If you follow me on social media then you’ll know a few months ago we’ve been to Disneyland Paris. It was a 4 night stay with 5 day park tickets. Given how expensive Disney holidays are, you can bet I tried to make the most of my money!
The package I booked was 4 nights at Santa Fe hotel with 5 days park tickets and half board dining. This meant we had breakfast for 4 days, and evening meals for 4 days. The park tickets cover both the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park and you can swap back and forth between the parks as much as you want.
This has ended up being a REALLY Long post so here’s a quick links guide for you
- Disneyland Park
- Walt Disney Studios Park
I think this was our favourite park. It’s the original park that opened in 1992. This is the one with iconic castle – in Paris we have Sleeping Beauty’s castle (something I found odd as I thought Belle’s castle would be more appropriate seeing as we’re in France). As this is the original “traditional” park there is the traditional Main Street USA as you enter and the different themed lands around the park.
Main Street USA
As the name suggests, this is a typical old style American high street. Old looking buildings housing all manner of shops and cafes. The street itself is where the main parade travels through. If you stand on the main thoroughfare of Main Street USA you can see the iconic Disneyland Paris castle behind you.
As you walk through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle you enter Fantasyland. This is a typical fairytale area and exactly where you’d expect to find some Disney Princesses. The Princesses have their very own Pavillion.
Rides & Attractions
- Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the Dragon’s Lair (go to the balcony to take in the view and visit the cellar to see the dragon)
- Meet Mickey Mouse (meet the Mouse in his very own pavillion)
- Peter Pan’s Flight (the queue was stupid long and it wasn’t the best ride in my opinion)
- Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups (this was great fun and we did it a fair few times)
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant (an air merry go round and lots of fun)
- Le Carrousel de Lancelot
- It’s A Small World (yes it’s freaky and the song is annoying)
- Casey Jnr Train Ride (mini train ride!)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (another cart ride but it was shut when we visited)
- Alice’s Curious Labyrinth (a hedge maze)
This was my favourite area of the whole park! As you would expect from the name, it’s very old American West style.
- Big Thunder Mountain (our favourite ride by far!)
- Thunder Mesa Riverboat (journey around the lake on the Molly Brown Riverboat)
- Phantom Manor (we didn’t do this one for some reason)
- Rustler Roundup Shootin Gallery
- Disneyrailroad Frontierland Depot
This area is designed to be a bit like a “treasure island” theme and naturally it includes things related to Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (find Jack Sparrow!)
- Hook’s Pirate Ship and Adventure Isle (this was shut when we visited)
- Swiss Family Robinson’s Treehouse
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (a runaway mine cart ride)
This futuristic area is a great place. It’s been rebranded in parts since Disney took over the Star Wars franchise and so here you’ll find Star Wars related rides/shops and a meet and greet with Darth Vader himself.
Rides & Attractions
- HyperSpace Mountain (previously just “Space Mountain” but now rebranded to be Star Wars themed)
- Star Tours (Star Wars themed simulator)
- Autopia (drive your very own go kart – littlest loved this one)
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
- Orbitron (a spaceship merry go round ride)
- Les Mystères du Nautilus (visit Captain Nemo’s submarine)
- Starport (meet Darth Vader!)
Walt Disney Studios Park
This park is a later addition having opened in 2002. It wasn’t there when I visited originally so all of it was new to me. It’s predominantly the home of the Marvel Universe and a lot of Pixar stuff.
- Ratatouille (a 3D cart with POV o being a mouse chased around the kitchen – kids adored this one)
- Crush’s Coaster (the most popular ride in the park – expect queues of over 50mins regularly)
- Cars Drive Thru (take a drive around the sights of Radiator Springs… watch out for the tanker!)
- Cars Spinners
- RC Racer (this was fantastic!)
- Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
- Zig Zag Slinky (a merry go round – littlest loved this one)
- Hollywood Tower of Terror (we didn’t do this one!)
- Flights of Agrabah (take a magic carpet ride)
- Avengers Assemble (a rollercoaster – very similar to Hyperspace Mountain)
I believe we did all of them except for Hollywood Tower of Terror. I couldn’t quite convince my eldest to do it with me (despite the fact she has heard Crochan Disney tell us how great it is).
Did we enjoy it? Yes of course we did! The rides were great, the food was (mostly*) great and it was just a nice time! My favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain and of course I was overjoyed by the Disneyland Railroad!
