Top Tips for Disneyland Paris – Guide to Euro Disney
Top Tips for Disneyland Paris
Following on from my post about things to pack to take with you to Disneyland Paris, I thought I would write a detailed post with top tips for Disneyland Paris / Eurodisney. The tips will help you plan, save time, money and things that will help to make your life easier and your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Booking your trip
- Become a member of the Disneyland for Brits group on Facebook. The group is full of people who are super clued up on everything Disney, it is a real treasure trove of information, helpful tips and often the best place to get good deals which other members discover.
- If this your first time going to Disneyland Paris, I always recommend that you price up the trip with a travel agents, Thomas Cook or Thomson and see the rough figure that you are looking for your holiday plans. The agents are always a great free way of gaining some advice on offers, whens best to go etc. I have always booked it separately but this is a good starting point and knowing the maximum figure it could cost you.
- Check the UK, French, German and Italian Disneyland Paris sites. Each site offers you different prices depending on their offers, holidays in their respective countries. I.e. the French site can offer free stay and play up to 12 years old whilst the UK one limits this until age 7.
Why stay in an Onsite Hotel?
Staying at a Disney hotel offers a number of benefits:
- Price includes tickets to both parks for the duration of your stay
- Includes 2 extra hours in the park everyday before the park officially opens
- Characters visit the Disney Hotels so you can do some meet and greets in the hotel
- free buses to the park (not for Davy Crockett, but includes some of the sister hotels). Taxis to hotels can be really esxpensive (as we found once our car broke down!)
Preparation – things to do before you go
Disney films were a huge part of my childhood, but the classics are sometimes overlooked these days so before a visit to Disney I would recommend you watch the following films Many of these films are linked to rides, shows and parades that are on display and it mean that your kids will get more out of the trip:
- Any of the princess films
- Snow white and the seven dwarfs
- Peter Pan
- Toy Story 1 & 2 (Jessie is one of the loveliest characters in the parade)
- Mickey Mouse clubhouse. We also have the Mickey’s Christmas DVDs which are great especially if your going in the winter season
- Alice in Wonderland
- Star Wars
- Mary Poppins (there was a special Mary Poppins show in the Spring season)
Food is expensive in theme parks and Disneyland Paris is no different. I wholeheartedly recommend packing treat in my suitcase and have a separate snack bag whilst we are there, lots of queuing, waiting and walking make for hungry and crabby kids. A few treats helps to alleviate the boredom in these moments.
I loved the idea of making ziplock snack bags and they have worked so well this year. At home fill them with items that aren’t going to melt and mix in healthy and treat snacks. We had raisins, fruit strings /stars, nuts, dried fruit, small packs of biscuits and a drink and it was great to have these on hand for the kids. It was perfect for queues or waiting for the parade / fireworks.
Visitors with Disabilities or Special Needs
There is lots of information of the Disneyland Paris site and with the appropriate evidence, visitors who have certain conditions may be able to access priority passes to reduce the wait times on rides. Read through the sections which would be applicable and make sure you remember to take the correct documentation with you. I think this is a great idea and know of lots of people whose children who suffer from conditions such as ADHD and finding queuing upsetting, were able to really use these passes and helped them have a great holiday.
For families visiting with Sensory Processing Disorder, here’s a great post which will help in your preparation for the trip.
Pregnant and going to Disneyland Paris, don’t despair! There is a few rides that you cannot go on but most are suitable for pregnant ladies (they have signs at the entrance, so double check before you go) In addition, pregnant ladies are able to get an Easy Access Pass on arrival and providing the relevant information. Similar to the above, these allow pregnant ladies and their families to go on the rides with limited queuing. We went when I was pregnant in 2012 but as we had a poorly Maya I had forgotten to get the information that we needed so we didn’t try to use this.
There is also this fab guide available on the site, which provides you with all the information you need about accessibility issues and if there are any rides which may be unsuitable for those with particular conditions.
Should you buy a photopass?
The photopass can be value for money but may not for others. First thing to note is that not all rides have the photos taken, there are only 6 rides across both parks that offer these. So if you are not planning on doing the meet & greets it will probably not be worth your while. We visited in the wettest month in May, and saw very few characters so it didn’t prove value for
However, if you are planning on doing the meet & greet, princess for a day, Princess Pavilion and character meals, I would recommend it as I know people have come back from phto opasses with over 30 photos which would then prove to be excellent value for money.
