Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris properly lead you to have a fabulous vacation and not have to miss any of your favorite attractions. Most of us love a trip to a Disney resort and with Disneyland Paris being so accessible by road, air and train from the UK and mainland Europe it is an ideal destination for a short break or to incorporate into a longer holiday. There are two amazing theme parks, the Disney Village, two shopping centres and even a world class golf course to enjoy during your stay. Disneyland is a magical destination for young and old alike but it can be expensive and is very crowed at peak times so how do you make the most of your visit and have a triumphal trip and not a Disney disaster? Below is information that you should know when you are planning a trip to Disneyland Paris.
When to Visit Disneyland Paris
Disneyland is a year round resort. The parks are open every day and many of the attractions are under cover and so not affected by the weather. That said at peak times you will not have the place to yourself! The parks get very busy during the school holidays and the cost of accommodation rises accordingly. If there is any way you can visit at a quiet time then do it! You will save a fortune and spend much less of your valuable time queuing. The resort is very quiet in November, December (apart from Christmas week), January and February. The park opening hours are shorter during these months but still give you plenty of time to experience the attractions. The only potential downside is the periodic closure of some of the star attractions for maintenance. If there is something you particularly want to see Disney do usually publish their scheduled closures so check out the website before you book.
Accommodation in Disneyland Paris
You will need to decide whether to stay in one of the Disney properties or in an independent hotel outside of the resort. Disneyland has six themed hotels to choose from. The budget hotels are the wild west themed Cheyenne and the Mexican flavoured Santa Fe. The American national park styled Sequoia Lodge and the New England themed Newport Bay Club are the intermediate properties and for the ultimate in luxury consider the Hotel New York and Disneyland Hotel. All of the hotels have excellent facilities and easy access to the theme parks but the convenience can come at a price. Before you get too scared at the cost of a stay in one of these hotels remember that the price does include tickets to the parks for the duration of your stay and you need to factor this in when comparing the cost of the properties outside of the resort. There is also the issue of parking or the cost of the train into the resort each day. If you are considering a base outside of the Disney Resort factor in your traveling expenses before making a decision. If the cost of a stay at one of the resort hotels is simply beyond your budget at peak times there are many local hotels just minutes away by car or train which should do the trick. The hotels in Bussy St Georges are a particularly good choice as you will be just 8 minutes from the park by car and two stops by train and this small town is right next to the motorway for easy access. Finally Disneyland has the Davy Crockett ranch which offers one and two bedroom cabins in a wooded setting. These can be good value but you do need a car to stay here.
One of the most difficult decisions to make in planning a trip to Disneyland Paris is how long to stay. There is so much to cram in that allowing at least one full day in each of the parks is essential but to really get the most out of your trip a longer visit is strongly advisable especially if you wish to incorporate a visit to Paris or other local attractions. There is the budget to consider though! My best advice is to stay as long as your budget and free time will allow with the ideal stay being at least 4 or 5 days.
Plan of Attack
So you have finally arrived at the Disneyland resort and want to make the very best of your visit. There is so much to see and do you might be wondering how you will fit it all in. Fear not! If you are visiting during a quiet period you will have no trouble seeing everything. If it is busy you will need a plan of action but it can all be done. The length of your stay is crucial here, the longer you have the less regimented you will need to be.
The usual rules of theme parks definitely apply here. Arrive at the gates of the park early and remember that if you are staying in a Disney property you will often have early access to the rides so do take advantage of this privilege before the crowds arrive. Your exact plan of attack will depend on the nature of your group and whether you have small children with you. If there are no small children head for one of the big attractions first to get this done before the queues start to mount. The most popular rides are Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast and Pirates of The Caribbean. As Big Thunder Mountain inevitably develops the longest queue this is the best place to start. Ride this and then go to the Fastpass machines near the entrance of the ride, insert your entrance ticket and receive a pass for reduced queuing later in the day. Most of the big attractions have these machines but you can only hold two tickets per person at any one time. Once you have used your tickets you can obtain more if they are still available. (When it is very busy these are generally gone by late morning). Now proceed to Space Mountain and take a ride and then collect another Fastpass. Buzz Lightyear is right opposite so do this next. You should have ridden three of the big attractions before the queues really develop and you are now free to work your way around the rest of the park, remembering to use your Fastpasses at the allotted times.
If you have small children then head to Fantasyland first. This is where you will find most of the attractions that will appeal to the younger members of the family. The queues can be really hideous here especially for Dumbo so ride this first after getting a fastpass for Peter Pan’s Flight and get as much done in this area as you can before the queues get really long. Then take on the rest of the park!
There are numerous shows and parades that you will not want to miss so check out the timings and get in position early for the best view. The rides tend to quieten down during the parades so if you are in the park for more than one day this is a good time to escape the queues and get in a few extra rides.
Walt Disney Studios Park
This park is much smaller and can usually be easily done even on the busiest days. Even so a little planning will avoid the worst of the queues. The big attractions here are the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster (where you get to see a great selection of famous guitars!), The Tower of Terror, Crush’s Coaster and the Studio Tram Tour. As Crush’s coaster gets the worst queue due to a low capacity definitely ride this first. Then proceed to the wonderful Tower of Terror, ride and get a Fastpass to return later. Then experience the Rock’N’Roller coaster and obtain another Fastpass. The studio Tour is best left until late on when the crowds start to dwindle but be careful to check out what time the last tour starts. You should also experience the motor stunt show which runs two or three times a day. The times should be clearly displayed outside the arena so plan your day around the rest of the park to incorporate the show. This park generally closes earlier than the Disneyland Park and so there is usually an opportunity to finish the day with a ride on a favourite attraction over there. Whichever park you spend the day in the big finale is Disney Dreams in front of the castle in the Disneyland Park and this is not to be missed from planning a trip to Disneyland Paris!
I think food is a little problematic at Disney. The food in the parks is very expensive and generally of poor quality. Unless you want to spend big and eat in one of the pricier restaurants It is a good idea to leave the parks at lunchtime and pay a brief visit to the Disney Village which is opposite the entrances. Here you will find the comparative safety and more reasonable prices of Starbucks, Earl of Sandwich and McDonalds. Grab a quick bite and return to the parks and you will save money and your stomach! By the way it is a good idea to eat outside of the usual meal times so have an early or late lunch to avoid the crowds. For your evening meal there are dozens of restaurants to choose from in the parks, hotels and Disney Village. All tastes are covered but if you want a really special evening then try Walts in the Disneyland Park for fine dining or the Inventions Buffet at the Disneyland Hotel for an evening with the Disney characters.
Outside of the theme parks there is still plenty to keep you entertained. The Disney Village is full of bars, restaurants and shops and also offers a multiplex cinema and dinner show. If you have not had enough shopping one stop down the line you will find a shopping mall and a factory outlet village. Paris is just 35 minutes away by train if you have a spare day and you might like to fit in a round of golf! There is so much here you will probably decide you need to visit again but with a little planning a trip to Disneyland Paris you should have a great trip and not have to miss any of your favorite attractions.
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Sally Stacey writes for a large number of blogs and websites on subjects ranging from music to travel. Find out more about Sally on her Google+ page.