In a few weeks, we will be returning to Disneyland Paris for the third time and for once I’m not worried about how we will cope or what we will do when we are there. Going to the park during February half term means that it will not only be busy but it will be cold too. Wearing layers is key and having gloves and waterproofs for the whole family is important too.
The first thing to remember is that Disneyland Paris is divided into two parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Park. We have always found it easier to dedicate a day to a certain park rather than going back and forth between them.
Find out who your child wants to meet and what rides they really want to go on before you go. This means you can prioritise these when you are there. Make sure you check height restrictions so they are not disappointed when you go to queue up.
Get a Map
When you arrive through the turnstiles look for the maps and schedules that are available in a variety of different languages and make sure you select the right one. The first time we went I ended with a Spanish schedule which was not very useful!
Don’t forget your FastPass
If there are rides you really want to go on that usually have a long waiting time then you need to grab a fast pass. Get one as early as you can because you can only have one at a time. Insert your ticket into a fast pass machine of your chosen ride and return at the designated time on your ticket.
Use the magic hours if they are available to you to do the rides that you really must do before the parks get really busy. Sometimes this could mean going before breakfast and heading back to your hotel to enjoy a more leisurely brunch after you have been on a few rides. The other way to minimise queuing is to go to the popular rides after about 5pm or when a parade is on.
Hire a push chair
Even though my girls were too old for a pushchair at home we still hire them when we go to places like Disneyland Paris. Not only are they great for little legs when walking so far but they are also brilliant for storing your bags full of snacks, bottles of water and discarded layers.
We have never had to use this but if you have a child too small to ride then the adults in your party can take turns without having to queue twice. Ask a Cast Member for details at each ride.
There are so many amazing places to eat at Disneyland Paris and if you have a meal plan then this is a brilliant way of controlling how much money you will spend whilst you are there. However, there are still tips that will be really useful for you. Firstly, make sure you book your meals at the restaurants you wish to visit. You can make reservations two months in advance and some restaurants such as the character dining book up very quickly. Call +33 1 60 30 40 50 to book. Secondly, choose your dining times wisely. Going for lunch between 12 and 2pm be really busy but eating dinner early (between 4pm and 6pm) will be a lot quieter than having something later on. When on the half board meal plan we have a late breakfast, take a couple of snacks for lunch and then have an early dinner with a few more snacks later in the evening if required. We pack suitable snacks in our suitcase or head to a local shop before we go into the parks. We also take refillable water bottles with us which saves us a small fortune. If you kids don’t like water then the small concentrated squash capsules are perfect for popping in your bag.
If your children are anything like mine then they will want to be dressed like their favourite character whilst in the parks. There are a lot of shops selling them when you are there but they are very expensive (good quality but still). Order some outfits online to save money and make them magically appear in your room when your children are not looking! This goes for other bits of Disney “tat”. Light up wands, colouring books, soft toys, all of these can be pre-purchased and hidden in your suitcase for you to take out as and when required.
What to wear
I have already mentioned layers but footwear is one of the most important things to think about. Make sure everyone has comfortable shoes. You will be standing up and walking an awful lot and sore feet can ruin the day for everyone. The same goes for getting wet. Take small fold up rain macs or waterproof ponchos. Again these are available to buy in the parks but go prepared and you will save a small fortune. Don’t forget sun cream and hats too. The clouds can be deceptive and you can easily get burned without realising.
Capture the memories
Having been before there are two things that we look back on. The photos with the characters from our Photopass (the more you buy the cheaper they are and you can order them online so you don’t have to carry them all with you). The other thing is the autograph books that the characters signed when we met them. We bought autograph books on amazon and took a chunky pen (easier for the characters to hold!) with us and the girls look at them and reminisce about the characters they met.
I hope that these tips will help you have the most amazing time at Disneyland Paris. My main point though is to relax, have fun and remember in the words of Walt Disney
Growing old is mandatory,
but growing up is optional.
Let your inner child free and enjoy your time in the parks!