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Best Disneyland Paris tips for families: what to pack, tickets, budgeting, activities and more

Any frequent visitor to Disneyland Paris will tell you, organisation is key. To help you plan, here's the best tips from Disney experts who've been there, done that.

By Charlotte Plummer | Last updated Sep 2, 2022

Disneyland Paris tips

For many, a trip to Disneyland Paris is their first exposure to a Disney park and although it’s considered a ‘smaller choice’ for a Disney experience, a visit still requires a lot of planning and organisation on your part.

Don’t fret, though, as we're here to help, and when it comes to all things Disney, mother of two Charlotte knows exactly what she’s talking about. As a seasoned traveller to Disneyland Paris, her top tips alongside Mumsnetter recommendations can certainly help if you’re planning a trip to the popular theme parks in Paris. 

These pearls of wisdom come from parents who have been there, done that - brave parents who did the research, survived the trip, and can recommend the best places to eat, where to stay, the must-have items and more for a trip to Disneyland Paris

From the top attractions to money saving hacks, here’s our ultimate guide to Disneyland Paris to make sure your trip is unforgettable for all the right reasons.

Notepad at the ready! Here’s our best Disneyland Paris tips for families: 

Disneyland Paris tips

1. An overview

Before you start planning, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the basics. 

Disneyland Paris has four parts: 

  • Disneyland Park: the traditional castle park, home of Sleeping Beauty’s castle
  • Walt Disney Studios Park: similar to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida
  • Disney Village: a small shopping and restaurant area
  • The hotel area: home to six Disney hotels onsite 

With the exception of an additional two offsite hotels, the entire resort is walkable and is around 20 minutes from one end to the other. 

2. How to get there 

Let’s start at the beginning, how will you get there? Depending on your location, it may be logistically a lot easier to opt for certain routes than others. The great thing is, Disneyland Paris is super accessible via several routes. 

Whether you choose to drive, fly, or hop on the train, all options can be made really easy. Price up as many options as you can to help stay within your budget. Consider that if you’re based in the north of the UK and choose to get the train, you’ll also have to factor in travelling to London with a potential overnight stay, so weigh up the pros and cons.

“We got the Eurostar both times from Leeds. Really easy to hop on the train in London and get off at the gates of the park.”

Padamae

The train goes directly to Disneyland Paris and the station is literally at the park gates. Talk about door to door service! If you drive, there’s ample car parking at the parks, too. Flight wise, the nearest airport is Paris Charles De Gaulle, which is around a 40 minute transfer to the Disneyland Paris area and flights from the UK are around 60 to 90 minutes long. 

Disneyland Paris tips

3. Where to stay 

“I’ve been to Disney lots of times and always stayed in the Disney hotels. I find the theming just makes it feel more special and it’s handy to be able to walk to the park.” Tigerwhocameforsupper

Next up, where to stay? This can be a tricky one as there’s so many great choices. 

Disney offers some incredible onsite resorts which will truly immerse you into the full Disney experience. The magic is 24/7 in the parks and this doesn’t end in their hotels. 

Staying onsite at an official Disney hotel can also offer amazing perks such as early entry into the parks, onsite character meet and greets plus discounts in the Disney Stores. 

Having said that, there’s some really great offsite options just minutes away from Disneyland Paris. Most offer free shuttle buses to and from the parks all day, with ample space to park your car if you have chosen to drive. 

Although they don’t quite offer the full Disney experience, they can be found at a fraction of the price and still offer great locations. It’s crucial to review all your options for your stay as choosing the right accommodation could literally save you hundreds. 

Top tip when choosing your accommodation… Opt for bed and breakfast! Sourcing breakfast in theme parks can be tricky and time consuming. We can’t recommend this enough, and the offsite hotels offer great prices on their bed and breakfast options. 

4. Duration of trip

"In terms of time there, 2-3 full days should be plenty, maybe a day more if the kids are very small and tire easily." ImInStealthMode

Disneyland Paris is no Walt Disney World. It offers a slice of the magic at a fraction of the size, so you don’t need the same amount of time to get the most from your trip. We’d recommend a minimum of two days, but ideally three days to really enjoy everything. Walt Disney Studios is the smaller park of the two, and can easily be completed within a day. Disneyland Park has more to offer and personally, we think two days is the perfect amount of time to enjoy it. 

