Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide


Disneyland Resort Paris is an amazing place, with a few nice hotels, and two parks. It’s unquestionably a place that Disney fans should visit, probably for multiple days. In our conversations, there are generally two schools of thought with regard to Disneyland Paris, and why people don’t go. The first group doesn’t go because it would mean forfeiting a trip to Walt Disney World. We’ve previously implored this group of people to visit Disneyland Resort in California, and many who have made the trek to California have reported it exceeding their expectations.

Disneyland Resort Paris is similar to Disneyland Resort in that it is not nearly as large as Walt Disney World. There simply is not as much to do at Disneyland Resort Paris as there is in Walt Disney World, so it’s a tough sell as a bona fide vacation destination in itself. The upside is that Disneyland Park in the Paris Resort is an absolutely amazing park, much like the original Disneyland, and a park that many Disney fans could spend days exploring. I would rate it as the second-best Disney theme park I’ve experienced, behind only the original Disneyland (we have yet to experience the Hong Kong and Tokyo resorts). The other upside is that Paris itself is only a 30 minute train ride from Disneyland Paris, and is a place every human should experience. The city of Paris also serves as justification for those who balk at a trip to Disneyland Resort Paris for the second reason: cost. A trip to Paris is certainly expensive, but it’s a potentially once-in-a-lifetime trip that leaves an indelible mark on a person, and a trip that’s worth saving to experience.

While very fun places to vacation, the same cannot be said for trips to Anaheim or Orlando.

Planning the Trip

Based upon the foregoing, when planning a trip to Disneyland Paris, you should not just plan a quick trip to see Disneyland Resort Paris, but should also plan on visiting at least Paris and possibly another European city. On our trip, we flew into Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, then spent equal amounts of time in Disneyland Paris and Paris, before taking the Eurostar to London and then flying out of London’s Heathrow airport.

How much time you’ll want to spend on each leg of your trip is largely a personal question. If you are reading this website, chances are you’re biased towards Disney and will want to spend at least a couple of days there. We would recommend spending 3 days or 33% of your entire trip (whichever is the lower number of total days) at Disneyland Resort Paris. We spent 3 days in Disneyland Paris, and I felt that was the perfect amount of time for a serious Disney fan. There’s a lot to explore in Disneyland Paris, and the park is incredibly detailed, so planning on allocating 2 or 2.5 days for that park is advisable.

Conversely, most people would be able to accomplish the Walt Disney Studios park in half a day or a day at the absolute most. While there is an assortment of enjoyable attractions there, the park was thrown together on the cheap in a haphazard way, offering little in the way of details or areas to be explored. We spent a little over three hours in the park and felt that was enough. I wouldn’t downright encourage anyone not to experience this park (if you travel all the way over there, you might as well step foot in it to see what it’s all about for yourself), but it’s not going to be the highlight of anyone’s trip. That said, if you only have one day to experience Disneyland Paris, skip the Studios and just do the Disneyland park.

You will want to set aside a bit of time to explore the hotels and Disney Village, but this can probably be accomplished after the parks close, depending upon what time the parks close. We visited in off-season, and Disneyland Paris closed at 7 pm. Most Parisians eat late dinners, so hotel restaurants are frequently open until 11 pm or 12 am, giving us ample time to enjoy the hotels after our days at the park were complete. During the summer months, the parks may be open until 11 pm or midnight, so you may have to find another time to visit the hotels and Disney Village.

As for other locations in Europe, we recommend consulting a dedicated guide to Europe, such as Rick Steves’ excellent site, for planning. We did ~3 days in Paris and ~3 days in London, and we barely scratched the surface of what those cities have to offer. You could spend exponentially more time in just The Louvre!

Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland ParisSleeping Beauty CastleDisneyland Paris' Sleeping Beauty Castle is the fairest of them all. With the exception of the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai that is presently being built, I've now seen every version of Disney's castles (Tokyo and Hong Kong feature substantial clones of the castles in Walt Disney World and Disneyland, respectively), so I feel fairly confident making this assessment. Read more: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disneyland-paris-sleeping-beauty-castle-beautiful/

Getting There

I’m going to make the safe assumption that anyone reading this is flying to Europe from overseas, not a European driving to Disneyland Paris for a day trip. From Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris there are three main options: TGV, RER, or VEA shuttle. The TGV is the best of these options, and it drops you off right outside Disneyland Paris’ gates. Perfect for on-site guests. The VEA shuttle is the second-best option, but it stops at a number of hotels (think Disney’s Magical Express). The RER is the worst option, as you have to go from CDG airport to central Paris and switch lines to head back to Marne-la-Vallee. Both CDG and MLV are outside Paris, so doing this essentially means you have to backtrack. However, if you’re buying a RER pass (as we did) or your hotel is on the RER line (as ours was), this may be your best option. It’s relatively straightforward, it just takes about an hour to accomplish.

If you’re coming from somewhere other than CDG airport, consider the Eurostar train, which also drops you off right outside Disneyland Paris’ gates. We traveled the Eurostar (aka the “Chunnel”) and it was an excellent experience. This is a great way to get to Disneyland Paris if you’re primarily visiting another major city in Europe. What’s especially nice is that a Eurostar station is right in MLV. My assumption is that this was built as part of Disney’s agreement to bring a park to Paris…because there’s no other reason why little ‘ole Marne-la-Vallee would have a Eurostar station.

