Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris: The Ultimate How To Guide

As many of you know, we’ve recently been to Disneyland Paris as a family for the first time, although BattleDad and I have been before. BattleDad also worked there for a year as part of the opening crew. And it’s fair to say I did A LOT of planning before we went, getting the help of the blogging community with things like how to plan Disneyland Paris, the best places to eat in Disneyland Paris and the best rides for under 5’s at Disneyland Paris. I can also tell you I learned a lot during both the planning stages and while we were there. So, I thought I would share with you all the knowledge we gained with our top Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris; tricks, hints and other secrets.tips for visiting disneyland paris

Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris

Research & Planning a Trip to Disneyland Paris

I cannot stress enough that in order to get the most out of your time at Disneyland Paris, I highly recommend that you do your research. Everything from where to stay, to where you’d like to eat, to the rides best suited to your kids; research it. This will help you plan not only your trip, but also your time in Disneyland Paris so you can get the most out of your trip. I have a few blog posts I wrote during my research and planning which you might find helpful.

Planning Our First Family Visit to Disneyland Paris.

Rides for Under 5’s at Disneyland Paris.

Best Places for Food at Disneyland Paris.

Once you’ve done your research it’s time to plan your trip. BattleDad only half-jokingly said I put as much planning effort into this trip as Disney does to make things look easy. High praise indeed, but well worth it! It can be a logistical nightmare and a huge undertaking, but with the right research and planning, you can take most of the stress out of a trip like this.

And just because it’s Disneyland, don’t let it fool you. People everywhere, stressed adults, stressed kids – minimise all of that by getting your research and planning right and let them freak themselves out while you have a great time. Let’s look at some of the things to look out for. And if you’d like a FREE Disneyland Paris Daily Planner with an easy how-to-use-it guide (which includes a copy of our recent daily plan), scroll to the bottom to see how you can get it!

Tips for booking your trip to Disneyland Paris

There are many companies who will do an all-in-one service for getting to Disneyland Paris, but we booked our stay through the Disneyland Paris website. We then booked our flights separately as we were travelling to Paris from Portugal.

If travelling from the UK, you have many options for getting to Disneyland Paris. You can travel by plane using any number of airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet, Air France and many more. Compare prices through sites such as Skyscanner (click here to start researching your flights).

You can get a train to Disneyland Paris via the EuroStar as either a food passenger, going all the way to Disneyland either direct or via Gare du Nord. Or by car, disembarking when you arrive in Calais and driving to Disneyland Paris. Keri over on Our Globe Trotters has a great post full of information about driving from the UK to France, if you are electing to take your own car.

Personally, I will always book separately as that’s my preference but by all means you can choose to book via an all-in-one package travel agent such as Thomson or Magic Breaks. The choice really is yours, but you’ve got limited options to make savings if you do an all-in-one trip so bear that in mind.

When booking your trip, I recommend you check out the Disneyland Paris UK site, the Disneyland Paris French site and Disneyland Paris German site, and compare the prices. Sometimes you’ll find one is doing a deal where the other two aren’t. And don’t worry about the language. Just use the Google translate button on the web page and you’ll be fine.

One final tip here is check out whether there are any European school holidays on while you plan to visit, particularly if you are visiting Disneyland Paris outside of UK and Irish school breaks. Just Google “school holidays (country name) (year)” and you should find pages giving this information. Be especially aware of booking your visit while there are French school holidays as the parks have the potential to be incredibly busy during this time.

Should you stay in an on-site Disney Hotel?

There are quite a few advantages to staying in one of the Disney hotels over any of the non-Disney Hotels located near Disneyland Paris. I was actually surprised at what was included such as:

  • Park tickets for each day of your stay including the day of your arrival and departure.
  • Hotel Fast Pass (only available with certain hotels).
  • Extra Magic Time included (more on this later).
  • Character meet and greets in the hotels.
  • Free shuttle bus to the parks from your hotel (not needed for the Disneyland Hotel and not available for the Davy Crockett Ranch). That said some of the non-Disney hotels run their own shuttle buses to the parks but check this out before booking.
  • Sometimes you can get free breakfast or half board deals when booking a Disney hotel, or extra days free. Please note that bed and breakfast is no longer a guaranteed deal, this stopped early in 2017.

Disney hotels include the Disneyland Hotel (where we stayed), the Disney Hotel New York (looks fab from the outside), Disney Newport Bay, Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and Santa Fe (in descending order of star rating). There are also on-site self-catering cabins in the form of the Davy Crockett Ranch, which are ideal if travelling to Disney by car, or if you have a large family and don’t want to fork out for two hotel rooms. Just note that there is no free shuttle bus from here as mentioned. All the Disney hotels can be found, and prices compared, on the relevant Disneyland Paris website.

You might ask which is the best Disneyland Paris Hotel. Truthfully, we have only stayed in the Disneyland Paris Hotel itself, and while it was amazing, so too was the price. I would advise you read reviews of the hotels within your price range and decide from there. Realistically you won’t be spending all that much time at your hotel, unless the weather is particularly dreadful. What I will say is watch out for deals for Disneyland Paris hotels with park tickets. These are often included and will save you money in the long run if your park tickets are included.

disneyland paris day 4 - The stunning lobby of the Disneyland Hotel
The stunning lobby of the Disneyland Hotel in December 2017

Tips for preparing to visit Disneyland Paris

Decide whether you want a meal plan or not.

Breakfast used to be included in your hotel booking but it was changed early in 2017 and it is now an add-on option. At the time of our original booking, we added it on. However, we later changed it to a Full Board Plus Meal Plan. I could remember wandering around for ages at lunchtime with BattleDad during our pre-BattleKid trips, trying to find somewhere to have lunch. We ended up in Toad Hall, eating awful over-priced fish and chips, and I didn’t want history repeating itself with a toddler in tow.

There are different levels of meal plans from Standard to Plus to Premium, and which one you choose will depend on both your budget and where you want to eat. We chose the Plus as we could eat in places like Captain Jack’s and Bistro Chez Remy without having to budget additional money for them. If you choose Standard and want to eat there, you will need to top-up on your meal vouchers.

Also, I would recommend thinking long and hard about your Disneyland Paris dining plan, and whether you need Full Board or could manage with Half Board. We chose full board and I ended up giving away three sets of meal plans vouchers because we didn’t use all ours. We could have easily managed with just Half Board and perhaps paying for one meal. Next time I think we’ll go Half Board. The food is plentiful and good quality, but we didn’t need a large breakfast then a three-course meal at lunch time and a three-course meal at dinner time. It was just a bit too much for us.

*Update Jan 2018

We paid for breakfast at the time of making our booking with Disneyland Paris, as there were no meal plan deals on offer, and we received vouchers for the buffet breakfast in our hotel upon our arrival. Our friends also received hotel buffet breakfast vouchers, although they had to eat in one of the Studios restaurants as the restaurant in their hotel was undergoing refurbishment. 

It has also been brought to my attention by one of my readers that with some “Free Half Board” deals, you may not get a buffet breakfast in your hotel, that you may instead receive vouchers for breakfast in one of the Counter Service outlets in the park instead. Please make sure to check exactly what is on offer when you book, and if you really want the buffet breakfast, and not a counter service breakfast, I’d suggest ringing the Disneyland Paris customer service telephone number to see if you can “top up” for the buffet breakfast.

