Now that my legs have finally recovered, let’s take a look back at the 3rd annual Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend which took place this past weekend (21st-23rd September). The event marked some firsts, and some changes, over previous years – but did it all work out? Read on to find out!
As a bit of background, I took part in the 36km Challenge this year and also ran the Biddi-Boddi-Boo Challenge last year, I didn’t take part in the Inaugural event so most of my comparisons will be drawn between the 2017 and 2018 events.
Bib Collection & the Health & Wellness Expo
It’s almost tradition now that some sort of problem prevents the Health & Wellness Expo from opening on time, this year was no exception to that rule. However, once the Expo was open the process of bib collection was relatively painless. Rather than having one stall of bibs, and a separate section for t-shirts, the process was merged into simply collecting the bib from one counter and queueing up at the following counter to collect the shirts. This overall flow was less painful than last year and hopefully the format becomes the norm for future events.
The Expo itself felt substantially smaller than last year, with very little in the way of booths from sponsors and third-parties. Gone was the New Balance booth, gone was the stage with presentations and gone were several smaller booths. While the unused space was filled with PhotoPass opportunities and selfie walls, Vittel had a fun ball pit guests could jump into, one couldn’t help but feel that the Expo felt very empty. It’s still early years for runDisney in France, but hopefully in the years to come we might start seeing Expos on the scale of the ones in the US.
Disneyland Paris 5K
This year’s 5k was themed around the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the story of the race being that runners had to collect all the Infinity Stones before Thanos. This certainly helped build some atmosphere in the starting corrals, aided by some rather energetic hosts working off a very “Franglais” list of talking points to a backing track of Avenger’s music. All-in-all this was a markedly better corral experience than the weird barrage dance party troupe on Lake Disney for last year’s 5k.
As there are 6 Infinity Stones, but only 5km of race course, the markers were placed at 800m intervals for the race – one for each stone. This wasn’t really explained anywhere, so runners without any sort of personal tracking could often be heard asking other runners what km they were at.
Character wise, there were no surprises on the 5k. The first meet was with Star Lord & Gamora, followed by Thor & Loki, then Black Panther before ending with Captain America & Black Widow just before the turn into the home straight. This is pretty standard fare for “events” with Marvel characters at Disneyland Paris, it was a shame that there were no appearances by Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Spider Man or Doctor Strange considering those characters appear in the Super Heroes United show.
The 5km route itself was a huge improvement over last year, with all the dimly lit backstage areas being cut and replaced with a new route running through Frontierland. Marvel themed projections were cast on the Tower of Terror all night long and music was present for most of the route. Although, given the number of children and older guests who participate in this family-orientated race, it was surprising that there was only one water stop on the route. Thankfully, as far as we’re aware, there was no repeat of the 2017 medal shortage for the 5k, and everyone who finished got their Thanos engraved bling!
Our friend DLPLicious recorded his experience on the 5k, you can check out his video below:
Disneyland Paris 10K
Starting bright and early at 7am on Saturday 22nd September, the 10km race themed around the sidekicks of Disney villains was something a lot of guests were eagerly anticipating. Pain, Panic, and a rather (too) eager Megara hosted festivities in the corrals while runners waited to get started. For some reason only one warm-up was done before corral A got set off on the route, which meant that by the time corrals C, D and E started departing, any warming up was long lost as it was a rather chilly morning.
On the course, runners had the opportunity to take a snap with several Disney villains who rarely make appearances in the parks such as; Kronk, Flotsam & Jetsam, Bowler Hat, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and more. Unfortunately, due to the nature of character sets, it did mean that the later starting corrals weren’t able to meet some of the earlier characters due to them being switched out already.
As with the 5k, a fair amount of the backstage sections of the course had been moved into the Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland Park proper, cutting down on some of the more boring parts. Sticking with the Hercules theme, Hades stood upon the production courtyard stage to “congratulate” runners on successfully finishing the 10km run.
I have to say that, for me personally, this 10k felt a lot less in terms of everything compared to last year. It felt like there was less atmosphere, less characters, less music, and less Cast Members out cheering runners on. Still, it beats a 10k in a country park!