April to July should mean the weather is on your side, plus they're the summer months, however do consider how busy it can be within school holidays. Christmas at Disneyland Paris is magical - if you get the chance to do it, we highly recommend it. It’s beautifully decorated and really spreads the festive joy, however it is freezing. We’re talking layers and layers.

January and February tend to be quieter months and less in price to visit, so bear these in mind to keep the cost down.

Disneyland Paris tips

PA Photo/Damon

5. Tickets 

Now you’ve decided how you’re getting there and where you’re staying, we need to talk about tickets. It’s highly recommended you buy these in advance. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, gone are the days of turning up on the day to buy your tickets. 

Plus, when buying ahead, great deals can be found and it’s one less thing to worry about when you arrive. The more time you have experiencing the Disney magic instead of waiting in line, the better! Prices vary depending when you choose to visit, so to keep costs low, consider visiting on weekdays, outside of school holidays or in cheaper months such as January. 

As we’ve mentioned, there are two parks at Disneyland Paris: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios. You can purchase tickets individually, or choose the Park Hopper option. A Park Hopper ticket allows you to quite literally hop between the two parks throughout the day. Park Hopper tickets are slightly more expensive, so consider how important they are to you in terms of being able to access both parks on the same day. 

The average ticket price for a two day visit is approx £120 per adult and £112 per child. 

Once you have your tickets, we highly recommend you download the Disneyland Paris app (available on App Store and Google Play). This will give you live updates on attraction wait times, parade showtimes, character meet information and more… It’s a priceless tool to help plan and enjoy your days! 

Remember to register admission to your chosen park

As mentioned, following Covid-19 restrictions, Disney parks worldwide have put extra measures in place for crowd control. One of the biggest changes - and one that a lot of people have opinions about - is the need to register to enter the parks. 

If you have a non-dated ticket or pass, you must register on Disney’s online registration platform in order to ensure admission to the Disney Parks on the date of your choice. Entry is subject to availability, so it’s imperative that you register admission on your chosen days once you have your tickets. 

This means more planning ahead of your trip, and a little less spontaneity while you’re there. 

If you’re unable to secure your admission on your preferred date when buying your tickets - don’t panic… A lot of families may cancel at the last minute as the day gets closer, so our best advice is to keep check, check, checking. 

Of course, if you have a dated ticket, you needn’t worry about these extra steps ahead of your trip.

Disneyland Paris tips

6. Budgeting

“If you’re having a breakfast buffet at your hotel, take some sandwich bags, foil etc and make lunch to take into the park”. Leccybill

One of the biggest ways to save money while visiting Disneyland Paris is by taking your own food while visiting the parks. Gone are the days of Disney meal plans, and these days, costs can add up while you try to feed everyone in your party. 

These days, it’s a good idea to pack your own snacks. After all, nobody needs hangry kids while queuing for a ride. Mumsnetters have done it all: stocked up on croissants from the hotel breakfast buffet, done an Uber Eats delivery for crisps and cereal bars, visited local supermarkets to grab easy snacks to fill bags with. Theme park snacks can be less than nutritious, overpriced with lengthy waits to purchase. Disney is no different, so make sure you take advantage of being able to take your own food in. 

Remember, water is also free around the parks, with refill stations located throughout both parks. We recommend you take your own water bottle to top up through the day and stay hydrated. One of our favourite bottles to take is the Ion8 leak proof bottle.

Another item we like to take from home is an autograph book. You can pick these up in the parks from around €10, but to save some pennies buy them from Amazon before you go. You’ll save money and time, and the kids will absolutely love collecting the character signatures! 

If you really want to commit to the Disney experience, you can’t be without a pair of Minnie ears. There’s endless pairs to choose from in the parks, they’ve covered every theme possible and they look just fabulous, but, in true Disney form, they come with a hefty price tag. We’ve found some at a fraction of the cost for you to pack and take, instead. 

If you have young children and you’re considering whether to take a pram… Take one! The days are long, and you’ll average between 15,000 to 20,000 steps per day. You can hire buggies in the parks, but it works out much cheaper to take your own. 

7. Best attractions 

This is personal preference, but we believe there’s some real Disney classics that you just have to tick off the list! 

