Laurent Charbonnier talks about the Disneyland Paris running weekend.


In September 2016, Disneyland® Paris will organize its first running week-end. It will involve children and adults and the races will be adapted to each one. The Business Solutions teams – supported by the runDisney teams, have a little more than a year to set this first ever project in Europe.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming runDisney. It will make Disneyland Paris the world’s third Disney destination to host this successful sporting event that offers a whole new running experience for the young and young-at-heart,’’ said Tom Wolber, Président of Euro Disney S.A.S.during the official announcement.

To better understand the ambition and the logistic challenges of such an event, Disneyland Paris News met with Laurent Charbonnier from the Business Solutions teams. He is in charge of organizing the half-marathon week-end at Disneyland Paris.

This half-marathon at Disneyland Paris is not the first great sports event for which you have worked. Could you tell us a little about your history at Disneyland Paris?

Disneyland Paris hosts a great variety of sports events, like the world weightlifting championships (Championnats du Monde d’Haltérophilie) or the Disneyland Paris Leaders CupLNB between the best French basketball teams, and in the near future they will welcome the first Disneyland Paris half-marathon  as well as the Junior Ryder Golf Cup (2018).

Each event is a unique experience and it allows Business Solutions – the department I have been working in now for over eight years – to show another aspect of our activity: sports events. I have always worked in the event sector and I am a real sports fan. So to be able to bring together these two aspects, and what is more in this magical destination of ours, allows me to help satisfy and enchant the participants as well as the spectators.

This semi-marathon is a major first for Disneyland Paris. Which are the main challenges you will face to organize it?

An event of so wide a scope is a true logistical and operational challenge, since it will involve a great number of venues. Not only the two theme parks and the backstage areas,  but certain areas outside our site in the neighbouring municipalities will also be concerned. We therefore have to ensure a perfect cohesion between the different actors in every aspect of the organization, the course of the race and the entertainment.

But that is not all. The contents of this event must also be unique. Our motto is, “Each kilometer is magical.” The first-objective is to offer all the participants and the people who accompany them a unique experience, in line with the Disneyland Paris quality standards, and those of runDisney, our American partner. They have been running –excuse the pun! – this type of event in Florida and California for nearly  20 years!

And more concretely, how do you prepare this type of event?

The event in 2016 will be a major first time at Disneyland Paris. A sort of inauguration.  It is important to work up stream and prepare the different teams that will be intervening, so that each person and team can feel empowered. This transversal project pulls in a great number of different departments much before the event itself. In total there are some fifty departments, including sales, distribution, communication, marketing, the creative services, entertainment, merchandise, etc. Then we must remain in tune with all the operational participants throughout the preparatory phase and the event itself, needless to say. For nearly two years I have been totally involved 7/24 in this event. I am accompanied by my colleagues whom I thank for their efficiency, their professionalism and their sense of humour! 

How many participants are you expecting? 

It’s too early to talk about numbers. The runDisney concept lies more on the experience than on the performance. And the phenomenon of « experiential » races is in full development in running. Our event has already garnered great interest that we can measure by the feedback on the social networks. Nevertheless, in order to reach perfect + quality, we have limited the number of participants for the various races (children’s races, 5km family race and half-marathon). We expect half of the participants to be foreign. 

But rest assured that the 1st Disneyland Paris Half-Marathon Week-End will be to this day the most important sports event to be held at our destination. Obviously, our objective is to ensure the success of this first meet, to ensure its future and to work in parallel to develop this concept with other types of race, new themes, and an ever greater number of participant

Source: Disneyland Paris News