1. How To Get There
Disneyland Paris is 45 minutes - 1 hour away from the city of Paris and is easily accessible by metro. You’ll want to get on the RER A line toward Marne-la-Vallee, and take it to the final station on the line(they make it really easy for you by including a small brown label under the Marne-la-Vallee name that says Parcs Disneyland :)). When you’re waiting for the train to come, there’s a board that’s lit up with station names, and that lets you know which stations the next train will be stopping at. Make sure that Marne-la-Vallee is lit up before you get on a train… or you’ll have to jump off at the last minute like we did! And once you arrive at the Marne-la-Vallee station, you’re directly at the entrance of Disneyland, so you don’t have to worry about finding your way there at all… you just head right on over to see Mickey!
One key thing to know is that you have to purchase a ticket that’s valid all the way to Disneyland. The regular tickets you get for 1.80 Euro are only valid within the city of Paris, and they won’t cover you as far as Disneyland. We learned this one the hard way for you! :) When we arrived at the final metro station yesterday, the exit machines returned our tickets and refused to open the gates, and we were stranded inside the station. There weren’t any machines where we could add more money to our tickets, and there was no one around to help us. I finally found a station employee who told me to just run through the gate behind someone else… that’s a little easier said than done with a family of five, plus there wasn’t anybody around to even attempt to follow through. Finally we stood there looking confused and distressed enough that French police came over from the other side and opened a gate to let us through. They were very friendly, and they explained the issue to us and declined our offer to pay the difference in fares. So it turned out alright, but save yourself the momentary panic and just be sure you get the right ticket in the first place.
2. How To Get Back
We made all kinds of mistakes yesterday that you can use to your benefit! Disneyland closes at 11 PM, and we took our time getting out of the park… watching the final light show at the castle and then buying a few souvenirs on our way out Main Street. Then we were all hungry, so we went into Disney Village (the Parisian equivalent of Downtown Disney) and grabbed some food before we went to the train station. We finally got to the station around 12:45 am and found out that the last train left at 12, so that was no longer an option for us to get back. So what to do?
There were buses still running, but figuring out the Paris bus system at 12:45 in the morning didn’t sound like the best idea. There were also taxi drivers there who said it would cost us 90-95 Euro to get back to the area where we’re staying in Paris. We also looked at Uber, which said it would be cheaper than the taxi, and we knew it would be a nicer experience, so we went ahead and booked it. 12 minutes later our Uber arrived, and we had a comfortable ride back to the city.
So the takeaway for you is that if you want to save money, make sure you’re on the train by 12. If you miss that, make sure you have the Uber app on your phone and/or that you have plenty of cash ready for a taxi, but at least know that you can still make it back to the city!
3. Purchasing Tickets
Tickets for Disneyland Paris start at 75 Euro for 1-day, 1-park for adults (67 Euro for kids 3-11) and then increase if you want to add on multiple days or the ParkHopper option. You can purchase tickets online ahead of time or buy them once you get to the park. The signs are in both French and English, so you’ll be able to understand what you’re buying. If you decide that you want to upgrade your park ticket later in the day (like adding on another day), make sure that you go to City Hall before 11 PM to do it. If you show up at 11:45 PM, even though the stores are still open, they’ll tell you that it’s considered the next day and you’re no longer able to upgrade your ticket. You have to do it before the park officially closes, so don’t make your decision too late!
4. Where To Eat
We were happily surprised to find that the food at Disneyland Paris is very good. It was definitely a higher quality than the food we’re used to at Disneyland in California. We had a quick lunch at Casey’s Corner on Main Street while we were waiting for the parade to start (they had gigantic hot dogs!), and then we had dinner at the Pizza Outpost in Adventureland. That restaurant is beautiful inside, and the lasagna is delicious!
One weird thing we experienced was that at least three restaurants were closed, and I never saw any mention of it on the map, so there were numerous people standing outside the restaurants and trying to open the doors. This was during July, which I would expect is the busiest time of year, so I’m not sure what happened. But before you get your heart set on Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet, Hakuna Matata kebabs, or Fuente del Oro fajitas, double check that they’re actually open. However, if our experience was idicative of everything in the park, expect to have good food wherever you end up!
5. Big Events
Disney parks always put on amazing shows and spectacles, and Disneyland Paris is no exception. Our girls loved the parade, featuring floats with Frozen, Toy Story, princess, Mickey and Minnie, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, and other Disney classics. And the Frozen Sing-Along show was fantastic! I actually thought it was better than the one in California, because this one had a group of singers and dancers who really interacted with the audience and made it a more fun experience.
At the end of the night there’s a lights and pyrotechnics show at the castle, as opposed to a traditional fireworks show, but it’s still awe-inspiring and fun. However, one thing we noticed was that Disneyland Paris doesn’t rope off sections and keep a path clear for guests to walk around the ones who are camped out awaiting the final show… it was nearly impossible to maneuver our stroller through the crowd of people. If you want to do something like go from Adventureland to Discoveryland (aka Tomorrowland) and it’s approaching time for the show, just go through Fantasyland, rather than trying to take the “shortcut” straight across in front of the castle... it will most likely be much faster and definitely easier!
6. The Rides
Disneyland Paris has two parks - Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. The main park is similar to the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California -- it's divided into different lands and has classic rides like Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, It's A Small World, and Space Mountain. There's also some different rides like Aladdin (not the flying carpets, but going through scenes from the movie) and an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired Curious Labyrinth. One quick little weird note - the attendant wouldn't let me on the Buzz Lightyear ride with our 6-month-old because "the bright lights might hurt her eyes". I've ridden the ride in the U.S. with her with no problems, but they won't let you through in Paris.
The Studios park has elements from some of the secondary parks in Florida and California, like the Disney Junior Live show, Tower of Terror, and Aerosmith’s Rock ’n Roller Coaster. It also has a number of unique attractions like Ratatouille: The Adventure, Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin, and Toy Soldier Parachute Drop. We opted to spend our day at Disneyland Paris at the main park, but make sure you check out the rides at each park before you make your decision so that you have your best experience!
7. Disneyland Is Always Magical
Whichever park you choose and despite any little hiccups you might experience in your day, Disney parks are always magical. You can’t help but smile when you see Sleeping Beauty’s castle, when you get your picture taken with Mickey Mouse, when the parade comes by, and when you see your children beaming with joy. Disneyland Paris is just as full of happy employees, perfectly manicured flowers and trees, and over-the-top fun as the other Disney parks, and you will always be happy that you chose to spend a day there.
What’s your favorite thing about visiting Disneyland Paris? Did we miss any key tips for having a great day there? Let us know in the comments!
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