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10 Things You Need To Know When Planning A Trip To Disneyland Paris

Heading to Disneyland Paris is meant to be a magical experience for parents and children alike. A chance to fulfil childhood fantasies and indulge your imagination. However, it can also turn into a house of horrors with long lines, unruly crowds, and expensive food and drink. There’s a number of things I wish I’d known before I visited, and whilst this list isn’t exhaustive, I’m trying to share some of my top tips for planning a trip to Disneyland Paris. That extra sprinkling of fairy dust will make your visit a little more magical!

Songs from around the world Disneyland Paris
Songs from around the world Disneyland Paris

10 Tips for planning a visit to Disneyland Paris

1. Accommodation

Unless you have the stamina of a mule, staying on site is a must. Disney days are long and tiring, as you race from one attraction to another, and attempt to take in all the shows and nighttime illuminations. By the time the park closes, the chances are you will be utterly exhausted and fit only for a good night’s sleep.

An added bonus of staying in one of the Disney hotels is that you do not have to worry about parking. All hotels include complimentary buses to and from the resorts. Also, you will enjoy Magic Time, whereby hotel guests can enter the parks an hour earlier. Many of the Disneyland Paris rides are not open during this magical hour, but the ones which are, will have short if no queues.

For instance, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast had a five minute queue compared to a typical forty minute wait. Star Wars and Hyperspace Mountain had similar waits at the start of the day, compared to 25 and 40 minutes later in the day. Check the information board in the plaza in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle to find out which rides are open, and the average wait time.

Book Disney hotels

Disneyland Paris Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
Disneyland Paris Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

2. Food and drink

We booked an half board Disney package and the ‘all you can eat buffets’ which are included are packed to the rafters with choices. You request your dining times when you arrive, and I was a little shocked to discover that we were struggling for availability in some of the restaurants, even when booking three days ahead. My top tip is to book your sittings as soon as you arrive.

Breakfast

Breakfast service starts at 7, and if you want to take advantage of Magic Time, you will have no choice but to book this slot. Walt Disney studios opens at 8am (be sure to check the times for your dates here) and Disneyland at 8.30. From the bus depot, it takes five to ten minutes walk to the studios, so eating at 7 or 7.30 is ideal if you want to be in the parks bright and early.

Dinner

For dinner times, I recommend either around 4.30 (especially if you opt for a 7am breakfast) or 6 to 6.30pm. Whilst this may mean you returning to the hotel before the fireworks, you may find yourself desperate for a rest by then. If you want to eat in the buffets in the parks or at another hotel, book as early as possible as we found availability very limited, although we did travel at Easter.

Whatever you do, ensure you fill up, as those two meals a day should be enough to get you through the day. When hotdogs cost €7.99 a piece, do you really want to be buying snacks throughout the day for you and the family?

Drinks

Everyone expects to pay a premium in theme parks, but charging almost €4 for water really takes the biscuit. There is a Relay store inside the station, where you can grab cheaper drinks (thanks Natasha of Traveladdict for this tip!) or take a refillable bottle and try to find a functioning water fountain. Alternatively, simply ask in one of the cafe bars, or do as we did and fill up in the ladies.

You can of course fill your bottles at the breakfast buffet at the start of the day, and I estimate that doing so will save you around €8 person a day. Trying to fit in so many Disneyland Paris attractions is thirsty work!

Sleeping Beauty Castle
Sleeping Beauty Castle

3. Avoid the 2 for 1 park pass

Unless you literally are visiting for one day, and plan to race between a few select attractions, I recommend saving a few Euros and opting for one park one day tickets. We had a four day pass which allowed us to visit both parks each day on four days out of six, so you can have a rest day.

We only managed to spend about two and a half days in the parks and this wasn’t enough for two parks. Due to ride wait times, it is unlikely that you will be able to see all the parades, shows and rides in a day so it seems pointless to hop between parks.

Frozen and Disneyland Paris
Frozen and Disneyland Paris

4. Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris

As per usual, I turned up without having given the least bit of thought to which rides we might want to ride, or which shows and parades we might want to see. Programmes are available in reception and online, and I would highly suggest checking these out in advance, so you can plan your days around the key things you want to see. Planning your visit to Disneyland Paris in advance will help to avoid disappointment during your stay.

Disneyland

Certain rides in Disneyland seem to consistently attract long queues. These are Big Thunder Mountain (which is awesome and my seven year old niece loved it!), Peter Pan’s Flight, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast.

