First of all, I enjoyed Disneyland in Paris way more than I thought I would. Sophia, my 10-year-old-daughter, and I went to Knotts Berry Farm and Disney California Adventure (in Southern California) a few months ago. She actually told me that she liked Disneyland Paris better – there are a few things that tipped me towards California Adventure – but I had a much better time here than expected. I read the reviews on Trip Advisor before we went and they were pretty dismal. The reviews in the semi-post-Covid reality we find ourselves in were dismal at best with a few glowing reviews from Disney fans. The thing with Trip Advisor to keep in mind is that people who have a negative experience are much more likely to write a review than those who have a great experience, those who have an ‘ok’ experience are probably not going to write at all – so I always use TA reviews to adjust my expectations lower without destroying my hopes – which in general makes for a better trip. I would never have done this if she hadn’t of put it on her list of Paris must-do’s – but I’m glad we did it. I had fun.
That leads me to:
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #1: Set your expectations low.
The world hasn’t recovered from Covid yet and even when it does – just understand that things are different than they were – both during the covid times and before. If you are expecting to have an amazing magical day in the ‘happiest place on earth’ – you are almost 100% going to be disappointed. What you should expect is to pay too much money for mediocre food, long lines to do anything desirable, crowds, staff that probably aren’t paid enough, and rides that inevitably are much shorter than the lines you wait in to get on them. If you expect all of that – it won’t be a surprise. And…when you get the short line, the delicious treat, the magical shot, the unexpected character interaction – it will be magical.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #2: Bring a backpack
You can bring a bag into Paris Disneyland. Do it. I tried to carry my phone charger, portable battery, sunglasses, and water all in my cargo pants pockets which was uncomfortable and looked silly. There were countless times having a bag to put under the ride seat, in my lap, or beside me would have been much easier, more comfortable, and just better.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #3: Reusable Water Bottle
They don’t advertise the drinking fountains but they are around. They want you to spend 4 Euro on a bottle of water – but you don’t have to. Bring that reusable water bottle and refill it.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #5: Pack a picnic lunch
You’ll be at Disneyland all day. Bring a nice lunch. Stop by a grocery or cheese shop in Paris before you go. Baguette, cheese, fruit, some lunch meat – or even buying food for takeaway before you leave. The food in the park is overpriced and not top quality – plus – there are lots and lots of beautiful, out of the way spaces where you can spread out a blanket or sheet (or sarong) and sit on the grass enjoying a beautiful day with your loved ones without thinking “I just paid 60 Euro for this?”
That being said – we enjoyed sampling some regional French cuisine (Alsace) in the Disney Studios park but it was spendy (20 Euro for a little suarkraut, a pretzel, a bottle of water, and a glass of Reisling) – we also shared a simple single meal (Pizza, salad, drink, water, and tiny Magnum ice cream) for 16 Euro. We reused the water bottles multiple times. We also got ice cream which was about 10 Euro. So, 46 Euro for the day – way under what a family of 3-6 would pay.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #6: Getting to Disneyland from Paris is EASY
I stressed out about this. I didn’t book the shuttle from Paris which you have to book when you buy your tickets – it seemed slightly inconvenient to me and sort of expensive. Instead, we took the Metro from our hotel in Batignelles. It was cheap and easy. We took a regular metro to Gare de Lyon and then caught the RER (Red line) straight to Disneyland. An enjoyable one hour train trip. Total cost round trip for each of us right around 12 Euro. Here’s the super pro tip: In Paris, you don’t need to save your ticket to exit most stations – but you will need your ticket to exit the station at Disneyland so don’t lose it like we did. There is no one around to help you. We had to hop over (through) the gate – which was kind of fun to do with my 10-year-old but she is pretty straight and narrow so she was like “OMG Daddy, we can’t do this, it’s totally illegal” – uhmmmm yeah. I actually am that dad.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #7: Getting past height restrictions
Speaking of being that kind of Dad… Sophia was just under the height for Indiana Jones – so we folded up about an inch of cardboard and put it in her shoes. This won’t work for kids who are way too small – but if they are just a little under – it will work. Or if you want to be proactive, look up the height restrictions and bring some bigger shoes or risers with you.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #8: Fast Pass / Premier Pass
One of the reasons I prefer California Disneyland is that you can buy the line Genie for a pretty reasonable amount. The Premium Pass at Paris Disneyland actually costs more than the original ticket – if you have the money, it’s probably worth it especially if you are going in for the early 1 hour before the gates open to everyone else. The cost for bypassing the lines is pretty high. I opted to pay 18 Euro Each to get us on Crush’s Coaster – which had an 80 minute line. The app told me that the time I was trying to get had just sold out, so I bought the next time slot. Turns out it had sold out because I bought the last one – so I spent 72 Euro for two rides each – which is definitely not something I would have done on purpose. There was no way to get a refund short of some sort of email communication, so I just chalked it up. The app told me my first purchase had failed – so extra pro tip – log out and log back in if you have a failed transaction – it may not have. Mostly, the lines of 15-45 minutes were okay and moved faster than listed…the app, by the way will tell you lies about rides that have shorter or longer wait times. It didn’t seem accurate – but more like a herding tool.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #9: Sunscreen, chapstick, and a Hat
You will be outside for most of the day and there aren’t really protected spots in most of the lines. Be prepared.
Paris Disneyland Pro Tip #10: Get the App
The app was really useful especially because you will be hopping between the Disney Studios Park and the Paris Disneyland Park. The app isn’t as good as the one for California’s Disneyland, but it was nice to have the map, the listing of shows, and the ability to estimate crowd size.
Bonus Tip: No Need to Print Out Tickets
I was able to add the QR code to my Apple Wallet and no need to print out tickets – which some websites had said was required. The QR worked just fine and was able to be added to Apple Wallet from the confirmation link sent in the confirmation email. There are steps, but it works.
About the Rides:
All the rides were good. Old favorites like Snow White, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Star Tours have a unique French twist. The most odd for me was riding the paddle wheeler – they’ve recreated an American themed thing in France and it was really cool and strange.
Sophia’s Top Three:
- Hyperspace Mountain
- RC Racer
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
My Top Three:
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Crush’s Coaster