Description: For families, Disneyland Paris must rank as a top attraction in all of France. There are two fantastic theme parks – Disney Studios and Disney Park as well as the Disney Village that is accessible free of charge. However a trip there does not come cheaply, although in terms of value for money, perhaps there is nowhere better!

Location: Located near Marne-la-Vallée to the east of Paris and reached from central Paris via the RER suburban train (line A).

General Info: Open in peak season from 9am to 11pm. At the time of writing a one day (2 parks) ticket costs £63* (£56* for children aged 3-11 years) and is valid for 6 months from date of purchase. There are offers on the official website, so check it out for latest deals.

Website: http://www.disneylandparis.co.uk

How to get the best from your visit to Disneyland Resort Paris (Euro Disney):

When to go: the first quarter of the year is a cost efficient time to visit Disneyland with children, as they go free with accompanying adults providing that you book a package deal at one of the resort hotels.

It is worth looking on-line to see what other special deals there are, as in addition to the ‘kids go free’ offers it is possible to find ‘4 nights for the price of 3’ and even free travel for children.. it really does pay to seek out the best deals. These offers are not available for ticket only purchases.

If you are restricted with the time of year that you can travel, it is worth remembering that a 2 or 3 day all inclusive stay will be pricey. On the plus side, by taking up the package option you will find yourself right next to all the action at the Park, Studios and Disney Village. In addition the ‘Magic’ often continues in the hotels/park restaurants themselves with themed breakfasts, dinners etc….(all at extra cost).

Busy times:

  1. High season (summer months) gets pretty busy although the park does have extended opening hours until 23.00. The weather will obviously be an added bonus at this time of year, but like all high profile attractions avoiding school holidays if at all possible is the best time to visit.
  2. Weekends – despite all the fuss the locals made with the opening of the Park, they are in fact heavy users of the Resort with weekends being especially popular as a day trip from Paris and the suburbs.
  3. Mid October up to Halloween (which is celebrated big-time at the resort) is another busy time, although there are slightly extended opening hours for this period only.
  4. Christmas and New Year. Here again there are extended opening hours and lots of extravaganza and extra shows and events laid on for all the family. Snow is also guaranteed with several falls a day!!
  5. The early part of the year with all the ‘kids go free’ deals. (See above).

Where to stay at Disneyland Paris:

1. Disney hotel:
There are many options offered in all the guides for accommodation. The most popular options are to stay at one of the seven themed hotels all operated by Disney. These are priced from value to deluxe. At the cheaper end of the spectrum is the Davy Crockett Ranch which is a 15 minute drive away. Here accommodation is in log-type cabins, some newer than others. At the other end of the scale is The Disneyland Hotel right at the main entrance to Disneyland park and overlooking ‘Main Street’. The remaining hotels are all priced somewhere in between. They are within a 10-20 minute walk of the Resort (a shuttle transport service is also available).

2. Other hotels:
An alternative to staying at the Resort is a DIY option whereby you book your family into any of the chain hotels dotted around Marne la Vallée and Val d’Europe. These include Pierre-et-Vacances, Hotel Kyriad, Ibis, Novotel, Welcometothemagic.com and many, many more. Many of the hotels can be found near to the main RER railway link into the Resort making it possible to stay in the area without the need of a car. Simply make the journey to France on Eurostar from London, either to the Gard du Nord in Paris or direct to the Resort and then onwards to your hotel using the RER line. It is then possible to take the train on a daily basis into the Resort.

3. Camping:
An extremely cost effective possibility, particularly during the warmer late spring/ summer months is to camp nearby, but it is advisable to book well in advance especially in peak season as some of the sites are quite small. There are a couple of sites to the east of the resort – www.lechenegris.com at Pommeuse just to the west of Coulommiers and www.etangs-fleuris.com 35km SE at Touquin. Also try www.campinglabelleetoile.com 45km south of the Resort near Melun or www.camping-jablines.com 9km to the north.

4. Rent a gite:
Another DIY option is to rent a gite nearby and travel in for however many days you like. Our family can give positive feedback on this option as it proved to be a very economical way of enjoying the resort. We enjoyed a week during one of the October Half Terms in a gite about 25 minutes away. Travelling in was straightforward, parking easy and we enjoyed full days at the Park. We could choose when to go based on the weather forecasts, thus avoiding the wet, miserable days!! and also visited other attractions in the area (Provins, Vaux-le-Vicomte) which made for a good balance.

Hot Tip: If organizing a DIY trip it is essential that you book your tickets in advance and have them sent to you before you leave the UK. It is apparently possible to buy the tickets at Disney Stores nationwide but in reality the stores never had them in when we called. By buying in advance you will save yourselves a lot of time by not having to queue for tickets at the turnstiles. You can buy a 1 day pass which is only valid in either the Park or the Studios, a 2 day pass and a 3/4/5 Passport which can be used in both Parks and doesn’t need to be consecutive days either.

Getting the most out of your visit:

Below you’ll find some tips for getting the most out of each day spent at the park.

