When our travel plans changed, we ended up going to Disneyland Paris and making a very last minute booking. We stayed at the Sequoia lodge, which is a mid-priced Disneyland hotel that’s a pleasant 15 minute walk to the main parks via Disney Village.
Top tips for Disneyland Paris
1. Stay there instead of getting a day pass/es – if you can, try and stay for at least one night. You can get day passes, which include both parks (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park). However, one day isn’t enough and travelling in for two days would be absolutely exhausting. Staying also includes a number of benefits mentioned later on.
2. Book accommodation early – we can definitely vouch for the fact that there is no such thing as a last minute bargain when it comes to Disneyland.
3. Eurostar – if Disneyland Paris is your only destination – ie you’re not going to Paris – get the Eurostar directly there (Marne la Vallee Chessy station) as opposed to travelling to Gare du Nord Paris.
4. Download the Disneyland Paris app – you can look up wait times for the rides and the meet and greets, be informed of any ride closures and see entertainment schedules so you can make the most of your time.
5. Disney accessories – buy the kids (and maybe the adults) items like Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse ears beforehand. A pair of Minnie Mouse ears costs €14.99 at the park. We picked ours up for £1.99 on Amazon. Similarly, if your kids like dressing up take costumes/outfits with you.
6. See the illuminations – they are pretty spectacular and are a must see. We visited in May half-term and they didn’t start until 11pm due to the very light evenings. Another reason to stay on site!
7. Half board – is a really good idea as food is very costly in the parks. I’d recommend using half board for your dinner. You need to book dinner at least a day in advance at whichever of the designated restaurants you want. We assumed that if you had a meal included in your package you automatically had a reservation. This isn’t the case! The kids particularly liked the restaurants that had buffets instead of a menu.
8. Check out the hotel programmes – if you’re staying in one of the Disney hotels check out its programme. We happened upon a meet and greet staged photo opp at our hotel one morning and got a great family picture with Mickey Mouse. The queue was about a tenth of the size of the one in the main park.
9. Cheaper lunches – we found the McDonalds in Disney Village (slightly off the main drag) was the cheapest place to eat. Also in Disney Village, Planet Hollywood did a kids’ meal deal, which was relatively cost-effective. They also did some of the cheapest photography at the table.
10. Make the most of breakfast – Take advantage of an inclusive breakfast. We didn’t have a full buffet breakfast, just a continental one. However, it’s the best coffee you’ll get all day (if you can actually find it in the parks, it’s really not great) and you all get a soft drink included. The kids had orange juice and we chose bottles of water and squirrelled them away for later as a bottle of water in the park is €3 plus.
11. Take some fruit with you – aside from a few fruit platters at the buffet-style meals at some of the restaurants, you won’t find anywhere to get a healthy snack.
12. Go to a show – If you’re staying for a few nights book a show. It’s a good focus for the evening and something a bit different. We went to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show…with Mickey & Friends. A Tex-Mex meal is served whilst you watch the show and your drinks are filled up throughout. The girls loved it. I’d recommend sticking to the beer as Chateâu Disney wasn’t the best. The show was included in our accommodation package. If you’re booking separately it’s £57 per adult (12 years +) and £42 per child (3-11 years) for ‘category 2’ seats and £70 and £55 respectively for ‘category 1’ seats. We had category 2 seats and we had a great view.
13. Beware of Autopia – This car track ride looks – and is – pretty tame. However, there is a blind bend on the circuit so you are totally unaware that you’re approaching the end of the circuit. There are no signs telling you this and the cars were completely backed up past the bend. By the time Maria, Gabby and I came around the bend and saw the cars backed up it was too late to stop and we crashed straight into the car in front, which contained my husband Matt and eldest daughter. Maria hit her face hard into the steering wheel and there was A LOT of blood. Matt had an achy back and neck the rest of the day. BE CAREFUL!
14. Extra Magic Time – A bonus of staying there, you get an extra hour (8:30am to 9:30am) to go on the rides and do the meet and greets with Disney characters before the parks open to the general public. The queues are drastically reduced. We only managed this once however as after a very late illuminations and the need to have breakfast we struggled to get out and about for that time in order to take full advantage.
NB. not all the rides are accessible during ‘Extra Magic Time.’
Family favourite rides
Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight were the all-round favourites in Disneyland Park and Ratatouille and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop in the Walt Disney Studios Park.
… and finally, Maria (age 6) says: “You MUST go on Big Thunder Mountain… It looks scary, but it isn’t!”
Here you can find info about all the Disneyland hotels.