1-Day Disneyland Paris Itinerary
This 1-day Disneyland Paris itinerary features a step-by-step touring plan for maximizing rides plus restaurant recommendations, shows we’d see, and the details we’d enjoy. Our 1-day itinerary is our perfect day in Disneyland Paris, balancing an efficient touring plan with opportunities to slow down and enjoy the ‘Disney Details.’ (Updated August 8, 2021.)
Note that this isn’t a “commando style” touring plan or strategy guide for racing from attraction to attraction to do as many as possible at the expense of everything else. Getting a lot done is important, but this itinerary balances quantity with quality. Efficiency is important, but Disneyland Paris is the most ornate and detailed Disneyland-style park in the world, and it is imperative that you stop and smell the proverbial roses if you really want to really appreciate all this Disney park has to offer.
There are a few assumptions with this guide, such as you visiting on a moderately crowded day, reasonable use of Standby Pass (get them whenever you can, not just when mentioned in the plan), and arriving at park opening and staying to close. Touring Disneyland Paris efficiently is really simple because this is one of the few parks where most popular attractions use Standby Pass or Disney Premier Access. We do not recommend purchasing the latter unless you’re visiting on a very busy day–Standby Pass should be sufficient.
Also note that this Disneyland Paris 1-day plan does not specifically list every attraction. Instead, we make value judgments about the best attractions to form a touring plan that can be accomplished in a single day. If you have more time or want an overview of all rides in the park, read our Disneyland Paris Attraction Ratings & Ride Guide post.
Let’s take a look at how you should approach this ideal day…
Rise and Shine – I am a big proponent of staying on-site for a first-visit to any of the Disney resorts, and Paris is no different. My recommendation here is staying at Sequoia Lodge, but if you have the funds, Disneyland Hotel can’t be beat (I assume) with its views overlooking the park.
Staying at one of the Disney hotels also entitles you to Extra Magic Hours, and the ability to experience Fantasyland and Discoveryland for 2 hours before the park opens to the public. I like to focus on using this time to get photos of a mostly-empty park. However, you should always start any day at Disneyland Paris with…
Westward Ho! – Start your day by rope dropping Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. You could always do this via Standby Pass later, but arriving first thing in the morning is the safe bet.
After that, loop back into Fantasyland to knock out several of those popular rides in quick succession…
Fantastical Morning – I think you really can’t go wrong by starting the day in any castle park in Fantasyland, and Disneyland Paris is no exception. Like the rest, a big part of the reason to start here is because there are numerous attractions nearby one another, each of which can develop a moderate wait time–and those waits add up.
Start by doing Peter Pan’s Flight, and then moving to the other dark rides. (Note that Casey Jr. and Storybook Land Canal Boats may open later than the rest of the park.) End with a walk through Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, and make sure to head all the way to the top of the Queen’s Castle, which overs excellent views of Fantasyland.
Adventure is Out There! – If you go by the park map, you might think this is a land you can quickly knock out by doing Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. That is not even remotely true. First of all, the Indiana Jones coaster is atrocious. Utterly devoid of theming and short, it’s a waste of time. If you’re going to Disneyland Paris for this, I’m betting you won’t appreciate the painstaking details and beauty of the park.
By contrast, this Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the best Disney attractions in the world, but I’m betting you won’t skip that. Most importantly, make sure to spend some time on Adventure Isle, where you can see Skull Rock and explore the Swiss Family Treehouse. Another overlooked gem is Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin, an enchanting little walk-through exhibit.
DRAGON! – Disneyland Paris is a divisive park, with a love-it-or-hate-it reaction among Disney fans. I have never witnessed this type of response to any other Disney park in the world, and in my very scientific research, I have reached the following conclusion: people who dislike Disneyland Paris did the park without any dragon time.
Thus, make a quick stop to see the dragon under the castle sometime in the morning as a nice mood boost. (If you make additional stops throughout the day, your chances of liking the park will further increase.) If you stop to see the dragon, I guarantee you will feel like this, supercharged and amped for the exploration that awaits. As the jingle goes, ‘the best part of waking up is seeing a [email protected]#$**&# DRAGON!’
