For those who don't want to read, I did a 20 minute video blog covering the whole trip
Right, I always type a lot in these things, so I'll add headings so its easy to skip the bits you don't care about...
Hi everyone. So back with another trip report - a surprise one this time
Yes, I still haven't gotten round to writing our report from our last holiday, but considering it was a mammoth 3 week holiday over December 2014 & January 2015 and covered 3 hotels, that's gonna take me some time to get right.
So yeah, before that - I made a quick trip to Disneyland Paris for the Half Marathon!
I'd mentioned on this forum that I wanted to go, but didn't think I'd be able to as all the places were fully booked out. Amazingly friends of mine had booked several places and one of them had to drop out at the last minute and the very kindly thought of me! We managed to swap the tickets around so I could actually run the race!
As I only found out at the last minute that I would be able to go, unfortunately when my wife and I looked into prices for our whole family to get the Eurostar, get park tickets and a hotel etc, it worked out way more expensive than we could justify - especially as we are planning a proper family trip next year for the 25th anniversary. However, we worked out that if I went by myself, and got a coach instead, it was only going to cost £80. I wouldn't have any park tickets or a hotel, I'd just sleep on the coach, get there in time to run the race, then travel back. It sounded like a bit of a mission - but I was very excited and well up for it
I'd never taken the coach to Disney before, and it was about 14 hours each way from where we live in Cardiff. Pretty gruelling, but it was all worth it when I got there. If anyone is interested in details about the coach journey and how you get there etc, I will be uploading a video on my Youtube channel.
Arriving at Disney Village, and the Health Expo
I left at 2:40 AM on Saturday 24th Septmeber, and I arrived 5:20pm just in time to get to the Health and Fitness Expo in Disney Village to pick up my race pack ready for the morning. It was easy to register, just had to make sure you had ID and a doctors letter to say you were safe to race. You were given a cool see-thru RunDisney bag with lots of stuff inside, including a full colour guide answering all potential questions, and your race bib. Once you had picked up your pack, you could then also pick up a free race T-shirt - really nice high quality running t-shirt with a Mickey mouse Disneyland paris logo and all the sponsors of the race on the back. The expo were selling very similar T-shirts for 30 Euros, so this was a great freebie to have! I picked up my Photopass+ so that I'd get lots of cool photos during the race and in the parks. There was lots of cool Run Disney merchandise, but I was very limited on spending money so I had to be careful! I was very pleased to get a really cool Limited Edition Pin. For those interested in seeing the expo and the merchandise available there, covered detail in the video at the top of this post
Here's a few photos of the entrance to the parks and Disney Village when I arrived
The Magic Circus Hotel
As I was basically going with almost no money, and trying to do it as cheaply as possible, I had originally planned not to get a hotel for the night, and just to wait in Disney Village or the Station until the race started (it started 7am the next morning, and registration was from 6am). However, after meeting up with my friends Dave and June in Billy Bob's that evening, it turns out that they had booked 2 rooms, with the adjoining room now being empty as their friend couldn't make it, and they extremely kindly said that I could have the spare room! To say that I was grateful to have somewhere to shower, then sleep for a few hours is an understatement!
The hotel I stayed at was the Magic Circus partner hotel, and I was excited to check it out as I'd never stayed there before. I was very, very impressed. I was in a double room (no bunkbeds etc) and it was absolutely huge. All the furniture was dark wood and leather, all very high quality. There was plenty of space to get organised, tables, a full desk, cupboards, wardrobe, bedside tables etc, I could easily imagine staying there for a long stay and settling in properly. In all honesty it is probably one of the nicest hotel rooms I've ever stayed in.
Its a nice hotel too - plenty of amenities - decent swimming pool, gym, spa, reasonably priced restaurant and bar, and lots of games and play areas for kids.
From photos I had seen before on the Disneyland Paris website and brochures I always thought the hotel looked a big loud and tacky but it was much nicer than photos I had seen - maybe it has been refurbished recently. Perhaps the double rooms are bigger and more sophisticated as they assume they are for adults not families? Either way, full marks to the hotel. It was great to be able to properly unpack and repack, prepare for the race in the morning and get a good nights sleep.
Again, I filmed my first walk around the hotel, entering the room for the first time etc to do a videoblog and detailed video review. I will be posting this to my Youtube channel.
Here's some photos of the Magic Circus Hotel:
About the Race
So I got up around 5am in time to shower and get raedy for the race, the Magic Circus had special early shuttle buses and I got on the one at 6am. Once we got to Disney Village it was absolutely packed, I couldn't believe how many people were tehre. We had to go back to the Expo to clock in, and then I followed the crowd to where the race was starting - this was down the road next to the Gaumont theatre. The area had been pimped out with huge flatscreens, speakers, a stage, and the huge surround that we ran under.
