It’s big, it’s popular and it’s a little overwhelming, so how best to maximize your time at Disneyland Paris? Be prepared! Make a plan!
Firstly, there are two actual parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. Do a bit of research to see what is where and which things are essentials on your list. A Park-Hopper ticket lets you go to both. For the shoppers among you, you may want to add a side trip to the nearby La Vallee Village designer outlets.
Disneyland Park has five magical lands plus rides and attractions galore. Walt Disney Studios brings you the magic of TV and film with shows and parades. At both you can meet Disney characters. The whole complex is 20 miles (32 km) from Paris (35 minutes by RER train) and while you can make a day trip, staying overnight will ensure you get the maximum from your visit. To really explore both parks properly, you’ll need to stay three or four days.
Tickets are called Passports and it’s best to buy them in advance or you’ll end up wasting time queuing before you even enter the parks.
The most popular rides and attractions can have long waiting times but you can bypass the queue by getting a Fastpass ticket. These are free and available from machines around Disneyland Park. They give you an allocated time to ride so you can just show up a few minutes before your time slot and hop straight on. Another way to avoid the queues is to work your way through the park backwards; most people stop at the first attraction they see.
Some of the rides have size limits and smaller children may not be allowed on. If they need to be mollified, arrange a character breakfast (if you’re staying on site) where one of the Disney characters will visit your table for a great photo opportunity. These happen at Cafe Mickey in the Disney Village and Walt’s on Main Street. Plaza Gardens in Fantasyland has free breakfasts for people staying within the park so if you don’t like your own hotel’s breakfast, head over there.
The Parades are very popular and if you want to get a good view, you’ll need to get there about an hour before it’s due to start. If you don’t want to see the parades, this is a good time to find shorter queues for the rides. Also try after 5pm when the parades finish for the day and many people leave the park.
Food within the park is expensive so buying a filled baguette at the train station or anywhere outside the park will save you some cash.
And then there’s the weather. Paris has seasons: it gets hot in summer and snowy in winter. April – June is lovely weather, July – September is warm and might some years serve up a heatwave, October – December is cooler but not cold and January – March is cold, often with snow, but temperatures are not below freezing. As I said before, be prepared and you’ll have a great time.