It’s one of those places that you just have to go to with little people (well at least that’s what I told my husband!)…but my goodness the amount of information and various choices you have to make (all of which have a cost implication) is simply boggling (and it’s not often I feel overwhelmed when planning my trips!). All the various added extras that people sing the praises of can sure add up. It’s all too easy, it seems to me, to get caught up in the commercialisation and the one upmanship that seems to exist on various Facebook groups.
So here are my top tips for a budget friendly trip to Disneyland Paris.
1. Stay off the park. The Disney hotels have a seriously high price tag and bar a few added extras and perks I don’t feel children would notice the difference (at least not at the age of 4 and 2). In fact being able to escape the craziness of the park was fab for all of us. It also means you can more easily combine it with seeing something else (Paris itself, Fontainebleau etc). We stayed here but booked it through Airbnb. Book any Airbnb accommodation using this link for £25 off. Anyway, back to the Gite…it was an idyllic countryside location, with cows out of the window and children’s play equipment in the garden…yet 30 minutes from the park entrance and easily connected to Paris via train. Parking for 2 cars and would easily sleep 8. After a crazy (but fun!) day at the park it was wonderful to return to our little slice of French paradise for a bottle of local wine!
2. Search around for a good deal on tickets – We ended up booking ours through 365 tickets but I know others have managed to get good deals from Picniq. It’s worth checking both the British Disneyland Paris website and the European alternatives….I gather you can sometimes get good deals. The gist of what I’m saying is look around and see what deals you can find.
3. Take a picnic – regulars to my blog will know that picnics are our modus operandi when traveling with our children. Disneyland Paris is no different. In the case of Disney it’s not only a cheaper option it’s also way more convenient (you can eat in queues to maximise your time) and much much healthier (the food is the standard theme park fare – think beige and fried!). We managed to find various Disney themed snacks and treats in a French supermarket before we went (the novelty factor was a win with the title people!). It’s worth noting that they don’t allow insulated picnic bags so you’ll have to carry your food and snacks in a normal bag. We didn’t see anywhere to refill water bottles so take plenty or be prepared to buy some.
4. Pack Disney merchandise – in an attempt to avoid falling foul to the persuasive skills of my two children (honestly they’re like a well oiled machine) we invested in various bits of Disney merchandise before we left (Amazon have lots of bits – mini mouse ears, autograph book, t-shirts, stickers etc). We also packed each child a Disney costume (for the parade) – they don’t care that they’re not new and it saves coughing up the 80€ for another one (that’s each!).
5. Ask yourself how long you and the children really need there? Ok so for us this trip was never going to be our only visit. We have no doubt that we’ll be back. Perhaps that also means that we don’t feel the pressure to do everything in one visit. We felt that with a 4 and 2 year old they would simply enjoy being at Disney and didn’t need all the extras. I totally get that people say you should spend 2-3 days in the park (and yes if you want to see both parks and do most rides then you’ll need the time) but our two were hyped to the max and really wouldn’t have appreciated another day straight away (and I’m not sure we would have coped much better!).
6. Arrive early and be prepared – Whilst it’s possible (if you’re staying in one of the resort hotels) to pay a premium for early entry it’s not entirely necessary. We arrived at just after 9am (rides started at 10am). By the time we walked from the carpark (thats another 25 Euro!), had a loo stop and walked to our first ride it was 10am, there was no queue and we hopped straight on. As is often the case it’s well worth doing your research beforehand – which rides do you want to go on? Which characters would you like to try and see, which shows etc. You can download the app in advance and it gives you all sorts of information. This is also where the various Facebook groups come in handy (you can ask all those boring logistical questions). It goes without saying that the Disney Parade was amazing and with a good seat (easily secured on Main Street about 45 mins before start time – you can shop whilst one adult saves the space) we got to see lots of characters and some even stopped to speak to the children.