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Guide to Planning a Trip to Disneyland Paris with Kids

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What you should know:

It’s easy to research answers to questions you know you have…but what about questions you didn’t know to ask. Today we are discussing our top tips of what you should know before arriving on your epic Disneyland Paris vacation and answering questions you didn’t know you had. These tips will help you get the most out of your visit to Disneyland Paris so that you have the best time while you are there. 

This post is perfect for first time visitors and you will certainly want to get the most out of a full day at the Disneyland Paris Parks. 

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris App

Before heading out to the park, be sure to know the crowd’s prediction on the Disneyland Paris crowd calendar. You don’t want to find yourself there at peak times of the year when you could have easily waited a few days. Check for busy days at Disneyland Paris before booking your stay, and the wait times app to get an idea of which ride you want to check out next. This is a great way of making sure you avoid long lines and then you can get the most out of your Disneyland Paris tickets.

Disneyland Paris does not offer free wifi; you want to save that precious GB for when it truly matters.

Some of the bigger rides also have a single rider line. This can be useful for families where you have someone wanting to experience a ride quickly while the other parents wait with a child who is asleep or doesn’t want to go on the ride. 

Disney Hotel New York

#1 TOP PICK DISNEYLAND HOTEL

Disney Hotel New York

  • All rooms have air-con
  • 10-minute walk to the Disney Parks
  • Meet your favourite Super Hero

Disneyland Paris Photo Pass

Similar to its Walt Disney World cousin, Memory Maker, the Disneyland Paris Photopass is a card that electronically stores professional photos in certain stops around the park, and during character greetings.

Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris has a limited number of photo pass photographers wandering the park and fewer character dinners. It only started rolling out in 2014 and was absolutely not worth it. Fast forward and we’ve seen more and more photographers at character greetings, throughout the Park, and rides, though most children will not have the patience to wait in line for a character or meet the height requirements for Photo pass eligible rides.

The benefit of a Photo pass is that there is no purchase necessary; you may purchase in advance (which I recommend for Walt Disney World) or see where it goes and buy after the fact. The plastic cards are free, just keep them close and upload them at any Kiosk in the parks to view and purchase at an extra cost should you wish. All 4 visits to Disneyland Paris, this was our plan of action.

Only twice have we decided to make the purchase, as we had taken the minimum 10 images to make purchasing the pass more economical than purchasing each photo individually. You also have a souvenir photo taken on some of the most popular rides including Big Thunder Mountain and more. The on-site Photo Pass photographers can certainly take better photos than most people of you with Disney characters. 

Phantom Manor Disneyland

Meal plan or room discount?

During the off-season, and sometimes during bridge season, when you book a room, you are offered one of two options; a free meal plan or an impressive room discount. Depending on the size of your group, a room discount is usually the most cost-effective choice.

Depending on the level purchased, the meal plans offer up to 2 meals plus breakfast for each member. Want character dinner? Use 2 meal vouchers for one sitting. Review your expectations of the food and your budget and make the best choice for yourself.

In general, little tummies or picky eaters will not consume enough food to make the Meal Plan worth it, therefore I would always recommend the room discount (or buy 2 nights, get 2 nights) over a meal plan if a choice needed to be made.

Fast pass Disneyland Paris

Fast Passes at Disneyland Paris theme parks have now changed. There is the Disney Premier Access Ultimate. This can be used 1 time on each available attraction. You can join the fast lane whenever you want as there are no time slots! You can buy in advance or on the day and it can be bought via their official app or website, our holiday experts as part of a Hotel+Tickets package or selected partners.

There is also the Disney Premier Access One. This can be used 1 time on 1 attraction. You are allocated the next available time slot to join the fast lane. You can buy it on the day or in the main Disneyland theme park or the Walt Disney Studios Park. Plus via the Disneyland Paris app.

BOOK Discounted Tickets For Disneyland Paris

Pack the Snacks

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you want to survive Disneyland, bring snacks and drinks. The lines for attractions can be long and boring, and equally so can the lines at the snack trucks or bakeries. Sometimes stuffing their faces with apple slices or popcorn is what makes or breaks a 45 min wait for Pirates of the Caribbean.

