Happy Tuesday, everyone, today we have très merveilleux guest post by fellow YouTuber, Meredith Rice of Rice, Rice Runner! She’s sharing a TON of tips and lessons she had learned from the 2018 Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. If you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments below or find Meredith on Instagram. Enjoy, and merci beaucoup, Meredith!
Have you ever been on one of those trips where you feel like at any moment your alarm clock is going to go off and, after you rub the sleep from your eyes, you are going to realize it was all just a fantastic dream?
Well, I have. It was called Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend.
Now, when I was researching (nerd alert) for my trip across the pond, I didn’t find a whole lot.
Now that I’m back in the states with new bling, new memories, and a lot of new friendships, I want anyone who is considering participating in this event weekend to benefit from my experience.
So, without further ado, here are some lessons learned.
General & Travel
- Bring your passport and make sure it is updated (see Jennalyn’s story on the podcast if you want to know why). Also, bring copies of it with you in case the unthinkable happens and you lose it. This will make it easier on the U.S. Embassy to help you. I had a copy of it in my carry-on, in my checked bag, and in my bag I carried around each day.
- ALWAYS CARRY YOUR PASSPORT! There were safes in the rooms, but I carried mine with me everywhere. Yes, even in a Ziploc (sweat, people) in my race belt.
- Eat before your international flight and buy an extra meal to carry on. This way if they serve something that doesn’t agree with you, you are set.
- Get an aisle seat. Climbing over a sleeping person to use the bathroom can be dangerous!
- Give yourself double the time you think you need to get to and from the airport (at least two-three hours before your flight) because there are a lot of extra checkpoints with international travel, including customs.
- Carry on your 5k or first race costume, just in case. I also brought Wisps!
- Decide on transportation from the airport. I recommend the TGV which is an express train. Airport to Disney in 10 minutes? Yes please! If you decide on the TGV, be aware it is quite a walk from baggage claim to the train terminal, but it is all enclosed in the airport. There, also, isn’t anyone helping you get your luggage on the train, so only bring what you can haul or get comfortable with asking for help. Also, they don’t scan, take, or otherwise check tickets, so don’t let that throw you. A 10-minute ride would feel longer that way!
The other ways to get to the parks include the RER train and Uber. However, the RER makes a lot of stops and Uber gets really pricey. There is, also, the Magical Express which you must schedule in advance. All of the above can take up to and over an hour. I got a first-class TGV ticket and even with that and the cost of the protection plan, only the RER was cheaper. I’d say worth it. However, I would not get the first-class ticket or protection plan again. Neither really made a difference. As Jennalyn mentioned in the podcast (yes, another plug), standing in the “middle” is best as it is only a 10-minute ride anyway.
- Uber IS great for getting around the city and there is a RER train that goes from Disneyland Paris to Paris in various places. However, not all trains will be available all the time.
- Be aware of your surroundings (good for traveling and running).
- Learn a couple French phrases and check the weather before you go!
- Bring Euros just in case you need cash, but keep in mind tips aren’t customary and chip credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. This was my primary form of payment.
- Do your cash exchange, or order it, before you go as the airport and Disney currency exchange rates are high. Also, alert your credit card companies you are traveling and ask if they have fees.
- Decide on a phone plan. You can either use WiFi which is available in the hotels and parks or your carrier’s international phone plan.
- Bring at least 2 adapter/converters. You’ll have lots to charge at once.
- They don’t have Magic Bands, but printed tickets, in Disneyland Paris. They do have an app, though!
- Carry a poncho or umbrella with you for unexpected showers.
- Check out the castle and what is underneath.
- Reservations can be made in advance for dining, but it is an international call so there are fees. I used Viber from a computer and recommend Bistrot Chez Remy!
- Food is more standard park fare than French cuisine and can be pricey.
- Eating takes a while for sit down dinners. Plan for about 2 hours.
- Extra fun: rub Genie’s lamp, spot Mr. Fredrickson and Russell in Adventureland and take pictures with Cinderella’s carriage, dropping from a parachute, screaming into a Monster’s Inc. canister, and attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
- Rides are different in great ways and are worth checking out. Weekdays are not busy, so try to ride the popular rides (i.e. Crush’s Coaster, Rat, Big Thunder Mountain, or Hyperspace Mountain) then.
- Parks/stores can send what you buy to your resort.