Decide whether you want to buy the Photo Pass

This pass can prove very useful if you plan on doing quite a few meet and greets, but less so if you are not. I knew we were going to try get to a few meet and greets, so added it to our original booking (costing £45 in June 2017). If you don’t buy before you go, you can still get it in the parks or your hotel boutique (if staying in a Disney hotel), and in December 2017, it cost €70 when bought at Disney itself. Note that the price is going up in 2018.

In the end it proved very useful for us. Not all the meet and greets we did had official photographers at them, but those that did resulted in at least three pictures or more. Between rides and meet and greets we came away with 43 photos. Those from the meet and greets were worth buying it for alone. I’ve heard of some people coming away with 100+ photos, so consider whether you want it or not. And if you do, buy before you go so it works out more cost-effective. Here are some pictures from our photo pass.BattleKid meeting Mickey Mouse in Disneyland Paris BattleKid meeting Darth Vader in Disneyland Paris

Watch Disney films

Disney films are part and parcel of growing up, but that said, the films are always changing, and classics are being replaced in the eyes of our children by newer, shinier films.

Before visiting Disneyland Paris, we made sure to watch a few of the classics with BattleKid so he would at least be aware of the characters before going on certain rides. We had never watched Peter Pan with him but knew we wanted to go on the ride, so we watched it with him in the weeks before our trip. We watched the following films:

  • Peter Pan
  • Jungle Book
  • Dumbo
  • Ratatouille (a first for us adults as well)
  • Toy Story 1 and 2
  • Cars (a regular in our house).

We also watched a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so the characters were fresh in BattleKid’s mind should we meet them at the character’s breakfasts we had booked.

Prepare your snack bags

One thing I can remember from our previous visits to Disneyland Paris was the cost of food and drink in the parks. And everyone I had received advice from in my planning stages said to bring snack bags to keep hunger at bay with little ones, especially in between meals, or for use in queues.

So, I packed two snack bags per day for BattleKid, which was overkill but better to be safe than sorry. I found it quite hard to fill them here in Portugal as we don’t have kids treats and snacks such as the Kiddylicious range or the Organix range.

In our snack bags, which were Ziploc bags, I packed the following:

  • Two small Kinder chocolate bars (from a multipack)
  • A packet of apple crisps
  • Oaty Biscuit bar
  • One fruit/yogurt pouch
  • One small chocolate bar
  • A few jelly teddy bears.

Anything that doesn’t need refrigerating, could melt, or go off quickly, will be ideal, especially individually wrapped items. I also brought apples and grapes in our luggage, as well as a knife, so I could bring a small lunch box with fruit into the park each day.

And remember your drinks bottles. But beware, although there are numerous drinking fountains throughout Disneyland Paris, we found none working during our trip in December. None! Whether this was due to the cold weather or not, I don’t know. So, we had to buy some water in our hotel and fill our drinks bottles from those (and from the bottles at breakfast, but this can be frowned upon). Also, get yourself a bottle or two of concentrated squeezy juice to make flavoured drinks for your kids if they’re not big on simply water. Grab them in Boots or a newsagents through security in the airport if going to Disneyland Paris by plane.

Prepare your kids for the crowds by watching some YouTube vlogs

One hint given to us was to watch some YouTube videos with your kids to prepare them for how crowded and busy Disney might be. Although I did this with BattleKid, I don’t think he quite got it at his age (almost 4), so I think this would be better for slightly older kids who might be going for the first time. One thing to note, don’t watch vlogs from the year you are going, especially if it is one of the anniversary years. I started to watch the Illuminations 25th anniversary video and stopped a minute in as I didn’t want it ruined for our visit.

Visitors with disabilities or special needs

There is a plenty of information on the website with regards to those visiting Disneyland Paris who might have disabilities or special needs. From whether you can get priority passes, to the documentation you’ll need to get these, I suggest you check out the website. If your answer cannot be found, ring the Disneyland Paris number (UK –  08448 008 111 , Paris – +33 160 306 053).

One of the Facebook groups I joined prior to our visit, which has so much useful information, is the Daniel Potter’s Disneyland Paris Advice Group. You can search for relevant threads, or ask your question. They are really helpful and willingly give advice to those who need it. I did join another Facebook group which I won’t name, but found it less friendly than the Daniel Potter one!

How to get to Disneyland Paris from the airport

You have a few options here. We booked the Magic Shuttle to and from Orly, but I never checked the times before we went. Do this BEFORE you book it. I thought it would be a regular 15 to 30-minute bus but not so. It has a specific timetable. When we landed and cleared customs in Orly, we had just missed the 17.50 bus and the next wasn’t until 19.00 (also the last one of the day). We didn’t fancy waiting around for 50 minutes in the cold with a toddler, so we took a taxi. Which cost us €125, due to the awful rush hour traffic through road works. Be warned! We did get it back to the airport but had to forgo breakfast in order to get one which would leave us at the airport well in time for our flight.

You can also take the TGV or RER trains from Charles de Galle or Orly but depending on where you land you may need to make a change. Not ideal if you are travelling with luggage and buggies.

You could book a private transfer, and this may be the best option. Had I known about the Magic Shuttle timetable before booking it, I’d have opted for a private booking. Information on these can be found via the Daniel Potter Facebook group too.

Additional tips before visiting Disneyland Paris

If you want to eat at the best Disneyland Paris restaurants while there, you can book these 60 days in advance. DO IT. Call the reservations number (+33 1 60 30 40 50) and make all your bookings in one go. I have read there is a UK freephone number for restaurant bookings, but have also read of people not being able to get through or being kept on the line for hours. I would recommend ringing the direct French reservations number very early in the morning. I rang at 7.15am UK time and was answered immediately. The French number is open 24/7 so avoid calling at peak times.

Also, buy your children’s autograph books and costumes before you go as they are more expensive to buy in the Disney parks. There are some great ones on Amazon such as this one.

If you don’t already have waterproofs for the family, buy them before you go. All-in-one’s for kids and waterproof over-trousers for adults would be a must in my opinion. Although we didn’t need them in December, the French weather is an unpredictable as the UK or Irish weather so it’s best to be prepared. Why bring waterproof over-trousers for adults? Who wants to sit on a wet seat on a ride and have wet pants for the rest of the day!

Before you go, or as soon as you arrive, get yourself a lanyard for your park tickets, at the very least. This will save you so much time when entering the parks or going between the two. I also had my hotel charge card, hotel room card and my driving licence (more on this later) in my lanyard, along with our park tickets. Saves you rummaging through your bag to find them. Again, you buy Disney lanyards (such as this matching set) on Amazon.

If you can find the Disneyland Paris timetable prior to your visit, plan your days at Disneyland Paris. I wasn’t going to do this until I read about it on the Daniel Potter’s Facebook group and was glad I did it in the end. We fitted in so much more than if we had just gone there to ‘wing it’. I am planning another post about what we fitted in, so watch out for that.

Hints and tips for visiting Disneyland Paris parks

Getting into the parks and planning your day

You can either walk to the parks from Disney hotels, or get the free shuttle buses. Be warned that these get very busy at peak times, so you might have to wait on the next bus. And you will have to collapse buggies.

If you are staying in the Disneyland Hotel, you have the shortest distance to travel to the parks as you are right at the Disney park entrance.

If you haven’t already done so, pick up a Disneyland Paris Schedule leaflet in the park for the most up-to-date times and programme. This will also tell you what meet and greets are taking place, where and when, and whether there will be an official photographer there (handy for those with the photo pass). Then plan out your day if you haven’t already done so. They will also give you up-to-date times for any Disneyland Paris parade times and shows being held during your visit.