At 7am there were brief fireworks, and from that point on there was near constant entertainment on the stage and projected onto the massive flatscreens - we had two lively presenters talking in both French and English. I had NO IDEA that there were going to be so many racers - we were told it was 14 thousand people, and turns out it was actually over 15 thousand! It was a literal sea of people. For obvious logistical and saftey reasons we were split into groups of 500 or so and they staggered the starts. I think if 15,000 people had just started running at once there would have been issues! It was slightly frustrating as we were waiting from 6:30 til passed 8 o'clock before my group finally started - of course everyone was dressed for racing, but hadn't expected to be hanging around not moving for hours, so it was rather cold. However, Disney were prepared for this and were passing out blankets, windbreakers, drinks etc to anyone who wanted them.
I'd challenged myself to run/jog the entire race and never walk, as I felt this would be cheating - however I did of course stop quite a few times to talk photos with character, get a drink, use the toilets etc, so it wasn't too bad. I've run 5K and 10K races before, but a half marathon is 21.1K, more than double what I am used to! So, yeah, it was hard going. Especially the last part, as we ended up back in the Village, and I assumed that we were finishing, when in reality we had another 2K to go! I filmed the whole thing, and towards the end, you can really see that I was becoming deleriously tired - I could barely speak. However, there was a fantastic atmosphere with lots of people cheering you on. It was really nice that those who had already finished were making the effort to stand and cheer others on!
The run was a really nice route, we started in Disney Village, then went through the Studios Park, then Disneyland Park, then round lots of villages around the area, including Val d'Europe, Chessy, Serris, Montevrain, Coupvray and Magny-le-Hongre. We looped back round and went through the Santa Fe, Cheyenne, Disney Village, back into the Studios Park, and around the back to finsh where we started. Along the way there was plenty of entertainment in the form of bands, live music, dancing, cheerleading groups and all kind of stuff. There were plenty of portaloos along the way and every Km or so there were tables of Vittel water, Powerade, fruit, nuts, cereal bars etc to keep your energy up. Of course in the parks there were loads of characters, which I'll cover later. It was really nice in the parks that the staff of each ride / attraction were out cheering us on.
Amazingly, running the last stretch, I saw that the same two presenters who had been there at 7am were still there on stage cheering everyone on for the last few metres. Those guys deserve a medal! Once going accross the finish line, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto were there to high-five you. I posed with Mickey and Goofy, and went to pose with Minnie Mouse. She had a cast member with her who tried to move me on, but Minnie put her arms open to hug me. Its embarassing, but I was so exhausted that as soon as she took a little bit of my weight, my legs gave in and I fell to my knees!
A rep from Vittel came up and passed me some water and said well done. lol. I got my medal, and my gosh am I proud of it! I carried it round at work with me for the next few days to show everybody!
I certainly felt I deserved it
The weather for the race had been perfect. Funnily enough, as soon as I had my medal and had taken my press pictures, it suddenly poured down with rain. Like literally torrential! So lucky that it didn't do that whilst I was running, not sure I'd have coped!
But yeah, all in all, the race was fun, and I felt a real sense of achievement
I videoblogged the whole thing (video at the top of this post) so you can see a quick "highlights" summary of the race and the entertainment etc. Heres some pictures of me during the race:
Impressions in the parks
I was very excited and happy to be back in the parks, but in a way I was glad not to have bought separate park tickets, and not to have brought the whole family along - as expected, many of our favourite attractiosn were closed for refurbishment and there were a LOT of fences around everywhere. Even part of the castle was fenced off. It was exciting to see little changes, like the development of the new Star Tours area and Mickey et le Magicien etc. but there was definitely something strange about seeing so many areas fenced off, and a lot of views blocked etc. I'm really looking forward to going in 2017 now and seeing all the new changes and nicely refurbished attractions.
I was surprised to see that the Halloween decorations were already out - I've never been at Halloween before so it was great to get a chance to see them.
One thing that made me deleriously excited was we raced though the Moteurs Action Stunt Show area, and the London / Reign of Fire section of the Tram Tour - IE I was actually on foot in the attractions, where of course usually you wouldn't be allowed to go. I slowed down and took a lot of videos for my personal collection because I'm sure that's not something that I'll be doing again any time soon! Also I was on foot by all the cars from the tram tour, so could literally go up to them and take photos with them etc. Its funny how much this amazed me
Here's some photos I took in the parks:
Meeting characters was really where the marathon shone - I took more photos and videos with characters than I have ever before, and was amazed by the variety that were there. Here are the ones I saw:
In order: Captain America, Spiderman, Mr & Mrs Incredible, Chip & Dale, Darth Vader & 2 Stromtroopers,
Belle & Cinderella with their Princes, The Mad Hatter, March Hare and White Rabbit, Aladdin, Apu and Genie, the 3 main characters from "Up", Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto. There were possibly even more and I missed them - but that is a remarkable amount, and some are characetrs I'd never seen in the parks before, so must be rare appearances.
Here's some pix:
As I said I had very limited spending money, but there was a decent amount of free stuff, and I'm pleased with what I got (of course I also got souveniers for teh wife and kids!)
Here's some pix:
Actually got another t-shirt as well, which is in the Youtube video, along with more detailed view of my medal
So, yeah, I had an absolutely brilliant time! I'd throughly recomend anyone on the fence to start training now and go there next year