It’s no secret that we are a Disney loving family. During our Paris vacation we decided to add in a few extra days to explore Disneyland Paris. As non-French speakers visiting one of the happiest places on earth, I’ve put together a few tips on what you may need (or want) to know during your first time visiting Disneyland Paris- oh la la!
- It has all the magic of any Disney Park
Disneyland Paris has all of the magic of Disney World and Disneyland. From the music, to the balloons, parades, performances, and little Disney-details, there’s no doubt your heart won’t skip a beat walking down Main Street toward Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty’s Castle). The castle is arguably one of the most beautiful Disney castles. I’d also argue that Disneyland Park’s main street is the most under rated of all main streets!
- There are 2 Parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park
By far the best park at Disneyland Paris is Disneyland Park. It has most all of our favorites: Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, the Princess Pavilion, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Disneyland Railroad, Phantom Manor (Haunted Mansion), It’s a Small World, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Indiana Jones Ride, and many others.
Walt Disney Studios Park is more comparable to Hollywood Studios. It does have other favorites, like Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, Ratatouille ride (so cool!), Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, the Slinky Dog Spin, Disneyland Junior Live on stage, and Crush’s Coaster. Walt Disney Studios Park is probably the only doable “half-day” parks of all the parks we’ve visited. You can spend the other half day at Disney Village (the Disneyland Paris Version of Downtown Disney or Disney Springs, just nowhere near as much to do as Disney Springs).
- Disneyland Park in Paris is larger than Magic Kingdom and Disneyland.
At 126 acres, Disneyland Park in Paris is actually larger than Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando (105 acres) and Disneyland (85 acres). It’s not the largest park (that goes to Animal Kingdom at 403 acres), BUT it’s the largest “castle” park. Disneyland Park’s main street looks a lot like Disney World’s, but there are cool added arcade areas. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, just like at any other Disney park.
Even though Disneyland Paris is the most visited European theme park, one of our favorite finds was that the crowds were significantly less than Disney World. Now certainly there are “peak” times, just at Disney World. Definitely do your research and try to visit when crowds are to your liking.
- Most Cast members (and all characters) are Bilingual
If you don’t speak French, you’ll be glad to hear that most cast members will speak English and all characters are bilingual. Before meeting characters, we were asked what language we would prefer. Cast members would notify characters behind the scenes, so that when we entered the experience, everyone was prepared for a smooth encounter in front of the kids.
- Rides, movies, and interactive experiences switch back and forth from French to English.
Most rides, movies, and other interactive experiences will start in French, and either repeat in English or switch back and forth between English and French. Directions will first be given in French, for instance, then repeated in English. When we went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, the movie would switch back and forth. One character may speak in French and another character may respond in English. Music will also switch between French and English. We had no problems understanding or communicating throughout our Disneyland Paris days. All signs, menus, directions, etc. are in both French and English.
- Rides are longer and more intense… and overall BETTER
We found that (overall), the rides were better at Disneyland Paris than at Disney World. They seemed to be longer, a bit more intense, and the wait/ride ratio is much more attractive. For instance, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World is 8:30 mins, while at Disneyland Paris it’s 10:30 mins. We waited about 10 minutes in Paris, and we wait usually 30+ minutes in Orlando. In fairness, Disneyland (Anaheim) the ride is 15:30! Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain was more intense & jerky than Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom- which added to our experience but may make it less suitable for some children. It’s the fastest of all space mountains, and also the only one that goes upside down!
- They have fastpasses- but they work different than Disney World
Disneyland Paris does have an app like Disney World, but it’s not as user friendly for booking fastpasses at Disney World. Fastpasses at Disneyland Paris work more like they do at Universal’s Volcano Bay. Each person in your party can get 1 fast pass at a time and receive a “comeback” time. You receive fast passes (for free) at the kiosks outside certain rides. Disneyland Paris also has “super fastpasses” and “ultimate fastpasses” that are available for purchase. The price for these options varies by season (high season vs low season), starting around $38. Because we visited during low season, we did not find purchasing super or ultimate fastpasses necessary.
- Use the train to get there from Paris!
One of the many reasons we love traveling through Europe is the ease of European train travel. Even though Disneyland Paris has “Paris” in the name, it’s actually located in Marne-la-Vallee, France, about 45 minutes southeast of Paris. The Marne-la-Vallee/Chessy train station is right in front of the Disney Parks and Disney Hotels, and is perfect if you are traveling from Paris. There are also convenient lockers available for purchase if you need to store your luggage outside of the parks.
If you are planning on more than 1 day of Disneyland Paris (I’d recommend a 3 or 4-day trip to see everything without rushing with kids), there are 8 Disney resorts and several other very close hotels that have free transportation to the entrance. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is a Disney partner hotel located about 10 minutes away (which offered free shuttle service).
- They have hidden Mickey’s- and other fun things to look for!
Just like at other Disney parks, Disneyland Paris has hundreds of hidden Mickeys. You can have a blast spotting them on doors, tiles, and through rides. The castle at Disneyland Paris, like other Disney parks, faces south so that guests don’t have to worry about lighting! Venture under the castle and find the dragon, the largest animatronic character in the park! It’s the only park that has this!
- Disney Dining and Character Meals are available!
There are tons of restaurant options (from quick service to sit down) throughout the Disney parks, Disney Village, and the hotels. You can also have a character meal with princesses or traditional Disney characters, just like at Disney World. As you walk through the parks, there are several places to stop in and grab something. Everywhere we went had children’s menus with affordable options.
If you are a Disney lover and have the opportunity to visit Paris, Disneyland Paris something to add to your list!