France: 10 Ways To Maximise Your Time at Disneyland Paris

Having just returned from a magical 5 day trip to Disneyland Paris we are already planning our return. Mr ESLT and I have visited before, before kids, which was great, especially as it was a celebratory trip for my 30th birthday. However, having the children with us made the trip magnificent. To see the magic through the eyes of an 8 and 4-year-old is something to behold. Therefore, we did everything in our power to ensure that we did not miss a second of fun and excitement, especially as we visited during the Easter holidays, meaning the parks were super busy. Some people draw out detailed itineraries however knowing our children, that simply would not have been possible. Therefore we simply put into place some easy things to ensure we saw and did as much as possible during our time there. We hope they assist you when planning your magical adventure and help you maximise your time at Disneyland Paris.

Download The Disneyland Paris App

One of the first things we did once we had booked our trip was to download the Disneyland Paris App. This app is invaluable. It allows you to do many things like book restaurants two months in advance and check the queue times at each ride. Therefore, we made all our dining reservations in advance of our trip meaning we did not have to trawl around suitable places to eat. We simply filtered by the cuisine on offer and the cost and booked the most appropriate (including character dining – which is an absolute must!). Once at the park we could see which rides were busy and when as the app provides real-time information. We could then head to the quieter rides coming back to the busier rides later.

Take Advantage of Extra Magic Hours

If you are staying in a Disney hotel or Disney partner hotel you can access both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park one hour earlier at the beginning of each day of your stay before the general public. If you want to maximise your time at Disneyland Paris then you must take advantage of these. This is your opportunity to ride the big and most popular rides before the queues become too long. Also if you are a fan of Disney Princesses or with someone who is, we recommend using your extra Magic Hour to get in the queue for the Princess Pavillion to ensure you are near the front of the queue when it opens at 10 am. If not, you could be waiting more than two hours.

Consider Disney Premier Access

If there are particular rides that you wish to go on but the queues are simply too long to even contemplate waiting in – we saw queues over two hours for some of the biggies – then you may want to consider Disney Premier Access. It is a ticket that grants you access to the fast lane, therefore, bypassing the standard queue. Disney Premier Access is roughly €5 per person per ride. However, this can be more during weekends and French school holidays. We saw some rides priced at €9 per person during our stay. If you want to maximise your time at Disneyland Paris and have the cash to splash, you should certainly consider Disney Premier Access even if just for a ride or two.

Single Rider Lanes

If you are not bothered about sitting with the rest of the people in your travelling party or like us have small children who cannot go on certain rides but you still want to, then look for Single Rider Lanes. Single riders simply fill-up the spare seats on the ride ensuring that the ride operates at full capacity. This is also a great time saver, especially on some of the bigger rides. If you are adamant that you must ride with your party, you will have to join the regular queue and simply wait your turn which could take a long time. Heading to the Single Rider Lane could cut this time considerably, often in half. Therefore, you have more time to go on other rides, see shows, soak up the magic etc.

Enjoy Rides During The Parade

One of the best things to see at Disneyland Paris is the daily parade. It is usually held around 5.00 pm/5.30 pm. It is magical. Be sure to secure a spot early otherwise you run the risk of not being able to see. If you are staying more than one day a great way to maximise your time at Disneyland Paris is to watch the parade on your first day and then during the parade on other days, use the time to hit the rides as queues will be shorter. We used the time one day to ride all the rides that we had been unable to do in Fantasyland in Disneyland Park. On another day we headed to Walt Disney Studios Park. It was considerably quieter and allowed us to walk straight onto some rides without queueing at all.

Take Water and Snacks

I’m not talking about replacing some of the great dining options available (again I repeat for the people at the back – character dining), I’m talking about quick snacks on the go. Barring the odd Mickey-shaped item, because when in Rome, right?. And if you are travelling with children you will know you need plenty off throughout the day. Some of the queues for the snack carts/stalls throughout both parks were quite long when we visited. With one person serving, we were queuing often more than 20 minutes for something as basic as a Coke. Also, the water fountains are currently out of action due to COVID. Therefore, if you want to save a few minutes here and there, take water and snacks with you.

Pre-Order Food For Collection

Unless you have a meal plan which includes a sit-down meal at one of the many restaurants at Disneyland Paris, why not opt for food on the go. As mentioned before waiting in queues for food can eat into your precious time. This applies to the cafes and restaurants too. You can use the Disneyland Paris app to search for outlets that allow you to pre-order your food. You can then pick it up at a specified time. Currently, there are only two – Casey’s Corner and Cafe Hyperion, both located in Disneyland Park. Ok, there isn’t a great variety but if you are looking to maximise your time at Disneyland Paris and also don’t fancy standing in long queues, pre-ordering for pick up is a great idea.

Take A Dinner Time Nap

Now, this might sound crazy when you are trying to maximise your time at Disneyland Paris, but please hear me out. This is especially important if you are travelling with children. During the late Spring/Summer months at Disneyland Paris, the evening illuminations start at 11.00 pm. We tried our hardest to keep the kids awake until that time for the first three nights of our four-night stay and failed miserably. However, like the daily parade (currently Disney Stars on Parade), the illuminations are a must. We would have kicked ourselves for years to come if we had not seen them. Therefore a quick 2 – 3 hour power nap after an early dinner ensured the kids had enough energy to see them.

Pack For All Weathers

We always check the weather forecast before we pack to ensure we have appropriate clothing. Disneyland Paris was no exception. However, what we experienced was not what was expected. We had every type of weather possible, from torrential rain and snowstorms to blistering heat and sunshine. Luckily for us, I had packed for all weathers just in case. I’m glad I did. Having clothes suitable for a range of different weather scenarios meant it did not stop us from doing anything. We wore our waterproofs during the rain, our big coats during the snow and our shorts and t-shirts when it was warm. Therefore, ensuring we made the most of our time without having to find respite from the elements.

Check If You Are Eligible for A Disability Pass

Disneyland Paris offers Disability Passes. Guests with disabilities or a Long Term Chronic Disease can request a Priority Card or Easy Access Card. Your disability or chronic disease must be on their list, otherwise, you will not be entitled to one. You must also provide relevant documentation (i.e. medical certificate) to support your application. You can apply for your pass one month before your visit. Your pass will then allow you to bypass the main queues and head to a designated queue for pass holders. These queues are a lot shorter and ensure that you do not have to wait a long time to go on rides or watch shows. There is also a designated area to watch the parade for pass holders.

And If Possible…

Opt For A Private Transfer From The Airport

If your budget allows then consider a private transfer from the airport. We paid £150 return for 5 of us. This will save you a lot of time as it will be there ready for you when you land. Therefore, you will not have to wait around for a train or bus transfer which eats into your precious time at the parks.

Stay As Close To The Parks As Possible

We stayed at Newport Bay Club which is located on the Disneyland Paris site and is a mere 10-minute walk to the parks. Therefore, we did not need to use the shuttle buses which saved a lot of time. Of course, staying on-site costs more than off-site, so again this is only an option if your budget allows.

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By Harriet