A trip to Disneyland is the ultimate holiday for a lot of families , however with prices in excess of £7000 for the average family many opt for Disneyland Paris as an affordable option. Having spoken to my brother who has been to both I’m told that other than the number of parks there is very little difference between the two.


When I began researching our family trip in Autumn 2014 I discovered that there were two ways to visit Disneyland Paris – by buying a package to stay at the resort or by staying outside the resort and purchasing day tickets or an annual pass. We opted for the latter staying at the Thomson Alfresco site Paris Est (approximately 25 minutes drive from the parks). A 7 night stay with ferry crossing from Dover costs approximately £350 and annual passes for all of us (3 in total as under 3s are free) was 669 euros or £539.56) Comparing this to a 4 night/5 day stay in one of the Disney hotels we saved approximately £191.44  and gained 2 days in the parks. We had spending money on top of this but our approximate total spend was £1300 for our first trip.  As we had annual passes we returned for two more weeks in autumn 2015 and spring 2016 with our three weeks costing approximately £3500 including fuel, food and shopping.

Whichever way you choose to visit Disneyland Paris there are some top tips to ensure you don’t spend every minute queuing or chasing characters!

  1. Extra magic hours – (only for those staying in hotels or with annual passes) the main park opens at 8am and gives you access to characters and certain rides without the queues. Do this at least once during your trip.
  2. Character dining- eating at Mickeys Cafe or Dinner with the Princesses may seem expensive but given that you spend two hours with characters coming to your table, chatting with you and signing books without the queues it seems crazy not to do it. The other way to see the main princesses is to queue from 8am for a ticket to return and queue to see them later in the day – you have no guarantee as to who you see and may only see one. At lunch we saw Cinderella, Prince Charming, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and two mice as well as watching them all dance.
  3. Take a picnic – a lot of people say you can’t take food in – an urban myth. Even with increased security in 2016 we took a bag full of food, flask of hot chocolate and bottles of water everyday.
  4. Start queueing at 10.30am for characters who come out from 11.15. People will commenced queuing up to an hour before and if you arrive at the stated time on the programme you’ll queue for hours – I learnt the hard way and waited 3 hours to see Rapunzel for 5 minutes!
  5. Find a parade spot an hour before. Get your snacks and choose where you want to be an hour before the main parade. Sit down on the pavement and prepare to fight to hold your position – the result a great view for everyone.
  6. Stand by a fence for the fireworks. Whilst you may have a slightly restricted view of the castle your children will be able to see without someone standing in front of them – as with the parade prepare to get in position an hour before
  7. If you buy lunch at Disney a buffet restaurant offers best value and some of the smaller outlets can be expensive with little choice for fussy eaters. Plaza Gardens has a great range of options and both of my fussy eaters found plenty to eat there.
  8. If you can afford to go for at least 5 days so that you can spend less time rushing around and more time relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.
  9. Your children’s interests will determine which park they prefer – Disneyland Park – is very focussed on Princesses and traditional Disney whereas the Studios has more emphasis on Pixar and Marvel
  10. The Ratatouille ride is one not to miss but you will queue for hours first thing and fast passes run out early morning – head over there after 5.30pm and you will find the shortest queues to make sure you experience this amazing ride.

My final words children under 2 won’t remember or appreciate Disneyland Paris but go before your youngest is 3 as they will get free entry and meals. Don’t worry that they will miss out in most restaurants they can still be part of the meal for example at the Princess lunch our 2 year old was given a juice cocktail, aperitif and chocolate lolly.

Sarah x



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