Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Disneyland Paris Tips Part 1

Yes, we're those people.  Those people who go to France - Paris, no less - and choose to spend our time at an American theme park.  Look down your nose if you will, but we love Disney parks all over the world, and we're not ashamed.

If you're like many people, you have trouble remembering the difference between Disneyland (the original in California) and DisneyWorld (the Florida one).  So you may not be aware that there are actually parks in three other countries as well.  In fact, there are eleven total Disney theme parks and that's not counting the water parks in Orlando.  France has two parks (Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios), Japan has two (Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea), and China has one (Hong Kong Disneyland) with a 12th park due to open in ShangHai soon.

Josh and I visited Tokyo Disneyland for the first time on an off day during a Let's Start Talking mission project in 1997.
In 2002 we took Kinley to Tokyo DisneySea.

Our first visit to Disneyland Paris was with my sister and her family in 2007.

We've visited Hong Kong Disneyland twice, once in 2010 (this picture) and once in 2008.

Josh and I have been to all of them, which I guess makes us certifiable Disney fanatics.  So passing up an opportunity to go back to Disneyland Paris while we were just across the English Channel for the summer wasn't an option.

I had lurked on some Disney chat boards about the Paris park to find out if there had been any changes since the last time we were there in 2011.  I learned that a new Ratatouille-themed area has been added, but I also learned something far more valuable.

Tip #1  Check foreign Disney websites for Disneyland Paris packages.  Rates for Disneyland Paris Resort packages vary WIDELY from country to country.  That means that booking your package on the UK site gets you a different price than the French site or even the Irish site.  And by different, I mean by $1000 when you count price difference, free meals options, and exchange rates.  We ended up getting  four nights at a mid-level hotel on Disney property (Sequoia Lodge), park hopper passes for five days, continental breakfast every day, four other meals, and snacks every day for €1700.

It doesn't even matter that you don't live in the country you're booking through!  You put in your own actual address when prompted, but just leave the country box as the country you're booking through.  (For example, we booked through the Irish site, so we entered our U.S. address with Ireland as the country.). Tickets and details are delivered electronically, so it doesn't matter at all!  And just like the people on the chat board had reported, no one said one word about our lack of an Irish brogue when we checked in!

Of course, if the French site has the cheapest deals at the time you want to go, you're either going to need a French-speaking friend to help you navigate the site or simply use Google Translate.  But the savings can definitely make it worth the trouble.

From St. Pancras Station, we took the Eurostar through the Chunnel (the cleverly named tunnel under the English Channel, get it?!) to Lille, France.  From there we changed to another train that took us directly to the station at Disneyland Paris, and then we took the shuttle to our hotel.

The next day, we got up in time to have breakfast and get to the park in time for Extra Magic Hours (time that only guests staying at park hotels are allowed to enter the park) by 8:00.  We wanted to head straight for the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride, so we used a route that is only available at the Disneyland Paris park to avoid the crowds on Main Street USA - the arcade.
At the far right and the far left of Main Street USA are two almost-empty covered walkways called arcades that allow you to beat the crowds to either Adventureland or Discoveryland.

Tip #2  Use the arcades to avoid crowds.  Even if you want to get your family picture in front of the castle, I'd still recommend avoiding Main Street.  Use the arcades and then make your way to the castle for pictures.
Gas lights illuminate the nearly deserted arcade.

Using the arcades allowed us to get to the castle quickly to get this shot with few other guests in it.
In my next post, I'll have tips about meeting characters, rides and attractions unique to Paris, and more.  Be sure to check back, or, even better, enter your email over on the right to subscribe to my blog!


  1. Visiting all the parks has been a lot of fun. It's all Disney, of course, but each location has its own variations. I think my current favorite is Hong Kong, despite the fact that it sometimes closes for typhoons (which we discovered firsthand in 2008).

  2. That is great! I remember you gave us so many great tips before, like stock piling fast passes! I am curious what your thoughts are on the new fast pass system and any tips for this:)

    1. Oh, Mandy! It is so good to hear from you! To be honest, we haven't been to DisneyWorld since the new Magic Bands began, but we DID have a long conversation with a DisneyLand Paris cast member about the change. This guy had worked in the Orlando parks and is now working in Paris. He called the Paris system the "Legacy Fast Pass" system because it's still the same as the old Orlando system where you can technically stockpile passes. We all agreed that the Legacy System in better. For example, we were able to do 22 rides and attractions on our first day in Disneyland Paris this trip, and the park was only open 8:00am-11:00pm. I don't think the new reservation Fast Pass system would allow for that (though, clearly, I haven't tried and anyone who has is welcome to comment).