Eat at Walt’s Place – I highly recommend Walt’s – An American Restaurant for lunch, if it’s open (try for reservations first thing in the morning–before any attractions, if it is). If it’s not open, a table service alternative that likely will be open is Blue Lagoon Restaurant. I’m not a fan of the cuisine at either restaurant, but both offer amazing ambiance, and are worth a visit.
Counter service alternatives are the light-hearted Toad Hall (a must visit for Mr. Toad fans…when it’s actually open) or Cowboy Cookout BBQ. All of these restaurants make our Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Disneyland Paris, and are some of the best themed Disney theme park restaurants in the world.
Afternoon Exploration – Before and following the afternoon parade, you should have time to slow down and explore (e.g., see the dragon like 17 more times). I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of exploration at Disneyland Paris. It truly is a treasure trove of details, and a park that is meant to be sipped like a fine wine.
For all that Disneyland Paris lacks, it does not lack a wonderful sense of romanticism and design that simultaneously achieves (otherwise contradictory) feelings of grandiosity and quaintness. It’s a park for wandering around, taking photos, and just generally soaking up the essence of great thematic design. Like Tokyo DisneySea, it feels like the Imagineers were given a blank check for the overall design of the park.
You might construe my comments above about the Indiana Jones ride as sarcasm, but I truly suspect there’s an inverse correlation between guest reaction to that ride and reaction to the park as a whole. Disneyland Paris is not a park for thrill or ride junkies. It’s for the type of guest who could wander World Showcase for hours.
Cable Car Bake Shop – I’ve previously espoused the virtues of this little shop on Main Street, so it should be no surprise that this is where I recommend stopping for a post-lunch coffee (so skip dessert and coffee if you eat at Walt’s).
When visiting France, one of our favorite things is stopping in little boulangeries in the morning (or really, any time of day) to start our day. I guess there’s some irony in the fact that this charming and intimate bakery in Disneyland Paris is actually American (it still feels European), but that takes nothing away from it.
Disney Stars on Parade – The daytime parade that was unveiled for Disneyland Paris’ 25th Anniversary last year, and is well worth seeing. Gorgeous costumes, well-designed floats, and a catchy soundtrack makes it worth the time. Oh, and just like underneath the castle, there’s a fire-breathing dragon, so that’s a big plus!
If you’re not a parade person, you could probably safely skip this, but it’s typically fairly easy to get a good spot only 15 minutes in advance, so it’s not like you’re sacrificing much to see it. Depending upon the time of year you visit, you’re also likely to find seasonal stage shows, and this is also a good time to take in one of those. Check your daily times guide for more info.
Thunder Mesa – “Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful park, but…” is a pretty common refrain, with that “but” being followed by concerns over maintenance, attraction quality, and Cast Members (all of which can be valid to some degree). None of these concerns apply in Frontierland, known as Thunder Mesa. This is Disneyland Paris firing on all cylinders.
The goal in placing it here is that you will experience Thunder Mesa under the glow of late afternoon leading into sunset, which is a pretty sublime experience for a Disney theme park fan. Do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again via Standby Pass (if possible), do Phantom Manor, eat dinner at Lucky Nugget Saloon (be mindful of their closing hours so you don’t get stuck eating “food” at the abysmal Cafe Hyperion), and time things so you take a sunset cruise on the Thunder Mesa Riverboats.
Nighttime Discovery – Disneyland Paris wisely chose to punt on the Tomorrowland concept and instead went to a Jules Verne-inspired Discoveryland. It’s basically Tomorrowland, but with a different name and some tweaks in story and details. Like the other Tomorrowlands, it is best experienced at night (who knew neon lighting was so prominent in Verne’s day!). Many guests dismiss it because it’s “only” a walkthrough, but Les Mystères du Nautilus is a must-do attraction.
Hyperspace Mountain (a Star Wars variation of Space Mountain) a very rough ride, to the point that it literally hurt my head. Nonetheless, it’s fun and worth doing at least once. (Plus, I’m an old-timer, and I’ve seen younger people get off the attraction grinning ear to ear, so maybe it’s just me.)
Disney Illuminations – Disneyland Paris debuted the concept of a mixed-media nighttime castle show with Disney Dreams, and this is the successor to that excellent show. While Disney Illuminations is not quite as good as its predecessor, it’s still an absolute must-see.