(* I say mostly as we weren’t keen on one restaurant – no reflection on the quality of the food it just wasn’t our style of food – see below)
On the negative side, it was tiring as there’s a lot of walking or standing around. We didn’t really plan anything in advance – mostly due to us booking last minute. Next time I would plan a bit better and having thought about things, here are some of my tips.
So here are some tips:
- Comfortable shoes – good god you do a lot of walking around. We averaged out around 20,000 steps on each day we were there. Even if you’re not walking you will end up being on your feet A LOT as the queues are looooong…. and nowhere to sit whilst queuing.
- Research your restaurant choices – due to us having booked the trip last minute, our restaurant options were a bit limited (they book up way in advance). So we booked whatever we could find without looking at the menus. After sampling Chez Remy, Pym’s Kitchen, La Cantina and Agrabah Restaurant we came to the conclusion that for us the best options were the all you can eat buffets – more choice of food and usually have some kid friendly options.
- Character meets – so there are certain character greets which you can find out about in advance by using the Disneyland Paris app, but you can also find some other characters randomly. Basically look for a crowd as there’ll be a character around I’m sure! Also please be mindful that the characters are only out for a certain time period so if you don’t get to join a queue or miss the character don’t be disappointed… they’ll pop up again soon enough.
(I missed a chance for a photo with Jack Sparrow but I did manage a quick snap as he ran away!)
- Lunch – Take your lunch in with you! If you have a continental buffet breakfast at your hotel then make some sandwiches in the morning and take them in with you! It’ll save some money for sure. As an example, we only had to buy lunch one day during our visit and that set us back around €50. So we saved €200 by simply taking in lunches.
(Don’t be ashamed to sit at your breakfast table making sandwiches. We weren’t the only people doing it!)
- Meal Plans – still thinking of food (do I do anything else?!), is the meal plan worth it? I would say it absolutely is!
- Souveniers – Now who doesn’t love a souvenier right? Well we bought various mugs, t-shirts and toys at random intervals during our stay. As a post-Brexit visitor from the UK I could reclaim sales tax back on items bought if I spent more than €100 in one go. This is something I wasn’t aware of at the time. Had I known I would’ve bought the souveniers in one shop at the end of the trip.
- Parades and Shows – find out the times of the Parades and Shows and get there early. It sounds obvious but we didn’t plan for these at all and ended up either being far away to see anything… which meant poor visibility for short folk like me and the kids. Also, they don’t like you putting children on your shoulders (as it blocks others seeing as well). Also keep an eye out for Disney staff putting out the ropes… and so had prime locations for it.
For the evening fireworks display it wasn’t critical to be up front as the display can be seen from anywhere. Take a look at this video to see what it looked like for us (and enjoy my absolute rubbish singing – hey I was enjoying it!)
- Queues – download the Disneyland Paris app and keep an eye on queue times. For the rides with the longest queues, keep an eye on any going into downtime. Some rides malfunction and have to be reset… if you spot any rides with queues being shut, hang around for a bit and join the queue when it reopens. Hanging around for 10 mins whilst they reset it can save you maybe 40 mins of queueing – a decent trade off in my opinion.
- “Rope drops” – I’m not sure it’s the same in Disneyland Paris as it is with the American parks, but by “rope drop” I mean take advantage of your extra hours. If you stay in any of the Disney hotels you get to go into the park an hour earlier than the general public. Do this and use this time to hit the rides with the longest queues (e.g. Crush’s Coaster in Walt Disney Studios).
In addition, if you’re at the park during the longer hours season (Halloween and Christmas) then consider not going to see the fireworks and hit up some of the rides instead. We managed to do Big Thunder Mountain and Hyperspace Mountain a fair few times at around 9.30pm. I actually quite enjoyed the park in the dark.
- Language – now this one is an observation and not a complaint or anything but please bare in mind that Disneyland Paris is situated in France. As such, the park is bilingual (it has to be under French law), and so don’t be surprised that all announcements, attractions and shows will be bilingual.
For example, in Walt Disney Studios, Star Lord and Gamora come out to entertain guests with a dance battle. During this they converse in both languages – Star Lord spoke in English whilst Gamora would be in French. However what you’ll find is that one half of the conversation will be in English with the other half being in French. Therefore it can be tricky to follow what’s going on if you don’t understand French. I might be stating the obvious but it needs to be noted as it isn’t an issue in the American parks.
I’m now looking forward to taking the kiddos back to Disneyland Paris! Not sure when, but I’d go back.