- There are buses right outside the train station to nearby hotels and the resorts. Resort buses come often, but you can walk everywhere you need to go on property.
- Be aware not all hotels have fridges, laundry, coffee makers, or elevators. Although, my hotel (Hotel Cheyenne) had Starbucks and a hairdryer (albeit a strange hairdryer) so it worked!
- Hotels use plastic key cards which have to be inserted in a slot in the room to operate the lights.
- Be prepared for check-in to take a while (around 1-2 hours) if you are staying at a Disney resort. There, also, may be security with a scanning wand. Just have your passport and your reservation confirmation handy. Disney resort rooms aren’t normally ready until 3 in the afternoon. If you arrive early, they do have a luggage holding area so you can hit the parks or whatever you want to do. Just not shower….yet.
- Disney resorts have character meet-ups in the lobby in the mornings. I met Mickey my last morning with my bling!
- The Magic Run expo is small with only a couple vendors and limited merchandise options. It is a lot less congested than other runDisney events.
- Print your waiver before you come, if you can!
- Take pictures, find your name on the name wall, but most importantly try on all your shirts as you may have to do some exchanging.
- Pre-order items are available although all of it was also available at the expo including PhotoPass. You can get PhotoPass after the races, too. They had two plans, one for just race photos and one for race and park photos. Next year, it looks like they are adding another plan for race photos for just one bib holder. I’d recommend one of the plans with just race photos.
- You will get a bracelet if you are running the challenges. You wear it and present it back in the expo building after the half marathon to collect all your challenge bling. You will have to walk from the finish line back to the building (probably around 10-15 minutes or so).
- Skip the pasta dinner. I think it was expensive and Vapiano was an affordable, make-your-own-pasta place that was excellent and right by the Disney village gates.
- The corrals are just behind the building where the expo is. You don’t have to catch a bus to the start line if you stay at a resort, just plan on about a 15 minute walk. I got to each race about 1 and a half to 2 hours before race start time and I was always waiting for the gates to open to walk to the corrals and in the front of my corral. It is a lot more relaxed at Disneyland Paris races, so if you don’t have to be in the front of your corral, you have a bit more time.
- Porta potties are at the corrals, but hidden and there aren’t many so plan accordingly or go in the parks when you are there. Speaking of corrals, they are randomly assigned. There is no proof of time unless you run a half marathon in….
- The corrals don’t face the stage and they don’t always have the main “show” on both big screens, but there IS a show.
- I recommend wearing a costume, but did notice a lot of racers wore the race shirts for each race. I, also, noticed some people in costumes wear the same costume each race including a Darth Maul in full face paint. I wouldn’t recommend that, though!
- The 5k is a night race. Be extra careful and aware of your surroundings as there are a LOT of young children in this race and not all areas are well lit.
- Character lines are long, especially if you are in a later corral, and since they scan bibs. They are rarer characters, though, so stop and enjoy as many as you can. The castle photo, however, hardly any line. Um, score!
- Get used to hearing “Allez!”. It is “Go!” in French and is very enthusiastically cheered at you throughout each race. Race support is amazing … you will never feel alone or even “just” with other runners.
- PhotoPass photographers are not easy to see or in tents. They, also, don’t continually take pictures so they might not catch you in action. It never hurts to “pose” anyway, though!
- PhotoPass pictures do no show up right after each race. It’ll take a while to get them!
- There are a lot of race markers. Something to do with that whole kilometers thing.
- Water and fuel is available and comparable/even better than the stateside races.
- Take water and Powerades at finish. Even if you don’t want it now, drinks are expensive in the parks. I brought a water bottle for fountains, but didn’t see many/never used it.
- You will go through a security scanner getting to start.
- The nighttime 5k effects dinner. There wasn’t too much available, or that I wanted to walk for, after the race. I’d either have snacks in the room or be ok with grabbing something quick.
- Expect quite a few small inclines on the half marathon course as compared to the Disney World races. The course, also, goes off paved road onto more of a trail for a stretch.
- The 5k do not have sweep points and, I heard, that the 10k doesn’t either due a French rule that would require waivers to be signed for that race if there was a time restriction. The half marathon did have “Mickey balloon girls,” but they seemed to let everyone finish that could.
Let me know if there are any questions but, otherwise, sign-up, grab a camera or clear your phone storage, and dream about all the magical experiences you’ll have in Disneyland Paris!