Booking Your Holiday
I often get asked when is the best time for children to visit Disneyland Paris. We have been taking our daughter since she was two and our son since he was three months old. Each year they had an amazing time. For me I think the best age is any age they still believe in the magic of the characters. But any time is great as there are things to do for ALL ages. We generally wait for an offer to come on the Disneyland Paris site. Booking our hotel and park tickets there, flights via Expedia. This trip we went with Disneyland Paris Direct who did a great deal and provided a really fab service.
If you're staying onsite get in the parks at 8am for that lovely castle photo!
Where To Stay
We stay onsite when visiting Disneyland Paris. We have stayed at Newport Bay, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Santa Fe and the Disneyland Hotel itself. Each has its pros and cons. Santa Fe is great if you are working within a strict budget. It is around a 20 minute walk to the park but as you are walking through Disney Village it's very pleasant and goes quite quickly. However if you have a little one aged 5 or under I would advise you take a buggy. A long walk after a busy day in the parks is not ideal. The Disneyland Hotel is situated directly outside the park and is truly magical if you have a little more cash to spend and want a once in a lifetime experience.
We generally book our Disneyland Paris holidays when offers are on. These come up throughout the year and the Disneyland Paris For Brits Facebook Page is really good at highlighting when they become available. Sometimes you may buy two days get two days free. Or free food might be thrown in. So make sure you check an offer is on before you book. If you are travelling from the airport don't forget to check it includes or book the Magical Shuttle to get to your hotel.
Before You Go To The Park
Disneyland Paris is very different to Walt Disney World. There is very little preparation to be made before you visit the park. However if you are on a food package you will need to book your main meal before you go. If you wait to book it when you arrive you will struggle to find anywhere to eat before 9pm. Take it from someone who has made that mistake! You will find the food packages here and the number to make your reservations here. Whilst you are in the hotel the concierge will help you if you wish to make any changes.
How To Save Money
There are several ways to help you save money for your Disney holiday. Buy any Disney related clothing items in shops like Primark before you go as they are very expensive onsite. I also make sure that I fill my case with snacks to last throughout our time there as there is no local supermarket nearby. Your little one is bound to want a toy whilst you are there so it may be a good idea to get one in the Shop Disney sale and secretly pack it. To save money don't buy an autograph book when you arrive. We take a nice fancy notepad and pen which is ready in your bag for when you meet your favourite characters.
Disney outfit from Primark and Dale from Shop Disney!
Magic Pass & Photo Pass
If you are staying onsite you will be issued with a Magic Pass which is similar to the Magic Bands in Walt Disney World. This contains your hotel reservation, park tickets (one per day of your stay) and you also give it a pin number so it can also be used to pay for items around the park. Meaning that you can leave your cash in the hotel room and enjoy the rides without it in your pockets! The PhotoPass+ is a pass you can purchase to buy photos around the park for example on rides or at character meet and greets. I have never used one of these before but after paying £30 for two photos it may be something I consider in the future!
Magic Hours means that you can get into the parks two hours before it opens to the general public (rides open at 8:30am). Be warned. Not all of the rides are open during this time but it is a really good opportunity to get on some of the smaller rides with little to no queues for example The Tea Cups. If you are looking to go on bigger rides such as Crushes Coaster then you are best to visit Walt Disney Studios. There are chances to meet characters with shorter queues. The park is also fairly empty near the castle so we found it a really amazing time to get photos. I find the park is more magical when it is not filled with crowds so for me this is the perfect time to go.
Meeting Mickey after breakfast in the Disneyland Hotel
For my children characters form the main part of our holiday. They absolutely love meeting Mickey and co. I will say in Walt Disney World characters are more readily available but there are still plenty of opportunities in Disneyland Paris. If you would like to guarantee meeting Mickey (or friends), Woody or Buzz then download the Lineberty App before you leave. Check the night before what time the Disneyland Paris character queue opens and pop on it five minutes before that time. Obviously there are A LOT of people all trying at the same time. But keep refreshing and you should be able to get a ticket and a time to come back and meet your character.
Another easy way to meet them is to book a character dining. These are great! We recently went to Inventions and it was by far the best character interaction my children have ever had both in Paris and Florida. Obviously they come at a cost but on the whole it's great food (you may want to check the menu before hand as some meals are based on French cuisine so not ideal for children). Whilst you are eating your meals the characters come around to say hello and get a photo. Sometimes you can feel a bit rushed but don't be! They will visit every single table. Do not worry.
Alternatively, if you are willing to queue, you can meet characters in the parks. I would advise arriving roughly 15 minutes before so you can ensure you get to the front. The times and locations are printed on a timetable that is available at the front of the parks (sometimes you can find these are in the Disneyland Paris For Brits FB page so you can before hand). So make sure you keep an eye on those. If you have children who don't fancy queuing maybe send them off on an adventure with another adult or my two love drawing a picture of the person they are about to meet. Keeps them occupied and the character loves it.
Teacups generally has a lovely small queue!
There are opportunities to get fast passes in Disneyland Paris to read more about that take a look here. Earlier in the day and later in the evening I have found it relatively easy to get on most rides. Obviously the bigger, more popular rides, are busier but if you get a fast pass you can fill your time on smaller rides whilst you wait. Or you can pop in and see one of the great shows on offer. My little girl LOVES the Stitch one in Walt Disney Studios. Just make sure you see it in the correct language. The often alternate between French and British.
We have visited most of the restaurants in Disneyland Paris and also in the surrounding Disney Village. As a Mum to young children food is definitely at the top of our list of priorities! With no supermarket on site as I mentioned earlier, it is a really good idea to take snacks. If you can book a food package I would highly recommend it. However there is a Starbucks just outside the park as well as a McDonalds and an Earl of Sandwich. So it is possible to get fairly reasonably priced fast food. We do find with the hotel breakfast buffet we generally only need a snack for lunch as we fill up there.
One final thing is I would really take a good look at the weather before you go to Disneyland Paris. In Florida you are guaranteed sun with the odd hot water shower. I have been to Paris eight times now. And it has rained WHATEVER time of year we have gone. So make sure you always pack a raincoat and a warm Disney jumper! As the clothes onsite are far pricier than clothes you can buy back home. To take a little look at my latest adventure please watch the vlog below. And make sure you go and visit my instagram account where I have all my Disney adventures added to a highlight.