It features fire, fireworks, water fountains, lasers, castle projections, and more. Peter Pan is the thread that ties together a montage show that emphasizes French and other European Disney stories. This show has heart and is technically breathtaking, making it something you absolutely cannot miss. We have this viewing and photography guide for those interested in finding the best spot and taking photos.
Close Down Main Street – You may notice that we spent very little time on Main Street prior to this, despite it representing the high water mark of Main Street designs. This is because after Disney Dreams, it’s impossible to get to other lands, but Main Street remains open for shopping/lingering for another 30 minutes or so. Make sure to pay a visit to each of Arcades, explore the shops, and generally marvel at the meticulous level of design present in this incarnation of Main Street, USA.
All of this should be pretty easy to accomplish in a single day at Disneyland Paris, no matter what time of year you visit. Despite this, I personally could spend days and days at Disneyland Paris, just drinking it all in.
For the basics of planning a visit to Disneyland Paris, check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide. Want to see more photos or read about Disneyland Paris in agonizing detail? Check out our Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Trip Report or our Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Trip Recap!
What do you like to do most at Disneyland Paris? Any tips of your own for exploring the park? If you’ve never been to Disneyland Paris, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!
I was there on a Monday just before the 30th anniversary started. We arrived just after rope drop, taking the RER train from Opera (very easy and cheap), and the wait for BTM was about 45 minutes. Getting into the park was a bit of a pain – guest had to scan their own passes, and most people had printouts that didn’t scan well, so the line was very slow. They actually dropped masking requirements in the Park on that day, but not all the cast members were aware of it, so it was a little random to have some saying ‘you can take of your masks’ and others telling us we needed to put them back on.
We initially followed this itinerary and went directly to BTM and waited 45 minutes, but TBH I wish instead we’d hit Fantasyland instead – many of the waits there were in the 5-minute range when we arrived, and we could have knocked a lot of them out very quickly. Later in the day, BTM was still 45-50 minutes, but those 5-minute waits had now become 30-minute waits. We wound up just making our own way through the park after BTM and not worrying about a plan.
Late in the day, to make up some time, we did wind up buying a fastpass late in the day for Peter Pan’s flight (at a ruinous $36 for two people). We were relatively leisurely in our approach, and the park is pretty spread out, so weren’t able to hit everything in the Park in one day, and I think it would be very hard to do everything without the extra morning hour for guests staying on property. Our priorities were maybe a little different though – EG I was happy to do the two kids’ storybook rides that are unique to the Park (and really sweet), instead of Buzz Lightyear or Autopia (we also skipped Dumbo, Orbitron, Star Tours, and Teacups). Small World and Nautilus were closed. We skipped the Lion King show as well. We actually did enjoy the Indiana Jones coaster (which only opened in the afternoon).
The park is lovely, and Adventure Island in particular was a standout – I’ve always loved Tom Sawyer’s island at WDW and this is that X100. It was disappointing that the dragon wasn’t open after all the buildup here! Discoveryland at night is really pretty spectacular. I thought the Star Wars theming on Hyperspace Mountain would bother me, but it’s done with a light touch, and the ride itself is terrific – though the sudden stop at the end did almost give me a concussion from slamming my head against the headrest (I was seriously seeing stars). There’s a lot to discover everywhere – the little Aladdin walkthrough is very cute, the Alice labyrinth is a nice experience – the rides do feel a little secondary to just exploring, and it’s nice that the Park has a slower pace than WDW.
The Disney Stars parade was fun, but Illuminations felt pretty bland compared to Happily Ever After (the last fireworks show I saw at WDW). I was also underwhelmed by Phantom Manner – there’s almost nothing outside that captures the tongue-in-cheek ‘spooooookiness’ of the ride in other parks – I suspect some of the humour doesn’t really translate – and the shoe-horning in of Frontierland elements, plus the half-baked ‘sad bride’ narrative, just felt odd and without context.