All of this seems complicated and intimidating at first (at least it did to us), but it’s really simple once you understand the basics.

Hotels

Disneyland Resort Paris has seven official resorts, with a variety of nearby “off-site” hotels. Based on the recommendations of several others, we stayed in the recently renovated Sequoia Lodge (click here to read our Sequoia Lodge Review). We also spent a fair amount of time in Disneyland Hotel (the flagship Victorian-themed hotel), and I spent time exploring Hotel New York (themed to New York City), Newport Bay Club (similar in nature, but not quality, to the Yacht and Beach Club at Walt Disney World), Hotel Cheyenne (themed to be the ‘streets’ of a Western town), and Hotel Santa Fe (designed with a cold, Southwestern pueblo style). If you were schooled by Count von Count, you probably noticed that I only mention six of the seven resorts. The last, Davy Crockett Ranch, is a campground located a bit further away that I did not visit.

Assuming you don’t have a car for your visit to France, you’ll have a few ways to get to and from Disneyland Paris: your feet, taxi, RER train, or shuttle.

The five on-site hotels can each by accessed by walking (or shuttle). Disneyland Hotel is about a one minute walk from the turnstiles, Hotel New York is ~10 minute walk, Sequoia Lodge is ~12 minute walk, Newport Bay Club is ~15 minute walk, with Hotels Cheyenne and Santa Fe a tad above the 15 minute mark. All of these are approximations based upon my personal walking speed. I didn’t time the walk in anything remotely resembling a scientific manner (we were there for enjoyment, not to be research guinea pigs).

I can’t speak to timing and distances of any other means of transportation to off-site hotels, with one exception. Prior to this leg of the trip, on our first night in France, we actually stayed at an off-site hotel at the first stop (Val d’Europe) from Disneyland Resort Paris on the RER A line. Combining the time it took to walk from Disneyland Paris to the RER station (3 minutes), the time it took on the train (5-15 minutes, depending upon the train schedule), and the time it took to walk from the station in Val d’Europe to our hotel (3 minutes), you have about a 25 minute commute, at worst.

Prices of Disneyland Paris on-site hotels widely vary and usually priced as a package that includes breakfast and park tickets. That said, I’d estimate the nightly undiscounted hotel portion of these packages ranging from $200 to $700 per night during our visit. Hotel Cheyenne and Santa Fe are on the low end of this, with ascending prices for Sequoia Lodge, Newport Bay Club, Hotel New York, and finally, Disneyland Hotel.

We booked a last minute $110/night deal on this relatively trendy hotel in Val d’Europe, and I’m sure there are similar days to be had. I can say with complete certainty (without even having seen the rooms in Hotel Cheyenne or Santa Fe) that this off-site hotel was nicer than Hotel Cheyenne or Santa Fe. From the perspective of rooms, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were nicer than standard rooms in every one of the official hotels, actually.

For us, the Disney on-site hotel experience isn’t just about the room, though, and all things considered, at least Disneyland Hotel and Sequoia Lodge were nicer overall than our off-site hotel. Admittedly, the benefits to staying on-site at Disneyland Resort Paris aren’t that great. There’s the breakfast, but you can get breakfast anywhere. There’s the commuting time, but as evidenced above, that can be insignificant at an off-site hotel. That leaves the Extra Magic Hour perk. Guests staying in the Disney-owned hotels are able to enter the parks 1-2 hours before the general public to experience select attractions. During our off-season trip, this perk wasn’t very useful (few attractions were open during this time, often leading to increased wait times), but it could be useful during busier times of the year. The best “reason” for staying on-site is probably the basic desire to stay on-site for whatever reason you have. Be it full immersion, convenience, etc.

There seem to be a fair number of reasonably priced and nice hotels in the burgeoning Val d’Europe area, so if you don’t “need” a Disney hotel, you should check out that area.

If you do decide to stay on-site, my unscientific recommendations for hotels would be: Hotel Cheyenne (value), Sequoia Lodge (moderate), or Disneyland Hotel (deluxe). Hotel Cheyenne had a fun feel to it and no pretenses of being artfully designed, likely making it a hotel kids (boys especially) would enjoy. Sequoia Lodge recently underwent an extensive refurbishment and looks excellent; its theming is reminiscent of Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World, except with Frank Lloyd Wright inspiration oddly found throughout the architecture. Finally, Disneyland Hotel looks like it has seen better days, but it’s still fairly beautiful and its location and views can’t be beat. I’d only recommend this hotel to those who view money as no issue (if you are such a person, this blog is looking for benefactors!!! ;)). Anyone else is better suited by Sequoia Lodge (my top pick for the intersection of value and quality) or Hotel Cheyenne. For what it’s worth, we really like Sequoia Lodge.

Dining

Given its location in a culinary hotbed like France, you’d expect Disneyland Resort Paris to have some sterling dining options.

Unfortunately, expectations here don’t comport with reality. Restaurants at Disneyland Resort Paris are not that good and are not that “French.” It’s mostly all American cuisine, with a few exceptions.

We had heard from several friends prior to the trip that we shouldn’t have high expectations for the restaurants, because most aren’t that good. After lackluster meals at Walt’s – An American Restaurant (click here to read our Walt’s Review) and Blue Lagoon, we cancelled plans to try similarly nice restaurants such as Inventions (we did end up eating two enjoyable breakfasts here) and California Grill.