DLPLicious also recorded his 10k experience, you can check out his video below:
Disneyland Paris – Val d’Europe Half Marathon
The main event of the weekend was the 3rd Disneyland Paris – Val d’Europe Half Marathon. At 7am on Sunday 23rd September, many runners waited with baited breath in the 5 corrals, just a mere 21km between us and some hard-earned bling, as Cruella de Vil’s cackles echoed through the starting area.The bad weather that had been looming for most of the weekend had arrived during the night, causing the half marathon to get off to a rather wet, slippery and windy start. Still, spirits were high and it did not stop Disney villains coming out to play on the race course.
Runners could stop for a snap with the likes of Maleficent, Maleficent’s goons next to her parade float, the Evil Queen, Hades and Pain & Panic, Shan Yu, Dr Facilier, Kylo Ren, and more! Characters from the 10km, such as Flotsam & Jetsam, Sheriff of Nottingham and Brer Fox & Brer Bear were also present, providing an opportunity for runners who missed them the day before to get a snap with them. Even Loki made an appearance on the Studio Tram Tour route for good measure.
Around 8km in, the course venture out of the resort via the Pluto Gate to the surrounding road and town. As with previous years, entertainment outside of the park came in the form of local performers, cheer leaders and general members of the public. This is still a far cry from the road sections of the US races, but it still removed some of the monotony of these sections.
Sorcerer Mickey awaited runners at the finish line, with the rain holding off just long enough before it started chucking it down again in the afternoon.
All-in-all I feel the half-marathon was fairly on par with last year. Sadly, there was far less opportunity for photos with parade floats compared to last year, with Dragon Maleficent being the only float that was out on the course. A shame. But it felt like there was a decent amount of characters out, it would just be nice to see some more Disney magic sprinkled to the out-of-resort sections in future years.
- Much better starting corral location.
- Bib collection far less painful than in previous years.
- More race course inside the parks.
- General good atmosphere.
- Cast Members were fantastic.
- Lessons learned from previous years put into practice.
- Rare characters.
- Fantastic medals.
- Online booking experience is still a mess during the first few days.
- Corral assignment for non-proof of time runners caused a lot of confusion. Some group bookings weren’t even placed in the same corral.
- Security was a bit lacking at times, plenty of runners on the course with bags etc. that weren’t permitted under race rules.
- No paper bags provided to put the end of run water, snacks, banana etc. in.
- No PhotoPass photographers at some photo locations.
- The sharp-right hand bend at the start of the course was pretty dangerous.
- Guests in Newport Bay Club being made to walk the long way around Lake Disney to get to the starting corrals.
- Health and Wellness Expo was rather lacking.
- Few water stops on the 5km and 10km.
- Characters being switched out before later corrals even had a chance to get to them.
Up for Debate:
- The idea of theming the races is nice. However, where this is (currently) the only runDisney event that happens in Europe, theming can limit the characters and other photo opportunities.
- Corral assignments. Non-proof of time runners were randomly allocated across corrals A to E. This meant some slow runners were at the front, and some fast runners at the back. While in theory this spreads the pack out more, it also lead to some reckless behaviour.
I can’t really comment on the Kids Races as I didn’t take part (bit too old!) or watch them (too busy collapsing in the bath tub) but I saw very little complaining about them on social media compared to last year. Kids (and their parents) also had the chance to meet with Stitch and Jumba during the Kids Races. Unlike in 2017, there was no shortage of medals for the little runners, check out the cute Stitch design!
Overall the 2018 Magic Run Weekend improved in many areas over 2017. The new starting corral layout using the events arena parking lot was a big improvement over previous years. Bib collection was a painless experience. There’s still room for improvement in the years to come, but it seems like Disneyland Paris are beginning to find their stride with this event. We may even have more events on the horizon, as a vague « new concepts » tease was given during the half marathon warm-up.
Now we just need Disneyland Paris to stop renaming the event… yes, we’ll see you at the Disneyland Paris Run Weekend in 2019.
Hopefully they’ve dropped the Magic part in name only.