If you are staying in a Disney hotel
- One of the benefits of staying in the Disney hotels is that you get 2 magic hours. These are effectively ‘extra’ hours in the park beforehand (8am to 10am) before all other guests are allowed in. It should be noted that all rides are open during this period, it still is a FABULOUS time to go in the park, so it is well worth maximising this time. I highly recommend getting to the Park as soon after 8am as you can.
- On check in to the Disney hotels (except Davy Crockett) the hotel reception will ask the time you want your breakfast in the morning and you will get a ticket for that time. If you want to make the most of your time in Disneyland, I recommend go for earliest option which is 7am (you have about 10-15 minutes around this time). Then you’ll have breakfast and get in the park 8:15am to 8:30am which is ideal to make the most of your time there.
- Even if your toddler (even up to a 5 year old) is used to walking lots, they will get exhausted. We made the mistake of only taking a single buggy when we went thinking that Maya would walk and ended up with lots of tears and bickering when they were both tired.
- We now have the City Mini Double which is a fab side by side double (remember you will need one that collapses into piece to avoid having to check in your pushchair in the airport). If you need a single, we recommend the city mini Micro. It folds with one hand and is perfect for all types of holidays. We bought both of these on Gumtree and were in pristine condition and only cost us £135 (for both)
- One thing that is a must is a bicycle lock. Pushchairs even the Park ones have a history of being taken so I would recommend that you lock the pushchairs up safely.
- We always have a baby carrier this us, its ideal for the airport and carrying babies and toddlers around. We had the BabyBjorn Synergy until they were one and bought the Manduca as a back carrier Sometimes you need to be hands free (when you have three) its perfect to be able to carry one without using your arms.
What to buy before you go
We wrote a post about the essentials that I would pack before we went, so click here for the full details.
Clothes: I always recommend a variety of clothing. France very much like the UK has very unpredictable weather. We have been in glorious sunshine in September and the worst rains ever in May!
Food and snacks will take a huge chunk of your spending money. So here are ways to keep the costs down:
- Half board: We have never used this but friends have booked this and loved it. Its a great way to help with the budgets of your trip as the half board will be pre-paid and you can eat at most of food places and not worry about paying on the day. If you go down the half board route, Here’s more information on how to do this
- The queues in the eating places are notoriously long. We have waited over an hour once to get served and once we finally got to the counter, what was remaining was very limited. Raihan ended up having a long tantrum after all that waiting. I would pack a picnic as there are plenty of seating and low walls. They do check your bags at the entrance but we’ve always had snacks and drinks with us and its never been a problem.
- If you are eating onsite, I would avoid the typically busy times, so either have a late lunch or early dinner, it saves so much time if you avoid the busy periods.
- There are shops at the train station, where you can grab some sandwiches, drinks etc. If you need to stock up on other things there is a supermarket, if you catch the RER (train) just one stop to Val d’Europe, there’s an enormous, 2-level Auchan there that will carry everything you need.
- There are loads of water fountains around the park so an empty water bottle can be filled up easily rather then purchasing drink/water bottles or carrying lots around with you. This is really good especially if you are visiting in Summer.
- Star Wars fans should definitely plan to eat one meal in the burger place at Videopolis. They have special Star Wars themed food (unfortunately no vegetarian version) from Darth Vader burgers (black baps) to Yoda food. Its great all round!
- Some of the cheapest and best food paces are outside of the parks in the Disney Village, but it is a long walk there and back, so I would try and fit these in if you are walking from one park to the next or at the end of the day.
Airport to Disneyland: the options
If you are arriving in Charles de Gualle Airport or Orly you have a number of options:
Magical Shuttle Airport Bus
The takes you from the Paris airports straight to the heart of the magic. Direct and regular departures from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports (approximately 45 minutes), and the Disney Hotels (except Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch).
Bookings can be made up to two days before the departure date (costs extra to receive the Magical Shuttle voucher by post For more information visit www.magicalshuttle.co.uk
These are high speed trains from CDG to Disneyland take only 12 minutes to complete the journey. TGV is 17.50€ for 2nd class tickets to 34€ for first class tickets (slightly more legroom and wider seats). CDG to Disneyland tickets can also be purchased upon arrival at the CDG Airport Terminal 2 train station.
