So last week I went to Disneyland Paris with my sister for one of the best days since I moved to this lovely city. Real talk.
And it got me thinking, where do people stay, to go to Disneyland, when they don’t actually live in Paris. Like, do you stay at Disney in one of their hotels, or do you do Paris entirely and find a hotel in the centre? I guess it all depends on how desperate you are to see the Eiffel Tower AND Mickey Mouse.
If you are one of these Eiffel Tower people, planning a day trip to Disneyland can be a little bit of a nightmare. Do you get the RER, a taxi, a bus? Do you bring a picnic? Is it worth it? How far even is it?
Fear not, friends, I’m here to help. I’m here to give you a pretty definitive guide to day tripping Disneyland, when you’re based in the City of Light.
Disneyland will take an entire day out of your little Parisian trip. Think 8 ’til late. If you only have three days in Paris, want to see EVERYTHING the city has to offer, AND want to spend a full day taking Minnie Mouse eared selfies, you need to plan for that. While you can wake up and decide, ‘hey, we should do Disney today!’, it’s probably best to know before you go to bed the night before.
As with everything, it’s best to avoid weekends when booking your tickets, as the prices are raised (and allllll the children descend for a weekend at Disneyland). Similarly, avoid peak seasons, like a Saturday in the middle of August, unless you want to be queuing for years and years to get a seat on It’s A Small World.
I’d also recommend booking your tickets in advance. When you arrive at Disneyland, you have no idea how long the ticket queue is going to be so a simple print-out ticket will be your saving grace as you make your way straight through security and then straight through the ticket-check line. You’ve won at life. You can find a link to prices/ticket booking here. (An adult ticket is from age 12+)
Additionally, you might want to think about how many/which park you want to attend on your day out. We managed to hit both parks on a Friday, with a little time to spare, so don’t feel like two parks in one day is too much. My favourite ride is actually in the Studios park (Crush’s Coaster) and I’d be devastated to miss out on that on a day at Disney, then again I wouldn’t necessarily want to only visit the Studio park… Whichever park you visit is entirely down to you – however for the classic Disneyland photo and experience, you do need to enter the main Disneyland park.
Probably the best way of getting to the big DLP is by using the special Disneyland shuttle bus, leaving from a number of places around Paris first thing in the morning, and returning back to Paris for about 9pm the same evening. You can select this option when purchasing your tickets online. The coach takes about 35 minutes, complete with handy tour person to answer any questions, and free wifi on board!
Alternatively, the RER A, leaving from several stops around Paris (and linking to almost every metro/RER line) is a great way to get to the parks if a road trip just isn’t for you. The RER will cost about €8 each way, per person. From central Paris it takes about 40 mins to reach the stop ‘Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy’, from which the entrance to both parks are about a 3 minute walk. Super duper close. The RER is a residential commuter train, to and from Paris, and thus isn’t specifically intended as a Disney shuttle. The trains are not pink and shiny and happy – they’re just standard, shabby commuter trains. They do their job, and do it well. The RER also runs ’til late so you won’t miss the evening fireworks and parade! (But bear in mind that the metro shuts around midnight in Paris, depending on the day, and the park itself shuts at 20hr.)
In terms of other transport, there are a few public buses that will take you to Disneyland, however from what I can gather none of these are direct, or cheap. Taxi fares will vary, car to car, and an Uber will cost approximately €60 for a one way trip.
Okay, but what do I bring with me?
Whatever you want!
We managed a full day, including both parks, carrying absolutely everything in one bum bag. One! Inside we had both our paper tickets, a map of the parks, money, my flat keys, both phones, some paracetamol, a few tissues and our IDs and debit cards (just in case). In fact, we could have done without some of the items completely.
Ultimately the amount you bring is entirely up to you, however, I’d stay away from bringing any fancy bags or anything too large. While the rides, even the upside-downy ones, have bag storage areas under your feet, the last thing you want is anything falling out, getting lost, or someone having to stand guard alone while you hit the rides. Not fun.
Things I’d recommend staying away from in terms of packing include: umbrellas (just not useful, even if it rains), heeled shoes (obviously), laptops/ipads/anything you wouldn’t want to lose/break, excessive jewellery, etc. If you can, pack the bare minimum. I didn’t even bring a camera and relied entirely on my phone for photos. It took a whole weight of my mind, and I still got some absolutely lovely shots!
Should I bring food?
Again, up to you. We didn’t and I’m glad that we didn’t.
Officially, picnics aren’t allowed to be eaten in the main parks because of litter and space and capitalism, but there is a picnic area just outside the main park’s front door. It’s a little average and doesn’t have the fun of Disneyland but it serves its purpose.
Food within the parks are fantastically varied and generally reasonable in terms of price. I think they’ve figured out that they’re going to make money either way, so why go too crazy. That said, a picnic is probably still going to be cheaper. There are some restaurants where a meal will cost you an entire year’s wages, and others where a meal will cost you around €15. You can make your own choices. My preference is to just eat things like ice-cream and toffee-apples constantly throughout the day, and it works out pretty reasonably.
Something I wouldn’t recommend doing is eating in the Disney Village. Unless you want McDonalds or Starbucks, the dining in the village is extortionately expensive and average – not what you’d expect from the places not actually owned by Disney and outside the main parks. Here a burger alone will set you back around €17, at its cheapest (unless you go to Maccy’s) so it’s best to eat inside the parks if you want better value for money – and probably better quality. The village has the added ‘bonus’ of being horrendously run-down and a little bit pathetic. It really needs a lick of paint or something. Sad, bad times.
Some of my top tips for making the most of the day are:
- Make sure you keep hydrated. I got slightly sun-burnt (in April!) and some water wouldn’t have gone amiss. You can pick up bottles of water reasonably cheaply, or just fill up from any of the taps.
- Use your fastpass wisely – don’t waste your fastpass on a 30 minute wait (it’ll actually fly by) and then go and queue 70 minutes for a ride.
- Don’t spend too much on souvenirs. I bought some ears, wore them religiously, and that was enough for me. Quite a lot of the stuff they had on sale was complete rubbish and ridiculously expensive. Also, don’t buy anything too early in the day. You don’t want to be carrying it round.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I racked up 30,000 steps on our day at Disneyland and there’s no way I could have done it in any other shoes but my comfiest, fur-lined chelsea boots.
- Relax. Disney is funnnn! Don’t let the queues get to you. Don’t let screaming children get to you. Go on all of the rides and live your dream (because a dream is a wish your hearts makes).
- Don’t dismiss the more childish rides. ‘Its a small world’ is one of my absolute faves, as is the Peter Pan ride. That’s not to say that Big Thunder Mountain or Space Mountain aren’t absolutely amazing (with fab views of the Park, FYI) but honestly, the smaller rides are just magical!
Is there anything that you think I’ve missed?
What would you pack for a day at Disney?