As a Florida girl born & raised, Disney World has been an integral part of my life. Until I left for college, I can’t remember a summer we didn’t take a trip to one park or another. Even after I left for college, I would still try to make a trip to the happiest place on earth over a summer or winter break.
When we lived in Las Vegas, I always wanted to head to Disneyland in California but sadly, we ran out of time before we had a chance to make the trip. When we moved here, I didn’t want to make that same mistake with Disneyland Paris so we decided to knock it out our first year out here!
It is a small park but we really had a great time. Most of the rides are ones you will recognize from your whole life – A Small World, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Snow White…. but they are just as enjoyable.
In fact, I think the Small World and Buzz Lightyear rides were better in Paris than their originals!
We went into the park a little bit blind but here are some of the top things I think you should know before planning your own!
What to know for Disneyland Paris
There’s an App for that!
There is an awesome Disneyland app that you must get. It’s free and shows you where you are in the park as well as wait times for every ride! This way you can plan out your day and decide which Fast Pass to get first!
The military discount in Paris is better than the one in the states if you can believe that. You have to buy your tickets at the gate to get this discount but it is definitely worth waiting in line. The cost for a 2-day 2-park pass (you can go to BOTH parks on BOTH days) is less than a 1-day 1-park pass without the discount so it truly is a great deal. You can do a 3-day 2-park pass as well but I would only get that if you plan on doing half days and then heading back to your hotel to lounge at the pool!
Fast Pass’ do not cost extra
Some parks have started to charge extra if you want the ability to get a Fast Pass but not Disneyland Paris. They do have a time limit on how long until you can get a second fast pass but it worked out really well for us and we were able to ride everything we wanted.
The Park is SMALL
It may look like the same size as Disneyworld on the map, but from Sleeping Beauty’s Castle you can see all the different “lands” of the park and you can get from one side to the other in 5-10 minutes if you hustle. This is key for planning your Fast Pass use but also to give you some perspective because you can really do a lot.
There are TWO Parks
There is actually Disneyland and Disney Studios – so think Magic Kingdom and MGM. Disney Studios has their own Tower of Terror and Aerosmith Coaster that are the same as Orlando. Disney Studios is even smaller than Disneyland though and we were completely done with all the rides we wanted AND a show in 3 hours. You could easily do both parks in one day if you wanted, as long as you prioritized which rides are most important.
They have a Disney Village (Similar to Downtown Disney)
Outside of both parks they have a wide selection of restaurants and food options. Most people choose to leave the park to eat in Disney Village and then head back into the parks to finish their days. The food here is pretty darn expensive (Disney + Paris = makes sense…) and it’s not really the best so make sure to look up several spots and their reviews if it means a lot to you. You can also bring your own food and drinks into the park so if you would rather skip it altogether there is not issue in that!
It is worth it get there first thing
The rides open officially at 10am but we got there at 940 and by 945 we were in line to go on the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster and be done by 1005. We similarly had no wait time for the Tower of Terror or the Studio ride. We knocked out 4 rides and a show by 1! If you only have 1 day, get there FIRST THING and plan out your MUST-SEEs and you should have an easy time getting it all done before 8pm when things start closing.
It’s in French
The entire Star Wars 3D simulator ride was in French. C3PO just talking away at me in French. Same thing with Buzz Lightyear and anything else automated. It takes away a little bit of the experience but not enough to make you bummed out. Just beware. Some of the shows are in French and English or like 1/2 French 1/2 English which is strange but it still lets you be involved a bit.
Stay at a Disney Associated Resort
Some of the Disney Resorts are $$$ but others are much more reasonable and they have a shuttle that takes you to and from the park — way easier than figuring out parking in French or the ACTUAL bus system because if you miss the bus you could be waiting a while but the shuttle comes every 15 minutes. On the first day at the park I got really sick from the 3D ride (I always get pretty messed up on these and didn’t realize what we were on until it was too late) so we were able to catch a shuttle back to the room for a 2 hour nap before heading back to ride a few more rides and catch the Castle Illumination show which brings me to…
The Castle Illumination show is the BEST
Seriously, this was the best closing Disney show I have ever seen. The way they projected the show onto the castle completely transformed it each time against the dark sky. The songs were awesome and the videos were updated – even featuring scenes from the new live action Beauty and the Beast. Throughout the show as well as at the end, in true Disney fashion there were fireworks but this show was so much more than that. It was pretty much the perfect collection of all childhood nostalgia and the perfect way to end a day at Disney.
We had a great time and I know you will too!
Have more tips? Comment below!