Going to Disneyland Paris is supposed to be a magical experience for parents and children alike. It is your chance to realize childhood dreams and immerse yourself in your imagination. However, it can transform into a world of horrors with long lines, runaway crowds and expensive food and drinks. There are a number of things I wished I had known before my visit, and since this list is not all inclusive, I am trying to share some of the most important advice when planning a trip to Disneyland Paris. This extra spray of imaginative dust will add a little charm to your visit!
Unless you have a great stamina, you must reside in Disneyland. The days in Disney will be long and tiring as you move from one location to another and try to see all the shows and night lights. By the time the park is closed you will often be quite tired and ready for a good night’s sleep.
An additional benefit of staying at a Disney hotel is that you will not have to worry about parking. All hotels offer free buses to and from resorts. You will also enjoy the magical time when hotel guests can enter the gardens an hour ago. Many Disneyland Paris trains are not open during this magical watch, but those that are open will either have short lines or no queues.
For example, there was a five-minute queue for Baz Lightier Laser Plast compared to forty minutes of waiting on normal days. In front of Star Wars and HyperSpace Mountain there are similar queues at the beginning of the day, compared to 25 to 40 minutes of waiting later in the day. Check out the dashboard in the square in front of the sleeping princess castle to see what the open games are, and the average waiting time.
2- Food and drink
We booked half of the Disney stay package and the “open buffets” filled with options. It is you who sets lunch times upon your arrival, and I was a little shocked to discover that we were suffering to find vacancies in some restaurants, even when booking three days ago. My first advice is to reserve your seats as soon as you arrive.
Breakfast services start at 7pm, and in case you want to take advantage of the magical time, you have no choice but to book at this time. Walt Disney Studios opens at 8 am (make sure to see the times on your dates here times) for your dates here) and Disneyland opens at 8:30 am. It takes five to ten minutes to walk to the studios from the bus station, so it would be ideal to have breakfast at 7 or 7:30 in the event that you want to be in the parks cheerful and early.
For dinner times, I recommend either around 4.30pm (especially if you choose breakfast at 7am) or 6pm to 6.30pm. While this may mean you returning to the hotel before the fireworks display, you may find that you will very much like to have a break at that time. If you want to eat in buffets in the gardens or in another hotel, make a reservation as soon as possible as we found that the places are very limited although we traveled on Easter.
Whatever your choice, make sure that you are completely satisfied, because these two meals should be sufficient for you throughout the day. When the fried sausage piece costs 7.99 €, will you really want to buy snacks for you and your family all day long?
Everyone expects to pay an extra amount of money in the gardens, but it is really surprising that he paid almost € 4 for water. There is an alternate shop inside the station where you can buy drinks at a cheaper price, or take a refillable bottle and try to find a water fountain. Alternatively, simply ask at a coffee shop or do as we did and fill bottles from women’s bathrooms.
You can also fill your bottles in the breakfast buffet at the beginning of the day, and I estimate that this will save you approximately 8 euros per person per day. Trying to be in many Disneyland Paris landmarks is a thirst quote.
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3- Avoid booking the entrance ticket to the parks in one day.
Unless your visit is literally just for one day and you plan to race among a few selected sites, I recommend that you save a few euros and choose one park tickets for one day. We got a four-day admission ticket that allowed us to visit both parks every day for four out of six days, so you could spend a day rest.
We managed to spend only about two and a half days in parks and this was not enough for two parks. Due to the waiting time of trains, you are unlikely to be able to see all the reviews, shows and trains in a single day, so it seems not helpful to quickly switch between the two parks.
4- Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris
As usual, I arrived without having a clue of the trains we might want to ride or the shows or reviews we might want to see. The programs are available both at reception and online, and I strongly suggest looking at them in advance, so you can arrange your days according to the things you want to see. Advance planning of your visit to Disneyland will help avoid disappointments during your stay.
Many Disneyland theme parks seem to always attract the queues. There is Big Thunder Mountain train (which is great and my seven-year-old niece loved it), Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear Laser Plast.
If you are staying in a resort, I advise you to know which of the trains is open at the magic hour and visit it at that time. Also, the time after lunch between 7.30 and 9 o’clock tends to have shorter queues. So you can plan to ride on the trains with the longest lines at those times, and leave the intervals to visit shows and shows.
The best train for us in Disneyland Paris was the Hyper Space Mountain which is a relatively new attraction, and this information does not seem to have spread yet. Even at peak times, queues are shorter in front of this attraction. Imagine riding the tube on top of the dome in the image below, waiting before being flipped through the air at astonishing speed, to then rush into a giant black hole. This train is great.
Walt Disney Studios
At Walt Disney Studios, the longest waiting lines are those in front of Rock N Roller, Crash, and Horror. The first two are open during the magical time, the last is not, and even in the evening the waiting times are long.
5- Download the application
To help you, Disneyland Paris has created a great app. It allows you to see waiting times at attractions in Disneyland Paris, and also includes convenient maps and daily schedules for shows, entertainment dates and parks. You can download it for free via the Play Store and iTunes.
6- Consider purchasing a quick ticket
What disturbed us most was the length of some waiting lines. At peak times, the wait time for some attractions was 90 minutes. Honestly, I can think of better ways to waste 90 minutes of my life!
One way around this is to either get rid of your friends and travel alone or take advantage of a quick ticket. This elegant little video shows you how everyone can take advantage of a quick ticket for free or you can read more here Disneyland Paris Fastpass.
VIP quick ticket
Alternatively, you can enjoy unlimited access to the express queue and skip the queues if you book a suite or Castle Club room (available only at Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Hotel New York, Disney’s Newport Bay Club and Disney’s Sequoia Lodge)
Disneyland Paris may be a magical experience, however the magical dust does not control the weather. As you can imagine, the Parisian weather does not compare with Florida, and the park is open all year round. So you will need to be prepared to wear layers of clothes, hats and gloves if you visit in winter or spring. The weather was cold and humid during our stay, and if you fail to bring waterproof clothing, it will cost you to purchase a coat of approximately 8 euros for a child or 10 euros for an adult.
8- Duration of the trip
I traveled with my seven-year-old niece, my teenage husband’s daughter, and my twenty-year-old daughter, and we were exhausted at the end of each day. However, we only had 2.5 days to try everything, so we had very busy days.
The optimum visit time will be around five to six days, giving you two or three days in each park. There are so many things you can do in Disneyland Paris so you will miss a lot if you are only coming for two days.
9- Is Disneyland Paris intended for children only?
Although you might think Disneyland Paris is for kids only, think again. There are trains in both parks for children and adults alike, and my niece was able to ride all trains in Indiana Jones.
Let’s face it, a lot of adults (like me for example) can’t wait to pamper the kid inside them anyway. Disneyland Paris provides a dream opportunity for everyone.
10- Reduce the cost of your trip
If you really want to save costs, and to be honest, this is an expensive weekend, you might prefer staying away and simply buying tickets. In this case, you need to register for future updates as I will be publishing a post soon explaining to you how you can save costs for Disneyland Paris tickets and hotels. You can also read more about general money saving tips below.