My Top Tips for planning a trip to Disneyland Paris

Hey guys,

One of the most common messages that I get is from people looking for advice or tips for a trip to Disneyland Paris. I thought it would be a fun idea to do a blog post with lots to share some hints and tips with you all. My last visit to Disneyland Paris was my tenth visit and I never tire of the joy and happiness that it brings me and my family. There is so much that I would like to include in this but I have just decided to focus on the basics. However, I will happily write specific blog posts if you would like me hope to expand further on any particular areas.

Before you read this blog though, the most important thing is that you enjoy your experience. Yeah, its amazing to meet characters, go on lots of rides, place yourself in a good spot for the parades, get the perfect shot or east lots of Disney snacks but I’ll tell you what I think is most important…. enjoy being there. Disneyland Paris is such a magical place and I always seem to find something new on every visit. So just take it all in, soak up the atmosphere and have fun! I did a solo trip for one day there last year and I just loved wandering around and appreciating all of the little Disney details in the park.

Booking

So, You’ve decided that you want to book a trip to Disneyland Paris but what to do next. Here’s a little guide that I hope will help you.Whether, you plan to visit for one day or five, then there are various options for you. You need to consider the following:-

  • Package or Individual – Do you want to book a package deal or book everything separately?
  • How you intend to travel?
  • When you intend to visit.
  • What is your budget?
  • Length of visit
  • Where you want to stay

We have booked both a package deal and everything individually. A package deal usually includes travel, accommodation and park tickets. They also sometimes have offers for FREE dining (usually a half board meal plan). I find that when you book everything separately then it works out cheaper than booking a package, however packages give you peace of mind and its often easier to deal with one company.

It is also important to think about how you intend to travel. We have been by Coach, Air and Eurostar. You can often get some great deals on Eurostar if you book in advance which could give you huge savings. We travelled with National Holidays by coach and again this is less expensive option, and we loved it! See my blog post here for more info. If you choose to fly, which we usually do as its the quickest route from Newcastle then you may also get some good deals.However, we find the air prices are always roughly the same with Air France.

Now you need to think about WHEN to visit. I have been to DLP in May, Summer, Halloween and Christmas. I found that during the summer it was incredibly busy and this meant that the queue times for rides and attractions were much longer. This is also the case if you visit on weekends. May was a nice time to visit as it was warm, however my favourite time to visit is Autumn. There is a actually a certain date (we booked by accident) that you can visit the parks at Halloween and overnight it will transform to Christmas. This was my favourite trip ever as there is something so magical about visiting at Christmas. I also think its. slighter less expensive than summer.

Once you’ve decided HOW you intend to travel and when then you can book the hotel, we have used Magic Breaks, National Holidays , direct with Disneyland Paris and Expedia. Magic Breaks have always been great for us and they often have special offers. In fact Disneyland Paris has a great offer at the moment on a package deal. it is FREE DINING and save up to 20% and FREE 100 euros spending – see offer here. I often find that booking the hotel prices are usually cheaper to book on Expedia.

Finally – you need to think about park tickets. You can buy tickets starting from one day upwards. If you are going for one day, I would recommend buying a ONE day TWO park ticket in advance as this will save you some money. I would recommend booking with attraction tickets direct as they have always been great for us. However you can also book individual park tickets with all of the above companies.

Accommodation

There are lots of different options of places to stay on a trip to Disneyland Paris depending on your budget. The options are staying at:-

  • A Disney Hotel (Disneyland Hotel, The Art of Marvel hotel, Newport bay, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Cheyenne and Santa Fe)
  • Disney Partner hotel (Dream Castle, Magic Circus, Raddison Blu, Adagio Marne – La- Val d’Europe, Explorers, Campanile, Hotel Elysee and B&B hotel)
  • Disney Nature Resort (Les Villages Nature Paris and Davy Crockett campsite)
  • or a local hotel
  • or an Air B and B.

