it’s just a nicer time to start at. The weather was cold, but I like it more for races than some of the hot weather I’ve put up with for half marathons. In all, this is a race to do if you’re a runDisney fan!