The first time Holly went to Disneyland Paris was back in 2001, and since then we have gone pretty much every year (or every other year) without fail. Here are some tips and tricks we hope will help first timers enjoy their trip to the parks.
- Get the showtime listings and a map on arrival
This is now handily available the Disneyland Paris app and is key for tracking what’s going on; opening hours, magic hours (for those in Disney hotels) and wait times. I’d still recommend picking up a paper copy of the show times at the entrance to the park to save on phone battery and to help visualise locations better.
Be sure to make time for the parades and fireworks, they are award winning and one of the reasons we come back year after year. We went to the Halloween celebrations last year, for the first time; some of the parades, including Goofy’s Skeletoon and Mickey’s tricycle gang were so good, we saw them several times. They’re easy to catch if you know the route and rough timings so make sure you keep in mind where you need to be and at what time.
- Book a Disney hotel
Whilst they are slightly more expensive than the surrounding hotels, you do get extra benefits. Magic Hours allow you early access to the parks an hour before anyone else, whilst the rides that are open during this time are limited, it’s perfect if you want that empty Main Street photo or picture in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle with no one blocking your view. Other benefits include excellent theming (see Hotel Cheyenne’s Toy story themed rooms) and Disney dining plans at reduced rates if you book when the best offers are on.
- Keep an eye on the Disney deals
Both through TV advertising and their website Disneyland Paris launch different deals through the year. This could include free dining or a free night stay at your hotel depending on the duration of your trip. Keep an eye on the Disneyland Paris Offers page and Magic Breaks to try to save as much as you can before you go.
- Plan your travel to Disney ahead of time
There are plenty of ways to get to Disneyland Paris: plane, train or drive. Some of these options won’t land you at the parks doorstep (e.g. flying/Eurostar to Gare du North), so it is worth thinking about how you are going to get there. Make sure to weigh up the cost of transport against how much your time is worth, for instance a 10-minute train from Charles du Galle to Marne la vallee is 25 Euros each way, whereas a 1hr 30minute train journey was just 7 Euros! If you are on a tight budget then opt for a regular train. If time is money, and you want to maximise your park time then pay the extra!
- Learn how the FastPass system works
Don’t be caught out having to wait in hour long queues for rides, getting a FastPass is your way to queue jump into the major attractions. See it all explained here.
If there is a particular ride you know you can’t miss out on, then head there as soon as the park opens (this is highly recommended for Crush’s Coaster).
- Make time for the little details
Don’t rush from ride to ride with your face in your phone, make sure to take a look at the amazing theming put in by the Disney Imagineering team. Some of our favourite things can be found by walking through the Arcades either side of Main Street USA. There is so much to look at, and you can view at your leisure whilst sheltering from the weather and avoiding the big crowds on Main Street.
- Go shopping
Each store has its own wonders to offer – remember not everything is available in every store! If you see something you like, you might not find it elsewhere (e.g. some of the more niche items can be found in the Thunder Mesa Merchantile). One place to put on your list to visit is Boardwalk Candy Palace on Main Street USA. They have freshly made treats including fudge and cupcakes that change seasonally.
- Be prepared for all weather
After all this is France! Be prepared for changing weather conditions. If you are visiting in October – March make sure to bring a coat or a poncho as they are an extra expense in the park. Waterproof, comfortable shoes are a MUST, to see what else we recommend packing click here. Sun cream is essential in the summer months, as well as clothing to keep yourself covered in case you are queuing in the sunshine (there’s nothing worse than a day in Disney with sunburn).
- Bring an empty water bottle
There are water fountains at all restroom locations throughout both parks and Disney Village so save yourself some money (and the environment another plastic bottle) and refill your drinks container there.
Most importantly, have fun! We love Disneyland Paris and with all the expansions coming up in the next few years we are excited for what the resort is going to become.
Have we missed anything, or do you disagree with our top 9? Get in touch on social we’d love to hear from you.