Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to go to Paris for a few days, having never been to France before- let alone Paris!- I had plenty of things I was desperate to do and see whilst I was there.
Something I was desperate to do, was go to Disneyland. I grew up with Disney and still got that excited bubbly feeling whenever I saw an advert, even at 22.
We decided to go for the day and I spent the entire day absolutely amazed by everything! There were a few surprising or interesting things that might have been useful or good to know before my trip, so I thought I would share them here!
1. You don’t have to transfer!
The first thing to decide is how long you want to go for and if you want to stay at a Disney Hotel, we had decided to stay in Paris and go to Disneyland for a day. After looking into some of the combo tickets and doing a little research we found that the return transfer was at 19:30 but the park didn’t close until 23:30, because we didn’t want to miss out on so much time in the park we looked into alternatives.
We stayed close to Gare Du Nord and found that we could get to the park within 40 minutes. We changed over once after one stop (at Chatelet Le Halle I believe) then hopped on a train on the next platform to Marne La Vallee (helpfully, there is a picture of Mickey Mouse’s head next to the name of the station and it’s the end of the line so it is impossible to miss it!). Turn right as you walk out of the station and there are gates and signs directing you to the parks. These trains are pretty regular in both directions and run until about 23:40-00:00 at night (we’ll come back to this later).
2. Keeping Hydrated in the parks
We’d been told by various people who had been before that food and drinks were confiscated on entry so decided not to risk it and buy everything inside the park. As it turns out they weren’t quite so strict. Obviously you can’t take in a picnic and lots of drinks, but you will be fine with a 500ml bottle of water. Throughout the park there are water fountains- they can usually be found near the toilet blocks and dotted through the queues for the busier rides, if you can’t find one there are plenty of “cast members” around who will be happy to direct you to the nearest fountain. In the end we bought one drink in there and refilled the bottles through the day (be warned that a 500ml bottle will cost around 3,50euro). It seems obvious but really keep your hydration in mind, we made a rule that we would fill our bottles and the next time we saw a fountain we had to finish our drinks and refill them- nobody wants to get ill at Disneyland! (As a side note, the park maps which are available under the arches once you’re in the park have a key which shows you where the nearest eateries are with what they serve and what sort of price ranges they are to help you decide.)
3. Ride Planning
Take a look at your map when you get in the park and work out which rides you want to go on the most. I’d recommend trying to get on your bigger rides first (Space mountain, Indiana Jones in the main park, Tower of Terror, the Aerosmith rollercoaster in Walt Disney Studios) then working your way around the other rides with smaller queues after. The Pirates of the Caribbean and Dumbo rides also had quite big queues whilst we were there.
4. Meeting the cast.
When you first walk into the park there is a square (a good spot for the parade) here you’ll find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy at various times of the day (I think Mickey and Mini also move to the Princess section of the park). If you’re looking to meet these, join these queues asap as they get big and the characters can only stay for so long (safety for the staff etc), you do usually get a five minute warning when the character will change and who it will change to so you can decide whether to stay or not. These spots are marked on your maps, however there are various other characters dotted through the parks, if you go towards Skull rock you’ll find Peter Pan characters- including Hook and Smee. In the “Jungle Section” we found Timone, Rafiki, King Louis and Baloo. In Walt Disney Studios you can meet Sulley, and some of the Toy Story cast. The queues for these guys tends to be smaller because they aren’t advertised as meet and greet spots and you also take your own photographs so you don’t have to pay for an official print. If you aren’t interested in having your picture with these characters but want to see them, all of the above and more are on the parade for good photos etc.If you are wanting to meet a Princess, these meet and Greets mostly take place in the Princess Pavillion and require pre booking most of the time. Also most of the characters leave at around 14:30- with Mickey staying a little longer, so factor this into your planning!
5. The parade
Get yourself a good spot if you can, if it’s been a sunny day, go for something facing away from the castle so you’ll be in the shade, as I said before the main square is a good spot as you see the floats come down the main street of the park and around the centre island before finishing. There are plenty of floats with so many characters, even the ones you wouldn’t expect! If you have children stand them near the front (but keep a hold of them, the floats are huge) some of the characters on foot come over and interact with the kids (Pinocchio was very sweet on our parade).
6. Park Closure
The park itself doesn’t close until around 23:30 a firework and lights show begins at 23:00 projected on the castle which is honestly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life! It will give you goosebumps! There’s a nod to all of the classics, especially some of the films that aren’t included in the park (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Beauty and The Beast). I highly recommend you stay for this- although this doesn’t leave you much time to get back for your trains if you’re staying in Paris, so check what time the last train is on your day. Although the show doesn’t start until 11 the other sections of the park except main street close at 21:30, so make sure you have done everything you wanted to in those sections before then because the staff there have no patience for “Just one more photo”, even if you are a crying five year old! The main street has plenty of places to get food and drinks as well as lots of Souvenir shops (surprise surprise!) I’d recommend finding a spot to sit in as you’ll be waiting a while for it to begin and will surely be tired after the day (we walked 18km in a day!) and taking it all in.
All in all my top tip is enjoy your day, let yourself be a child and take in the magic! Even for an adult the whole day was overwhelming, so imagine being a child there! Accept that its going to be expensive in there, but accept that this is going to be an amazing day for you/your child or whoever you are enjoying this with.
(A quick safety note, there is a fantastic medical centre on site, so if you feel unwell or hurt yourself during the day find a “cast member” and let them know and they’ll help- my sister injured her ankle and they were absolutely amazing)
If you have any questions, let me know and hopefully I’ll be able to help!