Come away with me to a place where magic and delight awaits around every corner and a heady whirl of joy dances in the air. Gird your loins fillies – we are going to Disneyland Paris! For me, it really is the most wonderful place on earth and has the double whammy of being in one of my favourite cities in the world – Paris. And heck, what better place for a big kid at heart to celebrate their 35th birthday hey? So click this way for a good dose of perfectly Parisian, delightfully Disney deliciousness with a hefty measure of top tips to get the most out of your stay to boot. Let’s go – your ticket is on me…
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:
Choosing to stay at the actual park is pretty fabulous, especially as it means you get access to all what Disneyland Paris has to offer for an extra hour before it opens to the general public. This being said, in the “magic hour”, only certain rides in certain lands are open in the two parks. Plus staying at the park means you are just a short walk away from your hotel if you forget something or want to grab a jumper! AND if you fly into Charles de Gaulle Airport, the RER train will get you to the park in a super zippy 10 mins. However you could choose to live like a true Parisian and opt for one of these Paris luxury homes. Especially if there are more than one of you and you are celebrating a special occasion, you can nab a little bit of a luxury at a price that won’t cripple you!
TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
As the pocket watch obsessed White Rabbit knows, when it comes to the timing of your trip, when you go can hugely impact on the price you pay and how busy it is.
If you want to save yourself as many pennies as possible to put towards your must have Minnie Mouse ears, going off peak is the answer! Look at going in the colder months of the year when most are unlikely to brave the winter weather. It might be worth signing up to the Disneyland Paris mailing list, as this is a handy way to be the first to know about special offers and “Disney Deal”packages that can dramatically reduce the price of your stay. Also be sure to look at the time of day you are travelling at. Choosing times that are”easier” means you usually end up paying a premium for them, so be savvy and you can actually use the money you save to holiday for longer! Look at either going uber early in the morning or super late in the evening. Beware though – during these off peak times, Disneyland Paris tend to shut certain rides or attractions for maintenance. For instance during our visit, Phantom Manor and the Backlot Studio Tour were closed. But on the upswing of that is they also tend to put on something special to cushion the blow. Whilst we were there, it was “The Season of the Force” with extra special shows, exhibitions and parades inspired by Star Wars.
As well as saving money, going off peak makes for a much more enjoyable trip as you can actually experience all the fun without the endless queues and crowds! Choose to go outside of school holidays and try to make it so your visit falls mainly on week days. Trust me, the difference in the park on an off peak week day to a peak weekend day is extremely noticeable – even during “quiet” times of the year! For example, a wait for a ride on off peak day – 5-15 mins. And for a peak day? Anywhere from 45-90 mins! That kind of wait, even at the happiest place, can take the shine off the magic, so be smart like a travel savvy Tinkerbell.
Ideally I would say you need about 2 days to do everything that Disneyland Paris has to offer at a leisurely pace, including rides, parades, shows and illuminations in the two parks. Therefore why not book your trip to be 3-4 days long, so you can venture around Paris as well. If you have had your fill of Disney (which can happen I hear…), nothing beats sightseeing in this beautiful city – getting lost in its picture perfect streets, finding a gorgeous little cafe and enjoying a pavement perch with a coffee and crossiant. C’est tres belle!
However, if you do happen to be at Disneyland Paris during a peak period or wish to get the most out of your visit – fear not! There are some cheeky ways to squeeze out all the joy that Disneyland Paris has to offer:
Entry: If you are not staying onsite, make sure to arrive before the official 10am opening time, as unofficially they start letting people into the parks from around 9.30am. So you can be sneaky sneaky and get in a bit earlier.
Rides: As soon as you are in head to the rides that are top of your hit list. Disneyland Paris is split into two parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios, and rides are in both. For me, the rides you NEED to visit are: Big Thunder Mountain, Hyper Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Temple of Peril, Crush’s Coaster and Rock N Rollercoaster. Queues for these rides, especially at peak time, can be insane, as previously mentioned. Make your hit list and head to each ride. Look at the queue time – is it 20-25 minutes or less? Get in the queue, you will actually be there about 15 minutes as queues move faster than the estimated wait time. Queue longer than that? Head to the fast pass machines next to the ride, swipe your Disney ticket and you will get a fast pass which will give you a queue jump for entry with a certain time half hour window. Do this with each ride and then plan your day around your fast pass entry times.