There are two parks and we spent more time in the Disney park than the Disneyland Paris Studios park. We had three days so spent two in Disney. When BattleDad and I visited for one day, we did Disney in the morning and finished off in Studios. But this meant we missed the castle lights show as we had to travel back into Paris each time.

Extra Magic Time

If you are staying in a Disney hotel, you get additional time in the parks called Extra Magic Time (EMT) – formerly Extra Magic Hours. The length of this time will depend on the time of year you are visiting but can be from 8am to 10am. When we visited in December 2017, our EMT was 8.30-9.30. And don’t worry about that missing half hour. You remain in the park, and can keep enjoying this quieter time before the parks open to the public.

And if you have EMT, USE IT. We entered the parks just before this time and enjoyed rides which normally have long wait times, as well as did one or two meet and greets. We enjoyed EMT in the Disney park one morning and ticked off all but one of the rides we wanted to do in Fantasyland with BattleKid, which freed up more time in our day. Just note that only Fantasyland in the Disney park is open during EMT. That said, you can queue at the entrance to other areas and be one of the first to arrive at your ride of choice. BattleDad went to do Indiana Jones at 9.45am and was first on at 10am.

Getting into the Disney park before EMT will also give you a chance to get a picture of the castle with no one in front of it as they have a rope across the entrance until the official EMT opening hours. For example, we got to the castle at 8.20am one morning and that is how I got my castle picture as used in my graphics for this post.

I would recommend doing the Peter Pan ride in Disney and the Ratatouille ride in Studios during this time. This will leave your hotel Fast Pass (if you get them) free to use for other rides during your visit. These were two rides recommended to us as ones not to be missed.

Fast Pass

As mentioned, if you stay in certain Disney hotels you will receive one Fast Pass per person, per day of your stay. These can be used on certain rides to beat the queues. You simply scan your ticket at the Fast Pass machine at the entrance to the ride. You will receive a ticket with a return time, enabling you to continue to enjoy the rest of the park without queuing for that ride. However, you can only use one Fast Pass at a time or when 2 hours has elapsed. I’ll be honest and say that although we had Fast Pass tickets, we didn’t use any of them as we managed to get the rides we wanted to do done either in EMT or without queuing because the wait times were incredibly short. Rides which have Fast Pass can be found here.

Dining at Disneyland Paris

You have many options for dining while visiting Disneyland Paris, whether you have a meal plan or not. There are fast-food restaurants, table service restaurants and also character dining experiences. Full information about all the places to eat at Disneyland Paris can be found on the website here.

If you have a meal plan, you get one voucher per meal per person. For half board you will get a breakfast and one meal voucher per day, full board is one breakfast and two meal vouchers per day. Each meal plan voucher has a nominal monetary value (not shown on the voucher), and these can be used towards a meal if you want to eat away from the menu your voucher is for.

For example, we had Plus meal vouchers, so were able to eat at most restaurants from the Plus menu. However, BattleDad fancied the Premium meal at Captain Jack’s so he ordered from that menu and we paid the difference (although the difference turned out to be more than the advertised price difference between the Plus and Premium menus so be sure to ask. We paid €20 instead of the advertised €6 difference. Not a problem, but if you’re on a strict budget be aware of these little surprises).

On the Daniel Potter’s Facebook Group, there is a file containing full information about each meal plan, the restaurants included in it and where you might need to top up. Be aware that there are certain restaurants in the Disney Village that DO NOT accept meal vouchers including Planet Hollywood, Vapianos, King Ludwigs Castle, Rainforest Café, McDonalds and 5 Guys.

As for character dining, where you get to meet characters while you eat, there are a few options. The first is a character breakfast in Plaza Gardens within the park, which we did. I’ve written about that in my Disneyland Paris Holiday Diaries. Please note, there are no longer characters present in Café Mickey.

You can also do character dining at Inventions in the Disneyland Hotel, or Princess character dining at Auberge de Cendrillon, within the Disney castle. Both of these options are significantly pricier than the character breakfast, although I’ve heard are a more relaxed affair than the breakfast experience. In truth, we enjoyed the character breakfast when we went to the earlier sitting of 8.15am rather than 9.45am.

One thing I cannot stress enough is to book your meals 60 days in advance. BattleDad and I never did in previous years, and as mentioned, ate over-priced awful fish and chips for lunch. This time, I rang 55 days in advance and booked our table for Bistro Chez Remy, Steakhouse, Captain Jack’s and the California Grill, ensuring we had nice meals planned.

However, our Bistro Chez Remy meal was mixed up and we had to go to a later sitting than planned, screwing up our planned day in Studios. So, my advice is to confirm your meals BEFORE you go, just in case. I confirmed our time for Captain Jacks early in the morning on the day we would be eating there just to be certain there was no further mix ups.

Photo Pass and how to use it

As mentioned the Photo Pass can be purchased before your visit or while you are at the parks. This gives you digital copies of all your photos from rides and meet and greets as high-resolution copies, which you can access on line for one year from first use. Note, not all rides have photos, nor do all character meet and greets. Those that do are clearly marked by a symbol on the park’s timetable.

Before you go, create a photo pass account on the Disneyland Photo Pass website, and download the Photo Pass app too. Once you get your photo pass at the parks, insert the code into your account and start collecting your photos.

You will receive one main photo pass card, and two smaller fobs. These are handy if your party wants to split up for any reason.

On rides, you can either use your QR scanner on your phone to add your photo to your account. Or, each photo has a code associated with it in the format A1234. Simply add this to your account and hey presto, ride photo will be added.

As for meet and greets with official photographer’s present, simply hand them your photo pass card when it’s your turn and they will do the rest. Alternatively, if you haven’t got a photo pass, they often hand you a card which you can bring to a booth to get your photos, or which you can add to a photo pass account later. But be aware there is a time limit on this, and you cannot put them onto a photo pass account after you’ve left Disney.

As already mentioned, it can work out cheaper to buy before you go. The Photo Pass lasts for 10 days from first use, but you can access and download your photos for 1 year. And as far as I am aware, you do get a warning email when your Photo Pass is about to expire.

Shopping while visiting Disneyland Paris

If you are staying in a Disney hotel, you can shop until 4pm and avail of the free delivery service to your hotel, meaning you can remain bag free. And whatever you do, DO NOT leave shopping bags on strollers or in the basket underneath. You run the risk of your bag being stolen.

Kids will be tempted by EVERYTHING they see, so why not give them a spending limit and once it’s gone, it’s gone. BattleKid had his own spending money from us and his grandparents, and apart from his Buzz Lightyear action figure, he paid for everything else he wanted. He even came home with some money left.

My advice is leave your shopping until the end of the day. We waited until after the Illuminations to visit the shops along Main Street. This was for two reasons; one, we didn’t plan to shop during the day, and two, we wanted to kill time before attempting to get “The Picture”.

We also did most of our shopping after our day in the Studios in the World of Disney shop in the Disneyland Paris Disney Village. While it was busy, we were heading for our hotel straight afterwards, so this was the best time for us to get it done.

