Never Travel Blind – Read These Tips First
Disneyland Paris is the perfect place to rediscover your inner child. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the moment you step inside the golden gates of Disney, you are automatically transformed back into a kid again.
The first piece of advice I can give you is… if you think Disneyland Paris is the ‘cheaper’ option, think again. The little mouse has a lot to answer for. Disney will never be a cheap holiday, no matter whether you travel to Paris or Orlando. But, there are tips and tricks to help you do the whole thing more cost effectively.
The second piece of advice I can give, (and this is a hard one coming from me) leave your OCD, anxiety and need for routine at the gates. No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to control a damn thing the second you step through the gorgeous gates of children’s paradise.
Once you have got those two things secured, then you can move on to the following tips.
1: Pick a Park
There are two parks at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. The two parks are totally different and offer entirely different atmospheres and experiences. Disneyland Park has all the classic rides – Dumbo, Peter Pan, meet and greets with a Princess. Walt Disney Studios is where you can experience 3D cinema experiences, thrill rides for the adults and a look at how animation has evolved and changed throughout the years.
Pick the park you want the most out of first, because even with a 4 day hopper pass (a pass that allows you to hop between both parks as many times as you like in a day) we still didn’t manage to get round all the attractions and shows.
Look at the maps carefully and prioritise the things you want to see the most.
2: Speedy Boarding
You know each time you buy a ticket for Ryanair or Easy Jet or any other low cost airline, you always skip past the section that asks if you want to pay a little extra for Speedy Boarding, then the second you get to the boarding gate you wish to god you had booked it anyway! That is exactly how you will feel about the FastPass system that Disney has to offer.
The only thing is, it’s not as easy as booking one ticket to use on all rides.
You have to collect a FastPass for each ride that offers one (and no, not all of them do!) and you can’t have two FastPasses at the same time. So my advice is, take a look at the map for BOTH parks. Mark on which FastPass rides you want to go on in preference order, then go and collect the tickets the second you get into the park. When you get to the rides that offer the service, there will be a separate queue that leads to a few boxes that you will scan your park tickets in to collect the ticket that will tell you to come back at an allotted time to stand in a queue that will be shorter than the other queue for people who don’t have the golden ticket!
It seems utterly complicated, but honestly you will thank me for the advice.
3: Chase a Thrill while others Chill
The majority of the time, queues for the rides and attractions vary from 30 mins to 90 mins for each ride (during peak season) and most of the time the rides are worth the wait. However, if you have already seen the parades (there are currently two types of parade, the Disney Magic on Parade in the late afternoon and a Frozen Parade that takes place in multiple languages throughout the day) then use the time when people are queuing through the streets to find the perfect location to watch said parades, to jump on the rides you haven’t yet been on.
For example. We had already decided we were not going to stay for the Disney Dreams Nighttime Spectacular display show one evening, so when everyone was getting into position for the show (or leaving the park) we hopped on 4 rides in less than an hour! Rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, which generally has an incredibly long wait time; we got on at 9 o’clock at night, walked straight to the front and had a ‘ship’ all to ourselves. It pays to be patient sometimes!
4: Pack a Picnic!
I was given this advice by a fellow reader on our Glass House Girls Facebook page and by god I wish I had listened. Despite the fact that the websites say you cannot take a picnic into Disney, don’t listen. Everyone does. There are dedicated picnic areas outside the parks but most of the time you will find yourself eating while you are queuing for rides! The cafes in Disney are beautiful. Toad Hall for instance is ornate and so well thought through. The Mad Hatters cafe is gorgeous and The BBQ Lodge in Adventureland… there are so many I could say are worth taking a peek at. But the food leaves a lot to be desired. If you are looking for anything other than burgers, chips and pizza, or god forbid if you have a food intolerance or allergy, then Disney is not the place you want to be eating. Lunch for a family of 5 will NEVER cost you less than €100 and you will only find that the kids refuse to eat half of that anyway! Save your pennies and pack a picnic.
5: Forget Fashion
Leave those cute little flip flops at home, or those to-die-for wedges! You will not need them. By all means wear a pretty outfit but try not to wince at the combination of a pretty dress with comfy trainers. You will thank me for this advice. Each and every day, even if you don’t spend the entire day at the park, you will walk a minimum of 10/15kms. In a week we walked more than 70km(44 miles) and I’m telling you now, those cute little kitten heels will not last! Take a spare set of clothes for younger kids… because no matter how amazing my kids are and how long they have been potty trained… there WILL be accidents. Which leads me to my next point.
6: Suss out a toilet system
There are only 16 toilets in the entire Disneyland Park and only 6 in Walt Disney Studios. That seems a lot, but wait until you see the size of the place. And No. They are NOT located in the cafes. Take note of where they are, because making a mad dash to the loos with two kids in tow while your hubby tries to keep your place in the queue you have been in for more than an hour is NOT fun if you can’t remember where the damn places are hidden. NEVER walk past a toilet without going in… just in case.