These are the normal trains and if you choose this option you would depart from CDG to Disneyland but require a transfer at Châtelet Les Halles underground station in central Paris. Ticket prices for RER train travel from CDG to Paris, then Paris to Disneyland at Marne La Vallée station cost 17.05€ requiring two tickets to complete the journey. Travel time is roughly 80 minutes, station to station.
Private Taxis / airport shuttles
These are usually round 60€ for a car and maybe the best option if there are lots of you in a group. You can prebook these in advance and it means a much easier transfer with no waiting around which the other options would have.
Getting to the Park from the hotel
- If you are staying in one of the Disney hotels, on the first day, I recommend walking to the Park from your hotel. There is lots to see and do on the way, the lake, activities and its safe for toddlers to walk as there is no vehicles. (it is a long walk) but it really helps to get your bearings and into the Disney spirit.
- There is a free shuttle to and from the park to the Disney and sister hotels near the site, this is the quickest and fastest way to get to the park.
- The buses are sometimes really busy so if you have a pushchair, you may need to collapse this so avoid overloading this and ensure that you can easily collapse it before getting on the bus.
At the Parks
- On arrival to the parks, get an up-to-date timetable and programme as you walk into the park. It’s really important as timings change and ensure that you have the timetable for the shows that are on for the days your are visiting. These have details of when the English shows will be on so will help you plan your time.
- There are two parks and usually your tickets allow entrance to both the Studio and the Main Park. It should be said the parks are huge and there is quite a bit of walk from one park to another. If you are wanting to do both parks in one day, I would do one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. TIP the Studio closes at an earlier time so ensure that you plan for this if you are visiting the studios.
- The Studios tend to be quieter then the main park (not always the case throughout the year but generally speaking) but the Ratatouille ride is really popular so I would suggest you FastPass that attraction.
- The shows in the Studios are fabulous and really recommend them all, try to watch as many as you can as they really add to the magic of a Disney visit.
TIPS for the parks
- The timing of the main parade changes depending on the season. I would recommend seating behind the back of the castle near the entrance of Discovery Land or at the end of the parade, near the entrance to the park. This apparently is perfect for those not waiting for a while because arriving 15 – 20 minutes before the show time will still mean that you can get great seats.
- Have a small fold up picnic blanket in your pushchair and this is perfect for getting the kids to sit down and watch the parades.
- Dress up or having a character toy is a great way of attracting attention of the characters in the parade. Jessie from Toy Story is great for interacting with the crowd.
- Also if it is your child’s birthday, wearing a badge will usually see more attention from all the characters throughout the day.
The fireworks are incredible and I love watching them but between April – August the timing of these are super late. We didn’t get back to uor hotel till nearly midnight, so I would only recommend you watch this once if you want to have an early start the next day!
- There is a massive rush to leave at the end so leave about 25 minutes into the display and you should hopefully be the first one out. Otherwise I recommend waiting around, visiting shops and letting the park quieten down before leaving.
I have a separate post on fast passes, but a little overview of them is to try and use them as effectively as possible.
Here’s a little information about the FastPass.
1. Use one Disney® Park admission ticket for each rider into the FASTPASS® machine at the entrance to the attraction.
2. Receive your FASTPASS® ticket with your return time, and experience all the fun of the Disney® Parks elsewhere while you wait.
Something that people often forget is that another ticket can only be obtained once the previous one has been used or 2 hours after the previous one. The rides that the pass can be used for are here.
Using your ‘Magic Hours’ (Extra Hours)
- Making use of this 8 – 10 am slot is imperative to really help you include a number of rides and meet and greets. Not all the rides open but a number of these in Fantasy Land are open so the ones that are try and do them a number of times before the queues build up.
- Also, this is the best time to do a few meet and greets as characters are around the park without the huge queues!
- By 9:45, you need to start planning on which is the main ride you want to do when all the park opens at 10. I would make your way to that line. However, if you want to do either the Star Wars Jedi Training / or Princess Pavillion, you need to start queuing earlier about 9:15 – 9:30.