If you are staying in resort, I recommend checking which rides are open in the Magic hour, and visiting those then. Also, the period after dinner, between 7.30 and 9, seems to have much shorter queues. You could plan therefore to do the rides with the longest lines at these times, and leave the intervening period to visit the shows and parades.

Donald Duck on parade at Disneyland Paris
Source: PIxabay

Our favourite Disneyland Paris ride was Hyperspace Mountain which is a relatively new attraction, and the word does not seem to have got out. Even at peak times, this attraction has shorter waiting queues. Imagine riding into the tube on the top of the dome below, and waiting expectantly before being catapulted up into the air at astonishing speed, only to come hurtling down into a giant black hole. This ride rocks!

Hyperspace Mountains, Disneyland Paris
Hyperspace Mountains, Disneyland Paris Source: Pixabay)

Walt Disney Studios

In Walt Disney Studios, the rides with the greatest lines are Rock N Roller Coaster and Crush’s Coaster plus the Tower of Terror. The first two are open during Magic Time but not the latter, and even in the evening, waiting times are high.

5. Download the app

To help you out, Disneyland Paris have created an app which is an absolute godsend. This allows you to check waiting times on Disneyland Paris attractions, includes convenient maps, daily schedules for parades and entertainment and park opening times. You can download it for free on the Playstore and Itunes.

The magic of Disneyland Paris
The magic of Disneyland Paris

6. Consider a Fastpass

The biggest annoyance during our stay was the length of some of the queues. At peak times, the waiting time was as high as 90 minutes for some attractions. Frankly, I can think of better ways to waste 90 minutes of my life!

One way to overcome these is to either ditch your friends and travel solo, or invest in a FastPass. This neat little video shows you how everyone can benefit from a Fastpass free of charge or you can read more about Disneyland Paris Fastpass here.

VIP FASTPASS

Alternatively, you can enjoy unlimited access to FASTPASS line and skip the queues if you book a Suite or Castle Club room, (only available at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York, Disney’s Newport Bay Club and Disney’s Sequoia Lodge).


7. Weather

Now Disneyland Paris may be a magical experience, however the fairydust does not control the weather. As you can imagine, Parisian weather does not compare with Florida, and the park is open year round. You will therefore need to come prepared with layers, hats and gloves if you visit in winter or spring. It was cold and wet during our stay, and if you fail to bring waterproof clothing, a poncho will set you back €8 for a child or €10 for an adult.

8. Trip length

I travelled with my seven year old niece, teenage step-daughter and twenty one year old step-daughter, and we were all shattered at the end of each day. That said, we only had around 2.5 days to try to pack everything in, so had very full days.

The optimum visit would be around five to six days, giving you two or three days in each park. There are so many things to do in Disneyland Paris that you will miss a ton of stuff if you only come for two days.

9. Disneyland Paris for kids only?

Athough you may believe that Disneyland Paris is just for kids, think again. There are rides in both parks for kids and adults alike, and my niece was able to ride every park ride bar Indiana Jones.

Let’s face it, many adults (like me for instance) can’t wait to indulge their inner child anyway. Disneyland Paris offers everyone a chance to dream.

Disneyland Paris castle glass
Disneyland Paris castle glass

10. Reducing the cost of your trip

If you really want to save on costs, and let’s be honest this is an expensive weekend, you may prefer to stay off site and simply buy tickets. In that case, you need to sign up for future updates as I will shortly be publishing a post explaining how you can save costs on Disneyland Paris tickets and hotels. You can also read more about general money saving tips below.

Read more:

17 Expert Money Saving Tips To Help You Travel More

How To Save Tons Of Money On Family Travel

Your tips

Now I’m sure some of you lovely people have discovered some great tips for visiting Disneyland Paris. We would sure love to hear them, so feel free to share your top tips in the comments below.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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18 comments

  1. Thanks for mentioning me Anne – I am planning a return in 2022 when the next sections are open – no kids – want to come ?

  2. Really great tips. Interesting what you said about the 2 for 1 pass. I’m a sucker for a deal so my instinct would say to get it, but reading this blog has definitely made me think otherwise. I also had no idea they had an app before, that sounds like a great idea! Being able to check the queue times would be so handy.

  3. In my opinion, Disney Paris is a must-see attraction while visiting France. It is such a different experience than either of the Disney parks in the US. And it’s a great treat for kids (and the young-at-heart!).

