Are you headed to the city of lights and looking for tips for Disneyland Paris? If you are a fan of Disney parks, Disneyland Paris is likely on your bucket list. And these Disneyland Paris tips and tricks can help you plan your visit.
Having been there three times, once when living in Paris, I can tell you it is a unique Disney experience like no other. If you are a regular visitor to other Disney parks and want to combine the magic of Disney with the beauty and elegance of Paris, you'll love Disneyland Paris.
Also known as the city of love, Paris, France is one of the prettiest cities in the world. It's a dream destination for many people. For fans of Disney parks, Disneyland Paris makes the destination even more magical.
We love visiting Paris with kids. But visiting Disneyland in France creates a special experience you can't get anywhere else. Disney Imagineers and the Walt Disney Company have spared no expense in mixing Disney magic with French charm.
It is quite different than what you expect from a family trip to France because in many ways, it's more American than French. But if you are visiting with kids, a Disney Paris stop should be on your bucket list.
And, while it looks like you have stepped right in to visit Disneyland park in California, you are in fact in France. It can be a bit confusing to the senses in this way.
But Paris Disney is well worth a visit, especially with kids. Since it's a different vacation from many others, here are some of the best tips and secret hacks for visiting Disneyland Park in Paris.
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About Disneyland Paris
Located in Chessy, France, just 32 miles to the east of the heart of Paris, Disneyland Paris opened just over 30 years ago. While it is full-on Disney magic while you are there, you can actually access it from the Paris Metro or via an Uber or taxi. There are even some day excursions that can get you there from the city.
It consists of the Disney Village, the hotel area, and two theme parks – Disneyland Park or Parc Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park. The two Disney Paris Parks are as opposite as night and day.
What's neat is that Walt Disney Studios Park is very similar to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Whereas Disneyland Park is pretty and designed to look like a small town in the U.S. during the early 1900s, much like Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World.
Disneyland Park centers around the Sleeping Beauty Castle and branches out to the four themed lands – Fantasyland for younger children, Discoveryland, Adventureland, and Frontierland. It's open all year long with extra-long hours.
It actually looks similar to Disney World in that there is a Main Street U.S.A., and some traditional attractions Disney fans love like Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, Peter Pan's flight in Fantasyland, Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland. Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and Star Tours: The Adventure Continues are attractions in Discoveryland.
If you are looking for the parade, you can find that when you visit Disneyland Park, and the Disney Illuminations fireworks display.
The Walt Disney Studios Park
Walt Disney Studios Park is the newest and smaller park in Disneyland Paris and has rides that relate to the various Disney brand movies like Cars and Toy Story. It is similar to Disney's Hollywood Studios in that most of it is themed around movies.
In fact, recently, they opened up Marvel Avengers Campus. All the rides in this new land are themed around Avengers superheroes.
The Disney Village
Disney Village is outside the two parks. It's the place to go shopping and eat. It is similar to Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in the United States.
Another unique thing about this Disney trip to Disneyland Paris is that you can get to it from the center of Paris. You can easily get to Disneyland on the Paris Metro and even check your luggage at the park if you want to go there before checking into your Disneyland Paris hotel.
Or, you can visit Disneyland Paris on a day when you visit Paris. If you are going to do that, I would say go to just one park, so that you can maximize your time.
If you visit Disney with regularity, you will note that it feels strange at Disneyland Paris. It's almost like you are in Florida and California, but you are just a few minutes (about 45) outside of Paris.
Top Disneyland Paris Tips and Tricks
So now that we got that overview, let's put on our Disney ears and talk about what makes Disneyland Paris special. Now here are some of the best Disneyland Paris tips for first-timers.
