Disneyland Paris - What You Need To Know For Your First Visit

The longest most overdue post I've been meaning to write out since January...my trip to Disneyland Paris! Okay so I'm cheating here a little bit because this post of my two trips to Disney combined. My initial vist was back in June 2015 and the latest trip was Augst 2017 and yes, I am more than happy to make a third visit. I'm afraid I can't answer questions on character dining or meet and greets because I didn't do either of this, but, we stayed in the Disney hotel Santa Fe (Cars themed) on our first trip as well as travelling by Eurostar from St. Pancras and for the second we stayed in central Paris and flew out from Heathrow airport, so I can give views from both travels. Any questions you guys have I'm happy to answer on any social platform, email, or comment below.

As I said above in 2015 we stayed in Disney's Santa Fe Hotel. It's one of their budget/value hotels alongside Hotel Cheyenne. If you've looked at planning a trip here and staying at the park you'll know the prices can be crazy expensive, especially if you're looking at staying in the Disneyland Hotel. Thinking back I believe I paid around £850 ish for the Eurostar, accomodation, half board (eat at selected resturants in the park with a voucher as well as snacks from certain stores and carts and buffet breakfast.) The shuttle service is also free from the Disney hotel's which makes life so much easier. The bus runs every 12 minutes, 7 days a week between 06:30am and 11:00pm. 

Travelling by Eurostar is also so straight forward and convenient. Straight from St. Pancras (opposite King's Cross) to Disneyland Resort (Marne La Vallée/Chessy) - the station is literally situated in the Disney park! It's roughly 3.5 hours for the entire trip, not bad at all to travel overseas.
Disneyland Paris is made up of two parks. Walt Disney Studios which has the Pixar characters, Toon Studios and a few larger attractions like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. You definitely get the impression that it's aimed at Disney's younger viewers but what's not to love about Toy Story, Ratatouille and Finding Nemo?

When you first visit the studios I highly reccomend seeing what shows are on, including meet 'n' greet with paticular characters - you can see them all here. Be aware that the queues to meet characters are very long, I personally wasn't fussed about the characters but of course if you're travelling with little ones or even want a photo yourself you can expect at least an hours wait minimum. The park does seem large when you initially see the studios, but compared to the Disneyland Park it's rather small. We stayed for four nights and five days on our first trip and that was plenty of time for us. 
 There's plenty of drink/snack stalls, resturants and gift shops to wander into around the studios. We didn't spend too much on food whilst we were here, mostly because we had vouchers for dinner, but when you're busy queuing and exploring the parks you almost forget about food - the time goes so fast here believe me. You have your fast food chains like McDonald's and Five Guys just outside of the main park in the Disney Village. If you haven't got vouchers and you're budgeting whilst you're here there's no need to splurge on food in the top resturants at the park, there's plenty of lower budget resturants to eat at, with lovely quality food. You can see the full list here.

You'll be given a ticket to enter the park if you book with Disney directly. The second time round we used Attraction Tickets Direct for a brilliant price for our tickets, so brilliant I can't even remember the price - sorry guys. With ATD we were given a PDF to print out and you just scan the bar code for the Disney tickets. Keep hold of these tickets because you'll need to scan them each time you enter the parks.

Onto the Disneyland Park, my favourite out of the two and most would probably agree with me on this. Don't get me wrong, I love the studios and wouldn't visit Disney Paris without visiting the studios but this is the main park, the main attraction. There's five lands within the park: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland and Main Street U.S.A. When you enter this park you honestly forget you're in Paris - it's like you've been transported to the world of Disney itself. Whimsical music plays throughout Main Street U.S.A, all the workers are given a uniform tailored to the land they're working within. 