Fill the time in between with things like exploring the various lands, getting your photos around the park and with the roaming characters, seeing shows and parades or queuing for rides that have 25-45 mins wait time. Do note that Crush’s Coaster is the only hit list ride that doesn’t have a fast pass option, so head to there as early as possible…or when you think most people are likely to have lunch, there’s a parade on or just before the closing illuminations happen. We saw wait times of 90 mins plus for this ride, so don’t get caught in an annoying wait. Follow these hack and et voila – maximum fun times with minimal down time!
Food: When it comes to food at the park, it can be a bit premium…and when I say a bit, I actually mean a LOT! If you are staying in Paris, think about taking food into the park with you. Another option is to pop into the train station as there are a few places to eat in there or just outside one of the exits to the park is both a Five Guys and a Vapiano. Whether you take food in or pop out of the park, it’ll save you not only money, but also that valuable time. As again during peak days and at peak “eating times”, the park’s various eateries can get rammed – like, queuing out the door, can’t get a seat for love nor money rammed! BUT if you cannot resist some Disney inspired snackage, here’s my cheeky tips. Choose to eat either at off peak times – so lunch at 11am or after 2.30pm, dinner at 4pm to 5.30pm (especially as the parade is usually at 5pm) and you should be a ok. If you are after good value for money, head to Frontierland and the “Fuente Del Oro” restaurant (which is opposite Big Thunder Mountain) for a variety of Mexican feast set menus in this little hideaway. Think burritos, side salad or rice, with churros and a big drink for about a tenner. If you after something a bit more special, book in advance at “Bistrot Chez Remy” located in the Toon Studios which is part of Walt Disney Studios to secure a table at this super cute restaurant inspired by the gastronomic delights of “Ratatouille”. Think classic french fare with great steaks and a lovely ambience as you sit atop a giant champagne cork at your jam jar lid table!
And if all else fails? There’s a McDonalds in Disney Village…
Photos: A big part of your trip will be nailing the most Instagrammable photos obviously right? And it’s easier to get the shot without a plethora of people behind you if you are snap savvy. It’s easy to say “get your photos when it’s not busy” but you can make it look like the park is your own if you get the angles right and wait for people to get out the shot.
For instance, if you want an undisturbed photo of you and the castle, simply jump up on the wall as below, princess!
Or wait till the evening light show is about to start and the bridge is closed off.
Want lovely undisturbed backgrounds to your shots? Go to wherever there is any little circular garden. These flower beds act as a (aesthetically pleasing) physical perimeter to keep crowds at a distance.
After a lovely panoramic of the park? Head to the top of the tower in the Alice in Wonderland maze and get a great birds eye view.
After pictures of or on rides? Wait till they are stationary, just as rides are emptying or you are getting on for nice, arty shots or the perfect selfie.
Illuminations: There are two different light shows that close the day at Disneyland Paris – one in the main park and one at Walt Disney Studios. If you are staying 2 days, it’s obvious to do one on one day and the other on the other night – duh! Check out the times for that day’s illuminations as they can vary throughout the week based on closing times of the parks. Grab yourself a coffee and a cake about half an hour before the start time and set up camp. Again, especially in the main park, set yourself up against the railings of one of the circular gardens. You will get an undisturbed view AND a place to perch yourself after your busy day of fun. And make sure you do see them – with amazing projections onto either the Tower of Terror or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and stunning fireworks, they are a truly magical way to finish your day!
With these top tips, you should get all the magic out of your trip to Disneyland Paris without any of the mischief!
Be sure to check out all our other Travel posts here for more wanderlust.
Until next time fillies,
Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN x
P.S. Want to come away with us with more terrific travel or just our general FDJ LDN-ness in your life? Get subscribing to our mailing list then! Just click the “Subscribe” button at the top right of the page and you’ll get all our latest posts as soon as they go live! You can also follow us on Bloglovin’ if you like. And be sure to check us out on social media! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.