Disneyland Paris is perhaps the most famous amusement park in France. Every year it attracts millions of visitors, including a large number of people from outside the country. If you’re planning on going to Disneyland Paris there are a few things you should know. For example, where it is located, what is the best way to get there, where to stay, and when it is crowded or not. But let’s start with the first question, what is Disneyland Paris?
Disneyland Paris: the amusement parks
Most people think of Disneyland Paris of being just an amusement park. And whilst that is the case, it’s probably not like the parks you are used to. It is – as they call it – a Resort. The hotels, Disney amusement parks and the nightlife area with stores and restaurants are all within walking distance of each other on the same terrain.
Disneyland Paris consists of two amusement parks, each with its own theme. The first amusement park is called the Disneyland Park. This is the first build and the original Disney park. Here you’ll find fairytale attractions, the pink castle, princesses and lots of other Disney characters. The Walt Disney Studios Park was added later and is currently undergoing a large renovation where new lands, attractions and restaurants will be added. This park has a movie theme and therefore feels less fairy-like.
When you buy tickets for Disneyland Paris you can choose whether you want to visit 1 or 2 parks per day. Personally I would choose 2 parks. You can’t see everything in one day, but each park certainly has its own charm and fun attractions you shouldn’t miss. Even better is to go several days and experience it all.
How many days?
At most amusement parks you have seen everything in 1 day, but at Disneyland Paris I really advise you to stay at least 1 nigt. In two days you can see more of the parks, you can visit the best attractions twice and you don’t have to rush. It’s also nice that after a long day at the amusement park you don’t have to travel back home, but you can relax as your feet will hurt.
I usually go 3 or 4 days myself. That sounds very long but in those days I still never get bored. If I want something different than the Disney bubble I go to the large shopping mall – called Val d’Europe – nearby. Here they also have a large outlet area with all kinds of famous brands. I also take the time to relax in the pool and there is room to take a nap in the afternoon if I feel like it.
What is the best place to stay?
There are several accommodations near Disneyland Paris. From luxury hotels to simple campsites and bungalow parks. You can find an accommodation for almost every budget.
Most people choose to stay in one of the Disney Hotels. You can easily book this via the Disneyland Paris website and if you choose for a package deal you often get a better deal. The closer you sleep to the Disney Parks, the more you pay for a room.
The Disneyland Hotel – located directly above the entrance of the Disneyland Park – is the most expensive hotel. Hotel Santa Fe – which is a 20 minute walk from the parks – is the cheapest.
Do you prefer sleeping in a bungalow park? Then there are two you can choose from: Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch, and Villages Nature Paris which is operated by CenterParcs. Here you’ll stay in an apartment or bungalow in the woods, on about a 10-minute drive from the Disney Parks.
Finally, there are the Partner Hotels. These all have a free shuttle bus to Disneyland Paris, but are located a little further from the Parks than the Disney Hotels. The Partner Hotels are not operated by Disney, but by well-known hotel chains such as Campanile or Radisson Blu. One of the most popular low budget hotels here is the B&B Hotel. This hotel offers spacious but basic rooms, free breakfast and wifi, and they have a complimentary shuttle bus to the Disney Parks that runs every 20 minutes starting about an hour before park opening.
How to get to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is located about half an hour from Paris. The easiest way to get there is by car. From the Charles de Gaulle airport you just have to follow the signs with Mickey on them. They will guide you to the Disney Parks and will tell you which exit to take. Once you’ve arrived at your hotel you can usually park your car there for free, which is also quite convenient.
Another way to get to Disneyland Paris is by taking the train. You can take the Thalys, Eurostart or TGV, based on which one stops nearest to your departure point. The trains will all stop at the Disneyland Paris station which is located between the park and Disney Village, and within walking distance of the hotels. If you are staying in Paris you can take the metro, called RER-A to Disneyland Paris. This takes about 30 minutes.
If you are coming by plane you will be arriving at either Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport. Both have paid shuttle bus – which you can book here – that will take you directly to Disneyland Paris. Or you can take the taxi, train or a rental car. In general it will take you about 30 minutes to get to the Parks from the airport.
Tips for your first time at Disneyland Paris
Going to Disneyland Paris for the first time? Then I’ve collected some more tips for you below:
- Don’t go during very busy periods to avoid disappointments and irritations. Disneyland Paris can get really crowded, especially during the summer and between Christmas and New Years.
- Get a park and entertainment guide at the entrance or download the Disneyland app. You will then know exactly where all the attractions are located, where the shows and encounters with Disney characters are and what time the parades start. Also you are able to check the wait times in real time.
- Eat your lunch before noon and dine a bit early to avoid big crowds. It will get very crowded at the restaurants, waiting at least 45 minutes at the counter service is quite normal and a good reason to try and avoid these crowds.
- Plan you stay and know what you want to see and do before you go.
- Enjoy! Don’t overthink, it’s going to be great.
How does the Fastpass work?
The Disneyland Paris Fastpass is a complimentary service included with your admission. When you scan your entrance ticket at the special Fastpass kiosks you will receive a ticket, your fastpass, with two times stamped on it. Between these two times you can use the Fastpass queue once upon presentation of your Fastpass. You can then ride a popular attraction with a minimal wait.
You want to use the Fastpass line at Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. To get a Fastpass you have to go to the attraction. Here you can find the Fastpass kiosks next to the entrance. (If you can’t find them please ask a Disney Cast Member for help).
With your entrance ticket you can get a Fastpass at the kiosk. You can do this for the whole group, provided you also have their tickets with you. The machine will print a small ticket with the name of the attraction and 2 times stamped on it.
For example it will say: Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast 13.00 – 13.30. This means that from 13.00 – but no later than 13.30 – you can use the fastpass line of this attraction. You can also get a new Fastpass after 13.00 for any ride you like and offers this service. You can do this until the Fastpasses for that day are gone.
Best time to go and crowds
We regularly get the question: “what is the best time to go to Disneyland Paris”? I, myself am a fan of the winter period and usually go in November. It’s not so crowded then, especially when you go during the week, it’s not too cold yet, and it’s the Christmas season in the parks which I think is the most fun time of the year to go.
Of all the school holidays, spring break is probably the most quiet time to go to Disneyland Paris. Most people go on skiing holiday during these times, which means less people go to the parks.
Do you want to avoid the crowds? Then go on weekdays and absolutely skip the first 2 weeks of August, the last week of October and the week between Christmas and New Year. Those are the most crowded times in Disneyland Paris.
Tickets and Annual Passes
Disneyland Paris offers packages as well as separate entrance tickets. Those are handy if you only want to go for one day. These tickets are for sale from €70 and are valid for 1 day, 1 park. If you want to visit both parks you have to pay a surcharge.
If you go several times a year an Annual Pass can be a cheap option. It costs between €250 and €400, so you have to go about 4 times to breakeven and start benefiting from it. These passes also give you discounts on hotels, food and drinks and souvenirs.