Visiting Paris is wonderful, but in amongst all that French art, culture, food and language, make time for some rainbow-coloured, Disney-flavoured escapism. A Disneyland Paris day trip is the perfect way to let loose.
Our day trip to Disneyland Paris (DLP) was a last minute decision. We hadn’t planned on going, but there was a super cheap deal (GBP 32 or about AUD 55 pp) and we thought the kids would enjoy a day of fun and familiarity, since they loved Magic Kingdom at Disney World. They were SO excited. It was the first visit for all of us.
Note that when buying tickets it can be worth looking at different DLP websites. I checked the US, UK and French sites and found the cheapest tickets on the UK site.
Fortunately crowds were non-existent, so it was easily possible to do Disneyland Paris in a day. We managed to do 15 rides and attractions in the 8-ish hours we were there, plus 2 extra rides of Hyperspace Mountain. Definitely well worth it for the price we paid, although we didn’t feel it had the same level of Disney magic as Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California. It was just a really good theme park.
9 tips for an amazing Disneyland Paris day trip
1. Catch the train from Paris
This is by far the cheapest method to travel from Paris to Paris Disneyland and is comfortable, safe and easy –
- There is a direct train line (RER A) from central Paris to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy, which is the station right outside the Disneyland Paris gates. A few minutes’ walk and you’ll be inside the theme park. This public transport trip planner is very helpful and in English.
- Head to your closest station on that line. Chatelet-Les Halles is a very central station in Paris with 5 metro lines going through it, so will probably be the easiest one to get to.
- Buy tickets from a machine at the station (you can select English instructions) or from a ticket office (you’ll need French for that). A one-way ticket from any Paris station to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy will cost €15.20 (adult) or €7.60 (child). There are similar machines at Marne-la-Vallée Chessy station to buy tickets for your return Disneyland Paris to Paris train.
- Follow the signs to RER A in the direction of Marne-la-Vallée Chessy to reach the right train platform. Check screens on the platform to make sure you get on the right train. This is a helpful guide to using the metro/RER train system.
- It is about a 45 min journey from Chatelet-Les Halles to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy.
2. Embrace Disneyland in French
While DLP looks just like the US Disney parks, it is not like stepping into a little slice of America where everyone speaks English. This is a French theme park, so the staff speak French, the characters on rides speak French (for example the animatronic pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean), and service and cleanliness standards are not as high as you find in the US Disney parks (although perfectly acceptable).
Get into the spirit and try a “bonjour” to say hello, a “merci” to say thank you and even a “je voudrais … s’il vous plaît” when ordering your lunch.
The French names are utterly charming though, like Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).
3. Don’t miss the unique features
Compared with California and Florida the weather in Paris is often cool with grey skies. As a result –
- Google the weather before you go to choose a relatively fine day for your visit. We even found the weather forecast remarkably accurate as to when during the day any rain would happen.
- Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle) is pink to contrast with the grey sky. I loved this beautifully whimsical castle. So pretty!
- The princesses wear beautiful long sleeved velvety gowns and wraps.
Disneyland Paris must do rides and attractions
La Tanière du Dragon (The Dragon’s Lair) beneath the castle is wonderfully atmospheric. It is pitch black down there and the dragon sleeps, but wait a few moments until this animatronic creature awakes!
Since you can easily miss this attraction by walking around or through the castle, you need to look out for signs to walk down through La Tanière du Dragon instead (to the left as you approach the castle from Main St). Essential!
We particularly loved Hyperspace Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, and felt they were better than their Disney World counterparts. But, although DLP was very quiet on our visit with typically less than 15 min lines, we waited 75 min to get on Big Thunder Mountain. Fastpasses ran out very early, so head here first in your Disneyland Paris itinerary to grab one.
4. Avoid the crowds
As with any popular tourist attraction do what you can to avoid the crowds –
- Choose a quieter day to visit Disneyland Paris for the day – check out this crowd calendar.
- Consider staying at a Disneyland Hotel for early access to the park.
- Arrive before the park opens as they often let you in earlier than the official opening time. Check park hours here.
- Get on as many of the popular rides as you can first thing since it will only get busier through the day.
- Grab a Fastpass for one of the most popular rides. Fastpasses are available for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Star Wars: Hyperspace Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight and Star Tours. More information here.
- Go on rides during parades if you don’t mind missing the parades.
- Try to avoid eating during peak lunch times. The restaurants will be quieter outside those times and ride lines may be shorter during them.
- Use the Disneyland Paris app, which will give you live wait times on rides to help you decide where to head next. Download here.
5. Enjoy the classic rides
These are the rides you choose for nostalgia rather than thrills.
6. Catch a parade
There’s daytime shows, character meet and greets plus the Disney Illuminations show at night, but the daily Disney Stars on Parade is truly magical.
7. Run around Adventure Isle
This adventure play area is fantastic for kids. They can explore caves, suspension bridges, a Pirate Galleon and La Cabane des Robinson (the Swiss Family Treehouse).
9. Relax and recover
After doing Disneyland Paris in one day make sure you take the time to sit down and relax before heading back to Paris.
A coffee at Main Street Bakery helps to relieve the post-Disney exhaustion, but head to Disney Village to choose a family-friendly restaurant for dinner.
Disney Village is like a mini version of Disney Springs at Disney World in Florida and is situated outside the DLP gates next to the train station. There are plenty of restaurants, like Rainforest Cafe, Earl of Sandwich, Five Guys, Planet Hollywood, cinemas and huge souvenir shops.
I recommend sitting upstairs at Earl of Sandwich for an affordable meal overlooking the lake and hot air balloon before heading back to Paris on a train filled with sleeping children.