A word of warning: If you are going to use a hotel charge card, like the one we got in the Disneyland Hotel, please make sure you have ID with you at all times, corresponding to the person whose name is on the card. We had used the card for small charges without needing it. However, in the World of Disney, our total was well over €100, and the lady on the cashier desk asked to see my ID for the card. I didn’t have any with me and as a result, BattleDad had to run back to our hotel with BattleKid to get my driving licence. So, carry your ID, preferably your driving licence, in your lanyard along with your charge card. Better to have it with you, than be caught out without it like me.Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris - The Ultimate how to guide

Other tips for inside the parks

Download the Disneyland Paris app: This proved so useful during our time in the parks. Not only does it have approximate wait times for each ride, but also has other information along the top scroll bar such as dining, photo pass rides and also restroom locations, essential for while visiting Disneyland Paris with toddlers.

Stroller: Do not second guess yourself on this. We nearly did, and it would have been to our detriment. Whether your child uses one at home or not, bring it with you, just in case. BattleKid hadn’t used one for six months prior to our trip to Disneyland Paris. Although he was fine on our first day, albeit with a little carrying, he asked for his half way through our second day. And we were glad we had it in our room to grab! You other option is to hire one in the park.

Bring your character costumes from home: Make sure to buy your children’s costumes outside of the parks as the costumes in Disney shops within the parks are a lot more expensive. I wasn’t convinced of this, but bought BattleKid’s costumes before we went. I was convinced when I saw the cost of the Buzz Lightyear costume within the park. I paid £30.99 for the costume including gloves. The same costume, without gloves, was priced at €59.99, and you had to pay for the glove separately! Why bring costumes? Not only will your kids get more interaction with cast members and characters but you could be allowed to skip the queue if your children are dressed as the character such as the Buzz Lightyear ride.

tips for visiting disneyland paris
The price tag of a Buzz Lightyear costume in Disneyland Paris

Buy your autograph books before you go: These too cost more inside the parks. And also bring pens with you into the park. No one wants to get caught short at a character meet and greet without a pen. And the characters and their minders will not have any!

Eat at unusual times: If you’re planning to wing it when it comes to meals, if you are prepared to eat at unusual times, then your wait will be shorter than at peak times. For example, we strolled over to Annette’s in the Disney Village at 4.00pm one afternoon and were seated straight away as a party of 7. This is the time most people were headed to the Disney park for the Parade at 5pm. The evening before we’d been in the village from 8.30pm and the queue for Annette’s was out the door and extremely long. Our friends had also visited the Village at 7.15pm and managed to get a table at Café Mickey within in a few minutes as people were watching the Illuminations in the Disney Park. So, if you can time your meal at those unusual times you can get lucky.

Queue to the left: If there is an option, queue to left for a ride (e.g. at the turnstiles in Pirates of the Carribbean just before the boats). These always move quicker than right hand queues, most likely because most people are right-handed so naturally gravitate to the right.

Single Riders: Many of the rides have a line for single riders, meaning if only one of you wants to do a ride, you can get onto the ride quicker by being a single rider, willing to fill up empty seats. BattleDad went on both the Tower of Terror and Indiana Jones as a single rider and didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for a seat. A friend went on Ratatouille and was on within 5 mins while the larger queue was 45 mins.

Baby Switch: I wasn’t aware of this before, but this facility enables parents to enjoy the rides, one after the other, if they are with a child who cannot or doesn’t want to go on the ride. One parent rides first, while the other waits with the child. Then when the ride returns, they swap without having to queue again.

Bring spare batteries and memory cards: Ensure you have at least one extra battery and one extra memory card for your camera. You will need them. And also bring a portable charger for your phone with you. This can come in handy if you are using your phone to keep kids entertained in ride queues.

Leave the selfie sticks at home: Selfie sticks are banned in Disneyland Paris, as are camera tripods with extendable legs. You can bring Gorilla pod type tripods into the park if you really want to. I brought one with me but didn’t use it at all.

Try catch the parades, Disney Castle lights show and a few Studios shows: These are three events you really don’t want to miss. We caught the Christmas parade but missed the main one. That said, the Christmas one was at a perfect time and was a perfect length for keeping BattleKid’s attention. He even got good interactions from some characters as he was dressed as Kylo Ren.

Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris - the Christmas parade
The Christmas Parade in Disneyland Paris (December 2017)

The Castle lights show, called Illuminations for the 25th anniversary, was amazingAnd we managed to see both the Moteurs Action Show (a big hit with bike-and-car-mad BattleKid) and Mickey and the Magician. The shows in Studios could be a good option too if the rain is particularly heavy during your visit.

Things to watch out for while visiting Disneyland Paris

You might find some people advising you to take a bike lock for your buggy/stroller, as it has been known for them to go missing from the entrance to rides, in order to lock your buggy to the railings at the entrance to rides. However, during my final check of hints and tips for Disneyland Paris I discovered it is NOT allowed to lock buggies to railings. The best you can do is put the lock through your buggy wheels (if you have one that allows this), to deter it being stolen. Otherwise you just need to take a chance if you are all going on the same rides. I have a long Velcro strap for our buggy (the folding catch doesn’t work great) and when we were with our friends, I strapped the two buggies together. Also, never ever leave anything on or in your buggy while it is unattended.

I advise you to get an ID bracelet for each of your children and put your contact details on it, just in case you should get separated. I found some on Amazon such as these ones. BattleKid wore them everyday in the park and after the first few hours didn’t notice it at all.

Watch out for families placing a ‘seed’ in the queue in front of you. What do I mean by that? I took our son on the Dumbo ride while BattleDad went to do the Indiana Jones ride himself. We had one girl of about 10 years of age in front of us in the queue. It turned out that her siblings and mother were behind us. As we got nearer the front, she dragged her siblings through to her. I turned a blind eye to this. As the ride was a two-person ride, I allowed the mother to join her three children. It just made sense for them to take two elephants rather than three. And as we got to the entrance, this mother then called forward SIX more adults to join them! Six adults! For the Dumbo ride! I was furious and let them know, but they just pretended they didn’t understand English (they were Spanish). My warning is do not be polite unless you know exactly who and how many may join this ‘seed’ person in front of you.

Adults, please can I ask you to look down when rushing about the place. Our son was nearly knocked over three times by adults in a hurry who didn’t look down and check for a child in their way. You cannot avoid children of any ages when you visit Disneyland Paris. Each time our son was only saved from a nasty fall by BattleDad grabbing hold of the person before they knocked him down. None had bothered to look down.

If you are planning to watch the parade I would advise you to stake your spot at least 20 to 30 minutes before the start and guard it with your life. We found a great spot to the left of the castle if you’re facing it from Main Street, with our backs to Discoveryland. We also chose to stand beside a rubbish bin and we put one of the buggies at the other end of our line to avoid people trying to push through. On the other side of the buggy (not in our line) I saw a family push their kids through at the last minute in front of people who had been waiting as long as we had. It’s the height of rudeness and is no example for your children. Get there early and wait your turn.

And for those of you planning to watch the lights show (Illuminations), please do not sit children on your shoulders right in front of people who have been waiting 20 minutes already. You obscure their view, especially if they want to capture pictures or videos, and you force them to move. We had this happen to us and it is infuriating.

Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris - Illumiantions, celebrating Disneyland Paris' 25th anniversary
Illumiantions, celebrating Disneyland Paris’ 25th anniversary

For shows, I’d advise arriving 20 minutes before the show in order to get a good seat. We arrived about 15 minutes before Mickey and the Magician was due to start and there were already two massive queues to get in. We ended up with seats to the side of the stage. Now our view wasn’t bad, but if you want the prime seats, arrive extra early.

Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris- Moteurs Action show
Moteurs Action show in Studios, featuring Lightening McQueen

Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Visiting Disneyland Paris can be a magical experience, even more so with kids, and you should still take time to just enjoy yourself and soak up the atmosphere. If you want to get the most out of your visit, make sure to plan your time there. But be prepared to deviate from your plan, as we had to on two days. This was due to a mix up with one of our restaurant bookings and also due to one meal over-running quite a bit.

I hope you have found this guide to Disneyland Paris useful and that the hints and tips included within prove helpful. While I’ve tried to cover as much as I can, there may be one or two items I have missed or not covered. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them, or update this post accordingly.tips for visiting disneyland paris

And last but not least, you could also head into Paris itself with the kids if you fancied a change of scenery. There are two great posts about taking kids into Paris, one by Keri of Our Globe Trotters and one by Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew.

Are you planning a trip to Disneyland Paris soon? Have you got any further Disneyland Paris tips to share?

Cath x

For additional resources about Disneyland Paris, read these other great posts:

Other information:

For full details on Disneyland Paris tickets, please visit the Disneyland Paris website (Disneyland Paris park tickets section) for full details. Here you’ll find information about prices of tickets. Be aware you can buy Disneyland Paris tickets at the gate, as BattleDad and I did on our two previous day trips.

Up-to-date Disneyland Paris Opening Times can also be found on the Disneyland Paris website here. The website also has a full list of things to do in Disneyland Paris and there is a Disneyland Paris Rides list too.

*Please note that this post contains a number of affiliate links.  That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra.

tips for visiting disneyland paris

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Tips For Visiting Disneyland Paris: The Ultimate How To Guide - So you want to visit Disneyland Paris but don't know where to start. Planning a visit to Disneyland Paris with the kids can be easy if you read my post which is packed with hints, tips and secrets to having a great holiday at Disneyland Paris.

Disneyland Paris December 2017 – Day 5

We woke just after 7am and got ourselves washed, dressed and ready to head to the airport. Given the traffic on the way to Disneyland four days ago, we didn’t want to leave anything to chance.

Disneyland Paris Holiday diaries blog day 5

We checked out and BattleDad was about to call an Uber until he noticed the pickup point was by the RER station. We really didn’t want to have to walk all the way there, and the Magic Shuttle bus was parked outside so we decided to hop onto it. It left on time and started making its way around the various Disney hotels for picked but, with only two to spare, hurdle five of the holiday happened.

Somehow, and I really don’t know how he managed it, the driver collided with the steel gate to the Sequoia Lodge Hotel. A gate that was open. It resulted in the bus stopping at the barriers while the driver called a supervisor. He arrived within minutes, but we sat there for almost 20 more minutes while the hotel gate people and the supervisor argued it out.

BattleDad ended up arguing with the supervisor to get us moving, as there was nothing wrong with the bus other than some superficial damage. The supervisor was also arguing with another couple who didn’t have a Magic Shuttle voucher. BattleDad said either get the bus moving or call taxis for everyone on the bus as we were now running late. He soon changed his tune when BattleDad said, in French, I also speak French my friends. I don’t think he was expecting that.

Finally, at 9am, the time we should have been arriving at the airport, we left the Sequoia Lodge and still had 30 miles to go in heavy rush hour traffic. I watched the clock getting closer and closer to our check-in time closing. But, with only about 30 minutes to spare, we arrived at Orly. We tipped the driver as he was having a bad start to his day and said we hoped he had a better day tomorrow after a bottle of wine on us. He was very grateful.

We then had a job to find the Transavia check-in desks which are hidden away on a lower floor of Orly, with NO signs indicating which way to go. I’ve never come across a more disorganised set of desks. We checked in, got rid of our bags and very quickly made our way to security where we somehow missed the Fast Track security line. Thankfully the gentleman directing people in the main line ushered us into a quieter line that happened to leave us closer to our gate.

We had just enough time for BattleDad to grab some Laduree macarons before heading for our gate where our flight was already boarding ahead of schedule. I dread to think how things might have turned out if BattleDad hadn’t argued with the supervisor to get us moving. There was no need for the bus to be sitting there as the supervisor was perfectly capable of sorting out the mess with the hotel after the driver had given his licence details.

disneyland paris day 5 - Home with French macarons
Home with some french macarons

We left Orly on time and thankfully left the rain and cold too. WE flew south and were greeted by blue skies and temperatures heading for 20C. A stark contrast to the previous few days. We picked up our car and drove home, absolutely shattered after our first family visit to Disneyland Paris. See you in 2022!

Cath x

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disneyland paris holiday diaries twitter day 5

Disneyland Paris Holiday Diaries – Day 4

We were up by 7.20am and got ourselves dressed and packed for the day. As we had another character’s breakfast this morning at 8.15am, we left just before 8am and waited behind just two other groups before being let into the Disney park at 8am.

disneyland paris holiday diaries blog day 4

We managed to properly get ‘The Picture’, albeit in the early morning light before heading over to the Plaza Gardens restaurant for our second characters breakfast. This was an all-together quieter affair as there was no queue to get in at 8.15am. A lot of people arrived afterwards. We were seated in a different section to the first day and once again Mickey Mouse made a beeline for our table.

disneyland paris day 4 - BattleKid with the Disney castle in the background

disneyland paris day 4 - Thumbs up from BattleKid and Mickey Mouse
Thumbs up from BattleKid and the main man himself

We saw Daisy Duck again and this time also met Scrooge McDuck who hadn’t been at our previous breakfast. We filled our bellies and decided to leave before the Winnie the Pooh characters came over. We figured we had our autographs and pictures with them from the first breakfast so didn’t really need to see them again.

As it was still EMT, we decided to go and do the official Meet Mickey. Although we had the photos from breakfast, we wanted to meet Mickey in the official capacity as we had done the meet and greet with Minnie Mouse the previous morning. So, this would top off the meet and greets nicely. On our way there we walked through the dragon’s cave under the castle and BattleKid wasn’t having a bar of the green dragon, despite him being a dragon hunter!

disneyland paris day 4 - The Green Dragon under the Disney castle
The Green Dragon under the Disney castle

Then, we headed for Mickey’s building at the back of Fantasyland and saw the queue time was 40 minutes. This was doable, especially as they had old Mickey Mouse cartoons running on a screen in the queuing room.

However, one thing we had forgotten to do in our haste to get out of the restaurant was visit the toilet. BattleKid was occasionally dancing like he does when he needs to go, but as we were halfway through the queue I didn’t really want to leave it. The decision was made to wait it out and hope we got to meet Mickey for those dreaded words were uttered. If they were I was fully prepared to drink my water in my drinks bottle and let him pee into that.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that and it was soon our turn to meet the main man himself. It’s slick operation (one I won’t go into too much detail about). We took some photos on our cameras before the photographer took the official ones. Mickey was brilliant with BattleKid once he spotted his jumper. We got some family pictures too, before leaving satisfied with our visit. A trip to the toilet was done before we did anything else. The Mickey queue had felt like we were in a race to see which would come first. Mickey or a discreet wee into a bottle! And I was glad we had done the meet and greet when we did as the queue time had jumped from 40 minutes to 70 by the time we came out.

living arrows - Meeting Mickey Mouse in disneyland paris
Meeting Mickey at the official meet and greet

After this we took BattleKid on the It’s a Small World ride and he loved it. I, too, was suitably impressed by this ride and was glad we’d fitted it in. It is a very colourful, vibrant ride and yes, the song is still stuck in my head!

disneyland paris day 4 - It's a Small World ride at Disney
It’s a Small World ride at Disney

disneyland paris day 4 - It's a Small World ride at Disney

At that stage we’d pretty much ticked off everything I wanted to do in Fantasyland. As it was nearly 10am, I let BattleDad head for the Indian Jones ride, while I took BattleKid on the Dumbo ride again. It made sense to split up, so everyone got to do what they wanted.

