I have been meaning to write this blog post for so long. Loads of you requested it but I just never got around to it. Here are some tips & tricks for you…
Pick the right time
We went to Disneyland Paris in October for Halloween. It was incredibly busy and I don’t think we would go back at that time of year again but non the less AMAZING. I have never been to Disneyland when it wasn’t high season and I think the next time we go it will be low season as it is just madness on school breaks & holidays or so I have heard but to be honest I know no different and it never irritates me about how busy it is, who cares your in Disneyland. If you want to visit when the number of Guests is fairly low, plan to stay mid-week (Tuesdays to Thursdays) during mid-January through mid-March or mid-April through mid-May. The benefit of visiting the Resort when the number of Guests is low is that waiting times are shorter.
Check out this calendar here. Green being the least busy and black being the busiest. Its very handy to know.
How to get there
I always book everything myself. Never through a travel agent as most times you do save a quite a bit. Check the prices with them too, then compare to what you have yourself and I guarantee its a huge saving.There are a couple of airports you can fly into but Charles de Gaulle is by far the most convenient, so that means you need to fly with Aer Lingus or Air France as they both fly from Dublin into said airport.
From the airport- You can get the train. I have personally never done it because it costs the same if not more for a private transfer depending on the time of year you are there. We used Prestige Transfers and they were reliable and on time. Myself and my sister also flew into two separate terminals when we arrived and he collected us separately (20 minute drive between these terminals) and charged us nothing extra, it cost around €130 for four of us return.
You can book your transfer here.
Where to stay
I have stayed in two of the Disney hotels. The first being Circus. It is a disney affiliated hotel and much further out then the other hotels but it is perfect. A free, regular shuttle bus comes to collect you every couple of minutes and your never waiting very long. You don’t spend an awful lot of time in your hotel so I wouldn’t be too fussy. It was clean, comfy & easy to get to and it was actually quite cute the way it was decorated.
The hotel we stayed in when we were there for Halloween was Sequoia Lodge. We stayed in a log cabin outside the hotel. It was again clean, comfy and a 2 minute walk to Disney village and a 5 minute walk to the park gates, it was so handy.
I booked this through MagicBreaks. The exchange rate from British Pound to Euro on this website makes it cheaper then the rest. Keep an eye out as Disney has regular offers such as under 12s stay & play free, free meals or extra nights free. You can include park tickets on your booking too which is what we did.
Another plus with staying in the Disney hotels is you qualify for magic hours, which means you get access to the park an hour earlier then everyone else.
Food is very touch and go. Im not fussy myself and would eat kind of anywhere but I found it a bit of a pain with EllaMay. All she wanted to eat were waffles and popcorn haha. Its just the way it is. In Disney Village there is a McDonalds and Annettes (very similar to Eddie Rockets and accept vouchers if you have decided to go half board) both of which are great. The Rainforest Café is very good too. I cant say much about the rest as I havnt been to them but there are a lot of reviews online. But your in Disneyland who cares? There is a café in Discoveryland too that do burgers & chips which were really nice too. Café des Cascadeurs are supposed to do amazing burgers too. Its behind tower of terror.
Food in Disneyland is Blah. EllaMay literally drank apple juice for her breakfast and a croissant. It isn’t great. We ate in Chez Remi for dinner one of the nights we were there and again its very blah.
Before you leave your home, go buy snacks and make up little sandwich bags full of them for you to snack on throughout the day in the park otherwise your looking at a really expensive holiday. the popcorn is €5 and a coffee is €4. So my big piece of advice is this. You don’t want to run out of fuel because it is absolute magic in the parks and you don’t want to be hangry. To be honest a little bar would have done me because I was just so happy to be there.
Meeting a princess
Worth getting up early for. Absolutely amazing experience and one EllaMay and myself will treasure forever.The only way to do this is by getting to Princess Pavilion SUPER early. We basically ran from the gate when magic hours began and by the time we got there the queue was already 120mins long or you can do character dining. This is pretty expensive and the food is supposed to be absolute muck but you are really paying for your personal encounters with all the characters, which is something you don’t get in the park. You also need to pre-book these as the book out way in advance.
