So you’ve got your tickets, booked your hotel and worked out how you are getting there, but holidays to Disneyland Paris need some prior thinking time. Planning and strategy are key if you want to make the most of your time (and all the money you have spent on tickets!)
Check out how Disney magic happens here in my video.
Firstly, have a think about what you want to get out of this visit, are you more interested in the Disney Characters and the parade, or are you all about the thrills of the rides? Depending on how long you have you probably won’t be able to do everything, so setting priorities is important.
How much time should I spend in the parks?
There are 2 parks at Disney Paris – the Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios park. Disneyland is split into four themed lands – Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. Each land has a mix of larger rides, smaller “family” rides, themed attractions you can walk around, and show venues. In general, if you have smaller children you will want to spend more time in Fantasyland. Walt Disney Studios is a smaller park with less small rides and attractions for little ones and more “Big Thrills”, as well as obviously film studios themed attractions.
Generally, 2 days in Disneyland and 1 day in Walt Disney studios should be enough, but if you choose to spend 4 or 5 days at the parks you will then be able to do shorter days and have more time to spend relaxing back at your accommodation, this is ideal if you have young children for whom a long day at Disney can be very tiring!
The most important thing is to download the Disneyland Paris app which keeps you up to date on current queues in both parks so you can plan your day. It also has all the daily show times and an interactive map.
Which are the best rides?
Which rides to prioritise depends on the ages of your children, but first take note of the list below which is where the queues generally are:
Phantom Manor Frontierland Any Height Big Thunder Mountain Frontierland 1.02m Indiana Jones Adventureland 1.40m Pirates of the Caribbean Adventureland Any Height Peter Pan’s Flight Fantasyland Any Height It’s a small World Fantasyland Any HeightBuzz Lightyear Laser Blast Discoveryland Any Height
Star Tours: The Adventures…. Discoveryland 1.02m
Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain Discoveryland 1 20m Phantom Manor Frontierland Any Height
Get to the rides with the biggest queues as early as you can, as queues build up throughout the day, peaking between 11-3pm. If you are not watching the parade one day that’s also a good time to get on the most popular ride.
Things to Explore
Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin (10 minutes)
La Cabane des Robinson (20 minutes)
Adventure Isle (20 minutes)
Sleeping Beauty Castle (20-30 minutes)
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth (20 minutes)
Les Mystères du Nautilus (10 minutes)
Liberty Arcade and Discovery Arcade (15 minutes
Walt Disney Studios Park
Ratatouille Any Height
Crush Coaster 1.07m
Ratatouille and Crush Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (1.02m) are arguably the best and most popular rides in the Studios but Slinky Dog, RC Racer (1.20m) and Toy Soldiers Parachute drop (81cm) can also attract queues at peak times.
Rock n Roller coaster (1.20m), the fastest rollercoaster at Disney Paris currently, usually has very short queues and available fast passes.
The Studios also have several great shows and film-themed attractions, the most popular being Mickey’s Magic Show.
How does the Fastpass system work?
Here’s how it works. You go to the ride you want and head to the area signed “Fastpass tickets” put your Disneyland ticket into the Fastpass machine and it will shoot out a Fastpass at the time shown on the sign above. We found in August that these times were normally 2-4 hours ahead of the point you were requesting the Fastpass, so at 11pm you would get a pass for 1 or 2pm. Once you have a Fastpass for a ride, you cannot get another one until 30 mins before your next Fastpass ride is due, so if you get a Fastpass for a ride scheduled at 1pm, you can’t request another one until 12.30pm.
The Fastpass system works best in the morning, so the key is to prioritise the rides which you think you want most and use your first fastpass there. By 2pm many of the Fastpass machines are closed so use the morning to get on those big ones (see below)
Some rides also operate a parent swap system…one adult queue with child and then the next adult (or adult and child) enter through fast track entrance which is super useful.
TIP! If you wear the outfit that matches the movie ride you can sometimes get fast-tracked and skip the main queue.
How can I meet the characters?
The magic of Disney is undoubtedly created by the characters, but unfortunately wait times to have that special moment and photo with your most dreamed about character can be long.
To beat the queues here are 3 tips:
- Download the Lineberty App. The App can be used to book Meet and Greets with the characters in the Walt Disney Studios. You can only book to meet the characters from 0945 on the day you want to meet them and you can only book one character at a time so choose carefully! Simply choose the location (Disneyland Paris and then Walt Disney Studios) and then the list of characters will appear. Select how many tickets you need and if you have been quick enough you will be allocated a ticket number and an estimated time.
- Bear in mind that its relatively easy to meet Mickey and friends in the park, whilst the queue for Princess Meet and Greet is usually minimum an hour.
- Alternatively, you can book breakfast/lunch/dinner with characters which means you will meet them whilst eating, though this could be a brief meeting and its expensive.
Cafe Mickey is good value for money for the time spent with the characters and the interaction gained. Plaza Gardens involves quite a quick photo and cuddle. For Princess fans you can’t beat breakfast, lunch or dinner with the Princesses at Auberge de Cendrillon restaurant by the castle. The 3-course dinner is great, although the children’s menu perhaps leaves something to be desired. The princesses are good about spending some time with each child for photos, autographs and questions, creating a really magical experience, albeit an overpriced one! Watch a short video of our experience here
Another way to try and meet the characters without queuing at all, is to wait at the spot where the characters walk past to enter/leave the stage shows and Auberge restaurant. You may not get an autograph or a staged photo, but they will generally interact with you briefly. To find this spot walk through the castle into Fantasyland, turn immediately right and go through a metal gate passing Cinderella’s carriage. Wait by the next metal gate and fence for a chance meeting ideally around 20 minutes before any stage show begins (see the show guide on the day you visit).
What’s the food like?
Food inside the parks is super expensive so planning is of the essence.
Picnics are the way forward, as even drinks are around €3.70 per soft drink and €2.50 for water. Take water bottles and use the fountains around the park.
If you have half-board dining or want to eat in the park pre-booking is best, you can do this on the app, at desks around the park or by calling in advance.
Bear in mind that at peak times queues at food outlets can be horrendous so picnics not only save money but also precious time!
What times are the Parade & fireworks?
Another magical part of the Disney experience which is definitely not to be missed. The parade and fireworks times change throughout the year but usually around 5-5.30pm for the parade and 10-11pm for the fireworks.
For the parade people begin sitting down to save spaces around 1-1.5 hours before it begins, the Parade begins from It’s a Small World and we found this area a great place to watch it, in particular in front of Bella Notte restaurant and across the street from it which gets busy less fast than other spots.
Tip! Take some little camping stools with you for when you are waiting for rides and the long wait for the parade
If you want help organising your holiday to Disneyland Paris call 07801 59350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org