We are officially registered for the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and Disneyland Paris 5K! This post covers some of our initial thoughts about planning for the race weekend, what we expect from this new runDisney* (in spirit, if not name due to Disneyland Paris’ corporate structure) event, and other random thoughts. Given that we want(ed?) to do Disneyland Paris’ 25th Anniversary, we were initially hesitant about doing the Half Marathon. However, a weak Euro relative to the dollar and economic fallout from terrorist attacks in the French tourism industry, we figured we could do a 2016 Europe trip relatively inexpensively. Plus, I’m a total sucker for dat race bling, and I really want the Castle to Château medal!
When race packages went on sale last October, we reviewed the pricing, and determined that it was ultimately more money than we could justify spending. With over two-thirds of the race bibs being allocated to the travel packages (and smaller race fields than their U.S. counterparts) and this being an inaugural event, this made us worry that we would be shut out of the race.
After much confusion, rumors, and delays, bib-only registration finally went on sale earlier this week. We were at our computers hitting refresh well before the official start time. This being runDisney* and Disneyland Paris, we expect there to be *ahem* hiccups, and who knew if sales would accidentally start early. Instead, they started about 10 minutes late, and the system was slow as molasses once registration did open.
Fortunately, we got through and were able to register within 10 minutes of online booking opening. Sarah registered for the 5K, and although I was only going to do the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon (since there’s no special challenge/medal for doing both), I made an impulse buy on the 5K. At that price–as compared to US runDisney events–they are basically giving the event away! We didn’t book the add-on party or rice dinner, and are still debating about both. (They sound fun, but again, money.)
The initial allotment of bibs for both races sold out within the hour (although more have since become available sporadically–check here if you’re interested in registering). While that stinks for anyone who got shut out, as a fan of Disneyland Paris, this was somewhat exciting. Overbuilding hotels has been an albatross around the neck of Disneyland Paris since its opening days as EuroDisney, and has stifled development at what is otherwise Disney’s most beautiful resort. Adding runDisney* events to otherwise low seasons has helped fill hotel rooms at Walt Disney World–maybe it will eventually do the same for Disneyland Paris!
Now, the planning begins…
The biggest question for us is hotel. We would really love to stay on-site and Newport Bay Club is our top choice given its recent top-to-bottom refurbishment, but the prices are simply too high right now for us to be able to justify that. We are hoping a good special offer becomes available, or a sizable Annual Pass room discount.
When it comes to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, runDisney weekends sell out on-site rooms and, in the case of Disneyland, cause a serious spike in room rates for nearby off-site hotels. However, with the smaller race field and significant hotel inventory we are thinking that there will still be a surplus of rooms, and thus discounts, offered at a later date.
In the interim, we will be booking in Val d’Europe at a cheaper hotel with free cancellation. We’ve stayed in Val d’Europe before (at the Relais Spa Val d’Europe) and these hotels are both cheap and within walking distance to Disneyland Paris (10-15 minutes to the front entrance of Newport Bay Club). If you’re ever visiting Disneyland Paris and want to do it on the cheap, search for “Serris Val d’Europe Station” on the hotel booking site of your choice.
Alternatively, we are really curious about Marriott’s Village d’lle-de-France and Radisson Blu as nicer options that aren’t much more expensive, but only if they offer race-day shuttles. At present, this is unclear, but Radisson is a Partner Hotel, so there’s a chance it might. They are too long of walks to Disneyland Paris and out of the question, otherwise.
Tickets aren’t an issue, because we will almost certainly be purchasing Annual Passes. As we cover in our Disney Parks Ticket Tips & Tricksposts, the breakeven point for a Disneyland Paris AP is only a few days, and with a return visit likely for the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris within the next 365 days, this one is a no-brainer for us.
Then there’s dining. Not something we need to figure out now, as this isn’t like Walt Disney World where you have to book ADRs 180 days in advance. It’s much more laid back. However, we want to come up with an itinerary beforehand that includes 1-2 highly recommended meals. Several readers have told us the impression that we are too hard on Disneyland Paris dining, so we want to give the most esteemed restaurants a chance to see if they can help redeem the place.
We’re also excited about our first visit to Disneyland Paris for Halloween, as the decorations they normally do look fantastic! Beyond that, we are really excited to be around so many Americans experiencing Disneyland Paris for the first time. I adore Disneyland Paris, and think it gets a bad rap mostly from people who have never been. French sensibilities about hospitality differ from what you’ll find in the U.S. parks, but making the effort to memorize 2-3 sentences of French and apply them as appropriate does wonders in terms of how you’re treated. (In any case, just look at how many Americans treat many non-English speakers with disdain and tell me we don’t have a serious problem with Americentrism…)
As for the race weekend and events themselves, I have high hopes. While I think there will be some growing pains and organizational missteps with the event (as we’ve already seen), those don’t give me much cause for concern. This is the first runDisney* event outside of the United States and Disneyland Paris could use help in terms of attendance, so I think race organizers will be doing everything they can to make a very strong first impression in terms of substance.
I expect a really well done course with a lot of entertainment and rare characters. Disneyland Paris has an excellent Entertainment team, and when they are given the chance to shine, they do very well. Hopefully runDisney* gives them that chance. I hope and assume the event organizers understand the significance of positive word of mouth and buzz via social media and in the runDisney community and set this event up for success in the long-term.
Past events have proven runDisney travels well and has a legion of enthusiasts/addicts with disposable income, and buy-in from this group could mean huge things for Disneyland Paris’ future. (No pressure.) I think a lot could potentially ride on this event, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.
Beyond this, I am hopeful that there will be a really positive energy and sense of community that permeates the entire Resort throughout Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend. I think the Walt Disney World Marathon generally brings a good atmosphere to the Florida Resort in early January, and I expect that to be heightened in France.
This event has been a long time coming, and it’s something for which many runDisney fanatics are excited. I’m hopeful this leads to a palpable energy around the weekend. Likewise, I suspect this will be the single largest gathering of Americans ever at Disneyland Paris, and I hope we represent our homeland to our foreign hosts with dignity. (If you intend upon being rude, that’s cool too, but please wear this. 😉 )
As you might be able to tell, I’m really excited and maybe my expectations are a bit high right now. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen myself become an accidental runDisney addict, and I’m really looking forward to getting in on something runDisney* from the beginning. Expect more updates as I start training (haha, good one! I’m doing the Disneyland Half in September, so that is my probable training for this) and other details of the trip are solidified.
If you’re planning on getting into runDisney, read my runDisney Race Reports (plus other running-related posts). Also be sure to check out my runDisney Packing Tips post for what you should use to train, and what to carry on race day.
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Did you register for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon or 5K? Thinking about doing the race next year or down the road, instead? Other thoughts about Disneyland Paris? Questions about the event or visiting the Paris parks, generally? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below!