“GO, go, go!”, cheers a woman with a gorgeous braid of golden hair hanging down her back.
Red-faced and with my own sweaty hair scraped into a ponytail, I look up — to see the beaming face of Rapunzel.
I wave back and continue to run, swept along the route of this 10km fancy-dress fun race by thousands of other participants
I’m at Disneyland Paris with my husband Nick, being urged on by childhood favourites including Belle and Chip ’n’ Dale.
We thunder around the empty park, which is glowing with fairy lights, until the sun begins to rise over it.
It’s a surreal experience that takes the runners — including those in their Buzz Lightyear and Tinkerbell outfits — down the main esplanade towards the sparkling Disney castle and around the rides.
As I slog along, I am pepped up by tunes such as Hakuna Matata and A Whole New World, as well as high-fives from Disney staff. You can pound that pavement in the fastest time you can or, if keen to take in the magic, stop to get photographs with nearby chipmunks and beaming Disney princesses.
Finally, we reach the finish, where Mickey and Minnie Mouse wave happily from a platform, and are handed extremely heavy medals.
This is one of two annual race weekends at Disneyland Paris — one in May, the other in September, each with 5, 10 and 21km routes.
For kids, there is a 1km race or even 100 metres for tinies.
If you are insane then go for the 36km challenge and end up with a pound of medals hanging from your neck, from running the 5km, 10km and 21km in the three days.
SEE DISNEY LIKE NEVER BEFORE
But save some energy for the rest of the day to explore the park.
Head to the Tower of Terror, Crush rollercoaster and Hyperspace. Or for those who are tired out, the teacups and the Pirates Of The Caribbean boat trip are just as good — and won’t have you screaming in fear.
You can also visit royalty in the Princess Pavilion or queue to meet Minnie Mouse.
VIP passes are not a must, but if you can fork out the extra cash, they make life a lot easier, as you do not have to wait so long.
We stayed at the Disneyland hotel itself, with breakfast improved when eaten from Mickey Mouse-shaped plates. Staying there also meant we could head back to the room for a nap before Illuminations at 10pm.
This light and fireworks show is jaw-dropping — I may or may not have shed a tear.
It was an exhausting weekend, and my legs were sore from running and walking 35km in two days. But if you want to see Disney like never before, this is a must.
GO: DISNEYLAND PARIS
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Magic Run Weekend, with MagicBreaks, is from £329pp. Includes two nights’ B&B in a Disney hotel, return Eurotunnel crossing, three-day parks entry, 100 euros Disney spending money and 5km race entry. Book online by Feb 12 for free Family Cinema Pass and £25 Disney Store gift card – 0330 880 5092 or magicbreaks.co.uk.
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