The same goes for bringing drinks. When the sun starts glaring, it’s important to hydrate. While you can purchase water from various vendors, why not save a few pounds and bring your own bottle? There are water fountains near all toilets and restaurants will give you ice water for free in your refillable water bottle.

Buy in advance

If your kids don’t need to buy it themselves for it to be considered a souvenir, then buy it all early. Even then, let them buy one and the rest is early. Going broke over souvenirs is not a Disney right of passage. Amazon has everything from autograph books to princess costumes (incredibly less expensive). Plus pirate costumes, lanyards, drawstring bags and even those light-chasing toys for the fireworks.

Don’t get caught in a giant line, only to pay onsite prices when you could have brought it all yourself. It’s still Disney products, just the smarter way of shopping. Bonus packing tip; grab yourself a mommy book if you don’t already have one. This will help keep the bags, coats and whatever else out of the bottom basket or on top of the canopy.

On or off-site

There are a ton of blogs, websites and books telling you to do one over the other. We bit the bullet this time and decided to try off-site. Just for you, my faithful readers here is a list of off-site places to stay near Disneyland Paris.

On-site

Like most things, with money comes perks. Disney offers exclusive perks for staying at their expensive Disneyland Paris hotels. Not all exclusive offers are perks, however. Personally, we have stayed at the Disneyland Hotel which is a short walk from the main entrance, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel and Disney’s Newport Bay Club. We have a post detailing the different hotels within Disneyland Paris. You usually get the best price if you book direct through the official Disneyland Paris website. 

Pros

  • Early Magic Hours is a real thing. Guests staying at resort hotels with EMH are allowed into the park 30-60 minutes before anyone else and have exclusive access to some of the rides. You get to enjoy the Disney magic that little bit more than regular guests to the parks. 
  • Hotel Atmosphere. The hotel just vibes Disney, even if the off-site location is decorated in Disney style.
  • Some Disney hotels have characters at their restaurants including Mickey Mouse. When booking your hotel stay, it is also possible to book various shows and restaurants, like Buffalo Bill or Chef Mickey’s at the same time. Not all offer breakfast included so be sure to check into that before assuming anything, but there are several options available at Disney Village should you choose to leave the hotel to eat.
  • Disney hotels also offer public transit to and from the park. These buses only service Disney hotels so you won’t be fighting off-site guests for a chair, but a bus is still a bus. When booking online, they all mention how far of a walk you are looking at. While walking home after 12 hours in the park sounds like the last thing you want to do, once you see the bus lines, you may change your mind.

Cons

  • Price. I would be lying if I said their prices weren’t a little high. Yes, you get what you pay for, but I don’t require 24-hour access to the pool or sauna, or room service… I would gladly take a reduced price in exchange for fewer unnecessary amenities.
  • Unless you are staying at the Disney “moderate” resorts, buses may be required. I dislike taking such crowded buses, and without physical barriers to keep guests from swarming the bus (like they have at Walt Disney World), it can sometimes be borderline unsafe for small children.
bedroom disneyland paris

Check Availability of Hotels at Disneyland Paris

Off-site

As I mentioned before, we had never stayed off-site until our last-minute Halloween visit and we did this purely for the money. I know what we spent last time at the Disneyland Hotel and it was a little out of reach considering we were at the tail end of a 1-week road trip through Normandy. Off-site has many pros and cons as well. We have personally stayed at Algonquin Explorers and Radisson Blu.

Pro

  • Budget. An off-site location can cost almost half vs on-site.
  • Breakfast is included
  • Rooms were roughly the same size anyways
  • Free bus is often available at partner hotels
  • Can be booked through a third-party agency

Con

  • Was not a reasonable walking distance
  • Shared the bus with 4 other hotels – catching it after the fireworks was rough
  • Quality of customer service not quite to standard
  • Cleanliness and maintenance problems. Had a handful of dirty dishes on the racks during breakfast. I was not pleased.
  • Poor gift shop options
  • Zero baby care options
Bedroom Disneyland Paris

Don’t over plan | Don’t under plan either

Read the blogs, do the research, and make the phone calls. Do what you need to do to feel that you are properly equipped to handle such an epic and unique adventure with the family. Don’t forget to Be flexible. 