As a rite of passage, Disney style, It’s A Small World cannot be missed. It’s one for all ages and the theme tune will be stuck in your head for days, if not weeks, after your trip. Peter Pan’s Flight is also a popular one, along with Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Of course, if you’re travelling to Disneyland Paris with younger toddlers and babies, you may feel there’s not much to do. But don’t be fooled - sure, there are height restrictions on several of the bigger roller coasters and rides, but there is plenty to do for younger guests in the parks. Rides suitable for smaller kids, character meets, shows, parades are all available.

Over in Walt Disney Studios, attractions such as Crushers Coaster for the thrill seekers often have long wait times, and their brand new Avengers Campus is sure to attract crowds. Our top tip for fitting in your favourites is asking your family what their “must do” whilst you’re there is - jot them down and try tick off as many as you can. The Disneyland app we mentioned earlier will help you track wait times and locate them on the map. 

A popular one for the little ones is a hidden gem just by Pirates of the Caribbean. There’s a big adventure park where they can run around and let off some steam, especially handy if they’ve been waiting in queues. 

It’s almost an impossible task to do everything on your list, but hey, that’s just an excuse to go back.

Disneyland Paris tips

8. The “must do” activities

It would be a shame not to make the most out of your time in Disneyland Paris, so be sure to have a plan of your “must do" activities before you visit. Your plans will likely change throughout your trip as you discover things you love, and potentially things you want to do again. There’s so much more than rides to soak up the magic at Disney. 

Book a character dinner

Although they can be quite expensive, booking a character dinner is a great way to see and meet your favourite Disney characters with no long queues and without rushing. You can book either breakfast, lunch or dinner and during your meal, Disney characters will come and say hello to your family. 

Popular character dinners include meeting Mickey and friends at Plaza Gardens Restaurant in Disneyland Park, or dining in the company of Disney Princesses at the park’s Auberge de Cendrillon restaurant.

“If you can afford it book a character dinner at Disneyland Hotel. The children will get to see loads of characters and not be rushed.”

Silverlace

Watch the fireworks

The first thing you shouldn’t miss is the fireworks. There’s nothing more magical than Disneyland Park’s firework display at the end of the day, and a lot of Mumsnetters will admit they’re yet to make it through a show without tearing up. 

Some days they can be shown quite late - sometimes as late as 11pm - so be sure to pencil in a siesta before the fireworks, or choose a day when they’re shown earlier, especially if you have young guests with you. 

See a parade

The parades at Disneyland Paris are also incredible, and happen at set times throughout the day. Make sure you have the app handy to see what times they’re happening. 

Catch a show

With The Lion King, Mickey and the Magician and other shows available, you’ll want to make sure you allow time to take a seat and enjoy at least one of these during your trip. They’re particularly great for younger visitors who aren’t able to have a go on some of the rides due to height restrictions. 

Enjoy some shopping

For any shopaholics, the shops at Disneyland are top tier. They’re full to the brim of Disney merchandise, friendly cast members and amazing theming throughout. The shops play a huge part in the overall Disney atmosphere, we feel. 

Take a breather with a view

For a low-key Disney moment to soak up the magic, our top tip is to sit at the top of Mainstreet USA, with the castle in view, listening to the music and watching people enjoy their trip. It’s people watching at its finest… And it’s even better with an ice cream! If you have teenagers with you, there’s endless photo spot opportunities, a must for socials. Did you even go to Disney if you didn’t post about it?

Disneyland Paris tips

9. Where to eat 

This is a big hit and miss in Disney. Some food establishments are great, others are below average to say the least. For snacks, we can’t stress enough how savvy it is to take your own - save that money for something else! 

There’s ample “fast food” stations dotted around the park offering typical theme park food such as chips, hot dogs… The usual. Although these days, more vegetarian and diet restricted options are available. 

For more formal dining, we highly recommend you make reservations in advance if possible. Tables can fill fast, and if you’re wanting some nice sit down dinners, planning ahead is key. 

“I'd book Chef Mickey for one night... It's the most 'fun' restaurant with characters too, we really liked it.”

MaryPoppinsPenguins

Personal favourites amongst Mumsnetters are Hakuna Matata which offers African cuisine, or just outside the gates you’ll find Disney Village with several restaurants ranging from Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe, Cafe Mickey offering character dining and many, many more. 