I came across some extremely rude and ignorant Spanish people in the queue for the Dumbo ride and their behaviour and rudeness just beggar’s belief. Disney can bring out the worst in people I can tell you! They basically pushed their way past BattleKid and I as we got towards the entrance to the ride as one child in their party had gotten in the queue before us. I had let their mother and two siblings past us, but as we got to the entrance, SIX adults pushed past us to join this mother and three children. SIX adults for a kids ride! I really couldn’t believe it. I stared into their faces and down at BattleKid, but they just didn’t care. I was livid. And the outcome of their rudeness. Two had wait until the next rotation.

Anyway, we enjoyed the ride together and after it ran to meet BattleDad in the queue for the Baloo and King Louie meet and greet. There was no official photographer with them, which I already knew, but I had hoped to do this meet and greet and thankfully we got the chance.

disneyland paris day 4 - BattleKid meeting the Jungle Book characters
Meeting the Jungle Book characters

After this we visited Captain Jack’s restaurant to confirm our booking for 1pm, especially after the mix up the day before. It was confirmed, and we decided to take a ride on the Disneyland train around the edge of the park for something different to do. We timed it well as we only had a few minutes to wait before the train pulled into the Fantasyland station. And BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed it.

With a little bit of time before lunch, we did Pirates of the Caribbean again as the queue was just 5 minutes and BattleKid enjoyed it more this time, pointing out the dog with the jail key and the man with the several hats on his head. And before entering the restaurant, I met a lady to give her some of our meal vouchers we weren’t going to use on the Friday and she was very grateful.

We were still waiting on our friends to arrive, but as it was cold we went inside and were seated straight away. And who should wander over to our table but Captain Jack Sparrow himself. I had forgotten he sometimes roams the restaurant. He had a chat with BattleKid before we got some pictures with him and he left BattleKid a lovely message in his autograph book. Our friends made it in just in time for a quick photo and signature from him.

Our meal was very nice, and we enjoyed a Mickey Mouse birthday cake, as between our two families, we have 5 birthdays within five weeks around the Christmas period. It was an amazing chocolate cake and worth the money I paid for it.

We were a bit later leaving the restaurant than I had hoped. We had missed the Mickey and the Magician show in Studios the day before due to our reservation mix-up and it was a show everyone had been raving about. Our choice at this stage was to run for the 3.35pm time, so we could get back for the main parade at 5pm in the Disney park. Or, we could forgo the main parade, take our time and catch the 4.40pm showing of it. The latter is what we opted for, particularly as it was raining by now and none of us wanted to be standing in the rain for the parade and the waiting time before it.

We decided to stop by our hotel room for BattleKid’s buggy and meet our friends at the entrance to the Mickey and the Magician show around 4.20pm. We wandered up Main Street via one or two shops in a bid to find BattleDad a 25th anniversary jacket in his size to no avail. Thankfully we had another option.

We had spoken to a cast member in the boutique in our hotel the previous night who had given BattleDad the official product code and an email for the manufacturers. The cast member, Rocky, said to email them and if they had them in stock we could buy direct from them. As no shops within the parks had his size, BattleDad tried this option, and as I type this post, a 25th anniversary jacket in his size is on its way to Portugal!

We met our friends outside the auditorium at our agreed time and by then the queue was at the turnstiles. Again, we met more ignorant and rude people and BattleKid ended up falling asleep in BattleDad’s arms. At 4.40pm, the doors opened, and we found a seat for us all. We managed to wake BattleKid and enjoyed the fabulous show with some popcorn I’d bought the day before. I was so glad we took the decision to go see this show as it was well worth it.

disneyland paris day 4 - Mickey and the magician show
Mickey and the Magician show in Studios was awesome (photo credit to our friends as I was so engrossed I forgot to take a picture)

We figured that we’d seen the Christmas parade, and our friends had caught some of it again earlier this day. Everyone on the Disney Facebook groups said it was not to be missed and they were right. It was worth missing the main parade for and as a bonus, we were out of the rain.

After the show we said a fond farewell to our friends as we’d booked dinner in our hotel restaurant for ourselves that night. We got back shortly after 5.30pm, had warm baths and got ourselves dressed for dinner in the California Grill in the Disneyland Hotel.

And it was a meal worth waiting for. This restaurant is a fine-dining experience and we had to top up our vouchers for the meal. And it was worth every penny. Hot, tasty food that was well presented. BattleKid even surprised us by eating his vegetable starter in full. He also enjoyed his fruit salad for dessert. It was a fabulous way to end our first family trip to Disneyland Paris and is a meal we won’t forget in a hurry. It was by far the best meal of the entire trip.disneyland paris day 4 - The California Grill in the Disneyland Hotel, Paris

After dinner we bought our final souvenirs in our hotel gift shop and took some pictures of the amazingly decorated lobby.

disneyland paris day 4 - The stunning lobby of the Disneyland Hotel
The stunning lobby of the Disneyland Hotel
disneyland paris day 4 - BattleKid admiring the the gingerbread house in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel
BattleKid admiring the the gingerbread house

We did our final packing before bed as we had an early start to the airport. We were all in bed before 10pm, shattered after three great days at Disneyland Paris. Our next planned visit is in five years’ time and I think it will be an all-together different affair. BattleKid will be eight and I think the meet and greets will be replaced by roller-coaster thrills.

Cath x

*Above are affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support my blog. Thank you.

Disneyland Paris Holiday Diaries – Day 3

We were up shortly after 7.20am, got ourselves dressed and headed for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We had a nice table with a view of the castle. Breakfast was quite similar to that on offer at the character’s breakfast with both a hot and cold buffet, fruits, yogurt and cereals. We filled our bellies and were going to head straight to Studios having brought our day bag with us.

But, we had an unexpected but delightful stop just outside the restaurant when we happened upon Minnie Mouse doing a meet and greet. We weren’t going to miss this chance to meet the main lady herself, especially as the queue was short and she had an official photographer with her. Our wait was less than 10 minutes. She kindly signed BattleKid’s autograph book before he, and then us as a family, had photos taken with her.

living arrows - A surprise meet and greet with Minnie Mouse in the Disneyland Hotel
Meeting Minnie Mouse

What a lovely surprise to find coming out of breakfast. It did mean we were running slightly behind getting into Studios. And once we were in, we had one other special appointment to make. Our meet and greet with my favourite, Goofy. This was my non-negotiable, so we joined the queue. Halfway around we heard those dreaded words “I need a wee”. So BattleDad ran with BattleKid to find toilets and ran back, just in time for our turn. I had let two Spanish families go ahead of me by this stage.

And whether we got disapproving looks from anyone or not for me keeping our place, I didn’t care. We’d queued and waited our turn and I was getting those pictures come hell or high water. During our wait we had a change over of Goofy and unfortunately the official photographer never returned with the character. So, we could only get our own photos. But at least it was done.