The whole of Main Street is filled with gift stores, bakeries, cafe's, restruants and of course, the Disney Castle awaits you. No photo will do the castle justice just on how grand and beautiful it is. On this note, do not miss the firework display. There's nothing quite like it. It happenes every night but I've heard the time depends, so check with the information desk when you arrive. When we were there in June and August it was 11pm. The entire castle lights up with clips from your favourite Disney movies, the water fountains literally dance to the music and the fireworks are just extordinary. I haven't got any photos that will do the show justice but go over to Youtube and just type in: Disney Paris Firework Show - you'll find a fab video.
This is Big Thunder Mountain, based in Frontierland. A great rollercoaster, but seems to breakdown each time we queue. You can opt to fast track certain rides, you'll be given a ticket where you are allocated a time to return to the ride in a separate queue. Like the Meet 'n' Greet with characters, queues for rides are also very, very lengthy. I think we must have queued at least two hours for this ride, although granted it did break down mid way. Obviously, depending what time of year you go queues will be shorter or longer. Peak-time, school holidays in July-August will definitely be the busiest time of year.
The Disney Parade - do not miss this. It happens daily but I cannot remember for the life of me what time, perhaps 11am? It could even be 1pm. Best thing to do is check with the information desk in Main Street U.S.A. Show times are also displayed within the maps given at the parks too. The parade lasts around 15-20 minutes but get there early to get a good spot and view. Nothing worse than standing right at the back. Even though the parade floats are huge and very tall, there's a lot of interaction between the dancers and guests which you won't be able to see standing behind that 6ft dad with his daughter on his shoulders...

Oh! Going back to the dining, I need to express how much you need to book your table in advance. The parks get busy, the resturants and cafe's get extremely busy in the afternoon/evening. If you have a particular resturant in mind to book, book this first thing in the morning. I believe you can call up but we always went to the info desk in the park to do this. I'm sure as well that if you're staying in the hotels, you can do it at their check-in reception too.
Timon was located in the studios but I believe the characters do move around. He was actually part of a midday show that we stumbled across on our first visit, the second time it was The Incredibles. I don't  know who I was more excited to see to be quite honest. The characters make Disney so seeing them dotted around really brought the parks to life. They've even got Moana now, take me back! I am that big kid at the front of the crows that will happily wave to these people in costumes just to get a reaction from the characters, it is Disneyland after all.

Lastly, one of my favourite things of course, shopping! As I've said plenty of times in the post, you will be spoilt with stores to mooch around and buy for family and friends back home. A lot of the stores offer the same gifts, plushies, keyrings, outfits etc. The largest gift shop is the one pictured above, World of Disney. The store is situated in the Disney Village, just outside the parks, and has the largest collection of goodies, even Christmas decorations in the Summer. Yup, you read that right. There's a Christmas store I've seen both times I visited in the Disneyland Park in Sleeping Beauty's castle, it's worth the look because Disney do beautiful decorations that you won't find back home in your local Disney store, believe me. The most expensive things in stores are the costumes, especially the princess dresses they can be 90.00EUR for some, also particular stores in the parks offer china and glass ornaments which can cost thousands of euros, these aren't exactly your everyday gift though. The typical things like key rings are roughly 5-10EUR, I brought home Woody and Jessie for about 20EUR each I think. The toys aren't more than what you'd pay over here in a Disney store. There's so many lovely gifts you could bring home, for all age ranges too.

When I've told people how much I've paid for a Disney trip sometimes I'm told 'But you could've gone away to xyz for that!' Replace xyz with a luxury stay, for seven nights, in a beautiful hotel on a resort with a beach view and white sands. I'm fully aware but it's Disney. It's a household name and anything in the slightest relation to the brand will never be cheap. There's plenty of ways to budget whilst you're there, you can always look out for deals for park tickets, flights to Paris and even the Eurostar offer various deals throughout the year. If it's your first visit, decide the easiest, most convenient and cheapest way for you to travel. The Eurostar may not be for everyone due to the location, so fly out instead and vice versa. Don't want to stay in the Disney hotel's? Then stay outside of the park at a cheaper hotel and grab an Uber, taxi or hire a car and see more of Paris! There's so many options. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and as I said I'm happy to answer questions so email me (rochelle.lylee@gmail.com), get in touch on Twitter or Instagram (@rochellelyle_ for both) or comment below. Hope you enjoyed the post! x


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