Personally, I have stayed at Davy Crocketts, Newport Bay, Dream Castle and Magic Circus. The benefits of staying at a Disney hotel are that they are closer to the parks, extra magic hours and you get the Disney magic experience (they sometimes have character meets in the hotel)

The partner hotels are great! They are close enough to the park that you could walk but they also offer a shuttle bus service, which is runs every ten minutes or so. I have stayed at Dream Castle three times and Magic circus once and the facilities are fantastic. We also have breakfast included which was great. The benefits to staying in a partner hotel is location and I always find prices to be a lot cheaper than the Disney hotels.

I have stayed at Davy Crockett campsite but that was back in 1997, we had a caravan and stayed at the park. It was brilliant, they had a pool and it was lovely to be staying in such a natural environment. I am very keen to stay at Les Villages Nature as I have a feeling we would love it. I believe its like centre pacs so they have lots of activities and the accomodation and resort itself look stunning.

I have never stayed in an Air B&B but I did look into it and there are some fabulous options, which are reasonably priced.

Character Dining

If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that I love Character dining experiences. I just find them so special as not only do you eat some delicious food but you get a chance to meet and interact with a number of characters and its just lovely. However, I will say that character dining can be very expensive. We tend to limit to to one meal per trip, and pay the extra on top of our meal plan. I would add however that it is worth the cost as it is such a special experience.

There are various options for character dining at Disney land Paris for breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Breakfast

We have been for breakfast twice in the park at Plaza Gardens and I would highly recommend if you have the chance. On our last visit we met Mickey, Eyeore, Tigger, Daisy, Piglet and Scrooge McDuck. The breakfast is a buffet style and the food is lovely with lots of choice for the whole family. The characters make their way around the room so you get a chance to meet all of them. If you miss them because you are getting breakfast, just let someone know and they will normally arrange them to come back. Also, if you book an early morning spot then you enter the park earlier which is great if you want some pictures of an empty Main Street to a castle pic without lots of people in it.

You can also now have breakfast with the Princesses at Auberge de Cendrillion which is something that I would absolutely love to try one day.

Lunch and Dinner

You can book lunch and Dinner character meets at Cafe Mickey, Auberge de Cendrillon and Inventions. I have experienced all three and they are all fantastic.

Cafe Mickey – is in the Disney Village, We haven’t dined there for about five years but it was fun to meet Mickey and friends and I am sure that Tigger also made an appearance.

Auberge de Cendrillon – we ate here in 2018 during the 25th celebrations but as it was so expensive we decided that just James and I would book along with our friends. It was very wonderful to see so many princesses and Suzy and Perla and James loved it… even though he wasn’t too keen to begin with. I will say that the menu is quite fancy so the food may not be pleasing for fussy eaters. I thought the whole menu was delicious.

Inventions – Where do I start! the food, location and character interactions here were superb. Inventions in located in the Disneyland Hotel and you have views across the park. We booked here on our trip with National Holidays and it was a special Halloween brunch. We must have met at least ten characters and it is a meal and experience that we will never forget. It was our best character dining experience to date.

Character Meets

One of my most favourite experiences in a Disney Park is meeting characters. Even as an adult, I get so excited and love a hug with our most loved characters. You can meet lots of different characters at Disneyland Paris in both of the parks. You can find them in these different ways in the park:-

  • Random meets in the park – at times, you will find characters walking through the park so that is a great chance to get a sneaky picture. There is also an area in the park which I discovered on my solo trip where the characters enter and leave the park. If you are really lucky then this is a good place to get some cheeky shots with the characters. It is in Fantasyland, just past Its a Small World and I have never seen so many characters in such a short space of time, I even saw the Beast!
  • Organised Meet and Greet locations in both parks – Meet and Greet queues can be long so my best advice would be to check the app to find out when the meets start or head straight there during extra magic hours (if you are in a Disney hotel) The great thing about the organised meets is that you can spend a little bit of time getting the pictures that you would like and also interacting with the characters.
  • During parades and shows – this is a chance o see the characters and get some pictures but they don’t have an opportunity to interact much during these times.
  • Certain restaurants during character dining – see my FOOD for more information on this.
  • Meet and Greet queues can be long so my best advice would be to check the app to find out when the meets start or head straight there during extra magic hours (if you are in a Disney hotel)

D – Disney Bounding or dressing up in the park’s.