It seemed that over half of the dining options were closed, including almost all of the better restaurants. Our lunch at Captain Jack’s was fine. We had an ADR, but the place was only half-full – I think we’d have been seated as walk-ins. Dinner after closing at the Bavarian restaurant in Disney Village was surprisingly good (but the bathroom was filthy). Breakfast at Cable Car was underwhelming, and it was a little disappointing that there weren’t many ‘unique treats’ in the park.
I was happy to visit the Park for a day during a 2-week+ stay in Paris – but with Paris itself feeling like the most expensive and elaborate theme park in the world, I’m not sure it’s essential, if you’re there on a shorter stay. I thought about going back for a second day, to see Studios Park, and catch the things I’d missed at Disneyland, but in the end was very happy that I spent more time in Paris instead. Still, it was a very nice day at Disneyland!
Greetings from the UK! Thank you so much for this and for the one-day plan of Walt Disney Studios – there is very little information out on the internet so it’s much appreciated!
I also wondered if you’d heard about the MasterCard perk? I’m told by others that you can show your MasterCard and ID and potentially get VIP seating for Mickey and the Magician or other seasonal shows. Have you tried this?
And do you have any tips about where to stand for the Disney Illuminations? (trying to avoid the inevitable children on shoulders…)
Just did DL Paris (July 2019). We’ve been to Anaheim and Orlando a lot, so we thought a 1 day train trip from Paris would suffice. It did, especially if you’ve been to an American Disney park before. I was surprised at the gate to see an option for an upgraded fastpasses. I wasted $$$ on these. You do not need them. There are only 4 fastpass rides and you can get all the traditional FP paper tickets easily in 1 day (Peter Pan, Indiana Jones, Thunder, Space Mt.) The biggest and hardest ticket to get is Peter Pan, so get that first if you want to do this. It’s VERY similar to the ride in America. Enjoy all the “walkthrough” areas of the park, they’re unique. Alice and the Dragon were great! FORGET about Hollywood Studios unless you’re going to spend more than 1 day there. I wasted more $$ on this hopper ticket. Rock n’ Roll coaster was fair, and Ratatouille was a 3-D screen ride that made me sick.
One of the best thing about Disneyland Paris is the price : for about 100$ (taxes included), you get a 1-day access to both parks (Disneyland + Walt Disney Studios). I’ve never been to other Disney parks in the World, but I’m currently planning a trip to Magic Kingdom in Florida. What surprised me the most was that I would need to take a park-hopping ticket, which is crazy expensive, to do all my favourite rides (now I get that the theme parks are probably much bigger than the 2 french theme parks, but still).
I generally start the day with the Walt Disney Studios park, because there are less attractions there that interest me and some of them have long wait-time. Plus, most tourists rush to the Disneyland Park so early mornings in Walt Disney Studios are fairly quiet. I seize the early hour to do the most sought-after attractions of the WDS park : Ratatouille, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roll Coaster with Aerosmith (which won’t remain Aerosmith themed for long, the attraction should be turned into an Iron Man / Avengers theme I believe), the Crush’ Coaster and the Toy Story Playland. The waiting line is so scarce some mornings that you can actually ride the attraction twice in a row. I skip the other attractions in this park, that are mostly dispensable in my humble opinion, and then head for the main Disneyland park.
There I always begin with Fantasyland, because this section of the park closes earlier than the rest in order to prepare the evening Disney Dream firework show. The dragon is indeed a must see! I would definitely recommand using a fastpass for Peter Pan’s Flight since the queue is often quite long (especially since the ride lasts only 1 minute or 2). I don’t often waste my time with the Snow White or Pinocchio dark rides, they are not mindblowing, but if the waiting line is short (less than 20 minutes), do consider giving it a try 🙂 The Alice in Wonderland section is one of my favorite of the whole park, the decors are gorgeous, the labyrinth is lots of fun and the view from the castle is great (there is actually a shortcut in the labyrinth to reach the castle quickly, but hush), plus the waiting line for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups is always rather short. It’s a small world is best done during lunch time if you ask me, when most kids are elsewhere filling their bellies.