1. Research the Rides Before You Go
Disneyland Paris top attractions unique to Paris include:
- RC Racer
- Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril (currently closed)
- La Tanière du Dragon
- Les Mystères du Nautilus
- Space Mountain: Mission 2
- Armageddon – Les Effets Speciaux
- Crush’s Coaster
- Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain (when Star Wars takes over Space Mountain)
- Adventure Isle (Similar to the Swiss Family Tree House area in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort but Adventure Isle has some differences, and its a great place for exploring)
- Avengers Assemble: Flight Force
Some beloved and familiar attractions you will also find in Disneyland Paris:
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Ratatouille: A Recipe for Adventure (similar to the new Ratatouille ride in Epcot)
2. Get the Disney Premier Access Pass
One of the best Disneyland Paris tips and tricks is to get the Disney Premier Access, Paris's version of the Disney Genie+.
It's a paid service that allows you to skip the long lines for popular attractions and get in the dedicated fast lane. The only problem is that some popular rides don't have fast lanes and can be hard to get on.
Some rides that are popular but don't have a Premier Access lane in Disneyland Paris are Phantom Manor and Pirates of the Caribbean.
There are two options: Disney Premier Access Ultimate and Disney Premier Access One. The “Ultimate” allows you expedited entry one time to each available attraction, with no time slot (so you can use it when you want.) The “One” gives you expedited entry to one available attraction, but you are given the next available time slot.
Either way, it can help speed up your access to select attractions, which in the end helps you maximize your magic.
3. Stay at Least One to Four Nights
While you can do one of the parks in a day if you want to get the most out of your vacation, you probably want to stay at least one night.
But I recommend staying three or four nights so you can experience both Disney Parks, especially if this is the only time you're going to this location.
That way you can go to Disneyland Park one day and Walt Disney Studios Park the next. You can stay at a Disney hotel within walking distance to both parks.
But you might be interested in Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch which is just 15 minutes drive from the Disney Parks. This lovely cabin resort in a woodland setting is a perfect retreat, with self-serving cabins with barbecues, a swimming pool, family activities, and all of the amenities you can expect from a Disney hotel.
4. You Don't Need to Rent a Car
Everything is within walking distance in Disneyland Paris, or you can hop on the Metro, so you don't need to rent a car.
And parking is very expensive at Disney Paris so using public transportation is the cheapest option.
It's easy to ride the local RER (Réseau Express Régional) train to central Paris as the Marne-la-Vallée—Chessy train station is located next to Disneyland Paris. It's just a 40–45-minute ride to central Paris with a direct connection.
Note that park hours change daily, depending on the season. And there is also Extra Magic Time for Disneyland Paris Resort hotel guests.
You can take the TGV to and from Disneyland Paris to Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport and it's about a 10-minute ride, so you don't necessarily need to stay at an airport hotel. That said, the trains may only leave once per hour and there can be delays, strikes, crowds checking in, and so on. So my recommendation is always to book at the airport hotel the night before if you have an early flight out of CDG.
5. Make Your Hotel and Dining Reservations in Advance
When planning your trip to Disneyland Paris, make your hotel reservation in advance. There are several Disneyland Paris hotels you can stay at like:
- Dream Castle Paris
- Disneyland Hotel
- Disney's Newport Bay Club
- Disney's Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel
- Magic Circus
- Explorers Hotel
And many more.
There are also a few fun dining experiences like the character breakfasts and dining in the Disney Village. These can get crowded fast, so it's best to make reservations for them.
Some of the most popular Disney character meals are at Mickey's Cafe, Inventions Cafe, and Auberge de Cendrillon.
However, if you're looking for a specific character, there is no guarantee you'll meet them. It may be another Disney friend or other Disney stars.
If you want to book a specific restaurant or some of the best ones, it really helps to book your meals at least 60 days in advance.
It’s also beneficial to create a tentative but flexible Disneyland Paris itinerary to help your trip run smoothly.
6. There are Several Different Ticket Options
When it comes to Disneyland Paris tickets, you have several options so you can choose the best one for your family.
A park hopper ticket lets you visit both Disney theme parks in one day. There is also a single park ticket. The park hopper ticket is another way to maximize your experience and one of my favorite Disneyland Paris tips.
