As I wrote about in a previous post, I went to Paris in March 2018 for nine days. When I was first planning my trip, I knew I had to include a day at Disneyland Paris in the itinerary.
I’ve been to the original Disneyland a few times and have stayed at Walt Disney World numerous times, but I didn’t make it to mouse’s house on my first vacation to Paris. I just had to go this time!
My day trip to the parks was absolutely lovely, though I wish I had done a bit more research beforehand. Here are ten tips for first-timers visiting Disneyland Paris that I learned from my magical day.
1.) Take the (correct) Train
If you’re traveling from Paris to Disneyland like I did, there is an RER A train that will take you directly to the front gates of the park (Marne-la-Valee station.) This is super convenient and an inexpensive transportation option, but make sure you are getting on the right train! My friend and I made the mistake of getting on the incorrect RER at Chatelet and we had to go all the way back to Paris. Don’t make the same mistake!
2.) Dress Appropriately
I would guess that Disneyland Paris has the most varied climate out of the rest of the parks, simply because Paris weather is truly seasonal: winter is real snowy winter, not the mild Florida winter that WDW experiences. Plan ahead while packing your clothes. I encourage wearing layers and having some waterproof items depending on the forecast. I started my day in a winter coat (which felt so odd at a Disney park) but the sun came through later in the afternoon and I was able to take it off.
3.) Don’t Worry About Language Barriers
While knowing a bit of language of whatever country you’re visiting is generally a good idea, you do not need to know French to enjoy Disneyland Paris. Most signs and major announcements were in both English and French, while characters in attractions tended to speak French. As someone who only know a few French phrases, I had no problem getting around.
4.) Make Reservations to Avoid Fast Food
I have to be honest, the food at Disneyland Paris is pretty disappointing compared to other parks I’ve experienced. Every counter service stand tends to have similar offerings of burgers, hot dogs, and fries with little variation. The food I ate wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t nearly as unique or tasty as the stateside park fast food options. Make reservations well in advance for the few restaurants on site if you want better food. I made the mistake of not making any reservations and I’m still regretting it. If reservations run out, consider bringing your own food. I would’ve been happier if I had just brought a baguette to munch on from Paris!
5.) Take Time to Explore the Castle
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, might be my favorite Disney castle I’ve ever been to. It’s so pretty and ornate, and it makes the original Sleeping Beauty Castle at the original Disneyland seem pretty lame in comparison. Plus, there’s a lot to explore in this castle! Inside is a gallery illustrating the story of Sleeping Beauty with stained glass and tapestries, as well as a Christmas store that operates all year. Below the castle is a cave with an awesome animatronic dragon. Why can’t there be a dragon in the basement of every castle??
6.) Keep the Size of the Parks in Mind
Unlike Walt Disney World Resort (so many attractions, so little time), a day trip to Disneyland Paris is reasonable. Even with my train snafu, one day felt like enough for both parks. This is because Walt Disney Studios Park, the second park similar to Hollywood Studios, is minuscule and doesn’t require a full day. I spent a total of two hours there and managed to do most of the major attractions, including Ratatouille via the single rider line. Consider starting and ending your day in the main park and hopping over to the studios sometime in the middle of the day for a change of scene.
7.) Enjoy an Adult Beverage
Alcohol is banned in all Disney parks with a castle, except for Disneyland Paris! Shortly after the park opened, beer and wine was added to the menu to better fill the expectations of European visitors. Take advantage of this quirk during your visit: sip on a glass of wine while enjoying the beauty of Main Street.
8.) Visit Disney Village
Disney Village is the equivalent of Downtown Disney or Disney Springs in the Paris parks. Make sure to stop by during your stay for some better food options and various stores. It is open later than the parks, so consider going there for dinner (woohoo Earl of Sandwich always comes through!)
9.) Be Aware of Seasonal Closures and Park Times
If you’re visiting during the off season, it is likely that multiple attractions will be closed and that the parks will close pretty early. I was hoping that my March visit would be close enough to Spring to avoid this, but that wasn’t the case. I was particularly sad that Alice’s Curious Labyrinth was closed when I went. If hitting as many attractions as possible is important to you, then be sure to visit later in the spring or summer. Yes, wait times will be longer then, but at least there will be more attractions to wait for. Also note that Walt Disney Studios Park tends to close several hours before the primary park, so keep that in mind.
10.) Enjoy the Details
My favorite part of visiting Disneyland Paris was noticing how the details differed from the other parks I had gone to. I particularly noticed that Disneyland Paris seems to be a lot pinker than other resorts. I also loved listening to what Disney characters sound like when they speak French, something I had not even considered would be a thing. Disney always does a superb job with the details, so take enough time to simply walk around and notice the little things that make this park unique.
What’s your favorite part of Disneyland Paris? Share in the comments and stay tuned for more posts related to my upcoming trip to the original Anaheim park!
Don’t forget to pack a few self-care essentials to reduce your travel stress.