Things to Think About When Planning Your Disneyland Paris Holiday | #ThisGirlEats

When it comes to planning a trip to Disneyland Paris there is a lot to think about!

We all want different things from our holiday, and it can be tough to make some of those key decisions. Do you want a resort hotel or budget accommodation? How many days should you book? Where should you eat and how much will it cost? Should you travel by plane, train or car? When is the best time to go?

I’ve tried to go over some of the most important things to think about before you go on holiday to Disneyland Paris. What are the big questions you ask before you visit the Disney parks? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Hotels

The hotels in Disneyland Paris aren’t really “resorts”, not in the same sense as those in Orlando’s Disney World. They’re much smaller and you won’t find anything that stands up to the likes of Art of Animation or Animal Kingdom Lodge when booking your visit to Disneyland Paris.

But there are still benefits of staying in an on-site Disney hotel, such as:

  • Most of them are within walking distance of the park
  • Extra Magic Time is included with your stay
  • Souvenirs bought in the parks can be sent straight to your hotel room
  • You have access to meal plans
  • You can share your breakfast with Disney characters in many of the hotel restaurants

All these extra touches give your trip that special sprinkle of magic and if they’re important to you then, of course, think about staying on-site.

Silver, gold and blue Tinkerbell statue in the Magic Kingdom just before you reach Sleeping Beauty's castle
Tinkerbell statue in the Magic Kingdom

But the Disney hotels themselves don’t really bring much to the table. If you’re not fussed about getting into the park an hour early, are happy to jump on a shuttle bus or drive to the parks and don’t mind carrying your souvenirs around with you, then I’d definitely recommend looking into partner hotels.

There’s a whole strip of Disney partner hotels just outside the resort area, all with their own themes and free shuttle buses to the parks, which are usually cheaper than even the budget on-site resorts.

If you’re driving then you could even venture a little further afield. You can find plenty of decent hotels – some of which are even Disney themed! – around 15 minutes in the car from the parks. These ones in particular are much better value for money.

It depends what you want from your holiday. If you’re desperate for a fuss-free stay then look into the Disney resorts but if you’d rather save some pennies it’s definitely worth searching for off-site deals.

The Length of Your Holiday

When us Brits plan for a stateside visit to Disney World we’d set aside around two weeks because there’s just SO MUCH to do. But with Disneyland Paris, prepare for a much shorter stay.

There are only two parks in Disneyland Paris. The Disneyland Park, where you’ll find Sleeping Beauty’s castle and classic attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight and Big Thunder Mountain, and Walt Disney Studios Park, a Hollywood backlot featuring the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Toy Story Playland. This is compared to the four parks and two water parks in Orlando, plus Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure right next door.

Obviously if you’re coming in from outside of Europe you might want to spend a little longer here just to make the travelling worthwhile. But, in all honesty, one day in each park will cover an awful lot of ground.

Give yourself a long weekend and a multi-day ticket and you’ll have two days in each park, strolling between the two as you please. I promise you’ll have plenty of time to check out all the rides and attractions, browse the (limited!) range of shops in Disney Village and squeeze in regular mealtimes too.

The Food 

Speaking of mealtimes, let’s move onto the food. Disneyland Paris is an amazing, immersive, magical holiday – but a great culinary experience, it is not.

It’s a real shame that Disneyland Paris has such a long way to go when it comes to providing visitors with exciting food and drink. The food inside the parks is limited, expensive and poor quality. Our own experiences when it comes to eating in the parks isn’t great; it certainly wasn’t good value for money, put it that way.

The restaurants in Disney Village are a little better. You’ve got more choice, from Planet Hollywood to Café Mickey, Annette’s Diner and the Rainforest Cafe, but they don’t come cheap and, truthfully, they still don’t guarantee the above-and-beyond dining experience we expect from Disney.

'Mojo Bones' from Disneyland's Rainforest Cafe - caramelised pork ribs with BBQ sauce, fries, coleslaw and salad.
‘Mojo Bones’ from Disneyland’s Rainforest Cafe – caramelised pork ribs with BBQ sauce, fries, coleslaw and salad

You can bring food into the park for much more budget-friendly snacks during the day. Plus, it means you don’t have to set aside so much time to eat. We usually dig into our snacks while waiting in ride queues to kill some time! Most of the hotels, both on-site and partner, also have restaurants where you can fill up on breakfast (if it’s included) or feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner.

Bottom line, if you’re going with small children who need a break and convenience is worth a few extra quid, research the food options in the park. But if you’d rather smash out as many rides and attractions as possible, are happy to snack on-the-go and want to keep your visit as cheap as possible, bring your own food.

The Travel

Obviously travelling to Disneyland Paris depends on where you’re coming from, but let’s focus on the different travel options from the UK for now.

The quickest way for most people to get to Disneyland Paris is by plane. You can fly to Charles De Gaulle from most major UK airports and there are plenty of comparison websites out there to help you find the best prices. However, you do have to consider getting from Charles De Gaulle to Disneyland Paris, which is a 45 – 60 minute drive or around 50 minutes via public transport.

You can also get the Eurostar, which is SUPER easy if you live in southern England. It’s really quick, minimal fuss and takes you right up to the park. Eurostar tickets can be pricey so watch out for that – but you can just get the Eurostar into Paris and change over to a domestic train, which is cheaper. The only problem with the Eurostar is it’s only reeeeally practical if you live close to the train.

My favourite way to get to Disneyland Paris is to drive. It’s the best way to travel on a budget, especially if you’re splitting everything between a full car. It also has no luggage weight restrictions or rules on bringing food and drink, things you’d have to consider otherwise. The Eurotunnel only takes 35 minutes and the drive from Calais to Disneyland Paris takes around three hours. However, like the Eurostar, you need to live kinda close to the Eurotunnel to make this a realistic option.

You can also catch ferries to France from several destinations including Dover, Portsmouth, Newhaven, Liverpool – but be careful, some crossings can take up to 23 hours!

The things you really need to consider when planning your travel for Disneyland Paris are convenience, time and budget. Flights are convenient, so is the Eurostar (if you’re close enough!) but driving can be a real money saver if it works in your favour.

The Weather

If you rely on good weather to enjoy your day, you really need to think about this before visiting Disneyland Paris.

In Paris, much like the UK, the weather can be very hit and miss. From November to February cold temperatures, rain showers and grey skies are expected – but they are some of the quietest times to visit (if you avoid the Christmas rush!) which could help beat the queues. Unfortunately it’s also when many attractions undertake refurbishment for this exact reason, so keep that in mind and check the website for any planned attraction closures.

If you visit from May to August, you’re much more likely to soak up the sunshine and bask in the warm weather, especially in the peak of summer. These more pleasant months obviously draw in bigger crowds, but I’d rather be queuing in the sun than the rain and it does make walking around the parks much more enjoyable.

If you go during the “in between months” – March, April, September, October – your guess is as good as mine! As we all know, in this part of the world the weather is never guaranteed!

Toy Story Playland in Walt Disney Studios Park with hanging lights and Buzz Lightyear in the background
Toy Story Playland in Walt Disney Studios Park