Adults are not allowed to dress as characters in the parks but they are allowed to Disneybound. This is when you use the colours is the characters to create an outfit. I think it’s a fantastic way to get good characters interactions, great photos and make your trip extra fun. I have only recently started bounding so in the past I would wear Disney clothes and Minnie ears. There are lots of companies that make amazing custom made ears. Here are a few of my favourite. I have also enjoyed dressing the kids up in costumes in the past. The boys always love dressing as their favourite characters and you can get the cutest pictures.

Eating

Eating is very important when you are on holiday… well for me any way! I thought I would split this into sub categories as there is lots to cover. There are so many restaurants and and other eateries both in the parks and at the Disney Village that I don’t think I would ever be able to experience them all. So this information is based purely on my own personal experiences. However, there is definitely something for everyone. so please don’t worry if you have budget as there are places to suit all people.

Meal Plans – Disneyland Paris offers a range of dining options. We have used the meal plans on a lot of trips and personally I reccomend them, especially when you book and they are on offer. If you book a meal plan then when you arrive at the hotel to check in then they will give you all of the vouchers to use for the rest of your stay. The are physical vouchers so make sure that you keep them safe.

We have always chosen the Half Board plan which works best for us. It includes breakfast and one meal voucher (lunch or dinner) per person for each night of your stay. We usually choose one special place to eat in the evening and book it in advance. Each voucher is worth a certain amount so you might have to pay extra for some of the character experiences. for example… One night we visited Buffalo Bills (its amazing) and say each voucher was worth £37, we had to pay the extra £20 to buy a ticket. (these are just estimated prices)

For more information on meal plans – find info here.

Our favourite places to eat! This is a hard one as we love pretty much all of the places we have eaten and it depends on your personal preferences. I love character dining and if you can then book these experiences as its such an amazing opportunity to meet and interact with characters in a more relaxed environment. See my character dining section for more info on this. Aside from the character dining, we also love these eateries

  • Anettes Diner – think hamburgers, hot dogs and milkshakes. We usually visit here on our first night and use our meal plan voucher.
  • Captain Jacks- This is situated in the Pirates ride and we even had a visit from a certain captain. The food is a described as exotic cuisine. There is lots of Seafood so this may not be best for fussy eaters.
  • Chez Remy – Ahh we have dined here twice. the first time, I ordered the best steak I have ever eater, however our second visit was a bit of a disaster as the server wasn’t very nice. However, I would still go back as the theming is stunning and it genuinely feels like you are stepping into ratatouille.
  • The Steakhouse – We have dined here there or four times and have never had a bad meal, It is located in the Disney Village and the food is gorgeous. We usually dine here using our meal vouchers.
  • Earl of Sandwich – We visit Earl of Sandwich on our last visit, What a hidden gem this is! Honestly, I had the best sandwich that I have ever tasted and its so reasonably priced. A hot sandwich is priced at 6.95 and they also do various meal deals, I recommend the tuna melt – Yummy.
  • The Lucky Nugget Saloon – We visited here for the first tike last year when we went on a press trip with Asda and it had a great menu that the kids enjoyed too. I think it might have been expensive but the food was good.
  • McDonalds – I know… some of you will hate this but if you have fussy kids or want fast, easy food that you know they will like then McDonalds. we sometimes pop here for lunch if the kids are hungry and get a happy Meal.

Eating on a budget – As I mentioned earlier, there are options for everyone. I think the best way to work with a budget would be to plan ahead. I visited with Aoife and my two nieces way back in 2006 and I was on a really tight budget but we managed and had the best holiday together. We had breakfast included in the trip when we stayed at Magic circus, so we made sure to fill up on that. Then if the girls were hungry, I would just get us some fried to share in the parks. I also took lots and lots of snacks which saved a lot of money. I saved money so we could have one special meal and we went to Rainforest Cafe ( I had no idea about character dining at this point)

If you would like more information on doing Disneyland Paris on a budget then please check out this blog from my dear friend Amy, who runs Livvybird Adventures with her daughter. She is beautiful writer and explains everything so well! Far better than I ever could.Find her blog here