- After you have done your first ride, it will be just around 10:30 (unless it is the Star Wars as you will be given your time to return) and I suggest you get a FastPass ride ticket so you have a plan and then try and so as many of the rides that you can. I would aim to do the rides with little or fast moving queues. Trailing the children from one busy ride to another will lead to lots of grumbly children so the following are the main ones that are easy to quickly do:
- Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque (Fantasy Land)
- Le Pays des Contes de Fées:, (Boat Ride, Fantasy Land)
Shortish queues but tend to move quickly
- It’s a small world (our Favourite, Fantasy Land)
- Thunder Mesa Riverboat (Frontierland)
- Mad Hatter’s teacups (Fantasy Land)
- Slinky Dog ZigZag spin (Disney Studio, Toon Stuidos)
- Flying Carpets over Agrabah (Disney Studio, Toon Studios)
Other Ride Tips (Especially for those arriving at normal opening times)
- Always head towards the back of the park when you first enter (if you are not using the Magic Hours), there will be less people in the lines with you then starting at the front and working your way to the back.
- I would see the parade in the first day if you are going for a few days. On the other days, it is perfect time to go on the popular rides as the queue times are much quieter. We went on space mountain twice in August 2006 as there was no queue.
- After all the parade having finished people (especially those with younger children) often start to leave the park, this is again another good time to go on the more popular rides as it will usually be quieter.
- Disneyland Railroad Train is a fun way to see the whole park, resist trying to get on at the entrance, instead find another stop and start your ride there. No lines and less crowds.
- If you are there for a few days, I would suggest you take breaks between rides and pacing yourself. If you are on one of the site hotels, I would recommend returning for a nap or a swim (not all the hotels have pools though) as it will do wonders for recharging the kids batteries (and your own!)
None Ride Attractions (No queuing)
I was really impressed that there was a number of none ride attractions that never have any queues and actually are quite fun and excellent additions to the things you can do.
- Cinderalla’s Castle (Upstairs) tells the story Cinderlla in beautiful stain glassed windows
- Alice in Wonderland Labyrinth (Fantasy Land)
- La Taniere… (Dragon’s cave located under Cinderlla’s castle)
- Pirate’s beach (playground) NB: was closed for most of 2016 for renovations
- La Cabane des Robinson (Adventure Land)
- Adventure Idle (Walkway and Caves – Adventure Land)
- Aladdin Passage (Adventure Land)
- Star Wars Jedi Training (Discovery Land): even if your child isn’t part of the Jedi training, you are still able to go and have a sit down in Videopolis and watch the other children do their show and training. The whole area is great, they have plenty of seating and its a great place to have a sit down and escape especially if its raining.
- We haven’t done any character dining but I have spoken to friends who have and one of the favourites is Cafe Mickey. They recommend that you book a table as it is very popular and you can do this before you leave the UK (I think it is 1 week before you leave). Our friends attended the first sitting and said that was the best one they did as you have the best and most fun as the characters were really interactive. The first sitting is at 6pm.
- Auberge de Cendrillon: is set in Cinderella’s banquet hall, the food is some of the finest French cuisine (so maybe not the best for fussy kids) and princes and princesses stop by for a chat and there is prlenty of chances for photos.
- Inventions: Food from all over the globe and there are lots of characters who come
- Another popular character dining is the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. The cost includes both the food and a show and I have heard great things about the show. For me, the vegetarian ioptions for the food didnt reallyy jutify the cost of the experience which is why we didn’t do this. The show is located outside of the park in the Disney Village.
Never leave anything visible on the pushchairs: We made this mistake this year and we ended up having one of the children’s expensive presents stolen!
You have two options if you buy something from the stores:
- you can either have your shopping delivered to the disney store in the village, so to collect when the park is closing or
- if you are staying in one of the Disney hotels, have it sent to your hotel boutique (its available to collect after 6PM). Its a free service and allows you to remain bag free and all your shopping is safe waiting for you at home.
Everywhere you look, the children will see temptation of things to buy and the prices are extortionate. We found that letting them buy a gift at the end of the first day and then bringing it along to play with during the rest of the stay was a good way for them to be happy with one or two purchases.
Meet & Greet with characters
- There are usually lots of costumed characters about in the Extra Magic hours and with it being quieter it is usually easier to meet the characters.
- In your timetable, it will provide all the advertised times and locations for character meet & greets, if this is a must for you. This will help with your day planning too.
- They have extra meet and greet at the Disney Hotels, just ask the concierge for assistance and ideas, so you are aware when to be at the hotel. We managed to se Mickey, Pluto and one of the Chipmunks.
We hope you found the guide helpful and I always like to assure parents that your children will have a great time, and all the planning will be well worth the planning!
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