If you have more than one day to spend in the parks, you can choose between an annual pass and a ticket for multiple days. Keep in mind the annual pass is only available on certain days of the year.
Learn about the different tickets at the official Disneyland Paris website.
7. Download the Disneyland Paris App
One of the most important tips, when you visit Disneyland Paris, is to make sure you download the official app. The Disneyland Paris app is amazing and will make your Disneyland vacation run smoother.
It includes everything you need to know about the parks, including:
- The current wait times for rides and attractions
- A map of the Disney Village and both parks
- The schedule of all the events and shows like the evening fireworks and parades
- A list of all the dining locations and even their menus
Another perk is the free WiFi in Disney Paris so you can use the app for free. But be sure to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect your data.
Also, the app can tell you if there are single-rider queues for certain rides in Walt Disney Studios Park or Disneyland Park.
8. Visit the Souvenir Shops for Official Disneyland Paris Merchandise
When you're trying to figure out what to do at Disneyland Paris, you'll definitely want to hit the shops to get the Disney merchandise only available in Paris.
This Disney Paris vacation may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and you want souvenirs to remind you of this incredible vacation.
9. Buy a Disney Dining Plan
You can simplify your meals by purchasing a Disney Meal Plan that helps you control your budget because everything is paid in advance.
Plus, it makes planning mealtime easier, and there are plenty of different types of restaurants to eat at.
You can choose a plan that's for breakfast only, two meals a day, or all three meals. They have a standard option and a plus option where the plus is a little more expensive, but you get table service with a set menu and more restaurant options.
One thing to remember is the pricing is in Euros, so it will be a little more expensive for Americans visiting Disney Paris.
10. Use Your Disney Vacation Club Points to Stay in the Disneyland Hotel
If your family loves Disney as much as mine does, you may want to become a member of the Disney Vacation Club. You can use your points at all kinds of neat places like Disney's Hilton Head Island, Disneyland Paris, or other DVC locations. The Disneyland Paris Hotel is incredible and majestic. We have used our Disney Vacation Club Points to stay in Disneyland Paris, and that can really help when traveling on a budget.
Disneyland Hotel is located conveniently in the middle of the parks, so it's the perfect place to stay during your trip to Disneyland Paris.
Rooms start at 78 points per night, so this may be a family vacation you want to plan a couple of years in advance. Using your vacation points is one of those lesser-known Disneyland Paris tips.
11. Remember You're in Europe
It can be easy to forget where you are since these parks look and feel like Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. But remember you're in Europe. The food will be different, but delicious!
But since the food is different than what you're used to some people say that the food at Disneyland Paris isn't as good as the food you'll find at Walt Disney World.
While it may look like Florida or California, it's not! Remember it's a Disneyland Paris trip which means you get the chance to have a different Disney experience.
It's a great time to introduce the kids to tasty international fare. While you can find some American food, you'll also see popular French foods as well like Croque Monsieur (my favorite.)
You may also see a difference in dining vouchers as they could be paper. And you'll probably see a lot of smoking as their laws on that are different than the United States, and many people smoke in Europe.
Just keep these things in mind throughout your trip to Disney Paris so you can set your expectations accordingly.
12. Tour Sleeping Beauty's Castle
One activity you don't want to miss is a walk-through of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. It's an amazing experience because you actually get to see the scenes from the book.
It was one of my favorite discoveries, as Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World isn't like this. The Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disney Paris really brought the story to life.
13. Take Advantage of the Rider Switch
We really enjoyed the rider switch. The Disney Imagineers truly thought of everything and solved the problem of the adults wanting to ride attractions that the kids can't.
The Rider Switch allows parents to take turns on adult rides without having to wait in line twice.
Using Rider Switch is one of the most helpful Disneyland Paris tips to get the most out of your time if adults and kids have favorite rides.
14. Take Advantage of the Rides with a Single Rider Queue
The Single Rider service is free at Disneyland Paris, and the goal is to reduce the wait times at certain rides. You access it by a special entrance for guests ready to ride alone. This is one of my top tips for Disneyland Paris if you are visiting with toddlers or babies.