Next on the agenda was Ratatouille. Again, this was a ride everyone had said do during EMT or Fast Pass because of the length of the queues, so we joined the queue shortly after 9am and it moved reasonably quickly, with us getting on the ride within 20 minutes.disneyland paris day 3 - Entrance to the Ratatouille ride

And what a ride it is. A 3-D interactive ride, BattleKid wasn’t too sure of it again but, having only watched the movie for the first time recently, Mum and Dad thoroughly enjoyed it.

After Ratatouille, we dressed BattleKid in his Buzz Lightyear outfit and I took him into that queue while BattleDad went to do the Hollywood Tower of Terror. It’s not a ride that appeals to me, so it made sense to let him do that while we waited to meet Buzz. I was praying BattleKid wouldn’t want the toilet before our turn and thankfully he didn’t.

disneyland paris day 3 - BattleKid meeting Buzz Lightyear
Meeting Buzz

*The above are affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra.

Buzz was brilliant with BattleKid thanks to his costume. Once we’d got our photos and his autograph (a stamp) we headed off to find BattleDad via the toilets. We had a quick costume stage as we were heading to meet our friends at the back-lot stage for the Moteurs show. Just outside the show area is one of BattleKid’s favourite characters, Lightening McQueen. We got some pictures and headed into the show.

disneyland paris day 3 - Meeting his idol, Lightening McQueen
BattleKid meeting his idol

And my word, it was great, especially for our motorbike-mad child. It is set up like a movie set and a director talks you through the stunt scenes they are shooting. First up was a drive though by Lightening before the motorbikes took to the stage. Following these are dramatic car chases and even our friends 11-month-old daughter was enthralled.

disneyland paris day 3 - Enjoying the Moteurs Action show in Walt Disney Studios Paris
Enjoying the Moteurs Action show

I have to say it was very well done and enjoyed by us all. We had a little bit of time before our friends had planned a meet and greet with Spiderman. Although he hadn’t been on our hit-list, he was very good with the boys and showed them how to do Spiderman hands. BattleKid is still practising them at home!

Following this, we had enough time to do the Cars Quatro Rally ride before heading to Bistro Chez Remy for lunch at 1pm. And this was our second hurdle of the holiday. When we went to the reception desk we were told that our booking had been for 12pm, not 1pm! I had definitely booked for 1pm and we were told if we wanted to eat there we’d have to come back at 2.30pm. I couldn’t believe it. We took the new reservation as I did not want to miss the chance to eat there, with it having had glowing reviews and recommendations by many of my fellow bloggers.

disneyland paris day 3 - Bistro Chez Remy
Lunch at Bistro Chez Remy…..finally

We had a walk around the Studios and visited the shops in the main building before heading back to Chez Remy for 2.20pm. However, it took until 2.50pm to be seated. As we walked through the restaurant towards our table at the back beside the windows to the ride I spied A LOT of empty tables. It didn’t make sense that they were all empty, despite the receptionist telling people they were fully booked. I can only put it down to a lack of staff as there was not a lack of tables.

We were seated, placed our order and had a lovely time chatting before our meal started to arrive. Again, not hot, but warmer than previous meals, the food was very good, and our steaks were amazing. I fully understood why this restaurant got some big thumbs up from others. The ambience and decor were perfect, and the food was very good. It could have been a little bit warmer though.

We didn’t leave the restaurant until nearly 5pm (due to a problem with our friend’s son) and by then it was starting to get dark and colder. We wandered around the Toy Story area before making our way out of Studios and into the Disney Village.disneyland paris day 3 disneyland paris day 3 disneyland paris day 3 - Cars shops

We waved goodbye to our friends as we were headed for the World of Disney shop in the Village for some shopping.

And here was hurdle number three. I filled a basket with some shopping including lots of Christmas decorations for us, my folks and for BattleKid’s two classroom assistants here in Portugal. AS I headed for the tills, BattleDad waited outside with the boy. I had my hotel charge card so thought I didn’t need our bag. However, as the total was over €100, the lady on the till needed to see some ID to confirm the name on the charge card.

We hadn’t needed ID using the card before, but then again, all transactions up to that point had been below €100. I had to call BattleDad to come back with ID, at which point he said he was at our room as BattleKid needed the toilet. Within 10 minutes he was back with my driving licence and we could pay and leave with our purchases. My licence went into my lanyard with the charge card at that stage in case I needed it again. Finally, we were headed for our room and another bath to get warm.

Afterwards we ordered room service. A pot of tea for BattleDad and I, and a plate of biscuits arrived quite quickly. The biscuits turned out to be macarons and a slice of cake (all for just €5) and we shared them with BattleKid before getting into bed. Tomorrow was to be our last day in Disneyland and we planned to spend it in the Disney park ticking off some final wish-list things.

disneyland paris day 3 - Tea and biscuits room service of the Disneyland Hotel
Tea and biscuits room service

Our restaurant booking mix-up meant we didn’t get on as many rides as I had hoped in the Studios park, but we got to do three meet and greets, eat in Chez Remy and caught the Moteurs Action show, so we were happy with that.

Cath x

disneyland paris holiday diaries twitter day 4

Disneyland Paris Holiday Diaries – Day 2

The alarm went off at 7.30am and we got up and dressed, taking some chocolate croissants with us as we had a character’s breakfast booked for later that morning. At 8.10am we left our hotel via the very handy entrance located beside the exit gates of the Disney park and headed for the entrance gates. I had decided we were going to make the most of Extra Magic Time, as it is now called.

Disneyland Paris holiday diaries blog day 2

There were a few people already in the queue which was for residents of the Disneyland Hotels and made our way into the park to be met by the amazing looking Christmas tree and snowmen in the Town Square outside City Hall. BattleDad had first taken me to Disneyland Paris ten years ago for my 30th birthday and we’d visited in December, but I had forgotten how beautiful and well decorated they make Disney at this time of year.

disneyland paris day 2 - The gorgeous Town Square at Christmas in Disneyland Paris
The amazing Town Square in Disneyland Paris all decorated for Christmas

There weren’t many people already in the park and as we walked down Main Street, the excitement in me was building. I had been looking forward to visiting Disneyland with BattleKid since he was a baby and it was finally happening. We headed towards the castle and got a spot at the rope to take some pictures of it.

disneyland paris day 2 - An excited little boy in front of the spectacular castle in Disneyland Paris
An excited BattleKid in front of the castle

BattleKid was in awe of the castle. I don’t think he fully understood what was going on. We waited patiently for the ropes to be lifted at 8.30 and once they were we made our way into Fantasyland and headed for Peter Pan. In my research before our trip, many people had said Peter Pan was a great ride but should be done in EMT or that you should Fast Pass it as the wait time for it is always long.

The ride wasn’t quite ready when we got there and the cast members suggested we could either wait in line until it opened or come back. As we were only about ten people from the front we elected to wait. We said we’d give it half an hour and if it still wasn’t ready by 9am we’d Fast Pass it later. We didn’t have to wait that long and we were in about the third or fourth boat for the ride.

BattleDad hadn’t been on the ride in 25 years and this was my first time on the ride. BattleDad, having been a member of the opening crew, had ridden the Peter Pan ride before the park had even opened to the public back in 1992. Now we were all sharing that ride together. And it was amazing. Lots of people had said it was a must-do and I can see why now. Flying above the scenes from the film was brilliant. And before we knew it, our first Disney ride together as a family was over.

