If you're planning a trip to Disneyland Paris, you've come to the right place! In our Disneyland Paris guide, we cover everything from flights to hotels to riding all the best rides. Combining all our Disneyland Paris content in one place would have been a bit unwieldy, so we've broken it up into useful topics, and we link to those posts with some supplemental content here. If you have any questions, let us know and we'll try to answer or find someone who can!
In the rest of this guide, we'll cover:
Disneyland Paris Guide - The Basics
Disneyland Paris comprises four parts:
The castle theme park, Disneyland Park or Parc Disneyland
A second park, Walt Disney Studios Park
Disney Village, a small shopping / restaurant area akin to Downtown Disney or Disney Springs
The hotel area, home to six Disney hotels; a seventh hotel, Disney's Davy Crockett's Ranch, is located slightly farther from property; a new eighth hotel, Villages Nature Paris, is also located farther from the parks
Adjacent to Disneyland Paris is the Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy train station, which provides access to central Paris (about 45 minutes by train) and Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport ("CDG") (10 minutes by train).
Besides Davy Crockett's Ranch and Villages Nature Paris, the Disney hotels are all 5 - 15 minutes walking time from Disney Village which is in turn adjacent to the parks. Disneyland Hotel is at the gate to Disneyland Park and overlooks the park.
Overview of The Parks of Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Park is a traditional castle park. It is one of our favorite castle parks because of its quality attractions, attention to detail, and an unmatched version of Sleeping Beauty Castle: Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.
Walt Disney Studios Park is essentially a smaller version of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Besides a few good attractions, Walt Disney Studios Park is not noteworthy. It requires minimal planning and absolutely no time to "experience" the park outside of the attractions.
We try to be clear what we are talking about, and in most situations use "Disneyland Park" to refer to the castle park when there is any chance for confusion.
Disneyland Paris Guide - Should You Visit
There are four international Disney destinations, each with their own energies, in addition to the two American destinations with parks, three American resorts, and Disney Cruise Line. So, should you visit Disneyland Paris?
Should You Visit (Short Version)
If you've visited both American park resorts (Walt Disney World and Disneyland), it's time to consider Disneyland Paris. There are a host of reasons you might visit Disneyland Paris before making it to one of the American destinations, but if you're open to suggestions, we think covering both American resorts before visiting Disneyland Paris is sensible.
Flights to Europe are more reasonably priced than ever, and Disneyland Paris is the most convenient international Disney experience for an American.
But Really, “What's It Like?”
This is sort of the question we think most Disney fans want to ask. "What's it like?" "Is it real Disney?"
First, yes, it is real Disney. In fact, every international Disney resort is real Disney, and we recommend them all in general (but we'd advise waiting on Hong Kong due to ongoing updates). It is different, but it is very much Disney.
So, what is it like? As a resort, it's sort of a hybrid of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It's small, having only two parks like Disneyland. But it's in a bubble, with a decent number of hotels, like Walt Disney World (though, with limited exceptions, you can walk everywhere).
Besides unique attractions (covered below), it's a little tough to put into words what makes Disneyland Paris different. You'll just have to trust us that Disneyland Paris is absolutely beautiful.
Outside of Tokyo DisneySea, this is the best physically structured park Disney has built. Very little ever seems out of place, and the resort offers amazing lines of sight. Disneyland Paris uses its space better than any other Disney castle park.
The Downside of Disneyland Paris
As we recently tweeted, Disneyland Paris really makes you love it...before squandering that love over something meaningless. This concept has played itself out in commentator after commentator, but Disneyland Paris is a stunning destination that just fails in the strangest, most fundamental ways. Like when we waited an hour to check into our hotel.
You'll sit and marvel at a view, say the view from the Queen of Hearts' Castle, and then spend 30 minutes in line for an awful cardboard box of undercooked pasta. You'll get lost and fall in love at Adventure Isle and then rudely be shouted at that Fantasyland is closed and you need to go to the front of the park to make your way anywhere else.
Disneyland Paris never ceases to amaze, but it never ceases to disappoint. The disappointments are somewhat cultural, Europeans have a different concept of customer service than Americans, but they're also somewhat operational. No one should wait an hour to check into a hotel in any country.
If you're not really into theme parks for the sake of theme, you might naturally wonder what unique attractions Disneyland Paris offers. Our Disneyland Paris rides guide covers all the rides at Disneyland Paris, from their Space Mountain to a unique Crush coaster, but here's a quick overview of what you're missing if you sit this one out:
Alice's Curious Labyrinth is a hedge maze with a small castle and great views at the end; it is also featured (without the castle) at Shanghai Disneyland
Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is the castle of Disneyland Park, and it is our favorite Disney castle in the world. It houses a dragon underneath, one of the best animatronics in the world (maybe THE best, until Joe gets the yeti moving again)
Adventure Isle - An exploration island with dark caverns and hidden gems
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Peril - A short roller coaster ride, usually with no wait times
Crush's Coaster - A Finding Nemo themed coaster, very fun
Ratatouille: The Adventure - A trackless adventure through the world of Ratatouille, coming soon to Epcot
Phantom Manor - Fine—it is “just” a version of Haunted Mansion, but it is a good one with a unique place in its land
That list really supports our point above. No, Disneyland Paris is not better than Walt Disney World or Disneyland. But it is different enough to warrant a visit.