Normally, we would have been more inclined to give restaurants the benefit of the doubt, realizing two meals is a relatively small sample size, but those two meals were so disappointing and our experiences seemed comparable to (if not worse than) what we had heard from others, so we saved our money and only did Counter Service for the rest of the trip.

The two restaurants at which we ate, Walt’s and Blue Lagoon, were beautiful, and worth the experience, even considering the food. Walt’s has a similar feel to Club 33 at Disneyland, and Blue Lagoon overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, much like Blue Bayou at Disneyland. We chose these restaurants because they’re widely noted for their exceptional ambiance, so we figured it wouldn’t be a huge loss if their food was only okay. You might consider them for the same reason. If you do enjoy the food, perhaps consider dining at other table service restaurants (DLRPMagic.com’s dining reviews, Disboards.com’s forum reviews, and the DLPFoodGuide are good places to start if you’re planning to eat elsewhere).

Counter Service at Disneyland Resort Paris is not terrible, but it’s not great, either. It’s about what you’d expect from average counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. In general, the options are not adventurous, but rather, are stereotypical theme park foods. Lots of pizza, burgers, salads, and fried foods. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as portion sizes are large and prices are not out of line (by normal Disney standards). In addition, the design of many of these restaurants is truly impressive. Toad Hall features more detail than all of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, and serves some pretty good fish & chips, too.

The only portion size that will be smaller in Disneyland Paris is soda. There are no free refills in any restaurant (this is typical of Europe) and soda sizes in general are much smaller. So, if you’re a Coke addict, a trip to Disneyland Paris might prove costly!

As far as other specific food items go, Jon Fiedler of CharacterCentral.net (check out his gorgeous Disneyland Resort Paris photos), who is a frequent visitor to Disneyland Resort Paris offered us a lot of advice about dining in Disneyland Resort Paris. One piece of this advice that we’re glad we followed (after seeing some of the burgers in Counter Service restaurants) is to avoid Counter Service burgers.

Although not as good as what you’ll find in the city of Paris, Disneyland Paris snacks are solid. We highly recommend the Cable Car Bake Shop on Main Street. Not just for its sweets, but also because it’s a beautifully designed, intimate location.

If you find yourself not enjoying the food at Disneyland Paris, one option is to eat exclusively at the Earl of Sandwich in the Disney Village. It serves most of the same sandwiches as the Earl of Sandwich locations in the United States, is reasonably priced, and is arguably the best counter service restaurant on property. Normally, we’d advise against this sort of thing. I mean, would you go to Paris and then eat at McDonald’s? Hopefully not. The difference here is that, unlike Paris, Disneyland Paris is not a world renowned culinary location. Give the in-park food a chance, but Earl of Sandwich (and other chains in the Disney Village) is a good fall-back option. Earl of Sandwich also has free WiFi, which could alone be a compelling reason to eat there!

Beyond that, we don’t really have much expertise in the Disneyland Paris dining department. Our over-arching recommendation for those with finite travel budgets would be to save your money for dining in the city of Paris and eat on the cheap in Disneyland Paris. You may want to give at least one table service meal a try before adopting this strategy, though.

What To Do

I’m not looking to turn this page into a mini-guidebook on Disneyland Paris, so I’m going to spare you (and more importantly, me) an exhaustive look at each attraction you should experience in Disneyland Paris. Chances are you’ve visited a Disney theme park some time in your life, and you have an idea of what attractions are worth experiencing. The biggest differences in Disneyland Paris are park design, layout, and level of detail. Many of the attractions are very similar in general nature to their US counterparts.

If you’re considering visiting at Christmas, read our separate Disneyland Paris Christmas Guide.

If you’re interested in developing a strategy for attractions or figuring out which to do and which to skip, check out our Disneyland Paris Attractions Guide.

Here are a few quick notes regarding Disneyland Park attractions that may not be so obvious to a casual guest:

  • Phantom Manor is the Disneyland Paris take on the Haunted Mansion; it’s much darker than Haunted Mansion, but awesome for its own reasons (make sure to explore the Boot Hill Cemetery outside the exit
  • Space Mountain is much more intense in Paris and includes inversions
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril is nothing like the Disneyland Indiana Jones attraction; the Paris Indiana Jones attraction is a bare-bones coaster that is very forgettable
  •  Paris has perhaps the best version of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it can draw long lines
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats (Le Pays des Contes de Fees) is a modernized version of the Disneyland classic, but with more to see
  • Alice’s Curious Labyrinth is worth doing for the view alone from the top of the castle
  • The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through is not-to-be-missed…we visited the dragon several times during our trip!
  • Big Thunder Mountain is similar to the other BTMRR attractions, except on its own island; despite the similarities, it’s definitely worth doing
  • Make sure to tour the Nautilus; it’s a simple walk-through, but 20,000 Leagues fans will really appreciate it
  • Don’t miss Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin, Adventure Isle, or the Swiss Family Treehouse – these are all walkthroughs, but all are excellent
  • Take some time to explore both Main Street Arcades
  • Disney Dreams is absolutely not to be missed; stake out a spot at least 30 minutes in advance–more during busy seasons

Now the same for the Walt Disney Studios Park:

  • AniMagique and CineMagique are considered two of the best attractions in Paris; CineMagique was closed during our trip, but AniMagique is highly recommended
  • Crush’s Coaster was cute, but it wasn’t worth the 30 minutes we waited…it certainly won’t be worth the 90 minutes you’ll wait for it in the summer
  • Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror are skippable if you’re short on time and have done the US versions
  • Toy Story Playland is cute, but the attractions are all superficial

In general, Disneyland Paris excels because it offers a lot to explore and excellent execution on theme. A die-hard Disney fan will notice “substantial” (to us) differences in many attractions from the US versions of the same, making every attraction a worthwhile experience. A casual guest will probably find that many attractions are “exactly the same” as their US counterparts.

Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum, you will enjoy the details and design if you slow down to enjoy them. That’s what we strongly recommend doing, and that’s how we believe Disneyland Paris is best enjoyed. Spend some time in the shops on Main Street, wander through the restaurants, and look for clues about the backstory.

Other Wisdom

It should come as no surprise that Europe does not use the US dollar as a currency. We recommend ordering Euros from your bank prior to your trip, or, ideally, having a “chipped” credit card. Withdrawing cash in Europe will likely subject you to fees. If you don’t know whether your credit card is chipped, it’s not. Chipped credit cards are just being introduced in the US; they really make international travel a breeze because they largely eliminate the need to deal in cash (besides from street vendors and other “older” retailers that don’t accept cash). We used chipped credit cards throughout our trip and just carried a bit of cash that we almost never used. No bank fees and current exchange rates made this preferable for us!

While Disneyland Paris’ website will lead you to believe that smoking is only allowed in designated areas, the reality is that people smoke in every outdoor area. This is something to keep in mind if smoke bothers you.

Wireless internet is available in the hotels and at Starbucks, but it costs money. Wireless internet is free at the Disney Village McDonald’s and Earl of Sandwich.

The toilets at Disneyland Paris are all highly advanced prototype “SMRT-1″ devices that feature facial recognition, and will greet you by saying, “How do you do, sir/m’am?” It is customary and appropriate to respond to this by saying, “I’m well, how are you?” It is not considered rude to decline to respond to any of the toilet’s additional conversation.

Just kidding on that last tip…although it is a foreign country, it’s not a foreign universe! If you can navigate the US parks, you’ll be fine in Disneyland Paris!

Disneyland Resort ParisDisneyland ParisDisney DreamsDisney Dreams, the nighttime spectacular at Disneyland Paris created for the 20th anniversary, is absolutely amazing...Read more: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-dreams-disneyland-paris-opening/

If this planning guide has piqued your curiosity about visiting Disneyland Paris, make sure to check out the official Disneyland Paris website for 50% off packages and other discounts! Visiting Disneyland Paris truly can be as inexpensive as visiting Walt Disney World! Why not try a new Disney park?!

Want to see more photos or read about Disneyland Paris in agonizing detail? Check out our Disneyland Paris 2012 Trip Report!

Your Thoughts

I know this just begins to scratch the surface of planning for a trip to Disneyland Paris. My goal was to not make it so long that it’s intimidating. If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments (I might flesh this out a bit more based upon your questions). If you’re a Disneyland Paris “regular” and you have tips of your own, please add them in the comments. I might just borrow them for the guide itself. If there’s enough reader demand, I might even do additional posts supplementing each sub-part of this post!

468 ad

48 Responses to “Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide”

  1. Emma says:

    It makes me laugh how those who have visited the resort once now think they are experts.

    How can you say the Disneyland Hotel has seen better days? You have visited once so how can compare what it looked like on previous visits? You can’t, you have visited once.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      My assumption is based on my doubt that it was built with discolored carpeting, chipped paint, and burnt out lights (among other things), which I think is fair.

      We’re talking about a flagship hotel, not an intentionally distressed pair of Abercrombie jeans. I think it’s safe to assume that neglected maintenance of the hotel isn’t part of intended design that has always been that way.

      • Joe G. says:

        What a pompous condescending a-hole you are.

      • Phil Harris says:

        Mrs Harris, who has visited DLP at lesat once every year since it opened, states with a degree of authority that it has indeed seen better days. Chipped paint etc is certainly more noticeable in Paris than in the parks in the states.

      • MIchael says:

        I like your comments and perspective. Thanks for the blog! As we frequent the original – Disneyland – as annual passport holders, we do not frequent WDW and will head to DLRP Xmas 2014. You make it clear that you are first-time tourists to DLRP but your understanding and appreciation for this park (amidst all other Disney Parks) shine. You take time to include context of all other Disney Parks and why / how DLRP is a ‘must see’. Thanks for specifically comparing Magic Kingdoms to Magic Kingdoms, for lack of a better phrase. And pardon me for saying, but we’ll stick to our apartment in Paris over Sequoia; you made that an easy choice!

  2. Joy says:

    Glad to hear you both enjoyed DLRP :-) We love it there and it’s our ‘local’ park, being from the UK! We’ve got a trip planned for our first anniversary in April which we’re both really looking forward to. I completely agree about staying at an off site hotel, we have stayed at Sequoia Lodge several times and although it is lovely, it is expensive. We have found a hotel 5 mins on the train for around a 1/4 of the price for 4 nights in April. I’m sorry that you had a lacklustre meal at Blue Lagoon, we had great food there but think it is slightly overpriced. But the ambience more than makes up for that!
    My tip (particularly for those people living in Europe) is it may be better value to buy an annual pass if you are visiting for 3 days or more. We are doing this in April and it works out a better deal for us to get an annual pass than buying a 4 day ticket (well that’s our excuse!) :-)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Great tip on the AP, thanks!

