Are you planning a trip and don’t know where to start? This Guide to Disneyland Paris blog will make planning a holiday to this magical place a whole lot easier. This article will help you book your Disneyland Paris tickets, choose your fast passes for the rides, find accommodation and choose where to eat. There are so many fantastic options for every stage of your holiday and planning a Disneyland Paris short break in advance will ensure your little ones have a truly magical time.
In this article you will find
Disneyland Paris turned 25 last year and it’s a park that has had its fair share of ups and downs since it opened it’s doors in 1992. Originally known as “Eurodisney” the park struggled financially due to recession and lower than expected visitor numbers. After a name change and the introduction of new rides however it’s now become the number one tourist attraction in Paris, above the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre! It’s a popular, thriving and utterly magical park.
The park is cleverly located 20 miles east of Paris in the village of Marne-la-Vallée. Clever because it’s within 4 hours driving time for 68 million people and within 2 hours flying time for a further 300 million people. It’s easy to reach for most people, brilliantly fun to research and wonderful and memorable when you finally get there.
Disneyland Paris consist of two parks, the main park known as Parc Disneyland and a second park, Walt Disney Studios. There are seven on-site hotels, Disney Village filled with shops and restaurants and several off-site partner hotels.
Where to begin planning Disney Paris
Best time to visit Disneyland Paris?
The first stage of planning should always be deciding when to go. Several things will determine when this will be. Are you restricted to school holidays? This will definitely effect the price, this is unfortunately the case for most holidays anywhere so won’t come as a surprise.
It’s usually cheaper to travel and stay during the week instead of the weekend if that is a possibility. Tuesdays are often the cheapest day to fly.
Consider also how busy the parks will be. Try to avoid the French holidays, any major events that might be on at Disney Paris, and the summer break.
Consider the weather. French weather is much the same as in the U.K. The summer can get very hot and the winter can get very cold. The shoulder months of February, March and April and also September and October are often a good time to go as the weather is average and the crowds are not so crazy (remember to check for French holidays and events though).
Once you have a rough idea of some dates you can then begin to peruse the deals.
How many days will I need?
So how many days at Disneyland do you need? People go for the weekend and spend two full days at the park, some people even go as a day trip from the city. We would recommend at least 3-4 full days in the park. Disneyland Paris short breaks are perfect for a little Disney fix and you don't really need any more time than that, unless you plan on spending time in the city of Paris while you are there. There is so many fun and exciting things to see and do in the parks. If you want to do character meets, the rides, see the parades and shows and have table service meals just a day or two at Disney just won't cut it. Unless that's all you have, in which case I'd go anyway, just plan a little more so you don't miss anything you really want to see. It would be a mad rush. Having three or four full days in the parks will give you some time to relax and take it all in and not feel like you are missing out.
Disneyland Paris Tickets
You have three choices when it comes to booking your tickets.
Direct with Disney
You can choose to book a package deal directly through Disney and include accommodation, tickets, parking, transport and a meal plan. On the website you will have the option to pick your hotel, your room, choose a meal plan and add any extras you might want such as character dining, photo pass and birthday extras. If you book online you then go to the payment page and pay in full, however you can phone and book (more than 30 days in advance), pay a deposit and pay the rest in instalments.
A third party travel agent
You could also go through a third party travel agent such as Magic Breaks or your local travel agency for your Disneyland Paris tickets who will put together a similar package but will perhaps be cheaper. This should still entitle you to any special offers which may be on and you will still be able to book any extras. The travel agent will be able to help you choose your flights, comparing airlines and deals to get you the best price.
Your third option is to book it all separately. A lot of money can be saved by doing it this way if you are confident about doing all the planning yourself although I’d recommend, if it’s your first trip, to book through a local travel agent or Disney themselves, to help you feel a little more reassured. If you usually organise your holidays yourself though and are confident in doing so booking each part independently can save a tonne of money. Let’s go through the options.
When booking through Disney you enter the dates you want to travel and will be offered a range of hotels. If you are staying on-site you will then be able to add a meal plan, transport and transfers. The price includes your tickets into both parks and Disney Village. If you choose a hotel offsite the meal plan will not be included although some include a breakfast option. Remember to add any extras such as character meals. You don’t have to choose the flights they offer, you can book the rest of the package without transport and arrange those yourself if you think you can find a better deal. Also, a good tip is to check the French and German Disney sites as they sometimes have better offers or offers that would suit you such as kids eat free or a free dining plan. The U.K. site have these offers too but may be on at different times.
Booking with a third party travel agent may be cheaper but do your homework, check both direct and other travel agents to make sure you get the best price and exactly what you want. Magic Breaks gets good reviews on the Facebook groups and is definitely work looking at.
You could do it DIY, find cheap flights via a comparison site like Skyscanner, book a private transfer or take the train or bus from the airport to Disney and book a hotel and tickets separately from a site such as Booking.com. This option is best once you have been once and are confident getting around. We recently priced up a holiday for October, got flights for £80 through Skyscanner and 3 nights in the Relais Spa Hotel for £324! So with the annual pass (see below) this is a bargain. It can be done, it just takes a little more time to make sure you have the best price.