  1. Arrive early, preferably a good 15 minutes before the Resort opens, particularly if you are arriving by car. The car parks are vast, and if you arrive later in the day you could find yourselves with quite a walk even before you have reached the Resort. There are travellators for the first part of route from the car park towards the parks.
    Hot Tip: Make a note of which part of the car park your car is in, so you are not left hunting for it at the end of the day when it is possibly dark and you are weary.
  2. Arriving early is more important if you are visiting Disneyland Park, rather than the Disney Studios which tends not to be as busy early on. It is possible to get into ‘Main Street’ in the Disneyland Park before the official opening time or ‘The Courtyard’ in Disney Studios but entry to the individual ‘Lands’ is strictly time controlled.
  3. Plan your day in advance if possible, particularly if you have children of varying ages. The ‘thrill’ rides are the most popular. In the Park these are Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Tours, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril:Backwards, followed by Peter Pan’s Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant (both much tamer rides). While in Disney Studios the most popular attractions are Flying Carpets over Agrabah, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Studio Tram Tour, Moteurs….Action. Stunt Spectacular. Many of these are FastPass rides (see below). It pays to head straight for one or two of the really popular rides and then to get FastPasses for as many other rides as you can possibly manage, or even a FastPass for a ride you’ve just done, but later in the day. We sent one member of our party on the first day around all the FastPass rides (she was extremely fit by the end!!) while the rest of the family spent over an hour queuing for Dumbo the Flying Elephant – and this was not long after the Park had opened. We had gone on Peter Pan’s Flight first thing and by the time we came off at about 09.30 queues were 3 times as long as when we first joined them. Getting FastPass tickets this way paid off as everyone managed at least one go on all the key rides. We cannot stress enough the value of getting FastPass tickets. Later in the day, sometimes as early as mid-day, when all the FastPass tickets have gone, the queues at the main rides are very long – fine if you have loads of patience.
  4. Use the ‘FastPass’ system. Some people are under the false impression that you have to pay extra to use the FastPass system and so don’t bother with it. This isn’t the case and it is definitely well worth using. The system is in fact simple to use and operate. You need the entrance tickets for everyone who wishes a FastPass ticket. At the entrance to the FastPass rides are special machines that issue the tickets. Simply put your entrance ticket in the machine and out comes a timed FastPass ticket along with your original entrance ticket. These FastPass tickets have a ‘window’ within which time you must return for your ride. On a display board above the ride entrance are the times that FastPass tickets are being issued for. When it is time for your slot you must return to the ride and proceed through the special FastPass entrance. It’s as simple as that. A certain amount of planning is needed so that you don’t overlap your rides and you also need to ensure that you leave yourself enough time to get from one ride to another. A change to the FastPass system means you can only hold ONE FastPass at a time.
  5. Child/Baby swap. Should you have young children who do not wish to ride or are too small to ride it is possible to do a ‘swap’ whereby one family member rides while the other looks after the child and then swaps over without the need of queuing twice. Simply speak to a Cast Member (Disney employee) at the entrance to the attraction. We tried it and it works.
  6. Try to avoid the lunch slot of 11.30 – 2.00 as this is the busiest time for all eateries. Most of the restaurants are simply themed variations of the same sort of grub – involving French Fries (well we are in France after all!), and they don’t come cheap. There are other restaurants as well which can be pre-booked at (a) Disneyland City Hall on your left immediately after you come into Main Street in the Park or (b) Studio Services in the Courtyard in Disney Studios. For example The Blue Lagoon Restaurant next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride has a Caribbean theme.
  7. Unfortunately you cannot bring picnics into the Park/Studios. Instead you must leave the Parks and return to the picnic area found on your right by the travellators as you head back to the car parks
  8. Parades. For many these are the highlight of a visit to Disneyland, Paris, and quite rightly so. They are colourful and magical for children and adults alike and it is worth taking the effort to get the most out of the parades. Firstly find out when and where they start and then plan to secure your spot as much as half an hour before the parade begins. There is a happy, carnival atmosphere while you wait and time passes quickly. Hot Tip: If you watch where the parade starts you can then head back to the rides while everyone else is still watching. Alternatively miss out on watching the parade altogether and capitalize on the rides being less crowded.
  9. Agree on a meeting place if you get separated. Chose somewhere that everyone can find easily.

Eurostar and Disneyland, Paris:

And finally let’s not forget that it is possible to take a crossing direct to the Disneyland Resort on the eastern side of Paris – 2h 34 from London or 2h 01 from Ashford. The latter station is slightly Disney themed with interactive games available. There is one direct train a day each way to the resort, leaving London at 09.53 and returning at 19.37 to allow maximum time at the resort. Free Disney activity packs are available for children to help keep them entertained on the journey and there is always a Disney presence at St. Pancras.

Should you be booked into one of the many hotels available, an excellent service – Disney Express – allows you to leave your luggage at the station from where it is taken direct to your hotel. This means you can head straight into the parks to gain maximum time out of yours and the childrens’ day! Using this service recently proved to be totally hassle free with no luggage going astray! The ‘Disney Express’ desk can be found on the first floor of the Marne-la-Vallée (Disney) station.

* please note that all prices and train times are subject to change, so please check the providers’ official websites for latest information

Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to Paris: