After deciding we were going to book Disneyland Paris for December 2018 and being the completely unspontaneous person I am, I set about doing my research. I’m a naturally disorganised and scatty person but when it comes to holidays I plan to the extreme. Mostly because holidays for the five of us generally cost us a fortune so there’s no way we’re not getting our money’s worth!
After having a read online I stumbled on so much conflicting information and out of date advice, it quickly became overwhelming.
I therefore thought I would share the tips we found useful and things we stumbled across ourselves to make our trip as magical as it was.
Before You Go.
1. Shop around.
We booked through Magic Breaks but it’s worth shopping around. Often the best deals are through the Disneyland Paris website but the complimentary extras meant, for us, Magic Breaks was a slightly better deal. We spoke to someone at Magic Breaks prior to booking for some advice and were told if we went ahead with booking that day, she could offer us £50 off the price.
If you’re booking directly through the Disneyland Paris website, be aware that there are different versions, including French, German and Irish.
- https://www.disneylandparis.com/fr-fr/ – French
- https://www.disneylandparis.com/de-de/ – German
- https://www.disneylandparis.com/en-ie/ – Irish
Disneyland rather controversially offer different promotions on their different websites so it’s definitely worth double checking. If you aren’t fluent in French or German, view the page on Google Chrome and the page can be translated into English.
There are also different offers on at different times. For example, there may be 25% off with free meal plan or 4 nights for the price of 2. It’s worth working out which deal is best for what you want out of your stay. We booked under the four nights for the price of two and paid extra for our meal plan, which worked out a better price for us.
2. Consider when to visit
As well as shopping around to get the best deals, it’s also worth being flexible with your dates where possible. If you’re not tied to school holidays it’s definitely worth booking during term time to get the best price. It’s also likely to be quieter during term time so with any luck you’ll spend less time queuing. It’s also worth checking on French holidays too as obviously that will also have an impact both on price, and how busy the parks will be.
Weekends are obviously the busiest days of the week at Disneyland Paris, as you’ll find both tourists and locals coming to visit the parks. It might be worth trying to avoid weekends if you’d rather go when it’s quieter.
Disneyland Paris have different themes throughout the year to keep tempting us to come back! During 2019 there’ll be the return of the Pirates and Princesses Festival, along with Marvel Super Heroes and Festival of the Lion King and Jungle all at various points throughout the year.
We went in December so obviously the theme was Christmas!
3. Download the apps
The two essential apps you will need are the Official Disneyland Paris app and the Lineberty app, both available on the App Store or Google Play.
The Official Disneyland Paris app is your go to guide to find out what’s on and where. It has park opening times, character meet times, ride closures, show times – basically everything you need to know. Times can change daily so it’s important to refer back to it throughout your trip.
The Lineberty app is what you will need to book character meets in the studios park. Currently the characters you need to book to see are Minnie Mouse, Spiderman, Buzz, Woody and Pluto and Friends. It’s worth noting that whilst you might catch Woody and Pluto in other areas in the parks, this probably is the only opportunity to see Minnie, Spiderman and Buzz, so make those your priority.
4. Plan your meals
If you have a meal plan, you’ll want to make sure you can eat where you want to. It is strongly advised that you book your dining choices 60 days prior to your visit. You can do this by ringing the Disneyland Paris Reservations line – 0800 085 0671. Don’t worry, there is an English option!
Popular restaurants book up quickly, especially the character dining, so don’t leave it to chance if you want to be guaranteed a particular place.
When you book, be conscious of the times of shows, parades and illuminations. If you are desperate to see the parade or Illuminations (you should be, they’re amazing!) then you want to avoid that time when booking your meals. Alternatively, if you’ve already seen them and aren’t desperate to see them again, it’s likely that meal times will be a quieter experience. Use the Official Disneyland App to find out times of the shows and parades.
Packing Must Haves
1. Refillable water bottles
Unless you’d enjoy paying €3 for a bottle of water, take refillable water bottles. We bought the collapsible type, so they didn’t take up room when they weren’t full, and we could also attach them to our bag. There are water fountains dotted around both parks, usually situated next to the public toilets. The water is completely safe to drink and fill up your water bottles. It saved us a small fortune!
If your coat isn’t 100% waterproof or your travelling throughout the warmer months, definitely pack a poncho. You’ll be outside a lot and there isn’t an awful lot of cover when you’re queuing for rides and meets, so a poncho can help prevent you becoming soaked. They’re much cheaper to buy here before you travel – they sell them in the Pound Shop. You can buy them from the parks but they’re around €10 euros each.
3. Character clothing
We noticed that the character interactions were the best when the kids were dressed up as characters or at least had character clothing on. Pluto made a massive fuss of my son wearing a jumper with his face on, and Minnie Mouse loved his Mickey Mouse dress up, and kept offering him kisses. The same went for my daughter dressed as Belle when she met her hero during the Princess Meal at Auberge de Cendrillon. It extends to adults too: Jack Skellington enjoyed my husbands t-shirt with The Pumpkin King on the front, and a lady next to us during the Christmas Parade was hugged by Eeyore for wearing a Winnie The Pooh hat. If you do have any Disney character clothing, definitely pack it. You can buy it from the park when you arrive, but prepare to pay expensive prices!
4. Weather appropriate clothing.
Comfortable, weather appropriate clothes are another must. In Winter it can be absolutely freezing, especially when stood in the same spot for shows and parades. Layers and thermals will become your best friends!
Nowhere on the park sells Paracetamol so definitely pack some from home. Be it in tablet form, or Calpol for the kids, it’s worth having just in case.
6. Travel adaptor
If you’re travelling from the UK definitely pack at least one travel adapter so you can charge all your appliances. It’s also worth taking an extension lead with multiple sockets so you can charge more than one item at once or use your hairdryer etc.
7. External battery charger
If you’re worried about your phone battery running low, it’s worth taking an external battery charger. The days are long and you don’t want to run out of battery before the day is done. Think of the missed photo opportunities!
It’s absolutely essential you pack comfortable shoes. Leave your heels at home! We averaged 18,000 steps a day. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel which is right on the park’s entrance so we could keep popping back for a rest, or a swim, but we still managed to rack up that amount of steps. I don’t think we would have survived in uncomfortable shoes.
When you arrive
1. Have a plan of action
It doesn’t need to be a strict itinerary, but it’s definitely worth figuring out what your priorities are and working from there. What’s most important to you – characters or rides?
Obviously there are two parks at Disneyland Paris, so it might be worth having one day at the Studios and spend the rest of the time at the Disneyland Park. I honestly don’t think you need longer than a day in the Studios, as there’s much less to do compared to the main park. Use the Lineberty app while you’re in the Studios to make the most of your time there.
2.Get to the parades and Illuminations early
You want to be grabbing your spot at least 30 minutes before the parades start to be guaranteed a good view. For the Illuminations you may want to get there even earlier to ensure an unobstructed view. Times change frequently so don’t forget to refer to the Disneyland Paris app.
You want to be as close to the front as possible to not only get a great view, but also to encourage character interaction.
3. Utilise Extra Magic Hours (EMH).
If you are staying onsite in a Disneyland Paris hotel or are a Magic Plus or Infinity Annual Pass holder, you will be entitled to Extra Magic Hours before the park opens. Use them! If you’re desperate to see the Princesses, then Princess Pavilion should be your first port of call. The queues are so long during normal opening hours and there is a mad dash even during EMH. You can also meet Mickey Mouse during the Early Magic Hours, which obviously is also very popular.
In terms of rides you want to head for the most popular rides first. When you check in you will be given a list of what rides are currently available during EMH. When we went we made Peter Pan’s Flight and Crusher’s Coaster our main priority as we knew they were popular rides.
EMH is also a great time to take photographs as it’s not nearly as busy as when the park is open to everyone.
4. Enquire About Characters Within Your Hotel.
If you’re staying onsite at a Disneyland Paris Hotel, ask about the character meets when you check in. They are exclusive for hotel guests and are usually within the hotel in the morning. The queues are much shorter than the queues in the park.
5. Explore The Hotels
You don’t need to be staying at the Disney hotels to enter them. You can go in, have a look around, visit their bar areas and shops etc. The Disneyland Hotel has a lovely shop, and is home to Inventions and California Grill restaurants and Cafe Fantasia bar, which are all open to non residents.
6. Fast Passes
To cut down on queuing time I’d definitely recommend using fast passes. Fast Pass is a system than enables you to return to a ride at an allotted time to significantly reduce your waiting time. You simply insert your park ticket/magic pass and receive a ticket with a time on to go back. It’s not instant access upon your return, but we rarely waited more than 10-15 minutes, compared to the normal queues of up to 2 hours.
You can’t hold more than one Fast Pass at a time, but once used, you can collect a pass for another ride. Fast Pass isn’t available on all rides, but they are on the most popular.
7. Tell Them If You’re Celebrating
If you’re visiting Disneyland Paris for a special occasion such as a birthday let your onsite hotel know and you’ll receive a special badge to wear. Alternatively you can ask at Guest Services within the main park.
8. Hang Around After The Illuminations
If you want to take photographs when there’s no as many people hanging around, wait a while after the Illuminations have finished. The shops on Main Street are still open after the actual park closes so you can get your retail fix while the rides are closed and get your pictures taken when you come out.