      Sequoia Lodge is very expensive, but we loved it. Not as much as Wilderness Lodge or the Grand Californian, but still a very excellent execution of its theme. However, if traveling on a budget, I’d definitely recommend looking at Val d’Europe (as it sounds like you did). That area is really nice and looks like it has all been recently developed. I suspect there are some real deals to be found there.

      As for Blue Lagoon–the atmosphere mostly made up for the food for us, too. I mean, for the prices we paid, I don’t think poor food was “okay,” but I’m certainly not upset about eating there given the overall experience…if that makes sense.

  3. Rafael says:

    Great post! Thanks.

    I agree with you about the food. However, I think instead of eating only at counter service reestaurants, buffet restaurants can be good options at DLP. I have had great meals at Plaza Gardens and Agrabah Cafe.

    Joy has a great point about annual pass. It is cheaper if you are staying more than 3 days and it also gives you 10% of discount in restaurants and 20% in stores.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the tip on buffets. I’ve heard this a couple other places, too, and when I have a chance I’ll add it to the guide as “second-hand information.” The breakfast buffet we had at Inventions was certainly good!

  4. Matt says:

    Great post. My wife and I are planning on visiting Paris in March and this will be very helpful in our planning. I have a couple questions that I was hoping you could answer.

    First, we will be on a fairly tight budget and have found some cheap hotels in Paris. Is it worth paying the extra to stay close to the park or is it fairly easy to get there from central Paris?

    Second, we do not have any chipped cards, but would rather not carry cash around. Can normal cards be used easily or are chipped cards the standard there?

    Thanks for all the help that this post will provide. It’s really getting us pumped for the trip!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If you are going to be in Disneyland Paris for more than one day, I’d highly recommend staying somewhere closer to Disneyland Paris. Take a look at the RER map now and try to find a hotel near Disneyland Paris ON its line. Like I mentioned, Val d’Europe is a great area, and in our research, the hotels there are cheaper than Paris (for comparable accommodations).

      Now, if you’re only taking a day-trip to Disneyland Paris and are spending the rest of your time in Paris, it probably will waste more time to switch hotels for that one night. In that case, I’d recommend just finding one hotel in Paris and staying there for the duration of your trip.

      Here’s some more information on chipped cards: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/chip-and-pin.htm

      You’ll also want to make sure your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees (most do). From a perspective of convenience, it’s FAR simpler to just get a chipped card. However, I can understand some people not wanting to do that.

  5. Rafael says:

    Ibis at Val d’Europe is very convenient if you want to visit Paris and DLP. The hotel is good for the price and it is only a few meters from the RER station. Wi-fi is free, but breakfast is not included. It is 9 euros per person. I think it is better having breakfast at DLP.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the recommendation there! I’ll have to look up the name of the hotel where we stayed and add that, too.

  6. Arthur says:

    The no re-fills is VERY true! I ate at what I believe was called Annette’s Diner and boy was our bill sky high. My friend and I love our Diet Coke and we sure paid the price for it. I was there for the 10th anniversary, so it’s too bad that hasn’t changed. The Santa Fe hotel included breakfast and it was a simple cereal or cheese/bread, nothing special. I would say it did save us time in the park. They had it set up like FP where groups come at assigned times. Of course that system could all be gone now.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Breakfast is still the same way. The nicer your resort, the better the breakfast. We used our tickets to eat at Inventions twice, and the staff was fine with it, but YMMV on that. Inventions was far better than our breakfast at Sequoia.

      • Anna says:

        Hi, Tom!
        How did you manage to have breakfast at Inventions, having tickets for breakfast at Sequoia Lodge hotel restaurant? Did you pay the full price for breakfast in Inventions, which is abt 14 Eur per person, or you paid a difference in costs? Or at Inventions they simply accepted the breakfast tickets from Sequoia as they are without saying a word?:) We are thinking about staying in that hotel, so VERY much interested to find it out!!! :)
        Thank you for your prompt reply and sharing your experience!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        They just let us use our tickets there, but I’ve heard the norm is to charge the difference. Worth trying, but definitely a YMMV thing.

  7. mitch says:

    This blog post may be as close as I get to disneyland paris, but I really enjoyed learning about it. I’m still trying to convince my wife that visiting disneyland in california vs going to disney world for the fourth year in a row is worth it.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Baby steps, baby steps. First, have an awesome time in Disneyland, and then use that to convince her that since you were right once, she should trust you again! ;)

    • Diane says:

      I’d been to Anaheim for a couple of conventions where one night of the Conference was an evening at Disneyland for just the Conference attendees. For the Conference event,not all the rides are open and I only saw it at night. I got the impression it was a much smaller park than at DisneyWorld and not a place I’d fly cross-country to visit for days when DisneyWorld was so much closer and bigger. Boy was I surprised when we did go to Disneyland for a vacation.

      My husband had never been to Disneyland, and is a huge Disney fan, so we went last October and absolutely loved it.

      Disneyland is where it all started, so it becomes a very special place in the heart of big Disney fans. Many of the rides seem to have much more detail than their counterparts in DisneyWorld, especially Pirates of the Caribbean. California Adventure was awesome! We were at Disneyland for 3 days and felt rushed, even though we were there from open to close.

