Top Tips for Disneyland Paris 2017– 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 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 other members discover.
- If this your first time going to Disneyland Paris, I always recommend that you price up the trip with a travel agent, e.g. Thomas Cook or Thomson. I have always booked it separately but it is a great free way of gaining some advice on offers, and a good starting point 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, holiday seasons in their respective countries. The local supply and demand and norms can affect the pricing significantly and could save you lots money. For example, on the French site, there is free stay and play for children up to 12 years of age, whilst booking from the UK sites limits this to the of age 7.
Why stay in a on-site Hotel?
- Price includes tickets to both parks for the duration of your stay.
- Includes 2 extra hours in the park on certain days before the park officially opens.
- Characters visit the Disney Hotels so you can do some character 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 expensive (as we found once our car broke down!).
There are 7 on-site Disneyland hotels which offer the above benefits. You can check availability and prices using links provided below. For a wider view on Hotels near Disneyland and Paris, click below.
5 star Disneyland on-site Hotels
- Luxury: You can unwind the ultimate luxury with 5-star service and quality. The Disneyland Hotel is located at the entrance of the Disneyland Park so is perfect for those wanting to be as close as possible to the theme park. Rooms can accommodate up to 5 people, and the hotel has the best opportunity to meet characters. Click Here for the latest prices on the Disneyland Hotel.
Disneyland on-site Self Catering Cabins (can sleep upto 6)
- Located just a 15 min drive from the park, you can stay in a log cabin in the middle of stunning natural surroundings. You have an individual parking slot. This is ideal for those travelling to Disneyland by car. Note: there is no free shuttle service to the parks. The accommodation is ideal for larger families, and there is a fantastic swimming pool and walks for guests of the resort. Click here for the latest prices on Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch
4 star Disneyland on-site Hotels
- Disney’s Hotel New York Home to the biggest pool in the Disney Hotels, the New York Hotel is the ideal location just a few steps from the Disney Village. The Hotel is a very contemporary style and decor, which is perfect for families with older children.
- Disney’s Newport Bay Club. This Hotel was recently renovated in 2016 and offers a stunning picturesque location on Lake Disney. The maritime theme of the hotel is coupled with a luxurious coastal experience. There are heated indoor and outdoor pools.
3 star Disneyland on-site Hotels
- Themed around a Mountain Lodge retreat setting, there is a sense of peace as you walk around the resort. Nestled in between the woodlands, you will find a fun themed indoor/outdoor pool and themed rooms adding to the woodland charm.Disney’s Sequoia Lodge
2 star Disneyland on-site Hotels
Fore families looking for the best value for their money and wish to still stay onsite, these two options are great!
- Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne. Themed on a Wildwest Escape this resort is ideal for wannabe Cowboys/girls. There are Toy Story themed rooms and the hotel offers excellent value for money.
- Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe. This Hotel offers the best value and is based around the US Route 66. The Hotel is perfect for fans of Disney Pixar’s Cars, and has a fun decor and feel.
Preparation – things to do before you go
Disney films were a huge part of my childhood, but as new characters are continually replacing classic figures, younger kids may not necessary appreciate them. To combat this, I would recommend you watch some of the following films with the kids before you Visit. Many of these films and the characters are linked to rides, shows and parades that are on display; this will ensure the 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 many theme parks and Disneyland Paris is no different. I wholeheartedly recommend packing treats in my suitcase and have a separate snack bag whilst we are there. Lots of queuing, waiting and walking make hungry and crabby kids. A few treats help to alleviate the boredom in these moments.
I love the idea of making ziplock snack bags and have worked so well so far this year. At home, fill them with items that are not going to melt and mix to make a healthy treat snacks. We packed raisins, fruit strings /stars, nuts, dried fruit, small packs of biscuits and a drink. It was great to have these on hand for the kids and was perfect for queues or waiting for the parade/fireworks.
Visitors with Disabilities or Special Needs
There is lots of information on the Disneyland Paris site and with the appropriate evidence, visitors who have certain conditions may be able to access priority passes to reduce ride wait times. Read through the sections which would be applicable to you and make sure you remember to take the correct documentation with you. I think this is a great idea and has helped lots of families with children who suffer from conditions such as ADHD who find queuing upsetting 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 are a few rides that you cannot go on but most are suitable for pregnant ladies. There are signs at the entrance, so double check before you go. Pregnant ladies are able to get an Easy Access Pass on arrival by providing the relevant required information. This allows them and their families to go on the rides with limited queuing. We went when I was pregnant in 2012, but we missed out as I had forgotten to get the required information, and didn’t even attempt to obtain the pass.
There is 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 photo-pass?
The photo-pass can be value for money for some but not for others. The first thing to note is that not all rides offer photos, there are only 6 rides across both parks that offer these! So, in my opinion, if you are not planning on doing lots of meet & greets with the Disney characters. it will probably not be worth your while. We visited the Disneyland Park and bough the photo-pass on a wet day in May, and saw very few characters, and so on this instance, the pass didn’t prove its value.
However, if you are planning on doing the meet & greet, princess for a day, Princess Pavilion and character meals, I would recommend getting the pass. I know people who have come back with over 30 photos proving the passes the excellent value for money.
If you are staying in a Disney hotel
- One of the benefits of staying in one of the 7 onsite Disney hotels is that you get 2 magic hours on certain days. These are effectively ‘extra’ hours in the park (8am to 10am) before all other guests are allowed in. It should be noted that all rides are open during this period. Although it is a bit early, 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.
- Upon check-in at the Disney hotels (except Davy Crockett) the reception desk will ask the time you want your breakfast and will provide you with tickets for that time. To make the most of your time in Disneyland, and to take advantage of the early magic hours, I recommend going for the earliest option which is 7am (you have about 10-15 minutes flexibility around this time). This will allow you to have your breakfast and get in the park 8:15am to 8:30am which is ideal.
- Even if your toddler (even up to a 5 year old) enjoys and is accustomed to lots of walking, they will get exhausted. When we went with our kids, we made the mistake of only taking a single buggy thinking that Maya would walk, but ended up with lots of tears and bickering when both kids were tired.
- We now have the City Mini Double which is a fab side by side double (remember you will need one that collapses into one 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 both were in pristine condition and it only cost us £135 for both.
- Although there are not many pushchair thefts, I would still recommend obtaining a lock. It’s better to be vigilant than sorry. A cheap flexible bike lock is ideal. Pushchairs have a history of being taken, especially the park ones (in many cases unintentionally), so I would recommend that you lock your pushchairs up safely. A investment in one now would mean you can use in many other places too.
- We always have a baby carrier with us, its ideal for the airport and carrying babies and toddlers around handsfree. We had the BabyBjorn Synergy and used until the kids were just over one. We have recently bought the Manduca as a back carrier. Being handsfree enables you to have so much more freedom, and allows you to do so much more.
What to buy before you go
We wrote a post about the essentials that I would pack before going. To avoid repetition, click here for the full details.
Clothes: I always recommend a variety of clothing. France very much like the UK can have 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. It’s 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 plenty 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 options for the food didn’t really justify 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 the 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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