I then head to Adventureland, for the Indiana Jones ride (which is not worth waiting for hours for I agree, especially given the lack of animation in the queue, but is actually fun to do if you use your fastpass), a walk in the Adventure Isles, Cabane des Robinsons and Aladin’s Enchanted Passage which are nice for a small reprieve between sensation rides. I always have a look at the estimated waiting time for Pirates of the Carribean : if it’s less than 20 minutes, I go for it (I love this attraction!), otherwise I wait for later in the day to give it a try, for instance during the parade (I’ve never cared much for parades) or later in the evening.
Then I head to Frontierland, where I put my last remaining fastpass to good use in the Big Thunder Mountain. And by now (late afternoon / early evening) the waiting line shouldn’t be that long for the Phantom Manor so that’s usually what I go for next. I don’t care much for the Thunder Mesa Riverboat but it’s nice to give it a try at least once, it’s a rather soothing ride (though it can definitely become very windy or cold depending on the weather, dress accordingly!).
I end the day with Discoveryland because it’s the section of the main park that interests me the less. I only do the Space Mountain (definitely one of my favorite attractions of both parks!) and the Nautilus (love the decor), but I skip the rest of the attractions (especially the Star Tours, that I find dreadful and that always make me nauseous).
If some time remains (the main park closes at 9PM), I usually use it to have another go at my favourite attractions (Pirates of the Carribean, Phantom Manor, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain).
The evening show is really great to watch, before park closure.
I never waste time during the day to do shopping, because most of the products (and even more!) can be found in the Disney Village’s shops (with the exception of the shop near Phantom Manor), which are open up to midnight for most of them. Same goes for food : I only have a quick snack for lunch and head to the Disney Village for diner in a proper restaurant.
We are planning a trip there next year. My question is if you wanted to see and do absolutely everything in the Disney Paris area (besides restaurants), how many days should I allow for that? I want the visit to be leisurely paced so there is plenty of time to explore.
Thank you so much for this blog! I took notes and brought them with me to help guide our day there. From starting off with the dragon, to where and when to get Fast Passes, this was incredibly helpful so we didn’t wander aimlessly. We had an amazing day, and you played a big part of that.
We will be visiting Paris this summer and are thinking of incorporating a day in Disneyland. My question is, I know lots of things are closed in Germany on Sundays, does that apply to Paris too? Should we plan on visiting the park on Sunday if everything will be closed in the city?
Check and see which museums are closed for Paris, if those are on your list, and don’t plan on every grocery store or many pharmacies being open, but most of the touristy stuff runs all the time, if that’s your main concern. However, if you’re coming in August, you aren’t truly experiencing Paris, because most Parisians are off on vacation. Lots of kids are in camps or centres de loisir in the summer, so weekdays are still less crowded at Disney than the weekends. Aim for a weekday if you can. On Tuesdays they do a special mini-parade (called a cavalcade) with rarely seen characters (everyone from Kuzco, Kronk and Yzma to Oswald to Mickey in the gang in rarely seen outfits–Jane and Turk from Tarzan were featured the last time I was there) to draw in more guests because it’s a particularly quiet day. For the parade, stop somewhere near the gates near It’s A Small World to watch it. That’s where it starts, so you can see it early and enjoy shorter wait times on Fantasyland attractions while the parade is winding through the rest of the park. The arcades (or covered passages) in the Main Street area stay mostly open during the parade, so if you do decide to move while it’s still running, use those. Also, if you’re doing the other park, hit it as early as you can to try to get Crush’s Coaster with a shorter wait time. It’s a fantastic ride, but there’s no fastpass option and the wait times are always crazy.
Can you get Fast Passes from the Disneyland Paris app or can you only get them from the park? We live in the states. Thanks!
When we went last July, it was still paper FastPasses (I haven’t heard them switching yet). The line for Big Thunder FP was huge first thing in the morning! But it’s better than WDW’s, in our opinion, and we used our freebie Club Lounge passes on that for 2 days 🙂
Is there a limit to the number of Fast Passes you can get? I seem to recall a 2-3 per day per ticket limit in WDW but that was years ago and my memory might be off! Thanks!
This might be a dumb question, but is this itinerary for both parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park) at Disneyland Paris, or just one of them?
Just Disneyland Park. We just got back from DLP and we did the Studios park in 6 hours tops. And that was with a lot of just walking in circles waiting for fireworks.