Disneyland in the USA has always been a popular holiday destination for Australian families with both kids and adults alike happy to spend a day or two in their own ‘Fantasyland’ but since 1992 the Disneyland name has also become synonymous with Paris. Here are my tips for visiting Disneyland Paris Resort.
Originally called Euro Disney, the Disney Corporation built one of the finest parks of its kind, taking its lead from the original Disneyland in California.
The Paris park is home to almost all the famous attractions of the Californian version including Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World and Big Thunder Mountain, but all with a slight French influence. And best of all for the kids, they can meet all their favourite characters, Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy, as they wander through the park.
Under its new name, Disneyland Resort Paris, the park consists of two separate theme parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios, as well as three on-resort hotels, but for those preferring to stay in Paris itself, the resort is easily accessible by public transport. A 35 minute ride on the RER A4 take passengers from central Paris to the Marne-La-Vallée/Chessy station, right in front of the main entrance to the Disney Parks and close to the Disney hotels.
With so much to see and two parks to discover, it’s always hard to know how much time to allow for a visit to Disneyland Resort Paris, but there are options to suit everyone. Passes which include visits to both parks are available in 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-day durations - click here to check prices.
Ticket and transport packages which include coach transport from central Paris to Disneyland Resort and return are also available - click here to check prices.
Tips for visiting Disneyland Resort Paris
Mid-July until mid-September are definitely the busiest times at Disneyland Resort Paris, so to make the most of your time and to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the main attractions, a Park Hopper pass and a FASTPASS are a great idea.
A Park Hopper pass allows you to jump between the Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios parks whenever you want. This is especially useful if you only have one day to spend at Disneyland, as the best of both parks can be sampled.
FASTPASS is a free service that allows you more convenient access to the main attractions by reducing the waiting time in line at a number of the most popular rides including Indiana Jones™ and the Temple of Peril, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Big Thunder Mountain and Peter Pan's Flight.
To obtain your FASTPASS, you simply insert your admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine at the entrance to each particular attraction. You will be issued with a FASTPASS ticket indicating a return time so you can go off and enjoy other activities in the Park and return in time for your scheduled ride. This eliminates the need to queue up for long periods of time – definitely a good option with children.
Only one FASTPASS ticket per person can be issued at a time so you’ll need to use your first FASTPASS before you can obtain another for a different attraction.
Don’t be put off by the fact that Disneyland Resort Paris is in a non-English speaking country. The park is well prepared for English speaking guests with most staff speaking English and all attractions signposted in English as well as French.
If your kids have always wanted to visit Disneyland but you are lured by a European holiday, a visit to Disneyland Resort Paris could be the answer. You’ll still get to see all the famous icons of Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, but you’ll also have the added bonus of seeing the kids’ eyes light up as they wander down Main Street.
A family holiday to suit everyone – now that’s what dreams are made of!
Tips for a family friendly visit to Disneyland Resort Paris
- Want to avoid the big crowds? Try going when most kids are in school on a weekday if you're able to. Most British and European families only visit on weekends and during the school holidays, so try to schedule your visit for a Monday to Thursday wherever possible.
- Buy your Disneyland Paris Resort tickets in advance – they are often cheaper and it will save you valuable time at the Park as you won’t need to queue at the gate to purchase your tickets.
- Arrive as early as possible to avoid the biggest crowds and the hottest part of the day.
- Get a FASTPASS for Big Thunder Mountain (one of the Park’s most popular rides) as soon as the park opens so you don't have to wait in the long lines which can be long even a few minutes after opening.
- Bring plenty of snacks to keep the kids happy, and remember to drink plenty of water. Even on a relatively mild day the sun reflecting off the concrete can increase the temperature substantially.
- Save money by taking your own lunch (be French and bring your own baguettes!) as the cafes and stores inside Disneyland Resort Paris can be quite expensive.
How to get to Disneyland Resort Paris from central Paris and from Paris's airports
As I mentioned above, you can pre-purchase entry tickets to Disneyland Paris which include coach transport from central Paris (click here for more info), however these transfers have set departure times. If you'd prefer to be a bit more flexible, the RER train might be the best bet for you.
The closest station to Disneyland Resort Paris is Marne-la-Vallee and if you're travelling from central Paris you catch a train on RER Line A. The journey time is approximately 45 minutes with trains departing every 15 minutes or so. This website has more information about travelling to Disneyland from central Paris. (Note the fares may have changed since the article was published.)
A shuttle service is also available from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris Orly airport direct to Disneyland - click here to check prices.
Photos by Sheridan Nixon