7: Princess Pain
If you have daughters, and they are desperate to see a Princess… PLAN IT. At Disneyland Paris, the Princesses don’t just walk around the park. The have a special Disney Princess Pavillion. This (and the daily parade) is THE ONLY place you will see them. Meeting a princess is like seeing a unicorn in the forbidden forest being fed by Hagrid and a Hippogriff. Trust me, even that scenario seems more likely. That is unless you BOOK to see a Princess. They call this “A Royal Invitation”.
Here’s the low down… The Disneyland Park opens at 9:30 am. The rides don’t open until 10am, you would think this means you can walk around the park until the rides open. That is what they want you to think. Unless you are staying in one of the Disney Hotels, you will be allowed to walk down Main Street and get as far as the gates of the castle but you will not be allowed to go any further. If you are staying in one of the Disney Hotels you will be allowed past the white line to go and explore the park before all the rest of us peasants. This frustrated me because I knew that I had to get to the VERY back of FantasyLand to get in a QUEUE to get a TICKET to queue to see a Princess! There are only a set amount of tickets per day, and all the f**kers that are staying in the Disney Hotels get a head start! So, like me, if you are not staying in a coveted Disney Hotel, get prepared to run like hell to the very back of the park and queue for one of these amazing golden tickets.
I waited patiently behind the white line and when the clock hit 10:30 and I was allowed into the park, I ran like a CRAZY woman to the back of the queue and there were still 10 people behind me who managed to get tickets before everyone else was turned away.
It’s brutal! But when you have two girls who have dreamed of meeting a princess, it has to be done.
But be warned. You do not get to pick the princess you will meet. It is a surprise and you have no choice. So if you have a little angel that is desperate to meet Cinders, try and warn them before hand that they might end up with Belle or Snow White instead.
Sorry to say it, but it really does! If you are travelling with children, be sure to check their height before you go to Disneyland to avoid disappointment. That way you can avoid the rides you know will cause tears, or plan to split up and conquer because you know what is coming. Disneyland have published all the height restrictions on this handy page – so take a look and heed the warning.
9: Kiddie Swap
NO, unfortunately this does not mean that you get to exchange your screaming, sugar-fueled, tantrum-filled toddler for someone else’s perfect little party dressed princess. But the idea is just as good. So listen up.
If you have a child that is too small for the ride, or does not want to go on, then one of you can go on the ride (with the other kids) first. Be sure to tell the person at the front of the queue that you want a “child swap” then when you come OFF the ride they will give you this amazing little ticket. Go back to your partner and hand them the ticket. This means he/she can then skip the entire queue and get straight on the ride. Disney have implemented this so that parents don’t have to miss out just because some kids are either too scared or too small to ride. It works even better if you have a FastPass for the ride also.
We used this on Thunder Mountain. My husband and my daughter got a FastPass ticket for the ride, we went back at our allotted time and he took her on the ride. I stayed off and watched with my youngest and my step son. When they came off the ride, my step son decided he didn’t want to do it, so I took my daughter (who had loved the ride) and we went back on together… skipping the 110 minute wait time to get on the ride. It is well worth using this option when you are travelling with kids.
10: Dine with the Stars
If you are worried that you will not be able to see all the characters at the various meet and greets, you can book a breakfast with Mickey and Friends at Mickey’s Cafe. It’s not cheap. You are also not guaranteed which characters will turn up, but you are guaranteed to see at least 4 of your Disney friends, have pictures and get their autographs (so don’t forget your autograph book!). But a piece of advice, don’t expect the food to be up to the standard of the ticket price. It’s not great, but the memories will last forever!
So there are my top tips. But I cannot sign off without giving my personal recommendations for rides that simply should not be missed. Here are just a few.
*Crushes Coaster (Walt Disney Studios) Height restriction 102cms – Amazing rollercoaster ride. A great first thrill ride for the adventurous kids. It’s in pitch black and has a high drop or two, but it’s amazing and well worth the wait!
*Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop (Walt Disney Studios) Height restriction 81cms – This doesn’t look very high when you are watching, but it’s actually a lovely thrill and great for the younger kids who will not be able to do the big thrill that is The Hollywood Tower of Terror (which is a MUST see for all adults – height restriction 102cm)
*Ratatouille – An Adventure. (Walt Disney Studios) No height restriction. This is probably one of my favourite rides. It’s a trackless 3D ride with a sensory experience involved (I won’t ruin it for you). This is a must must must see – and even if you can’t get a FastPass in time (they run out pretty quickly) it is well worth queueing to see.
*Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast. (Disneyland Park) A fun family ride that is interactive and competitive. Great fun!
*Princess Pavillion. (Disneyland Park) Well, you simply can’t come to Disney without meeting a Princess can you!
*Space Mountain (Disneyland Park) Height restriction 132 cms This is a proper thrill ride! Upside down rollercoaster in the dark! It’s great but not for the feint-hearted. Be prepared to feel the adrenalin rush!
*Star Tours (Disneyland Park) Height restriction 102cm. A great simulator ride for all those who have a love of Star Wars! Even the queuing for this one is fun!
For all those who are considering going to Disneyland Paris on holiday – let us know if this has been helpful – or better yet, leave us a comment when you have been with your very own top tips for everyone else!