      Between staying at the Grand Californian and visiting both parks, we didn’t want to leave this little fantasy world and go back to the real world. It was a total Disney experience from staying at the GC, walking through the Disney Village and then into the parks. We are planning on going back to see it decorated for Christmas this December.

      Disneyland has a more cozy, small town feel to us. Take the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour, it may seem a bit expensive, but it includes the tour, lunch, front-of-the-line access to the Peter Pan ride, a tour of Walt’s apartment and a special pin (for those who are pin collectors). Our guides had everyone tearing up with the story of what the lamp in front of the window represents and why the light is always left on.

      We relly like DisneyWorld and have gone every year for the last 3 years (sometimes twice a year), but we loved Disneyland!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I totally agree with you, but you see this article is about Disneyland PARIS, right? I’m guessing you visited regular “Disneyland,” as that’s the one in Anaheim.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Excellent post! The other topic that I would like to hear from you the most is how you dealt with the language barrier? Did you find it to be an issue for simple things like ordering food, checking in to your hotels, etc.? And was there a difference between the non-Disney parts you visited and the Disney areas in terms of language barrier? I feel that if not knowing much French isn’t a huge obstacle, then a trip here would be more likely to be in my future.

  9. Ken says:

    Great post! Totally agree about Paris’s version of Pirates being the best – In general, it felt like Paris’s rides were more intense than the Stateside versions (conversely, Tokyo’s felt toned down)… Hong Kong doesn’t even have a Pirates Ride :(

    I went for this past Halloween, and Phantom Manor was really well done, especially with the CM’s getting into the act scaring guests.

    For cash, I carried some euros but relied mostly on a prepaid AmEx debit card – they don’t charge foreign currency fees. Not chipped so some places wouldn’t accept it for payment, however you can use it at ATMs to withdraw cash (there’s a weekly cap for withdrawals though).

    Language-wise, English was perfectly fine for communicating with CM’s, some rides have different showtimes for English/French/Spanish/etc… Others are just French but often have subtitles in other languages.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Did you happen to do the Halloween party while you were there? I heard good things about it, and suspect it’ll be expanded this year due to its popularity.

      Also worth noting (for others) is that anywhere that would accept a prepaid AMEX debit card would also accept a normal credit card. Before using your credit card, make sure that it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. None of our “Visa Signature” cards charged these fees, but I’m not sure if that’s true of all Visa Signature cards, or if it was just a coincidence. If your cards do charge foreign transaction fees and you don’t want a chipped card, one of these debit cards is a great option!

      • Ken says:

        Hi Tom,

        yup, I did go to the Halloween party – really liked the decorations and the Phantom Manor CMs in their undead makeup getting into the act and scaring everyone, although it was weird without trick-or-treating… too used to standing in line for candy at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Florida ;)

      • jess says:

        We did Halloween last year and loved it! Christmas visit this year :)

  10. Stephie says:

    Hi Tom!

    Great post! I plan on heading to Disneyland Paris for one day (I know, wish it was longer) in June. I was wondering if you got a feel for what the most popular rides were, so I would know what I would need to fastpass. Is Peter Pan as popular as it is in wdw?

    Just with the summer, I was worried with how big the crowds could be and would like to start forming a strategy.

    Thanks!

  11. jess says:

    Yay! DLRP is my home Disney Resort (we live in London so a couple of hours on a train or plane and we’re there). 3 trips under our belt and visiting again in december.

    Oh, Tom… you skipped dinner at Inventions?! It is by far the best food we’ve found onsite, and the best character interactions too. We tend to only use our dining plan there, unless we fancy buffalo bills show one night (food is bad, show is excellent).

    We stayed at the Cheyenne our first two visits and, although we found it to be rather shabby around the edges we loved it. My daughter adores the pony rides there. We found the travel time between Cheyenne and the parks to be greatly exaggerated. One day we’d forgotten something from our hotel room. My partner, sick of waiting for the bus, decided to walk. He got from bus stop to hotel, picking up item, back from hotel to bus stop in under 15 minutes.

    Our last visit was planned for Cheyenne but was under threat of cancellation because of my increased mobility issues. My partner upgraded us to the Disneyland hotel to allow me to visit. Ooooooooooooo! We didn’t find it to be run down at all, but weren’t looking too hard. I would have noticed something obvious though. We loved it here and would absolutely recommend it.

    My tips would be -

    1. If you’re going from paris to london DON’T wait until london to buy cheaper souveniers. We’ve found they do a sort of blanket price. So, in the disneystores in the Uk you’d pay £22 for, say, a mickey mouse cup. The same cup, in the parks costs €22, which is about £19. The only items I find this doesn’t apply to is kids costumes. But then most costumes sold in DLRP aren’t available in the UK, so if you fall in love with it in the parks splurge on it.

    2. It is pretty much a well known secret that everyone makes a sandwich from their continental breakfast, wraps it up and takes it to the parks for their lunch. Staff don’t even bat an eyelid. Also, there are water fountains all over the parks so just take a refillable bottle.

    3. The parades start at the back of Fantasyland and this is a less crowded area for grabbing a good view. Walk the path between small world and the gelato shop and you’ll see some huge gates ahead of you, that’s where the parade starts. Then just follow after the parade for much shorter queues on rides while everyone else is sardined on main street waiting for the parade.

