One of my favorite parts of runDisney weekends in Orlando is the expo – I spend HOURS there… I love to explore the merchandise, check out the vendors, chat with other runners, and visit with my clients. I also usually grab lunch at the ESPN grill and spend some time at the bar meeting up with different Facebook groups I am a part of.
Basically – the Expo is the way I kick off my runDisney weekends!
I was pretty excited to check out the Expo in Paris… although I was given fair warning it is a LOT different than the Expo at home… and it is!
Location of the Disneyland Paris runDisney Expo
The expo is located in the Disney Events Arena. It’s right next to the Disney Village, and within walking distance of the resort hotels.
If you’re staying at the Disneyland Hotel, you’ll need to walk through Disney Village to get to the Expo. Folks at Disney’s Newport Bay Club, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, and Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel (opening November 2020) can access the arena by walking around the lake.
It’s a little bit of a further hike from Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe, but still doable! If you’re staying at one of the Partner Hotels (B&B Hotel, Algonquin’s Explorers Hotel, Vienna House Dream Castle, Vienna House Magic Circus, or Campanile Hotel) – they may offer a shuttle to and from the resort. Be sure to check with your travel agent to see what your options are to get to the expo!
Paris runDisney Expo Step One: Wait in Line!
I was told in advance that there are long lines once the expo opens, and I can verify that fact! We were so excited, we decided to put on our patient pants and wait with the masses. We got to the expo around 3:15 (it opened at 3:00)… but were inside by 3:45!
Each time we went back to the expo after the opening day… there were very few lines and we were able to get in and out quickly.
Paris runDisney Expo Step Two: Wait in MORE Lines!
Outside of the expo, they had computers set up to print your waivers. You do have the opportunity to print them in advance, but if you don’t (or if you forget yours)… you have the opportunity to do so!
The Runner Relations desk will be the first thing you see – if you have any questions about anything, I’d just go ahead and get in that line first. The Cast Members will be able to answer your questions, direct you where to go, or fix any issues you may have had during registration.
Once you get inside… you will need to wait in line to pick up your bib. They have the bibs separated by distance: Kids Races, 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, 31K Challenge, and 36K Challenge.
If you are a challenge runner, you’ll need to go wait in line to have your photo taken. They’ll take your picture with your bib so once you finish all of the races, they can verify that it’s actually you who completed the races before they’ll give you your challenge medal(s).
After you get your bibs (and take your picture), you can go pick up your shirts. They will have an area to exchange sizes if you need (pro tip: order a size or two bigger than you order in the USA!) – so if you need to exchange them for a different size, you can do that.
If you are running the Castle to Chateau challenge – you’ve got one more line to wait in! They’ll verify your qualifications for the bonus medal – and then give you a wristband.
NOW… you’ve got what you’ve paid for and you are ready to run!
Paris runDisney Expo Step Three: runDisney Expo Extras
I’m about to get serious about the merchandise. Guys, it stinks. It’s just not good. The sizing is incredibly small, and there just isn’t that much available. They did have a jacket that I liked… but they ran out of them after the first few hours of the expo.
There was a small number of merchandise options to choose from, but nothing I absolutely had to have. I was honestly pretty disappointed by the merchandise. There were a few items that you could find in the parks (spirit jerseys, mouse ears, etc.)
I really liked the design of the Castle to Chateau shirt… but I don’t wear normal heavy cotton t-shirts so I didn’t get that one. I also really liked the women’s shirt, but the XL was still way too tight for me to feel comfortable in, so I didn’t get that one either.
The preorder merchandise is located in the checkout area – you can pick it up there! The checkout area is also where they keep the pins… and I know you guys love those pins!
Now we move on to PhotoPass. If you’ve purchased your PhotoPass with your package, you should have a voucher to take to the checkout area. If you didn’t you can purchase it at the expo as well. You will need your race bib when you get the pass, they will link the pass to your bib at checkout. If you have a pass that includes more than one race bib, you can link the other bibs online later.
Paris runDisney Expo Step Four: runDisney Wall of Runners
Now, this is easily the coolest part of the expo – the Names Board! There is a really big wall on the left of the building once you leave the runDisney area with every single runner’s name listed. You can find yours, take a picture, and see just how many people are running with you over the weekend.
We were able to find our names pretty quickly and it was a neat experience… something I wish they would do in Orlando!
Paris runDisney Expo Step Five: runDisney Paris Vendors
Once you pass the Names Board you’ll see the vendors set up at the expo. There are neat pictures you can take, you can visit runDisney to check out other race weekends, and see the outside vendors.
Now, Orlando has a TON of vendors… Paris? Notsomuch. Sparkly Soul Headbands was there… and a few tour operators… but… guys… that’s it.
I know a lot of people will rely on the expo to pick up some last-minute running needs… socks and gels… and they know that if something happens to their luggage, they’ll be able to do some emergency expo shopping to replace those race necessities!
That is NOT the case in Paris.
Soooo, if you lose your luggage, you’re not going to get much help at the expo.
Paris runDisney Expo: Final Thoughts
It’s very true – the Expo in Paris is worlds different than the Expo in Orlando. If you know what to expect when you get there, you’ll be fine! If you show up expecting the same thing you have at home… you’re going to be extremely disappointed.
The expo will also transform into your celebration area after the Half Marathon. It’s where you will go to collect your challenge medals, and you’ll even be able to get a free massage!