Some of the rides with a Single Rider Queue include:
- Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain
- RC Racer
- Ratatouille: The Adventure
- Crush's Coaster
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
- Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop
15. Don't Forget to Bring a Portable Charger
Remembering to bring a portable charger may be one of the most useful tips for visiting Disneyland Paris.
If you plan on spending a full day in the park, bring a portable battery bank to ensure all your cell phones and tablets stay charged. And on that note, when you are charging your electronics in your hotel, you will need a converter for the outlets. The ones in Europe differ from the United States.
Even if you don't plan on staying the day, a portable battery bank is still useful. You never know when you'll be stuck somewhere away from your charger at the hotel.
Do’s and Don’ts of Disneyland Paris
Now for some of the Do's and Don'ts of Paris.
DO: Get the Disney Premier Access and use it – It's worth it.
DO: Stay in a hotel on-site for convenience. Plus, you're close to the parks, and you can enter them before the official opening time.
DO: Pack some snacks and bring water bottles as food in Disneyland food in Disneyland is expensive. The park “unofficially” lets you bring a few snacks in. You can stop at the water fountains at the parks' restrooms to refill your water bottles.
DO: Always be prepared for the weather in Paris. Pack wet weather gear and sunscreen; otherwise you'll be paying a lot of money for a plastic poncho.
DO: Wear comfortable shoes for the long day in Disneyland Paris.
DON'T: Skip going to shows at Disneyland. They have amazing shows that you don't want to miss.
DON'T: Forget to dress up like your favorite characters. Some people only go to Disneyland once or twice, so let your inner child out and dress the part.
DON'T: Worry about speaking French. Disneyland Paris used to be EuroDisney, and Europeans don't all speak the same language. But English is the most widely spoken language in Europe. That said, it is always nice and respectful to learn a few words in the language of the country where you are visiting, at least so you can say “hello,” “goodbye”, and “thank you.”
How many days do you need in Disneyland Paris?
Since Disneyland Paris consists of two parks and a Downtown Disney area, three days is the ideal time frame to get the most out of your trip. But if you only have one day, you can definitely get to the park and back in a day and have a magical experience. I would recommend choosing just one of the Disneyland Paris parks to enjoy in one day.
How do you beat the Disneyland Paris queues?
There are a few ways to beat the Disneyland Paris queues.
Go In The Off Peak
First, go in the off-peak seasons. France in general and especially Paris is overwhelmed with tourists in the summer months. This is probably the worst time to try to visit Disneyland Paris. So, try to go in the fall or spring (April is usually lovely) to avoid huge crowds.
Get Premier Access
Definitely look at Premier Access (see tip above) that can help you jump ahead in lines for attractions. You can purchase a single ride Premier Access One, which gives you access to one available ride at a specific time.
Or you can purchase the Premier Access Ultimate pass, which gives you one entry to all of the available rides, with no time slot requirement. You can purchase either of these in advance or on the day of your visit.
Use Rider Switch
If you have a baby/toddler, you can try to use Rider Switch, though it means adults have to take turns, while one waits with the child and the other rides and then switch. It will enable the second rider to jump ahead of the line though.
Take Advantage of Extra Magic Time
If you are staying at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels, you get early access to the parks before they are open to day guests. I highly recommend taking advantage of this to get in a few attractions before the parks get more crowded.
Also getting there right when they open is another way to beat the crowds at least in the early morning. Parks always get busier as the day goes on.
Ride During Parades
While we love to watch the parades, the reality is that all of the people watching them are not standing in line. So one tip is to head for the big attractions during parades which may help you queue in a shorter line.
Download The Disneyland Paris Park App For Wait Times
Definitely download the Disneyland Paris app. It has up-to-date wait times, which can help you navigate the parks and avoid waiting in long lines when they are at their longest. Different times of the day will impact wait times, so keep an eye on these and try to get on the shortest lines or “must ride” attraction lines first. It helps you maximize your experience.
