The powder pink castle, the buzz of Main Street, nostalgic rides and the sweet scent of popcorn… Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth if you ask me. I’ve visited a number of times, but in pursuit of a more affordable way to visit the park, I opted for a day ticket instead of buying a Disney package this time around. Thinking about hitting the main park for the day? Here are my tips on how to make the most of your time, and scroll to the bottom for the video of my experience!
Purchase a one-day, one-park ticket
If you’re visiting for the day, its definitely more relaxing to just opt for one park over the two… but you can of course purchase a hopper ticket if you prefer. I got my Disneyland Paris ticket from isango!, and it was just under £50 for one day, and one park. This is perfect, if like me, you’re staying in Paris and just want to dedicate a day to visiting. The main Disney park is great for a variety of rides and it really captures the classic Disney tales; while Walt Disney Studios takes you behind the scenes of the action.
When booking with Disney themselves, you’ll often have to book a package and that can be frustrating at times so do double check that purchasing everything you want separately isn’t a cheaper option.
Visit during off-peak periods
Off-peak periods mean less crowds, shorter queues and potentially cheaper park tickets too! But off-peak doesn’t have to mean a visit outside of park celebrations. We visited around mid-December as that tends to be a lot quieter than closer dates to Christmas. In a similar way, it always tends to be quiet at the beginning of October, when Halloween is in full swing but the crowd level remains low. There are several sites you can check which indicate how busy the park might be, and I would also Google to make sure you’re visiting outside any school holidays, too. It certainly pays off and could mean the difference between hour-long queues, and rides you can simply walk onto.
Download the app to check ride times
While you’re in the park, make sure you download the Disneyland app. It tracks your location, and gives you live queue times so you can keep checking back to see which of your favourite rides are best to go on next. In general, Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight have the longest queue times, so opting for those in the morning when there’s less people in the park might be your best bet.
Don’t just go on the rides
There’s so much more to Disneyland than just the rides, and that’s why I love it so much! Head to Sleeping Beauty’s castle to see the dragon in the dungeon, before viewing the glass blown ornaments in the castle shop. Head upstairs to learn the story of Sleeping Beauty and climb to the back balcony for views of Fantasyland.
Fantasyland also has Alice in Wonderland’s maze to get lost in, or if you head into Adventureland, you can discover Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse and climb aboard the Spanish Galleon. Frontierland has the Thunder Mesa Riverboat, and you can enter Starport in Tomorrowland to meet your fave Star Wars characters (we met Darth Vader!).
Eat before or after the rush
This might seem obvious, but we were caught out with this one. We’d only had a fly-by breakfast when we got to the park, so were starving by about 1pm. A mistake, lemme tell ya. The queues for sit-down lunches and quick bites were loooooong. If you can, grab your lunch after 2:30 and you’ll be golden. Alternatively, don’t eat in the parks at all and instead bring your own packed lunch so you can optimise your time in the park.
Grab those fast passes!
If you’re familiar with the Disney parks in the US, it works slightly differently with fast passes in Paris. Passes are free, and can be picked up at machines next to the ride – all you have to do is scan your ticket and it’ll give you a separate ticket. We did this for Big Thunder Mountain as the queue times were consistently long, and when it came to queuing we actually hopped straight onto the ride, so it’s well worth doing! Do bear in mind that with these fast passes, you’ll get an allotted time to return, so set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
How to meet your favourite characters
Although this advice kinda fits into a lot of these subheadings, I wanted to put this as a separate point because for some of us, meeting characters in the parks are the highlight. If you’re just visiting for the day, queuing for characters can take up a lot of your time. Download the app so you can see which characters will be appearing on the day you visit, along with the times you can catch them and which land they’ll be in. If you want to meet Mickey Mouse, any Disney Princess or Star Wars characters, they have their own dedicated buildings where you can queue and meet them, just prepare for a bit of a wait for Mickey and the princesses!
Carry on the fun at the Disney Village
If you’re visiting during off-peak times, especially in winter like I did, the park will shut around 7pm. That doesn’t mean the fun has to stop though, as the Disney Village has some great locations to spend the evening. Head for dinner at one of the restaurants (my favourite is Annette’s Diner, where the staff serve your American-themed food on rollerskates!) or to one of the bars which often have live music and serve drinks late into the night. There’s also a number of Disney stores (duhh) in case you forget to purchase a gift in the park.
What are your hacks for a day in Disneyland?