Note: If you’d like to catch up on my journey to Run Disney before reading this trip report, make sure to check out the Run Disney category linked in the menu bar above.
Well after many months of training, anxiety, more training and more anxiety the big weekend has finally come and gone. Actually now I’ve booked the Dopey challenge I think this is now the first big weekend, the light salad before the man vs. food challenge in January. In the interest of keeping this manageable, I’ll be splitting this trip report across three blog posts.
This, the first, will cover my arrival day including the expo and 5k race. The next two will cover the 10k and half marathon along with everything else I got up to on those days – spoilers, not very much.
Day 1 – Friday 21st September
Unlike most people I know I didn’t arrive on Thursday. This wasn’t out of choice, I’ve just stretched my holiday leave to the absolute limit this year. My Eurostar to Paris was at around 7am and I then caught the RER to Val D’Europe. I tend to prefer travelling on either the direct or indirect Eurostar service to Disneyland Paris but this ended up being a seamless journey and took a comparable amount of time.
Note: If you’re comparing the prices of various Eurostar journeys from the UK to Disneyland Paris, just keep in mind that it will cost you around 7 Euros per person each way to get from Paris Gare du Nord station to Disneyland Paris on the RER.
My hotel for the weekend was the Ibis Val d’Europe. If you’ve read my previous review of this hotel you’ll know I find it a solid choice and for 2 nights I paid around £140. I was a bit concerned about getting to the resort early in the morning for the 10k and half marathon, but as I’ll cover in more detail later this turned out absolutely fine.
The room wasn’t quite ready when I arrived at around 11am but thankfully they were happy for me to check out slightly later on Sunday after the half marathon. I therefore left my case in the luggage storage and headed up to the resort.
My first port of call was the Run Disney expo. I’d arrived a day later than a lot of people doing the challenge so there was no queue. Before I entered the expo someone checked my form. Once inside I headed on to collect my run pack with my bib, then to another stand to collect my tshirt and finally to the photo location to have my picture taken for verification to collect my challenge medals. I was really impressed with the efficiency of this system and was done in about 10 minutes.
I was also able to pick up my preordered pins with only a few minutes wait and will definitely be doing this again in future. Unfortunately these are the only pieces of Run Disney merchandise I picked up over the whole weekend. I was very disappointed with the selection of merchandise, both in quantity and quality, and hope this is something they improve in future years. I don’t hold out too much hope though, I gather people have been giving similar feedback since the inaugural Paris races.
Before I continue, there was serious issues with corral allocations over this run weekend. I’ll go into this in more detail at the end of day 3 when I discuss things I’d like to see improve in future years.
At this point it was early afternoon and I headed into the parks for a few hours before getting ready for the 5k. I met Hoodsie and Sophie in Walt Disney Studios and we had a quick lunch in Studio 1 – I forgot to take pictures but I tried the special Marvel menu and it was fine. The park was really quiet so we had a quick ride on parachute drop (5 minute wait in single rider) and then headed around to catch Marvel Super Heroes United.
I’d seen this on my July trip and I’m afraid my opinion hasn’t changed. This show is a case of all style and very little substance. I think there’s potential for a good show in there and I hope that if/when it returns next year they manage to hit on the right formula.
After a few hours of chilling at the hotel and getting ready I headed back to the resort at about 6pm.
They had already opened up the corrals so I headed around to corral C and met up with Megan, Leah and Emma who had already arrived. Sophie and Hoodsie weren’t far behind and we all hung out and chatted for the near 2 hour wait before the race began. About half an hour before the run they started a show on the stage and began herding the first runners in corral A to the starting line. Unfortunately they didn’t install speakers very far back into the corral area so while it looked like it was a neat show, we couldn’t really hear anything that was going on.
The race began at pretty much 8pm on the dot with the runners being released in waves from corral A through to corral E. I’m told from runners in previous years that this was a big improvement on the madness of previous years and more in line with how they organise the American races. We were at the front of corral C so had a short wait, but at around 8.15pm we set off!
Unlike last year the 5k race didn’t take place solely in the Studios park. It would also briefly enter Disneyland Park through Frontierland and Adventureland before heading back into the Studios to finish.
My plan for the run was to hold a good pace and then take a break if I wanted to stop for any characters. We were near the back of our wave so this proved a bit difficult initially – the first part through the village was fairly narrow and there was a few large groups taking up wide areas of the running path. It opened up a bit though and I managed to start on a decent pace to enter the Studios park. Starlord and Gamora were meeting in Place des Stars at the front of the Studios but I decided to skip them and head further into the course.
I was really enjoying just getting the opportunity to run through the parks and kept a steady pace right through to Adventureland. Black Panther was meeting here and, although the queue was huge, I decided I was doing fine for time and joined the line. The wait time ended up being about 25 minutes (which a lot of seasoned Run Disney runners say is ages but I thought was alright to be honest) and I really love the picture I got!
The Black Panther meet was at around the halfway mark of the course and I was feeling really good so decided to forge ahead through the course and just see how I got on. As you can see from the map above the latter portion of the course mainly took place in the Studios backstage area. To a lot of people this might be boring but as a proper Disney geek I loved seeing areas I wouldn’t normally have the chance to see.
The last few kilometres had us heading back into the Studios where I couldn’t resist taking a quick selfie with the Catastrophe Canyon set.
I then headed past the Dinotopia set where Thor and Loki were meeting (I decided to skip this because I met them in California) and past Captain American and Black Widow on the Light Motors Action set (also skipped because I’ve met them before). Once out of the arena it was a short run around the corner near Rock n Rollercoaster and then we were on the home straight and done!
I popped over and picked up the fantastic medal and had to take a quick silly selfie!
Sophie and Hoodsie were just behind me so we went and got some pictures taken by the Photopass photographers in front of the Studios before heading our separate ways to get an early night before the 10k the next morning.
Overall I really, really enjoyed the 5k. It was a bit chaotic at times, partly due to the silly corral allocation, but I thought overall it had a really fun atmosphere. As a first timer there was such a novelty in getting to run through the parks and seeing some of the backstage areas that are usually hidden from view. The character meets did have long lines though and I think your ability to meet them was probably highly dependent on how you fared in the corral allocation lottery.
That wraps it up for Day 1 of my Run Disney 2018 trip. I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll be back in a few days to chat about the 10k.