    4. Eat early (we do 6pm) at Inventions for the best character interactions on site. Micky is always there, we’ve also met donald, daisy, minnie, pluto, goofy, Pinocchio etc. Though you’ll never find the princesses here. Also, it’s quiet, the food is good and the characters have loads of time to play about with you.

    5. The Disneyland Hotel offers 2hrs free childcare to guests staying there, in the form of Minnie Club. My 6 year old loves it and we parents got a chance to do some big rides together. We also got our daughter to put souveniers she wanted on a list for santa and used our child free time to buy them and squirrel them away in suitcases ready for under tree at home.

    6. French kids are pushy, rude and have no concept of lines or waiting their turn. Be prepared to fight your kids corner at character interactions around the park. That said, being as my little girl is the patiently waiting in turn type she clearly got a rep amongst the characters, who all make a beeline for her after the first day.

    I love this park so much it feels like home. It is absolutely worth the visit.

    Also Tom, DLRP was built before eurostar so I think it just worked out mutually beneficial to get eurostar in there :) but I might be wrong.

    • jess says:

      By bus stop, I mean the ones by the train station near the parks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      After the other bad meal experiences, both Inventions and California Grill were scratched. It just seemed like too big of a gamble after our meals at restaurants that should have been good were not. Perhaps next time.

      As for the Eurostar, there were extensive negotiations between Disney and the French government (Disney effectively saying “what will you do for us if we build this park in your country?”) that are well-documented in the book DisneyWar and elsewhere. I think the Eurostar station being added there was part of the arrangement–despite it coming a bit later.

      Thanks for all of the other tips!

      • Jess says:

        Ooo, OK, I didn’t know that! I always thought the Channel Tunnel was designed to go alongside DLRP and the Eurostar came long after.

        I remember around the time DLRP, or Eurodisney as it was first called, was announced it seemed like everyone in the UK was outraged that France would be chosen for an american theme park when we were just across the pond and already spoke English! I was under 10 at the time and didn’t know what a Eurodisney was anyway so I was less outraged.

        Yes, we were disappointed by Walt’s also. We have tried Cafe Mickey, Auberge de Cendrillon, Plaza Gardens, Walts, The Chuckwagon Cafe and others I can’t recall. We wouldn’t return to any of them. Such a shame. The Inventions buffet is good though, really lovely fresh salads and bread, a very impressive seafood selection and plenty of delicious meat dishes. I think DLRP does the buffets best – plenty of slow cooked, melting meat, a couple of roasts and some nice veg. I didn’t care for the puddings there though, so won’t recommend them.

        Do you think you’ll return in the near future? We’re doing our fourth visit in December this year, then a break as WDW next year will likely use our holiday fund for several years. :)

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I could be wrong on the Eurostar–I’m going off of memory regarding something I read years ago. So don’t take my word for the gospel on it.

        Had the UK put together a better offer for Disney, I’m sure it would have been considered for EuroDisney. It was a political process that had less to do with the ideal geographic location and more to do with other factors. I think many within Disney have since viewed the location outside of Paris as a mistake…

        I don’t know when we’ll return next. A trip to Paris means not going to Tokyo, and it’s tough to prioritize Paris over Tokyo!

      • Jess says:

        Ooo, yes, I can see why Tokyo would come first.

        I wonder why the UK didn’t make a better offer? We’re quite possessive over our countryside, maybe government decided DLRUK would cause too much pollution? Maybe the queen didn’t want it?

        I quite like the location of DLRP though. I think it adds extra excitement for it to be in another country.

  12. Sasha says:

    I know that Disneyland Paris is an international park, but one detail I’ve always wondered is language barriers. I know that there are a lot of visitors from the UK (and the rest of Europe) so English must be spoken by 90% of the park staff. As for character interaction, are they bilingual? Did you experience any awkward situations due to not understanding. How about ordering meals? I’ve heard of the stereotype that the French are rude to Americans, is this true?

    I also know that a lot of the rides are in French (I don’t mind, I’ve been to Disneyland my entire life and Disney World a few times as well, so I get the main concepts of the rides). Curious to hear your response! Thanks for the awesome info!! :)

  13. JMo says:

    So, I googled DLP and came across this site. Once I saw your avatar I was like…I follow this guy on Twitter. Small World (after all)…

  14. Kelly says:

    Super helpful! We’re going to be moving overseas to England next year and I’ve had my eye on visiting Disneyland Paris but was worried about other reviews. Thanks for the in depth review!

  15. Shana says:

    Hello!

    We are first timers for Disneyland Paris and I am wondering about booking at one of the on-site hotels for early June. It looks as if either 1) everything is entirely booked or 2) I have to wait until October 29th until rates are established for 2014. (I saw something about October 29th a couple of weeks ago) Help!
    Also, do you know if in the past there are any discounts for June, i.e. “Kids Stay and Eat Free” (like they’ve been advertising for the winter—likely it’s seasonally but I have no idea).