10. What to wear 

First and foremost, comfortable shoes. You will walk miles and miles around both parks, so avoid anything that could potentially rub your feet. The last thing you want is blistered soles. 

Depending on when you visit in the year, you may experience wet weather. Rather than carting around heavy raincoats, ponchos are super handy to tuck in your bag and whip out when you need them. You can buy them onsite, but you’ll pay for the privilege. Instead, we recommended ordering some of these ponchos to pack and take with you. 

Travelling with children, you’ll be used to packing spare clothes for them, and it’s no different in Disney. You may want to consider taking a spare outfit for yourself too. They’re long days and if you fancy freshening up part way through, it saves a trip back to the hotel. Pack it all in a large backpack, ideally one with compartments so you can easily find what you need throughout the day! 

Another top tip to pack in the Mary Poppins bag… Small toys or fidget spinners. They can be helpful for entertaining little ones in the queues. 

Disneyland Paris tips

Is it worth visiting Disneyland Paris? 

Disney isn’t for everyone. It’s not a “relaxing” break away. They are long days, it’s costly and it can be overwhelming. Kids still tantrum there too… Trust us, we’ve got the tshirt! Having said that, if you do think it’s for you, we cannot urge you enough to go for it. 

The magic is beyond anything else. The cast members go above and beyond to provide that famous Disney service and truly make you feel like you’re “home”. 

The fun, the magic and the joy that comes with a trip to Disneyland Paris gives you something to hold onto forever. It goes beyond the attractions, it’s a feeling. Whether you’re 5 or 55, you’ll be immersed into feeling like a kid again and leave your worries behind.

Is Disneyland Paris suitable for small children?

There’s no age limit at Disney, so please don’t let this stop you. You’ve probably heard it before “they’re too young!” Of course, small children may not remember it. But you will. You’ll remember seeing the magic through their eyes which is truly priceless. For the older children or thrill seekers in the family, there’s plenty of rides for them to scream if they want to go faster. Ensuring we covered bases for all ages was critical for us, Disney absolutely has something for everyone. 

What is the best month to visit Disneyland Paris?

If you want to avoid crowds, January and March are generally the best months to visit. However, crowds shouldn’t be as much of a worry as other aspects of your trip, like attraction availability. September is also a light crowd at Disneyland Paris.

For seasonal events and attractions, summer is the best time to visit as well as between October and December. During these months, Disneyland Paris holds spectacular events for Halloween and Christmas that are unmissable if you have extra budget spare.

Of course as well as crowds and attractions, you need to consider the weather. Disneyland Paris can become quite cold depending on the season. If you want to avoid rain, don’t go in May - the month statistically has the most rain each year in Paris. 

Do you need to rent a car to visit Disneyland Paris?

If you choose to fly from the UK to Disneyland Paris, you may wish to hire a car at the airport upon arrival. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that if you’re a Disney hotel guest, you do get free parking at hotels thanks to the Disney Easy Pass provided. If you’re staying offsite, you’re looking at fees of €30 per day for a car. 

What can you not do at Disneyland Paris?

To maintain its status as one of the happiest places on earth, there are certain rules that apply to guests visiting Disneyland Paris. This includes banning improper dress, costumes, makeup or tattoos that may offend, shock or scare children. You’re not allowed to use scooters, skateboards, roller blades, or bicycles while visiting. Children under the age of 12 years old must be accompanied by a parent, and animals are not allowed in the parks with the exception of assistance and guide dogs. 

Other things to bear in mind, if you spoke, stick to the designated outdoor areas, and last but not least - leave the selfie stick at home. The full list of rules and regulations for Disneyland Paris can be found here. 

Disneyland Paris tips

Must-have items for families at Disneyland Paris

Before you go ahead and order all of the below, consider whether you and your family would actually need all of these. Most are handy, some are preference - but we’ve listed them to help provide an extensive list of things to pack for Disneyland Paris

How we chose our recommendations

We consulted on our trusty Mumsnet forums to find out what real parents were considering when thinking about a trip to Disneyland Paris. When it comes to Disney, saving and planning is key. It’s potentially a once in a lifetime visit so we were committed to highlighting the hacks to secure you some real wins on this magical trip. 

For more information about hotels, why not check out our guide to the best Disneyland Paris hotels for families.

Why should you trust us? 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advise you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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