The Secret Spot
So for all shows that come out onto the stage there is a secret spot you can stand at to meet all these characters while they are walking out. We got to meet all of the princesses as they were heading out to the Princess Waltz. It is located at Auberge De Cendrillion restaurant to the right hand side.It is a small enclosed area. You need to be there 10-15 minutes before showtimes. This is where the enter and exit.
These are the highlights of Disneyland and even thought they are spectacular try not turn up to the parade 15 minutes before it starts and expect your kids to get a good spot, some people have been queuing for up to an hour to get the spot they have. Costumes get SO much character interaction which is amazing for the kids or if they wear something really out of the ordinary they are in for a treat. EllaMay wore her chip costume and every single charcter in the parade either pointed at her or came over for a hug it was amazing. The best place to see the parade is over by Its A Small world infront of the pizza place. You are the first to see the parade which saves you waiting and can swiftly move on to something else. Queues are also much shorter during parade times.
The Illuminations Show & Fireworks
This is by far my favourite part of Disneyland. BUT….and that’s a big but….young kids cannot see very well as everyone is standing which results in kids being put onto shoulders which in turn means you cant see a thing. I really struggled with poor EllaMay. I wasn’t strong enough to hold her on my hip and she was too heavy for me to put her on my shoulder so we spent the 10 minutes mincing around between everything so she could try and see most of it but she enjoyed every minute of it so that was the main thing. She didn’t feel like she was missing anything if I had to put her down for a minute because she could see all the fireworks. My main piece of advice for this is again is to get there early to avoid disappointment and stand in front of the green areas up in front of the castle because this means people cant stand in front of you and you will get a full view of the illuminations show. Its spectacular. You only need to see this once when you are these because its so amazing.
Single Rider Queues
This is a god send….So for the EXCEPTIONALLY long queues, you can hop on the single rider queue. It was myself, EllaMay, My sister & her son. We got on and EllaMay was directly in front of me and the same with my sister and her son, they wont totally separate you. They are just not sitting beside you but are in the same carriage as you. You are on and off the ride within 5 minutes it great. We did this a good few times. Do you know they also do a baby swap for adults with younger kids.
Bring them with you to save yourself some money. The costumes are quite pricey in the parks.That’s money you could spend elsewhere when you can get costumes almost the same at home for about €15.
Bring an extra battery and memory card for your camera. You do not want it to die or run out of memory when your there. Selfie Sticks are not allowed. I brought portable powersticks with me because I used my phone a lot. They also charged my camera fully too so they were super handy.They have a camera shop on Main Street in the Park but it’s very expensive.
The Disneyland Paris App
Keep up to date with wait times and show times on this app. Its very trusty and helpful while you are there.
If you do anything BUY THE PHOTOS, there is an option for a photopass card you can get and get all photos transferred onto there but to be honest that’s what we had and I lost all our photos of EllaMay with Cinderella in the Princess Pavilion and I am raging. I have nothing and they couldn’t recover them for me…ill just leave ours here.
You need one of these. I still have mine from 20 years ago when I first went to Disneyland. Its something your kids will have forever. I remember trying to replicate all of the characters autographs for years and EllaMay im sure will do the same with hers.
Bring everything you need. There is nothing for you to buy there. I forgot toothbrushes and couldn’t get them anywhere.
Travelling to Primark
I know a lot of people would have zero interest in this but suprisngly a lot of you do. We went one morning to Val D’europe on the train, purely because I needed a chemist to get a toothbrush. it cost no more then €7 return and we were home before 1pm. So you need to get the train from the train station just outside the main gates to Disneyland to Marn-La-Vallee. There is also a huge Sephora there for all you makeup addicts. It is about 10minutes each way. The Penneys is amazing. The whole centre is actually amazing its HUGE.
Anyway, that’s all I have for you…a few helpful tips to avoid money/travel/food issues before you even get there and you can plan ahead instead.
If you have any other tips you can leave them below to help everyone out because its not easy knowing everything.