    Thanks for your informative post and any answers you can help me with! :)

    • Mobi says:

      Hi, I live 3h away from Disneyland Paris and have visited the park 4 times. I’m actually going back this weekend. To all foreign people I need to say this : Never, never try to arrive on a Saturday if you plan stauing at 1 of the onsite hotels. I have stayed at Santa Fe, Cheyenne and New York, and I arrived each time on a Sunday. I was able to save 40% on hotel + park deal by arriving at sunday, off season. Last time I stayed was at New York for a 3day 2 nights including breakfast and I got the 40% off deal via the disneyland Paris website. Arriving on a Saturday in high season can double or triple your total price. Another option is to book a hotel near the parks in the Marne LA Valee region, but I do believe that you have a nicer Disney experience if you stay at one of the Disney hotels.
      About the language barrier : Normally all CM’s need to speak 2 languages. A lot of attractions have multiple languages in them, like the studio Tram Tour. So for you English speakers it shouldn’t be a problem at all. I do agree if you want to eat fastfood in some places some of the people serving won’t be able to speak perfect English, but that’s because they use a lot of low level and students for those jobs.

    • Mobi says:

      It’s definately not fully booked yet for next june ;-) Since you are first timers at DLRP I would definately advise an onsite hotel if you can afford it. Cheyenne for budget, Seqouia Lodge for mid class and if you want the best view/immersion experience take the Castle room with Park view in the Disneyland Hotel. The Disneyland hotel is overpriced, but rememeber if you can arrive on a Sunday, and early June would be the off season, you should be able to get a special deal. (The deals for june will not be available for some time though)

    • Mobi says:

      Sorry for the triple post, but my last piece of advise for first time DLRP visitors would be : If you can visit off weekend or off high season, you should be able to visit everything in 2 days. Start early on day 1 and visit the Studios. Most attractions are the same as other Disney parks. I think it was said before but 3h should be enough to do the Studios. After that visit the main park. 1,5 days should be enough time to visit most attractions. Use the extra time you get when you stay at an onsite hotel.
      If you don’t want to feel rushed, then take 3 days-2 nights.

  16. Nics says:

    I must say, when my sister and I went to DLP, we were booked in at the Santa Fe hotel, but there was a *problem* with our room (actually an overbooking, but we’ll not get in to that). But, we were upgraded- for free- to the New Port Bay hotel which is just amazing! A great continental style buffet breakfast, and a killer view from our room. Even if the parks/hotels/etc aren’t looking there best the hospitality was in true Disney style! (Also, I loved the Hollywood studios park, maybe more than DLP, but that might just be me)

  17. Katruna says:

    I need tips about meal packages vs no meal packages..we are not big eaters…is it best to just pick place as we go or will we spend a fortune?

  18. CherryPie says:

    Loved your post. Found it via pinterest.
    I am in England, UK and thought you were almost spot on with several of your points. I must now point out that wifi is free in the hotels. You were unlucky with your restaurant choices as they are renowned for being fantastic. If you again, I recommend the Plaza Gardens bugget – free pop (soda?) refills!! :)
    The studios, in my opinion, deserved more than 3 hours. Crush’s Coaster is fab and one of my fave rides but I sort of agree with it having ridiculous queue times!! It’s crying out for a fast pass option, they are currently putting in a single riders line so that may help.

    We have been quite a few times now but have only stayed onsite twice – Santa Fe both times. It may be the cheapest but we adore this hotel, plus it now has a Cars/Cars 2 theme now it’s been renovated.

    You never mentioned characters in the hotel lobby’s in your post but I would like to point out that they are stopping this from November this year. Characters will not be in hotels at all, not even at breakfast in the Disneyland Hotel or Golden Forest at Sequoia Lodge. No-one is happy about it and it has upset lots of loyal DLP regulars. But hey, it’s up to them how they run their parks/business. For character interaction I would recommend eating at Cafe Mickey – it’s the cheapest way of experiencing a character meal. Inventions in my opinion is not worth the huge prices they charge, buy other people may tell you different.

    Anyway, we now stay offsite when we go (as we drive over from England), we stay at a villa complex called Adagio Access. It’s basic but actually it only cost £319 for 4 nights last July and this June for 7 nights it has cost £549. Bargain, and it has a kitchen so we can go back for a rest from the parks and a meal without spending a whole lot of money in restaurants.

    Anyhow, thank you for his blog post. It has been a lot of fun reading it :)

  19. CherryPie says:

    Please excuse my typos!

  20. Sariah says:

    If you go to Paris again, I highly recommend the Agrabah Cafe. Perhaps it could raise your opinion of dining at Disneyland Paris. It is a buffet that serves delicious food that is more exotic than you would expect to find in a theme park—where else do you find saffron cookies?! (which are delicious, by the way.) The ambiance is really nice, and the decor is interesting. We loved it so much the first time that we went back there for our second visit. That is the only restaurant beyond counter service that we went to when we visited Disneyland Paris.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We’ve actually heard good things about that buffet, and might give it a try next time. I’m hopeful that we just had a really bad experience with dining. Thanks for the feedback!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Disneyland Paris 2012 Trip Report: Part 1 - Disney Tourist Blog - [...] Disneyland Paris Planning Guide [...]
  2. Disneyland Paris 2012 Trip Report: Part 4 - Disney Tourist Blog - [...] Disneyland Paris Planning Guide [...]
  3. Disneyland Paris 2012 Trip Report: Part 7 - Disney Tourist Blog - [...] Disneyland Paris Planning Guide [...]
  4. Paris With Kids – The 10 Best Things To Do - [...] Hotelscombined.com/Paris – The best website for hotel discounts. Samkip.com/Paris – The best hotels for families. ParisbyTrain – Schedules, Maps & …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>