Fast Pass

Disneyland Paris have their own fast pass system and I would highly recommend that you use it to ride on some of the most popular rides in the park. Fast passes are free and you can use them on the following rides,

  • Big Thunder Mountain (my fav)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
  • Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain.
  • The Tower of Terror
  • Ratatouille

To use a fast pass, you need to head to the ride of your choice, scan your park ticket and your Fast pass ticket will be released. It will give you a 30 minute window to return to the ride. You must use it during this time otherwise the fastness will be invalid. We will usually head to one of of favourite rides first, get a fast pass and then see what queues are not so busy.

RIDES

You might be a thrill seeker, you might not… when it comes to visting Disneyland Paris there is something for everyone. I thought I would share my top ten rides with you all and give you some indications to which are suitable for all ages.

My TOP TEN are:-

  1. Big Thunder Mountain – This is my most favourite ride. It’s a rollercoaster
  2. Pirates of the Carribean
  3. Buzz Lightyear
  4. Its a Small World
  5. Tower of Terror
  6. Ratatouille
  7. Teacups
  8. Peter Pan’s Flight
  9. Star Tours
  10. Crush’s Coaster

PLUS SIZE PERSPECTIVE – I was also asked for Information for plus size ladies and gentlemen in relation to visiting DLP – My lovely friend Alyssa has shared a wonderful post that she wrote about this here

Travelling with Little Ones.

Another question that I am asked all of the time is how old I think children should be before they go to on a Disney holiday. My honest answer is that I don’t think there is any specific age. I have seen babies with their families and I took both of my boys when they were toddlers. Joseph was only 18 months on his first Disney trip which was actually to Walt Disney World. I lost track of the number of comments I had saying that it was a waste taking him there and that he would never remember anything from the trip. Honestly, he absolutely loved it, he loved the rides but most of all the character interactions made him so happy and also created some lifelong memories for us.

In terms of practicality when travelling with little ones then I would say,

  • Be organised – Make sure that you have everything your child will need for the duration of your stay. I am thinking nappies, formula, lots of clothes, bibs etc.
  • Bring a pishchair – there is a lot of walking involved in a Disney trip, James (then aged 5) would also use the pushchair. Plus its great for carrying your bags.
  • Bring snacks… this is vital to get through a trip with little ones. We made up little bags for each day with crisps, raisins, cereal bars and sweets. To be honest, both Gareth and I also picked on the snacks.
  • Make use of the Baby Care Centres – there are three available at Disneyland Paris and although they are quite basic, they are god if you need to feed or change your littles ons. There are two located in Disneyland Park (Main Street and behind Plaza Gardens) and one in Walt Disney Studios (behind Studio Services)
  • Use child swap – now this is an absolute lifesaver. Obviously James can go inlets of rides that Joe can’t soon parent is often left… holding the baby! You can get a child swap so Gareth would take James on Big Thunder Mountain and then when the ride is over, I can go to the fastness queue and ride it with him. Hope that makes sense.

FINAL TIPS

Here are a few final tips that I just want to add.. I could go on forever!

  • You can pick up FREE celebration badges from City Hall which are a nice little touch.
  • Download the App – this will keep you updated with everything you need on your trip.
  • Wear comfortable shoes – you will do lots of walking so make sure you wear comfy shoes.
  • Pack for any weather. You can never guarantee how the weather will turnout on your trip. I have visited in November and it was lovely and warm and we could wear a jumper. However, on an other bits in November it was so cold and we had hat, scarves and gloves. Bring a PONCHO.
  • You can also buy annual passes but I need to find out more information about that.
  • My favourite time to visit is Christmas – there is a particular time whereby you can book on the weekend that the park changes from Halloween to Christmas – thats my fave!
  • Bring a water bottle as there are plenty of fountains.
  • A park guide will be your best friend on a visit to the parks. You can pick them up as you enter the park, hey have them in a number of different languages. They are updated for each season at the parks. They will inform you of timings for parades, shows, character meets, map of the parks…. pretty much anything and everything that you need for your trip. They also have an app now which will also give you all of this information.

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