Disneyland Paris Guide - When To Visit
In choosing when to visit Disneyland Paris, you'll likely want to balance crowds, events, prices, and weather.
Disneyland Paris Crowd Calendars & Peak Pricing
We don't think you need to choose when to visit Disneyland Paris based on crowd levels. You'll be able to see everything in 2 to 3 days regardless of crowd level. Our one-day Disneyland Paris itinerary covers most of the major attractions.
There aren't any good Disneyland Paris crowd calendars out there, but Disneyland Paris provides a calendar of "peak" times for one of their special booking offers that may be useful, This calendar should also be helpful for identifying the time when prices are best. Flight prices are likely to vary along the same trend as hotel prices.
One Disneyland Paris crowd calendar to consider is over at "queue times." Honestly, we feel more strongly against Disneyland Paris crowd calendars than other Disney crowd calendars. The resort is frequented by visitors from all over Europe, and their holiday timings will vary. It's also a local park for Paris, which means crowds will vary with the weather.
If you're an American, you're probably best to visit during holiday weekends other than Christmas and New Years. Labor Day and July Fourth aren't celebrated in Paris, so crowd levels won't be outsized.
Events at Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris celebrates Halloween (approximately in October) and Christmas (approximately in November and December). Additionally, they recently concluded their 25th Anniversary celebration.
Disneyland Paris also has other events throughout the year that you may want to consider visiting. These include things like Disney FanDaze, Marvel Summer of Superheroes, and Season of the Force: Star Wars in Disneyland Paris.
We were pleasantly surprised to find Disneyland Paris's food and wine festival, Le Rendez-vous Gourmand de Disneyland, going on during our visit. This event takes place during August and September, so look into it if you're considering a trip during that time!
Weather at Disneyland Paris
Paris experiences four seasons according to roughly the same pattern and schedule as most of the United States, though snow is not especially common in the winter. A few rides may close due to snow, ice, and freezing on some days in the winter. For this reason, you may wish to avoid December through February.
How Long to Visit Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris, including both parks and the hotels, can be seen in two days, but we recommend two nights and three days for fans to fully experience Disneyland Paris. This was how long we spent our first visit, and we left feeling fully satisfied without being bored. In that time, you could also fit in a table service meal (or two) or a Disneyland Paris hotel bar crawl.
Here's a sample two-night itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrive, check-in. Visit Disneyland Park.
Day 2 - Visit Walt Disney Studios Park in the morning, Disneyland Park in the afternoon.
Day 3 - Visit Disneyland Park, depart late to Paris or CDG airport.
Disneyland Paris Guide - Getting There
For outside Europe, and from many locations within Europe, your best option for getting to Disneyland Paris is to fly. Since it is only a 10-minute train ride from Paris's CDG airport, Disneyland Paris is conveniently accessible by airplane. If you're visiting Paris additionally (which you should), plan for 45 minutes to an hour to travel between Disneyland Paris and central Paris.
Booking Your Flights to Disneyland Paris
Most major airports in the United States fly non-stop to Paris's CDG airport. From Chicago O'Hare, the flight time is just over 8 hours, with a typical flight departing at 6:20PM and arriving at 9:10AM. In the reverse direction, flights tend to leave mid-day and arrive mid-day (due to the time change). Given this, we would put Disneyland Paris at the end of our trip and spend the night before our flight home at an airport hotel.
Round-trip flights to Paris can often be found in the sub-$500 range, but these will often have connections. Unless you have other significant international travel planned, we'd suggest trying to fly to Disneyland Paris using points.
|Suggested Reading: Check out our Guide Booking Cheap Flights Like a Travel Hacker|
Taking the Train to Disneyland Paris
From some locations within Europe (particularly Paris and CDG airport) your best option for reaching Disneyland Paris is going to be by train directly to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station. A public trail, the RER A, runs regularly from Paris to Disneyland Paris.
Starting or Ending Your Disneyland Paris Trip With An Airport Hotel
Because Disneyland Paris is close to Paris's CDG airport, and both are a bit far from Paris's city center, you'll want to time Disneyland Paris to be the start or end of your trip to Paris (usually dependent on flight times), and you're going to want to consider staying at an airport hotel, like we mentioned above.
Disneyland Paris hotels can be quite expensive, and it will may not make sense to stay at one of them just to wake up early and head to the airport. Likewise, you don't need to go to Disneyland Paris as soon as your flight arrives if you won't have time for the parks. We’ve stayed at both the ibis CDG and the Novotel, and we found them both satisfactory.