The Disneyland Paris Annual Pass
The Disneyland Paris Annual Pass is well worth considering if you are planning on visiting for more than 4 days, or if you want to visit more than once a year. Out of all Disney parks we find this one excellent value for money and really reasonably priced. An annual pass holder will not only get you almost unlimited free entry to both parks (some days are blocked out for events unless you have the top level of pass), you also, depending what pass you choose, get a discount on purchases in the park, food and non-alcoholic drinks, parking, hotel rooms and character dining. You also could get VIP entrance into the park to save you queuing, invited to special events and VIP seating for the fireworks. You can buy the passes in the park, at the Annual Pass office beside Frontierland. If you buy a Disney Paris ticket for one day to get in you will be refunded this when you get your pass. Alternately you can fill in the application form online or give them a phone before you go, find out how on the Disneyland Paris website. You can also now pay monthly! Prices start at a one off payment of £55 and £9 per month for the Discovery Pass to £32 per month for the Infinity Pass.
How to get there
In this Disneyland Paris guide it would be impossible to take you through the steps to get there from every country in the world so as we are from the UK we will use the UK as an example. If you live anywhere else you will need either drive or fly to one of the two Paris airports. If you don’t live within driving distance of Disneyland Paris the easiest option will be to fly. There are two airports close to the park, Charles De Guille and Orly, both are around 60 minutes away.
If you are in the U.K. you can also use the Eurostar for your trip to Disneyland Paris from St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet or Ashford, either by driving to these stations or taking a connecting train. With a bigger luggage allowance this option is handy if you are a bit of a shopaholic (like us). If you are going during the school holidays you can get the train directly to Marne-la-Vallée which is literally on the door step of the parks or at any other times a quick change is required at Lille.
If you are flying once you arrive there are five options to get you to Disneyland.
Magic Shuttle Bus
You can book the Magic Shuttle bus here. The buses leave regularly from the airports and go directly to the Marne-le-Vallee and all the Disney Hotels. You can change here if you are staying in a partner hotel. It costs roughly €75 return per family.
If you choose to book a private transfer I’d recommend asking in the Facebook groups for companies used by other people. It can work out cheaper if there are more people travelling so you can split the cost but use a company that has good reviews. You could also get a taxi which will cost around £60 so worth it for a family of 4, this option is good if you miss the TGV train. A good one I have used previously can be booked here
Uber is becoming a more and more popular option, especially if there is more than say 3-4 people travelling together.
Driving in France
If you are staying at Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch or just fancy the freedom of driving yourself so you can explore the surrounding area car hire is a good option. The French drive on the right and overtake on the left. All cars in France must have a few certain items - reflective vests for each person in the car, a warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, 2 breathalysers (well one but if you have to use one you then need to have one left in case you need another one), spare bulbs so they can be changed there and then and a GB (or whatever country you live in) sticker. The alcohol levels permitted are even lower than in the U.K. and police are allowed to not only fine you on the spot but also confiscate your licence there and then so it’s not worth the risk. The same can also be done if you are caught speeding so again, not worth it.
The car hire companies are located in Terminal 1 and 2 in Arrivals. Companies include Hertz, Sixt, Alamo and Avis. Once you are out of the airport you will find the roads generally quieter than those in the U.K. unless you are in the centre of Paris of course where it is just as busy as any other major city. Many of the roads have tolls which can be paid in cash or by MasterCard or Visa (debit cards and Electron can not be used).
The TGV bullet train leaves from Charles De Guille airport and takes only 10 minutes to get to Disney. It costs roughly €15. The trains can get crowded but it’s a short journey so you probably wouldn't mind standing. They are lovely trains though, clean and spacious and unbelievable fast. The TGV stop is near Terminal 2 and they leave every 20-60 minutes so it's not easy to plan. If there happens to be one due when you are ready to leave the airport this is definitely the best option. There isn't this option at Orly unfortunately but you can still get the Magical Express.
Disneyland Paris accommodation
Disneyland Paris has 7 onsite hotels to choose from as well as 9 partner hotels.
Staying onsite gives you extra magic hours (entry into the parks before everyone else giving you a good opportunity to meet a few characters and squeeze in a few rides before the gates open) and the option of a dining plan. Staying offsite can save money on hotel prices but check both as you can save money using the dining plan depending on where you want to eat.
All the hotels in Disneyland Paris are based on American themes and ideas and are within walking distance of the parks and Disney Village. There are two budget hotels, Disney's Hotel Cheyenne which is Toy Story themed and Disney's Hotel Santa Fe which is Cars themed.
