So you’re thinking about booking that magical trip to Disneyland Paris, but need some advice on travel, rides, where to stay and what to eat? Look no further!
In a nutshell, Disneyland Paris is comprised of two parks (Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios) along with the Disney Village, a place to shop, drink and grab a bite to eat and with a number of Disney themed hotels that surround the area. If you are looking to be in the centre of the action (and money is no limit) The Disney Hotel is ideal, situated within Disneyland itself. A lake just outside the Disney Village is home to Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club and Sequoia Lodge (less than 10 minute walk to the gate) with Hotel Cheyenne, Hotel Sante Fe and the Davy Crochett Ranch located behind them.
Before You Book
Times of the Year to Go
It’s simple. If you want to go at a time that’s relatively quiet, avoid any holidays. Christmas (which is celebrated from November until February each year) is particularly busy, as well as Halloween (October 1st-November 1st). From past experience, good times to go are March, May and September.
Consider Booking Everything Separately
Although the Disneyland Paris website often has offers for package deals, large companies like First Choice, Last Minute and Expedia do offer various options. Park ticket deals vary for different events/attractions, and if you have children, consider buying a hopper ticket (just in case you want to change parks)
For those of you with children, the best and most direct route is via Eurostar train, which runs direct from Ashford and London to the parks. If you are flying from Charles De Gaulle, you can catch the VEA Navette (a shuttle bus service that leaves every 15 mins), or an RER train, a faster route to the parks that takes you to Marne la Vallee/Chessy station, just 100 yards from the entrance of Disneyland. Driving is fairly straight forward too, with Eurotunnel and ferry options to Calais, with a large shopping centre in the Frencch town, the perfect place to stop if you’ve forgotten any provisionals! If you have children and are travelling by car or train, bear in mind bringing extra snacks for the days ahead- food in the parks can be expensive and packed lunches are always exciting!
On a Budget?
Val d’Europe, a town just outside where the park is situated (a 10 minute train ride) might be a good option for those looking to save on accommodation. It’s also recommended for those looking to spend a little time in the city too!
Go Half Board
Half board/full board/meal plans are the best way of saving money when it comes to saving time and money in and outside the parks. Half board is particularly good, as from just £22 per person (based on 3 days 2 nights) you can enjoy from 7 restaurants (standard package) to 24 restaurants (premium package) which includes buffets, dinner shows, drinks and character dining, with tea time treats (a drink and a biscuit) all free.
Whether you decide to invest in a meal plan or not, booking dinner is pretty much essential if you want to eat in one of the park’s many restaurants. Choose which restaurant you like the sound of first, and pop in late morning/early afternoon to make your reservation (people often book days in advance!) Within Disneyland, the best places to eat are the Blue Lagoon (within Pirates of the Caribbean) and Silver Spur Steakhouse (in Frontierland) with Casey’s Corner the best place to grab an American style hotdog, and a hot chocolate to warm your cockles in the winter!
Plan the Rides You Want to Go On
I know this sounds boring, and like it might take the spontaneity out of the day, but planning the rides you want to go on can really make a difference to how much you see and do- plus it’s exciting to talk about! If you are in a big group, decide who you want to go with on a certain ride, or if you are keen on a busier ride, make plans to visit it first/last.
Buy Those Costumes Early
When it comes to adding the finishing touches to your day of Disney magic, you may feel left out when you see everyone else walking around with those signature mouse ears. With a rack filled with Elsa dresses on every corner, your child may also feel left out, resulting in an over-priced costume being purchased. Think ahead and buy your costumes in advance- they are far more reasonable online- purchasing custom mouse ears are also a new trend, especially on Instagram.
Want to Meet the Characters?
Historically the best way to come face to face with Mickey himself isn’t during a visit to Disneyland. Character appearances are often a queue-worthy event and attract hoards of people. To avoid disappointment, book a character breakfast at Cafe Mickey (in the Disney Village) or print out a meeting locations and times sheet- you can find one here>
During Your Visit
Take Your Breakfast With You
This may sounds rather strange, but with a buffet of food to come down to in the morning (if you are staying in one of the Disney hotels) it’s definitely worth wrapping a few croissants or pieces of fruit into napkins. Especially for those on a budget (or prone to chronic hunger *ahem*ME) bringing a snack or even a picnic is a good idea to avoid the steep snack costs.
Ride Waiting Times
As you stroll down Mainstreet USA and take in the sights of Sleeping Beauty’s spectacular castle, you will see a waiting times board on your right. This is the key to having an amazing day at Disneyland! Here’s where your previous ride planning comes in handy- choose the rides with the least waiting times and head there first, getting a fast pass for the rides that have a harsher wait time. Most popular rides in Disneyland are typically:
Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Fantasyland)
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast (Tommorrowland)
Big Thunder Mountain (Frontierland)
Recommended Rides to Visit First:
Star Tours (Tomorrowland)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland)
Space Mountain (Tomorrowland)
Phantom Manor (Frontierland)
It’s a Small World (Fantasyland)
Use Your Fast Pass
A ‘fast pass’ ability is built into your park ticket and is pretty much essential if you are visiting at a particularly busy time. How it works: Next to the entrance of each ride (that is deemed eligable for fast pass) there will be a number of machines. Insert your park ticket (or scan the barcode on your paper ticket) and the machine will print you a fast pass ticket. On it will reveal a time slot for you to return to the ride where you can enter a separate queue. The fast pass is ideal as the time slots are usually an hour after printing, giving you time to fit in another ride! Remember: You can only print out one fast pass at a time, so if you get a pass for Space Mountain at 12:00-12:30, you can only get your next fast pass after 12:30- you must simply wait for your previous fast pass to expire.
Go on the Rides During the Parades
You may love Disney parades, but chances are you will catch more than 2/3 of the same show each day! If you are indifferent to them, they can be the best opportunity to go on rides- as people congregate near Main Street USA, the wait time for rides go down.