Have you always dreamed over going on a Disneyland Paris holiday but have no idea where to start (like me!)? Or perhaps you have already booked a Disneyland Paris holiday and want to get the best out of your visit? Either way I’m delighted to have gotten the INSIDE TRACK on everything you need to know about a Disneyland Paris holiday from Travel Counsellor Tina Hopkins. She is well known to be an absolute fountain of knowledge of all things family travel. In the first of our Disney travel guides, she will be giving us the scoop on exactly what you need to know to do your Disneyland Paris holiday like a pro.
So, you’re considering a holiday to one of the most magical places on Earth! A Disney holiday is so exciting…but it can also be completely overwhelming! If you’re not sure where to start – here’s some tips to help you.
A Disneyland Paris holiday – the back story
Disneyland Paris is set just outside the capital of France. There are two theme parks, the Disneyland Park and Hollywood Studios together with a shopping and dining area known as Disney Village. There are five Disney hotels on-site and two Disney Nature Resorts a little further away. At Disney parks all over the world the employees are known as Cast Members and visitors are Guests.
This is the easy bit as you can fly, take the train, drive, or take a coach to Disneyland Paris.
- Flying: According to where you live in the UK, this is a great option. The cost of flights to Paris are reasonable and regular. On arrival you can take the Magic Shuttle to Disneyland Paris, or if you prefer you can take a taxi or pre-book your transfers before travel.
- Eurostar: A very popular way to travel from UK. Leaving from London, St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford International in Kent. A huge plus for this mode of transport are the direct trains which run right up to the gates of the Disney Parks.
Top Tip: Save time with Disney Express which offers advance hotel check in and luggage transfer service (if you’re staying in a Disney Hotel), leaving you free to go straight into the parks.
- Drive: Take the Channel Tunnel or a ferry across the Channel and Disneyland Paris is approximately a 3 hour drive the other side of Calais. A great option if you’re staying at one of Disney’s Nature Resorts (details below in Where should I stay) or if you’re planning to travel onwards after your visit.
- Coach: if you have a large family group or belong to a social club, why not organise your own trip?
When is the best time to visit?
There’s always something special going on in Disneyland Paris (The Lion King & Jungle Festival is running until September 2019), so you can always be sure of seeing something different. Winter can be less expensive that Summer, but the days are a lot shorter too. Weekends are busier and more expensive, so plan a midweek visit for the best value.
How long should I go for?
There’s so much to experience in Disneyland Paris, don’t sell yourself short. My recommendation is to allow a minimum of 2 nights and 3 days to ensure you don’t miss any of the magic.
Where should I stay?
A great way to fully immerse yourself in the Disney Experience is to stay at one of the Disney Hotels or Disney Nature Resorts*. There are several perks for on-site guests: –
- Extra Magic Hours: The parks open early and/or stay open late but only for Disney guests.
- Closer to the Magic: The hotels are within walking distance of the two parks. Additionally, there are regular complimentary bus shuttles to some hotels, if your feet are just too tired from walking around all day!
- Disney Express: Hop off the train and go straight into the parksas your luggage is delivered directly to your hotel.
- Meet Disney characters in the hotel every morning.
- Meal plan option.
- Your Disney souvenirs delivered directly to your Disney Hotel.
N.B. * Please note the Disney Nature Resorts are not on-site, guests are will be unable to use the shuttle service or the Disney Express.
Disneyland Paris Hotels and Nature Parks
- Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe: One of Disney’s budget hotels, it’s theming is inspired by Disney Pixar Cars.
- Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne: The second of Disney’s budget hotels in Disneyland Paris, it’s theming is that of a Wild West Town, with Woody and his Toy Story friends.
- Disney’s Sequoia Lodge: A great mid-range hotel the hotel is surrounded by sequoia trees with a relaxing and cosy feel.
- Disney’s Newport Bay Club: If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a lakeside mansion this is the hotel for you, offering a premium experience.
- Disneyland Hotel: Offering five-star VIP treatment this hotel is right at the entrance of the Disney Parks. The ultimate Disney Hotel experience.
If you’d prefer to be staying in a more rural setting and like to cater for yourself, you might like to consider the fully equipped self-catering cabins and apartments.
- Les Villages Nature Paris: With thenaturally heated Aqualagon waterpark, this eco-village sits in beautifully natural surroundings. Guests can use their car to travel to the parks or alternatively there is a regular bus service, at extra charge.
- Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch: Relax in the middle of a peaceful forest. Freedom of your own self-catering cabin. Excellent value for money. Guests will need their own car to travel to the parks from here as there is no other available transport.
A more cost-effective way to visit Disneyland Paris is to stay in one of the specially handpicked hotels in the local area, with many offering shuttle buses to a bus stop just outside the parks.
What can I do there?
This is important to consider at the planning stage of your holiday. With rides, shows, shopping and dining, parades and encounters with Disney Characters there’s a lot going on. Allow more time than you think you’ll need in order to really enjoy the experience.
Top Tip: On arrival at the park walk straight through Main Street (Disneyland Park) or Front Lot (Walt Disney Studios) to the back of the park and start your visit there! Many guests arrive in the parks and go straight into the first attraction they see, so they get very crowded very quickly.
Visiting with a young family
Don’t worry Disney have it covered. There are fully equipped baby care centres in both parks, where there are dedicated baby changing and bottle warming facilities. Baby food jars and nappies are also available to buy if you run out!
Top Tip: If you have a young family, but still love the big rides, you don’t need to miss out – use the baby switch service.
How about the rides and attractions?
Whatever the age there’s fun for everyone. If you’re travelling with little ones don’t miss Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World, you’ll be humming the tune all day! Older children just love Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain, while those with a strong stomach prefer to plunge down 13 floors of a haunted hotel in The Twilight Zone of Terror.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to use the FASTPASS, single rider and baby switch services to ensure youmaximise your time in the parks.
I’m starving, let’s eat!
There are over 50 themed restaurants in Disneyland Paris from table service and buffet restaurants to quick meals and snacks on the go. Make a meal extra special and dine with Disney characters!
- Dine with Disney Princesses at Auberge de Cendrillon in Disneyland Park or Disney characters at Café Mickey in Disney Village.
- Enjoy a traditional French meal at Bistrot Chez Remy in Walt Disney Studios Park, where you’re seated on a giant champagne bottle top.
- Sample the delights of the Victorian era in Walts restaurant on Main Street in Disneyland Park
Top Tip: Don’t miss out – be sure to book your table for any buffet, table service restaurant or character dining before you leave home, all menus are on the Disneyland Paris website.
If you choose to stay at a Disney hotel or Davy Crockett Ranch, why not book a meal plan. Choose between the breakfast, half board or full board meal plans. You have better control over your budget as you’ll know exactly how much you’ve spent. It’s flexible, giving you the opportunity to dine in many of the themed restaurants and dining with Disney characters is included.
Top Tip: Meal plans can ONLY be booked before you arrive and are based on the number of nights you stay.
Early booking offer
Book by 01 October 2019 for visits between 07 November 2019 and 30 September 2020 and receive up to 25% discount on your hotel and park tickets package plus free half board. Based on hotel and number of nights booked.
- Be sure to watch the Disney daytime parade and the evening fireworks at least once during your visit. Timings vary according to the time of year, so check them out prior to your visit.
- Get up close and personal with the Disney characters as they pop out for Meet ‘n’ Greet sessions in the parks. Check for details on the day at Town Hall (Disneyland Park) or Studio Services (Walt Disney Studios).
- If you have a favourite character, book a character dining experience. That way you can be sure of a meeting and a photo opportunity, as they visit all the tables in the restaurant.
- The weather! Be sure to dress appropriately for the time of year you’re visiting as many attractions are outside. If rain is forecast – visit attractions outside when it’s not raining, so you can move indoors when the inevitable happens!
- For an extra special treat book to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – a dinner show with Mickey and friends and a Texan BBQ.
Wow well I hope you found all that information from Tina useful! I have to say I now feel like I could easily pull off a Disneyland Paris holiday like a pro after reading her tips. How about you?
About Tina Hopkins
Tins is a Travel Counsellor, and finds out out what you like in a holiday so she can provide you with exactly what you’re looking for. With access to many thousands of hotels, airlines, excursions, airport parking and insurance – she is quite literally a one stop travel shop! As the mother of two, now grown up children, he is well qualified to offer tips and advice about travelling with babies and young children. Find out more about Tina’s services here.
Picture credits: Täysikuu Up in the clouds via photopin (license), G · RTM Disneyland Paris – Starlit Princess Waltz show II, 20170426 via photopin (license), Alaa Ali / ĻΩooĻΩoo εïз © snow white via photopin (license), kevinspencer Times Of Our Lives via photopin (license)