  4. I’ve never been to any Disneyland and as I’ve gotten older, it’s been harder and harder to go especially when I feel like I’d be so out of place. I’m glad you said this is suitable for adults too though. Kinda makes me wish I’d gone while I was in Paris!

  5. Years ago, my wife & I had taken our kids for a 2 week trip to Paris when they were 8 & 10. While they seemed to have a good time with the food, sites, zoo and some museums after a week & a half we had seen enough so i called Disneyland Paris to check on availability to stay there as close to the main gate as possible. We were in luck so we surprised the kids by telling them we were heading to Disney. It was a fun experience and the early admission and extra time in the park made it totally worth staying on site. We were surprised to find wine being sold in the park but, hey, this is France! Nice touch. One thing we quickly noticed is that there seems to be no respect for the cue. Teenagers especially would constantly push their way forward. We found that just by standing in front of them and saying “No” that they would stop and be good-natured about it. They just wanted to see how far they could get. Don’t be afraid to stop the intruders. The other issue was chewing gum. I couldn’t believe the amount of gum stuck to every surface when standing in line and on the ground. I hadn’t had gum stuck to my shoe in years but there it happened 3 times, mostly at night. Careful what you touch and where you walk. Overall it was a fun place to see…Disneyland with a French accent!

    • Ha ha you are not kidding about the queues. Some people seemed to think it was ok person to hold the queue while a big posse would jump in later. I can’t say I saw lots of gum but maybe I just didn’t notice but Disney in French is definitely strange but funny. Come to think of it, Florida Disneyland didn’t sell any alcohol when I was there so I guess I can understand why it would be strange to see it in France. Which hotel did you stay at? When I go back I’m staying at the Disneyland hotel for sure

  6. Staying in site makes total sense! I would love to plan a trip someday. I love the idea of the app. It makes things easy. And I m 100% a fast-pass kinda person. Would love to skip the queue any day. 🙂 Cheers!!

  7. As a former Cast Member, I second all of your awesome tips! I would stress the idea of bringing in a reusable water bottle. Running from ride to ride gets pretty tiring and staying hydrated at Disney is essential. Plus, Disney Parks have their own water treatment centers on-site, so the water coming out of the fountains is safe to drink. I’ve never really considered a trip to Disneyland Paris, but think I might need to reconsider…

  8. I have never been to Disney land…not to any of them! But now having a daughter of my own I belive its soon time to tick Disney world off my list! So, your tips are really helpful for me! Like…who wants to pay 4€ for a bottle of water?! And waiting 90 min for a ride!😮 I might go big with this and buy the expensive Fastpass!

  9. I really wanted to visit Disneyland Paris this year, especially as it’s so accessible from London! I totally agree about the fastpass, I don’t want to spend my life lining up either. Great tips on visiting, especially for a first-timer like me.

    • Oooh for you, it is super easy as you could literally take the Eurostar straight to the resort. You can even book packages with the hotels where they meet you off the train to take your bags so you can go straight into the parks.

  10. Your post was so helpful because I have been planning to go to Disneyland Paris for a while, but I’m still searching for willing friends to go with. Imagine I am 30 and never been to any Disneyland yet! The 2 for 1 passes advice is really good! Most of the companies that sell tours to Disneyland from the UK, including transport and hotel do advertise it. Great advice about downloading the app, I had no idea there was one. This definitely makes the visit to the park easier.

    • Yes it saves a ton of time and disappointment as you can plan your visit around the shortest queues. The only weird thing is that Walt Disney Studios Park has WiFi but Disneyland doesn’t!

  11. Lauren Pescarus

    I will definitely second the staying on site. I was 10 (9?) when I visited Disney World in Florida, and staying in the resort had a magical quality. They have that extra bit of extra that can only come from staying with Disney. Plus between the commute to get onto the resort every day, you will be completely exhausted!

    On a related note: Have you been to both Florida and Paris Disney parks? Paris is the closest to me right now, and I’m wondering how they measure up against each other/which you would suggest?

    • I have but it was ten years since I went to the one in Florida so it is difficult to compare. The fireworks and light show in Paris was better because it has a light show across the castle which wasn’t part of the Florida evening show. That may of course have changed in the intervening period.

      For length of queues, Florida won hands down but then we did visit at easter and I suspect it would have been just as bad in Florida on that weekend. I guess the big plus for Florida is the weather but the big plus for France is proximity.

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