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With six destinations worldwide, Disney Parks come in different shapes and sizes. Disneyland Paris may be smaller than some of its counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it can’t compete with the hearts and minds of children and families across Europe and beyond. It also has some unique differences from other Disney destinations. 

Situated 20 miles outside Paris, direct trains from London to Disneyland Paris are no longer available, but connections through Paris to Marne-la-Vallée at Chessy leave you only yards from the entrance to the two parks.

To explore both parks comfortably, you need to stay three days and two nights, unless you are also visiting Paris, where you may need extra time.

Disneyland Paris consists of four areas – Disneyland Park (or Parc Disneyland), Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Village and the main hotel area where six of their hotels are situated. Off-site, the Davy Crockett Ranch requires transport to the park but provides many of the benefits of the on-site properties, including exclusive early entry to the parks an hour earlier than general guests. The on-site hotels also include Character meets in the individual properties, making it a much more exclusive experience than in the parks, where inevitably you will encounter queues.

Both parks are next door, so you can walk from one end to the other in around 20 minutes. Walt Disney Studios is a smaller version of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and only requires half a day to experience. Don’t forget to look out for the highly anticipated opening of “Frozen Land,” scheduled for 2025 at Disneyland Park.

Disney no longer prints maps, so it’s essential to download the Disney App before you arrive. The App allows you to book restaurants, check in at hotels, access passes, and access maps and a planner.

It may seem obvious, but what sometimes surprises guests is that Disneyland Paris has a more European feel, especially where cast members are concerned. The signage is generally understandable, and even though some may be in French, the visuals are easily followed. The shows are a mixture of French and English. While some service levels don’t always reflect the all-American cheerfulness and efficiency, you can still “have a nice day” without being told.  

Unlike other Disney Parks, Disneyland Paris does not offer FastPasses. Instead, it replaced the FastPass system with two paid options: Premier Pass Access One, which is only available on the day for one ride with an allocated time slot, and Premier Access Ultimate, which is for each eligible ride with no allocated time slot. Rider Switch allows parents to take turns on adult rides without waiting in line a second time.

Except for Marvel characters, there are no booking slots to meet other Disney Characters. Still, the Disneyland mobile App provides the meet-and-greet times and locations for your favourite Characters. Marvel Characters in Walt Disney Studios operate a virtual queue. Once inside the Studios, you can use the App to find out when to apply for the next super-hero meeting.

Like all Disney parks, there are only two types of restaurants available: counter-service, which requires no reservations, and table service, which normally requires advance booking and has food menus printed in both English and French. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you can book up to 12 months in advance; otherwise, the Disney App offers tables 2 months out. However, with over 70 restaurants, cafes, bars, and snack points on-site, there are plenty of options. 

The most popular table-service restaurants are Downtown in the Hotel New York, the Princess Meal at Auberge de Cendrillon, the Character Meal at Plaza Gardens or the hugely popular Bistrot Chez Remy and PYM Kitchen at Walt Disney Studios.

Some subtle differences between well-known Disney rides make them more interesting than other parks. The Indiana Jones rollercoaster goes upside down. Phantom has a different edge from the original Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain is arguably the best version of the ride in any Disney Park. Crush’s Coaster in Disney Studios is a unique spin on Finding Nemo, while Avengers Assemble Flight Force is an inversion coaster only available in Paris. The walk-through of Sleeping Beauty’s castle with its stained-glass windows can’t be found in any other Disney Park.  Junior pirates will be delighted with the Pirate Galleon, Davy Jones Locker, and Skull Rock additions to the Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Other top tips – 

Take a portable phone charger with you. With so many photographic opportunities you may run out of battery long before your day has finished.

You may think your smaller children don’t need to use a pushchair, but they are invaluable because of the amount of walking involved. There are designated parking areas at rides for all pushchairs.

Disney allows you to bring your own food into the parks. It will undoubtedly save you money (and queuing at busy times) so it is worth coming prepared. The train station has plenty of non-Disney owned opportunities for buying snacks before the gates. One stop on the Metro from Disneyland Paris is the Val d’Europe shopping mall where a large supermarket is stocked with a variety of food options.

A relatively unknown benefit of staying at one of the on-site hotels is a free hot drink every day from the hotel vending machines for each guest. This is generally available only in those properties that don’t provide in-room tea and coffee facilities but ask at check-in to see if this is still available.

Take a water bottle and refill at the various water stations mainly situated near the toilets, as you will want to avoid paying nearly 4.00 Euros a time for bottled water.

Disneyland Paris is very much in the classic Disney tradition but has its own compelling and unique elements while retaining the magic ingredients that Walt Disney strived for. With the famous “Main Street USA” greeting you at the entrance to Disneyland itself, which was originally based in his hometown of Marcelline in Missouri, you can enjoy a truly memorable holiday in this remarkable fantasy land, which brings smiles to everyone’s faces every day of the year.