Disney's Sequoia Lodge has the feel of an American National Park lodge, hidden in the trees and away from the hustle and bustle of the park. New England themed Disney's Newport Bay Club is a classy white washed grand hotel overlooking a beautiful lake. Across the lake is another stunner of a hotel, The Disney's Hotel New York (although this is being transformed into a Marvel Hotel). This hotel reminds me of old style New York and I can’t wait to see it once it’s redone. For the ultimate slice of Victorian luxury you can choose to stay in the Disneyland Hotel. With the entrance to the parks on the ground floor of the hotel you couldn’t get any closer to the action and with 5 stars it’s pretty luxurious. If you plan to drive you can stay at the budget friendly Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch. Accommodation is in self catering woodland lodges and is a 15 minutes drive to the parks so you must have a car.
There are several partner hotels, all within a short distance to the parks. Although there isn't the option of a dining plan or extra magic hours there are free shuttles to the parks and are perfect if you are on a budget or you have an annual pass.
To check prices, availability and to book your Disney accommodation click here
Disney Dining Plans and restaurants
Ahhh Disney dining...one of my favourite subjects. In this Disneyland Paris Guide I'll explain briefly about the plans and restaurants because I've wrote about it in more detail here.
The first thing to consider is whether or not you want a Dining plan. Sometimes you can book a package deal which comes with a free Disney Dining plan. In this case the only difference from the packages I’m going to speak about below is that breakfast with be at a counter service restaurant in the park instead of at your hotel.
If you are paying for a dining plan it means all your meals are paid for in advance so it’s a lot easier to budget while you are there.
You will be given your meal vouchers at the reception of your hotel when you check in, along with your park tickets. Make sure you keep it all safe, many people bring a lanyard with a plastic wallet attached to keep everything together.
There are a few options to choose from when you are choosing your dining plan. You can choose the breakfast only option which will give you breakfast for each morning of your stay at your hotel. Half board gives you breakfast plus either lunch or dinner and full board gives you all three meals.
If you want the half board or full board option there are 4 levels of dining -
Which level you choose will depend on how much variety you want when choosing restaurants to eat at. I’ve written fully about the Dining plans and restaurants here. If you choose to eat at a restaurant which is more expensive than the value of the voucher you can simply pay the extra. Many of the restaurants have a set menu to choose from depending which plan you are on so mention to the server when you are seated and they will point out which menu you can choose from. You can also “cash in” vouchers if you want to eat at a restaurant that isn’t included in your plan.
I’d highly recommend booking the restaurants before you go, especially during busy peak times and especially if you have your heart set on a particular dining experience. When you book your holiday enquire about when you can book the restaurants. At the moment it is 60 days in advance.
Disney rides and attractions
I like to think of Disneyland Paris as small but perfectly formed. It's small compared to Disney World in Orlando, which is why Paris Disney is perfect for a short break. There is more than enough to keep the whole family having an amazing, magical time for at least a few days, although we could happily go for a week or two.
When you start to think about what rides you and your family want to go on there are a few stand out rides you just have to ride. In the Walt Disney Studios there is the thrilling Tower of Terror, the crazy fast Rock 'n' Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith and the newly built innovative Ratatouille Ride where you are shrunk down to rat-size and hurtled through a restaurant on a trackless floor. Our favourite at this park has to be Crush's Coaster, a fast and tumbling journey with Nemo and friends.
In Parc Disneyland itself there are rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, a river boat trip where you'll meet Mr Sparrow and his pesky pirates, the Phantom Manor which is a family friendly ghost tour through an old mansion, Buzz Lightyear's Laser Blast where you can compete with your friends as you blast your cannon at targets throughout the ride and of course everybody's favourite indulgence It's a Small World. This ride is like marmite, you either love it or hate it, either way the theme tune will be stuck in your head for the rest of your holiday. It's a gentle whimsical boat ride which will take you around the world with dolls from every country singing the damn song from every angle. Our favourite ride here is the fantastic Big Thunder Mountain, a fast family rollercoaster in Frontierland.
Disneyland Paris have a Fastpass system which gets you on rides quicker and without having to queue for long. If you have been to Disney in Orlando the fastpasses work completely differently. In Paris Disney Fastpasses are available to everyone in the park and there is no need to book in advance. There are fastpass machines beside each of the rides which use them. You collect one for each member of your party from the machine and it'll give you a time to return. Return at that time and you can go into the fastpass queue which will be significantly shorter than the normal one. Once you have used that fastpass, or once the time has lapsed you can collect another fastpass. You can only have one at a time. These are a brilliant idea if you have your heart set on a ride that is popular or if you just really hate queuing. Take advantage of these, they are free and will save you a heap of time.
If you are visiting DLP without kids you might like this guide to the best rides for adults at Disneyland Paris from Amy at The Travel Fairies.
Disneyland Paris tips and advice
There is so much handy hints and tips to give that we thought we would dedicate a whole post to it. You can find it here.
So that's it, our humongous Disneyland Paris Guide. Don't forget to click through to read our Restaurants, Rides and Hints and Tips blogs for more in-depth info. If you have any hints or tips which will save readers money, time or a huge headache feel free to comment below. If you enjoyed this blog we would love it if you can share it on social media