Things happen; flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, rains when the app said sunny and the list goes on. Know which parks you want to visit and in which general order, grab your fast passes and reservation cards and then let the day take you where it takes you. The parades run several times per day, the shows run even more so. Know when to break for food/toilet and make sure to get good spots for when you do plan to watch.

Overplanning will only drive you crazy and under planning, well; you’ll be standing around trying to figure out your next move more often than you care to.

If you are visiting with toddlers we have a handy post that lists the rides they can go on. This will help with planning your day at the Disneyland parks.

It is worth knowing that there is a train station located right next to both of the Disneyland Paris theme parks which makes it a perfect day trip from central Paris. Just about every staff member we spoke to at Disneyland Paris did speak English although unlike other European countries there can be language barriers at times and some basic French is always worth knowing before you visit. It’s not essential but it can help. 

Baby care centre

I love the baby care centres at Disneyland Paris. The centre at Disneyland Park is on the right-hand side of Main Street, turning once in front of the Castle. This has a fairly large parent bathroom – so mom and dad can change a baby – a kitchenette to prepare and feed baby hot food or formula, high chairs and a microwave included. 

This is also where you will find your children if they are ever lost and picked up by a cast member. I was able to take a quick look at the lost-child pit; just behind the front desk, full of stuffed animals, books and toys for any scared child to feel safe and comfortable while waiting for their caregiver.

Very important to note; this is also where you can purchase baby necessities. I brought a pack of nappies but ended up being a day short on my count. I didn’t want to buy a whole pack since I had a pack at home and I had a feeling it would cost me a fortune. The front desk offers diapers at 1 euro per unit (good thing I only needed 3). They did mention that all Disney-owned hotels have shops with these same items that can be purchased in packages, like a corner store, at a much better price.

Rent or bring your own pushchair

These strollers cost a whopping 20 euro per day to rent. While they have a canopy to cover the child during mild sprinkling, they hardly look comfortable. I have heard differing opinions, many of which believe they are not worth the cost. Bringing your own stroller means the child is familiar with it, it is comfortable, easier to pick out of a crowd and actually has storage space. Depending on the cost of bringing your own, I would always suggest not to bother renting a Disney Stroller.

I have been seeing a lot of older children riding in these, rather than smaller kids, however. My 4-year-old was able to walk most of the day (12 hours) without much problem. I caught several 6-8-year-olds riding in these; if your child can’t handle a long time walking or standing and you no longer own a stroller, then maybe this is a good idea. 

Keep in mind that the line to rent one is time-consuming; waiting until later in the day to get one will mean fewer people are waiting in line, but there is always a chance of them running out of strollers. 

strollers to hire at disneyland paris

Each attraction and restaurant has a stroller parking lot. I left the diaper bag in the bottom of the stroller but didn’t leave anything valuable in that bag; change of clothes and diaper accessories. Some people will say to use a bike lock so no one can steal the stroller; this is not advised. 

There are attendants that frequently move the strollers from the entrance to the exit, move them away from ‘no parking zones’ or just rearrange them to make more room. A good stroller is also a great way to keep the kids immobile when the crowds get thick, during meals (when high chairs are limited) or to encourage nap/quiet time.

At the end of the day, when parents are at the breaking point of stress and exhaustion, and the children are bouncing off the walls with lollipops and popcorn, you want your room to be perfect, your amenities in line and know that you have booked the best possible vacation within your budget.

How to Prepare for Disneyland Paris with kids

There is nothing quite like staying at a Disneyland resort hotel. Nothing really compares. Disneyland Paris has a great range of accommodation to suit all different budgets, needs and more. I have written a useful post comparing the Disney hotels and what they offer accommodation-wise. Please check it out – Best Hotels in Disneyland Paris Park


This is a guest post by Christine at mousetravelmatters.com – Their site is packed full of useful posts on Disneyland and Disney World.

And then why not read my post on the suitability of rides at Disneyland Paris for toddlers and younger children OR find and compare great cheap hotels near Disneyland Paris?

Author

  • Suzy McCullough

    The most up-to-date UK days out website plus holidays here and overseas, written by parents. Search our extensive database with an interactive map and find a great day out near you.


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