Use single-rider queues
If you have older kids or are traveling to Disneyland Paris on an adults-only trip, consider taking advantage of the single-rider queues. These move faster and while you will ride with strangers, you can at least get to the attractions sooner. You will then be able to ride more in your day and maximize your Disneyland Park day.
Do you tip at Disneyland Paris restaurants?
Unlike the United States, French servers don't rely on tips as part of their wage. It is customary to leave a small tip for service above and beyond, if the server helped you with the menu, and if you are pleased with the meal. Typically, this is no more than 10% but it can be a few Euros depending on the price of the meal.
What should I know before going to Disneyland Paris?
One thing to know beforehand is the difference between the American and French parks. Ride wait times are usually longer in Disneyland Paris, and not many have Disney Premier Access pass access.
Also, the roller coasters in Paris are a little rougher.
Character meet and greets are usually listed as Goofy or friends, so there's no guarantee of appearances. But this also means you may get a photo with two characters, which is a rarity in American parks.
You'll also want to plan in advance on how you're going to get there. If you're flying into the Charles de Gaulle airport, you should consider going to Disneyland Paris first before you do to the city.
Depending on where you're coming from, if you're not up for a train ride, you can hire a car service in advance.
The Disney Parks are accessible by train. If you're staying on-site, you can use Disney Express, and the park has an on-site luggage check-in if you want to go to the park first.
Also, revel in everything French at Walt Disney Studios. Some things only exist at Disneyland Paris, such as Crush's Coaster. The Toy Story-themed land is also great. If the day is warm, you can stop at CinéMagique and enjoy the air conditioning.
How do I get the most out of Disneyland Paris?
Consider All Your Options on Where to Stay
Your main options for places to stay when you're visiting Disneyland Paris trip are off-site, on-site, or Airbnb.
The lowest price hotel options are the Hotel Santa Fe and Disney's Hotel Cheyenne, and they are about a 15 to 20-minute walk away.
Medium-priced options include the Hotel New York, Disney's Sequoia Lodge, Disney's Newport Bay Club, and The Lac Buena Vista Hotels. These places are a 10 to 15-minute walk from the park.
The most expensive is their flagship hotel – the Disneyland hotel, and it's located at the entrance to Disneyland Park.
The Hotel New York seems to be a popular hotel for many park visitors. And some people even recommend staying off-site in the Val d'Europe area, which is at the RER stop right before Disneyland Paris.
There are plenty of non-Disney hotels in the area too, and many offer free shuttle buses to the park.
Consider if you want to pay more for convenience or if you don't mind staying further away for a less expensive hotel. Also, are you looking for luxurious accommodations or someplace with a cozy atmosphere?
If you do decide to stay in one of the Disney hotels, you get great perks, such as exclusive early access to the parks and more. Definitely take advantage of Extra Magic Time if it's offered to maximize your family's Disney experience, which is one of my top tips for Disneyland Paris.
Don't Eat at Peak Hours
There aren't many table service restaurants inside each Disney Park so plan to eat during off-peak times. Peak dining hours are from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 5 PM to 7 PM.
Avoid eating at those busy times if possible and that will make your Disney Paris trip a little less stressful.
Does Disneyland Paris do fireworks every night?
Yes, there are fireworks every night at Disneyland Paris, usually around closing time, but the times change.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Disneyland Paris
A vacation to Disneyland Paris is such a magical trip. Whether you stay off-site in an area like Val d'Europe or right on-site, planning can help you make the most of your fantasy vacation.
Consider some of these Disneyland Paris tips, like getting a meal plan and downloading the Disneyland Paris app to simplify things and check on ride times.
One of my tips for Disneyland Paris is to try to plan your visit for more than one day so you can see both Walt Disney Studios Park and Disneyland Park on separate days.
Most important of all, relax! It's Disney.