Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 and was the first Disney Park in Europe. I was lucky enough to visit the park in 1992 and have returned several times since. Since you could write a whole book about Disneyland Paris I have just picked out some of my favourite bits and top tips from over the years that I have been there.
The Disneyland resort hotel is divided into two theme parks (the Disneyland Park/Magic Kingdom and the New Disney Studios, which opened last year). The resort features six hotels: The Disneyland Paris Hotel, Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Cheyenne, and Hotel Santa Fe and the Camp Davey Crockett Campsite.
The hotels cater to a range of budgets, from the Santa Fe (from £105 per adult for three nights, including park pass, accommodation, and breakfast) up to the Disneyland Paris Hotel (from £219 per adult for three nights, including park pass, accommodation, and breakfast). The closest hotel to the parks is the Disneyland Paris (located OVER the Magic Kingdom). The other hotels are between a 5- and 10-minute walk away, and all hotels operate a bus service from your hotel to the theme parks. NB, if staying at Camp Davey Crockett, you MUST have a car, as no Disney transport is provided and it's a good 10-minute drive away!
When staying at Disneyland Paris, I have stayed at the Newport Bay Club, Hotel New York, Disneyland Paris Hotel, and the Sequoia Lodge. All the Disney hotels are excellent, and rooms are of a very high standard, well-furnished and clean. Your main criteria for choosing a hotel will probably be price. My favourite hotel, however, is the Hotel New York (see additional entry) because of the theme, its location, and excellent rooms.
The theme parks:
As Disneyland Resort Paris so is big it could take hundreds of pages to describe everything in the two theme parks, I have highlighted some of my favourite rides and attractions in both parks, as well as places to eat and shop. Enjoy!!
Space Mountain (Discoveryland)
Loosely based on Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, Space Mountain is a wild roller coaster that has loop and turns. It's great fun and isn't as fast as it seems at first. The pre-attraction queuing area is long and deceptive, but the wait time displayed on the boards tend to be very accurate. In summer, the waiting area is hot and dark, so it's not recommended if you suffer from claustrophobia.
Honey I Shrunk the Audience: (Discoveryland)
A brilliant, fun 3D adventure that also allows you to sit down for 10 minutes! This adventure based upon the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids films starring Rick Moranis and is taken from the same ride at EPCOT in Walt Disney World in Florida. It will appeal to people of all ages, but some scenes (involving snakes and mice!) will be scary for younger children as well as some adults! Don't worry about language problems, as the show is shown both in French and English alternately, and non-languge-speaking guests are provided with head phones.
It's A Small World: (Fantasyland)
This is one of those rides that you either love or hate, and one thing is for certain--once you have ridden it, you never forget the theme song! It's a great ride for children, as you work your way slowly around the world and look at the animatronic child-like dolls dressed in native costume and representing the innocence of the world. The after-show area is worth spending 5 minutes in, having a look around.
If you have been to Disney MGM Studios in Florida, then you may at first be slightly disappointed by the size and number of rides at Walt Disney Studios. Take heart--most Disney theme parks start small and grow over the years!
Based on its Walt Disney World sister, this is a great ride that takes a sneak peak into the world of film and television production, hosted by Jeremy Irons. Without wishing to give too much away, wear some waterproof clothing if you sit on the LEFT-hand side of the shuttle vehicle.
Rock 'n' roller coaster starring Aerosmith:
FASTPASS (This is the only roller coaster in this park, so make sure that you ride it early in the morning to save queueing time.) This is a fantastic ride that goes from 0 to 60mph in less than three seconds! (It slows down VERY dramatically after that, though!) The pre-ride area is fantastic, as you enter the worlds of music-making with Aerosmith and dash off to catch their concert in a MASSIVE stretch limo! With over 100 speakers per vehicle, the musical effects are great, and this is a brilliant ride (but not one for straight after lunch because of the loops and turns!!).
Stunt Show Spectacular:
If you love cars, you will love this sit-down show, which is a brilliant mix of music and stunt car spectacular! It's high paced fun and suitable for all ages of the family. This show is on several times a day but make sure you get there at least 30 minutes prior to show time to ensure that you get a good seat!
Where to eat?
The food is pretty much the same here as in the other park (burgers, fries, etc.). You can always eat in one of the hotels at lunchtime, where food tends to be of a better standard than the parks or at the Disney Village, where Chef Mickey's is great fun. (Don't forget to keep your park ticket and have your hand stamped as you leave the park!)
Saving time in the parks:
Take advantage of early mornings in the parks, when Disney hotel guests will be allowed into the parks before outside visitors.
If you can stand the rain, stay in the park, as many guests will go home when it rains, meaning that the rides are quieter, with shorter queues! Rain wear is advisable, though, and you can always buy the yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos when it rains. A good tip if you have children is to buy a poncho and draw something else on it, as thousands of people will all have the same ponchos, which can make it hard to identify your child.
Another thing to remember is to always wear suitable clothing in the parks. If it's hot, drink plenty of water and use sun cream, and always wear very comfortable shoes.
Disney has also introduced Fastpass, which allows you to shorten the at time of rides. Just put your park ticket into the Fastpass machine, and you will received your Fastpass ticket, telling you what time to come back and ride the attraction with a much smaller wait.
Does it work?
Yes, it does reduce the waiting time, but you can only have one Fastpass at a time. With the most popular rides such as Space Mountain, all the Fastpass tickets for a whole day can be gone by lunchtime, so make sure you get a Fastpass ticket early in the morning.
Which rids does it work on:
Star Tours, Indian Jones, Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, Studio Tram Tour, Flying Carpets over Agrabah, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
A Disneyland Paris Holiday is not a particularly cheap holiday, but there are some ways that you can save money if staying 'in the heart of the magic':
Most tour operators quote prices including park pass, continental breakfast, and accommodation, meaning that you only need to buy lunch and dinner. (Breakfast in all the hotels is continental, but in the more expensive hotels, it's help-yourself!)
The Disneyland Paris's own tour operator tends to offer the best deal, and they have lot of special offers, including 1 night free and free child places if you are flexible as to hotel and dates of travelling.
There are lots of ways to get to Disneyland Paris, including Euro Tunnel and flying. I have only ever flown into Charles de Gaulle airport. The airport is located approximately 45 minutes from Disneyland Resort Paris, which can cost up to about £60 in a taxi. A cheaper alternative is to get the RER Disneyland Paris coach, which operates out of airport terminals. The transfer time is approx. 45 minutes to an hour, and it costs just over £10 per adult. It can be quite crowded during the daytime, so allow plenty of time for your return journey.
Ready to go?
The key to a Disney holiday is to be prepared: read as many books and articles as you can before you go. The whole resort is large and can be confusing, so it's good to have a rough idea of what is there before you arrive. Don't try and stick to schedule, however, as you need to remember that you are there to have fun!!