Booking Your Disneyland Paris Stay
We have a full post on booking your Disneyland Paris stay, but the basics are this:
Booking a package through Disney will usually be cheaper than booking your hotel and tickets separately, except for Disneyland Hotel (obviously an annual pass will impact this)
Plan to do the parks one more day than your nights at the hotel (see the airport hotel discussion, above)
Check the different Disneyland Paris sites to get the best price
It's really crucial that you review all the different options for booking your Disneyland Paris stay, as choosing the right strategy can save you hundreds of dollars.
We chose Disney's Sequoia Lodge for our first Disneyland Paris stay and found it okay. It's nowhere near the other Disney "lodge" experiences, but those into pacific northwest theming should find some comfort in the design.
For our second trip, we stayed at Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne and loved it. Despite it being a "lower" tier than Sequoia, we found the room to be better. The walk to the park was only five minutes longer, and we booked a discounted four-night, five-day package for just over $1000.
Disneyland Paris Guide - Food & Drink
Disneyland Paris's food is mostly known for one thing: not being very good. While there are a few notable dining experiences, there aren't world class restaurants like you find in Walt Disney World.
Disneyland Paris has a total of 68 dining options. There are 28 options at Disneyland Park, 5 at Walt Disney Studios Park, 17 in Disney Village, and 18 at the hotels. Most of those are quick service, but 22 accept reservations. 19 of those accept reservations online.
Before we get to some notable restaurants, here are some things to know about dining at Disneyland Paris. First, quick service lines get very long around lunch (12PM to 2PM) and dinner (6PM to 8PM). This is a notorious problem at Disneyland Paris, and you can wait 30 minutes sometimes.
Second, you're expected to order a combo (called a "menu"), but a la carte is usually available. To order a la carte, just say "no menu" or "only [item]."
Third, tip is usually not included at Disneyland Paris. We haven't eaten at every restaurant, so we can't be sure whether any of them, especially higher end restaurants like Walt's, include them. Tipping is not customary in France, but a 10-15% service charge is often included. We typically tip to 10-15% when service is not included.
Now, here are some notable Disneyland Paris restaurants, along with links to reviews:
Walt's - An American Restaurant - This is the premier restaurant at Disneyland Paris. The review we linked to is by Tom Bricker, brilliant Disney and food mind, and he says Walt's is even better than Club 33. We haven't dined there (not for lack of desire), but it's high on our list. Reservations recommended.
Agrabah Cafe - We were happy to get to try Agrabah Cafe on our most recent visit and really enjoyed it. The design inside is quite good and very similar to Epcot's Morocco Pavilion. The food likely here won't blow you away, but it is a different style of cuisine than you'll find in most of the resort. Reservations recommended.
Captain Jack's - Fine restaurant, but you're really there for the fun of sitting next to Pirates of the Caribbean. Ride-side restaurants are a novelty we never get bored of. We ate here and very much enjoyed it. We will probably return. Reservations recommended.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show With Mickey & Friends - Buffalo Bill's is a flagship experience at Disneyland Paris. This is a "wild west" show with dinner. Think of it sort of like Medieval Times, but wild west themed. We haven't done it, but it's on our bucket list. Ticketed Event / Reservations Required.
Bistrot Chez Remy - Bistrot Chez Remy is easily the best restaurant over at Walt Disney Studios park. As one of the newest restaurants in Disneyland Paris, it also has some of the best design and theming.
If you're vegetarian, we have a guide to vegetarian food at Disneyland Paris.
As for bars, Disneyland Paris has plenty of those, too. They're even pretty decent. We're mostly fans of the hotel bars, and we've written a guide to the hotel bars of Disneyland Paris, included how to crawl them.
Disneyland PAris Guide - Required Reading
We have five other posts we recommend you read in preparation for your visit to Disneyland Paris. We'll quickly summarize and link to each.
Our Disneyland Park Rides / Attractions Guide is a list of all the rides and attractions at Disneyland Park. Use this guide to get acquainted with the rides and to figure out which ones you definitely have to try and which ones you want to skip. We also have a guide to the rides at Walt Disney Studios Park.
As with all Disney parks, you’ll find character meet and greets, though we don’t talk extensively about those.
No Disney trip is perfectly planned without Fastpass. Our Guide to Fastpass at Disneyland Paris covers what rides have Fastpass and which ones you should target.
You need at least one full day at Disneyland Park. With our one-day Disneyland Park Itinerary, you're sure to get the most out of a single day.
Every international Disney destination has its quirks. Don't fall victim to culture shock, read our guide to Language, Money, and Culture at Disneyland Paris.
Additionally, our Disneyland Park review may help you set expectations. We don't have a review of Walt Disney Studios Park. Truthfully, at this time you don't need more than half a day or one day (max) to experience Walt Disney Studios Park.
Visiting Paris as Part of Your Disneyland Paris Trip
We won't tell you how long to visit Paris, because no matter what we say many people will say it's too long and many will say it's too short. Even the two of us are split on the issue.
What you should know is that combining Paris with Disneyland Paris is very easy because of Disneyland Paris's proximity to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy train station. It's only a 45-minute ride into Paris. Because we think Disneyland Paris requires two days to experience, and because we think the hotels are worth experiencing, we suggest at least one night on Disney property, but we also recommend visiting Paris as well.