As we came out of the ride, BattleKid was literally lost for words. Between having his mind blown and not fully understanding what was going on, I think he was having a “WTF just happened” moment and got a bit emotional. He wanted to go back home.

That said, once we mentioned the Dumbo ride, he was all for staying. After Peter Pan we went on the Dumbo ride, the Tea Cups and the Carousel before starting to make our way to Plaza Gardens for our character’s breakfast.

disneyland paris day 2 - A happy boy on the Teacups ride
A happy boy on the Tea Cups ride

Now, I had read on a few of the Disney Facebook groups that the character’s breakfasts were rather chaotic, and I was a bit apprehensive. I had booked two so that we could share one with our friends who had come to Disney as well and one for just ourselves. When we arrived shortly before 9.45 the queue to get in was very long and I thought this was a sign of things to come. However, once we showed the lady on reception both sets of vouchers we were soon seated at our allocated table.

Now, a word of warning. If you are booking a character’s breakfast on top of a normal hotel breakfast, make sure you have two vouchers per person with you. You need BOTH your hotel voucher AND your character’s breakfast supplement voucher in order to gain entry. If you forget either you can gain entry but will have to pay for the breakfast and get a refund when you return with both sets of vouchers. This happened to the couple in front of us and also our friends, whose hotel hadn’t given them the correct information at the time of check-in.

I have to say, the gentleman at the check-in desk in the Disneyland Hotel where we were staying was very efficient. He stapled our vouchers together and fully explained the ramifications of forgetting one or the other. I so think you sometimes pay for what you get.

Once seated, Mickey made a beeline for us and his was the first ever signature in BattleKid’s Disney autograph book. Daisy Duck soon followed before we started getting our breakfast from the buffet. And despite the warnings from people on the various Facebook groups, I didn’t find the breakfast too chaotic. In truth, yes, it is busy, and the characters can only spend a few minutes at your table before they have to meet and greet other guests, but that’s really all you need in order to get their signature and a few pictures. As long as your expectations are to get an autograph and a picture or two you won’t be disappointed. You just need to keep in mind that it is a large restaurant, there are lots of tables and other families, and the characters have to try see all of them in the short time that breakfast is on for.

disneyland paris day 2 - Meeting Tigger at breakfast
BattleKid meets Tigger

Breakfast itself was quite nice. There is a good range options from a cold continental breakfast, to cereals, fruit and yogurt, to a hot buffet. There are delicious pastries too, so there is something for everyone. And we never found a section lacking in anything. My only gripe for this breakfast was only one tea and coffee machine was working so it took a while to get our hot drinks.

Shortly after we had eaten our breakfast, the characters switched sides of the room and we got to meet Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore. Each of them signed BattleKid’s autograph book and we got a picture taken with each of them. I think BattleKid enjoyed this breakfast after his mind-blowing morning on the rides.

disneyland paris day 2 - A boy meets Eeyore
Meeting Eeyore

Suitable refuelled, we left the restaurant and decided to stake a claim to a spot for the Christmas parade at 11.50. I checked online where might be the best place to watch it. Our friends’ husband missed it due to a missing bag.

The parade was brilliant and was on for about 15 minutes. One cast member came over to BattleKid and played with his Kylo Ren mask from his costume which we’d dressed him in after breakfast.

disneyland paris day 2 - BattleKid enjoying the Christmas Parade
Enjoying the Christmas Parade

A much-needed toilet break was taken before we wandered through Adventureland and headed towards the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. BattleDad and I have always gone on this ride whenever we visited, and we wanted to go again. So, we took a chance and brought BattleKid with us, talking him through what we were going to see when we got into the boats. This ride is by far my favourite ride and I didn’t want to miss it.

One thing that surprised me was there was barely any queue for the ride. In previous visits we’ve queued for 40 minutes to go on this ride, but we were on within 5 minutes. Handy when doing it with a toddler. He was a bit unsure at first but we pointed out things that we knew would pique his interested and after the ride he said he enjoyed it. I’m not sure if that was true or whether he was saying it after buying himself a pirate’s sword in the shop.

After we’d finished Pirates our friends’ husband rejoined us with the missing bag and we made our way towards Discoveryland. We wanted to tick off the Buzz Lightyear ride and also meet Darth Vader. The Buzz Lightyear ride was first up and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed this. Again, the queue was not as long as we’d imagined, and we were soon shooting Emporer Zurg’s henchmen with our lasers.

disneyland paris day 2 - Buzz Lightyear ride was a success with the little man!
Getting ready to help Buzz Lightyear

Then, it was time for the one thing BattleDad had said was on his non-negotiable list. A meeting with Darth Vader. We had bought BattleKid a Kylo Ren outfit in Portland and this was why we’d dressed him in it after breakfast. We only had about a 20-minute wait for this meet and greet.

As you enter the waiting area, you are met by an assistant, who I might add was very serious. We had been talking and laughing with the couple in front of us about BattleKid’s outfit and it was frowned upon by the assistant. Lord Vader then came into the room to invite the couple before us onto his bridge and he spotted BattleKid and, despite no words, I think was impressed by him.

We waited our turn before Lord Vader ushered us in. BattleDad got into the first few pictures. Then Lord Vader indicated he wanted a picture with the little man by himself before we got one or two family pictures. It was a very serious affair but one of our best meet and greet pictures from the entire visit came from this visit.

living arrows - BattleKid giving Darth Vader the side eye in Disneyland Paris
Giving Lord Vader a cautious look

While we waited for our friends to come out, the boys went into the Star Wars shop and came out empty-handed. I really thought there would be a bag or two with them. Afterwards, the boys and dads went on the Autopia ride before we decided to head to Annette’s in the Disney Village for dinner. We detoured via our room to layer up some more and grab our hats and gloves as it was getting colder and our intention was to see the Illuminations that night.

disneyland paris day 2 - BattleKid having a five minute breather
Having a five minute breather in our room

We arrived at Annettes about 4pm and were seated straight away. There were plenty of seats available as I think most people were getting ready for the main parade at 5pm in the Disney park. We had a lovely three course meal, all the adults opting for tasty burgers. And while all the food was very tasty, it again came out lukewarm.

After dinner we headed back into the Disney park and found a spot to watch the Illuminations from. And what a show that was. The combination of music, lights and fireworks was brilliant and once again, the little man’s mind was blown.disneyland paris day 2 - Illuminations at Dinseyland Paris disneyland paris day 2 - Illuminations at Dinseyland Paris

After the show we browsed a few shops before attempting to get ‘The Picture’. We sort of managed it by blocking out some stranglers with a strategically placed BattleKid. To me, it would do as it was cold, and I didn’t want to hang around anymore. We headed for the exit past the fabulous Christmas tree, said goodbye to our friends and headed to our room for a bath to warm up. We were completely satisfied with our day and ticked off so many things from our timetable.disneyland paris day 2 - Getting a picture with an empty Main Street and the Disney castle in the background

BattleKid had been great too, enjoying himself despite being in awe of everything, and also, was quite good not wanting everything he saw in the shops. I really thought we’d have tears over leaving shops without certain things, but he didn’t. He had gotten a pirate’s sword after our ride and he was treated to a Buzz Lightyear interactive doll after the Autopia ride and he seemed happy with them.

We all went to bed exhausted but thoroughly happy with our first family day in Disneyland Paris. Next up was to be Studios!

Cath x

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disneyland paris twitter day 2