Taking a trip to France? Our 2021 Disneyland Paris vacation planning guide covers info & tips for visiting, hotel reviews, restaurant recommendations, ride ratings, and theme park itineraries. It’s up-to-date information and advice, with regular revisions from our visits to DLP and Walt Disney Studios Park. (Updated June 22, 2021.)
Disneyland Paris has begun its second phased reopening. As of June 22, 2021, Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, and the Disney Village shopping & dining district have all resumed operations. Hotel Cheyenne will reopen on July 1, 2021 and Davy Crocket Ranch will reopen on July 13, 2021.
As is the case with most theme parks around the world, a lot is different at Disneyland Paris right now. So much, in fact, that some aspects of this planning guide are inaccurate for Summer 2021. While the majority of rides, shows, shopping, and dining locations in Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park are operating, there are some significant closures and changes.
First, experiences that draw large group gatherings and some indoor shows will return at a later date. As with the other parks, some modifications will be made to accommodate physical distancing. Face masks are required for all guests and must be worn in all public areas—including while entering and exiting dining locations—and can be removed only while eating or drinking.
Additionally, an online reservation system is now in use to limit attendance. Guests who purchase dated tickets to Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney Studios Park do not need to register and reserve a date. Likewise, guests with hotel + ticket packages that include park admittance will receive admission for the duration of their stay and do not need to use the new online reservation system. At present, no dates are sold out, but that could change during peak travel dates in Summer 2021 if Europe experiences the kind of pent-up demand that Walt Disney World and Disneyland are seeing.
Whether you are considering a day at Disneyland Paris–the most popular tourist destination in Europe–as part of a non-Disney trip to France, or are a huge Disney fan planning an international trip for Disneyland Paris, this guide has you covered. We will detail everything from hotels to dining, and answer the important question of when is a good time to visit Disneyland Paris?
First, a bit of a primer about Disneyland Paris. Located in Marne-la-Vallée, which is actually a suburb of Paris, Disneyland Paris is about 45 minutes from the city center by train–and significantly closer to Charles de Gaulle Airport. The entire resort consists of 7 official Disney-themed hotels, several partner hotels, the Disney Village entertainment and shopping district, and the two parks: Parc Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios Park…
The resort as a whole of Disneyland Paris is larger than Disneyland Resort and smaller than Walt Disney World. While we’d never recommend visiting France and only seeing Disneyland Pairs, it is a bona fide vacation destination in itself if you wanted to make it one. Moreover, Parc Disneyland is an absolutely amazing theme park, much like the original Disneyland, albeit with far fewer rides. It does have a treasure trove of beautiful details, seasonal entertainment, and much more.
In fact, in our Best & Worst Disney Theme Parks in the World post, Parc Disneyland ranks #4, ahead of popular parks like Disney California Adventure and Epcot. It mostly scored so high because of its beauty. Before I get ahead of myself gushing over Disneyland Paris’ beauty, let’s cover the question of when you should visit Disneyland Paris…
When to Visit Disneyland Paris?
If you have your choice of dates and seasons for visiting Disneyland Paris, our strong recommendation would be to visit Disneyland Paris during spring, fall, or winter, particularly during shoulder seasons outside of France’s peak tourist seasons. In particular, we love Christmas at Disneyland Paris (see this Info & Tips post), which is a great time to visit so long as you avoid Christmas week through New Year’s Eve.
We typically recommend avoiding the months of June through August, both because of crowds and recent heat waves that have swept over Europe the last couple summers. The only downside to not visiting during the summer is missing the Lion King Jungle Festival, which drew rave reviews last year and will return for Summer 2021. However, nothing is worth the poor weather and crowds.
Speaking of which, we find the weather to be best in Paris in April and May, and late September through November. These are the most temperate times of the year, and even though it can snow in the winter, it’s usually not too cold in mid-November. (Mid-to late December might be pushing your luck, though.)
Christmas is an excellent time to visit Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park for a flurry of additional seasonal entertainment, and for the beautiful decorations all around the park. Plus, you cannot beat the feel of the City of Paris during the holiday months.
If you’re thinking more long-term, there’s also the question of whether to visit in the next year or so, or to wait. Disneyland Paris has huge long-term plans that involve Marvel, Star Wars, and Frozen as part of a $2.5 billion revitalization to the Walt Disney Studios Park (see concept art above). This redevelopment of Walt Disney Studios Park will roll out in phases starting in 2022.
For everything else on the horizon at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park, consult our Guide to What’s New & Next at Disneyland Paris. That covers all of the projects and seasonal events slated for the parks and hotels, when you can expect new attractions to debut, resort closures, and refurbishments.
The bulk of the expansion will culminate ahead of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, making Spring 2024 will probably be the “best” time to go. All of this expansion will be finished and you’ll beat the Olympics crowds. However, most of you reading this today aren’t planning for a trip 5-6 years in the future. You’re more wondering whether you should visit France this year or in the next couple of years. In which case, it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Of course, there’s a lot to France beyond Disneyland Paris and you should also plan your travel dates around when it’s best to visit other spots on your itinerary. The city of Paris is our second-favorite city in the world, and we highly recommend spending at least several days there.
As for traveling to the rest of France and within Europe, we highly recommend it! We offer extensive travel tips in our Ultimate Guide to Paris, France over on TravelCaffeine.com, our non-Disney travel blog. That’s a good place to start planning the other days of your vacation.
We’ve visited multiple locations in Europe, including Normandy, the Loire Valley, and Côte d’Azur regions of France. Outside of France, we’ve traveled to Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
While we love Disney–and Disneyland Paris–many of these other real-world locations have been the highlights of our trips. Europe is full of amazing places that leave an indelible mark on a person. There’s so much beyond the parks at Disneyland Paris, and truly something for everyone. From history to modern culture to shady red light districts (because we’re so sure Disney fans are into that sort of thing! 😉 ), there’s truly something for everyone.
If this has you tempted to travel to Europe to see Disneyland Paris and other lasting cultural experiences, or if you were already planning a visit and want more info and tips, let’s start planning! (All links open in new tabs, so feel free to click away and head down the rabbit hole!)
How Many Days?
Based upon the foregoing, when planning a trip to Disneyland Paris, you should not just plan a quick trip to see Disneyland Resort Paris, but should also plan on visiting at least Paris and another European city or two. On our first trip, we flew into Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, then spent equal amounts of time in Disneyland Paris and Paris, before taking the Eurostar to London and then flying out of London’s Heathrow airport.
When it comes to Europe as a whole, you should visit for as many days as you can. The reality of things is that vacation time is finite, and travel is costly, so most people probably are looking at maybe a week or so on the vacation. My strong advice would be to try and stretch the trip to at least 10 days even if that requires saving money and vacation time a bit longer.
How much time you’ll want to spend on each leg of your trip is largely a personal question. If you aren’t a Disney fan and are just going for the sake of your kids or because it’s on your list of highlights near Paris, my recommendation would probably be to just go for 1 day, spending it entirely at Parc Disneyland, experiencing some of the best attractions, and enjoying the ambiance.
Most people can accomplish the Walt Disney Studios park in half a day or a day. There is an assortment of enjoyable attractions there, but the park is mostly ugly. I wouldn’t downright encourage anyone to skip this park, but it’s not going to be the highlight of anyone’s trip until the enhancements start coming on line in 2022. With that said, if you only have one day to experience Disneyland Paris, skip the Studios and just do the Disneyland park.
The best part of Walt Disney Studios Park is the La Place de Rémy mini-land, which is like a “Streets of Paris” area based upon Ratatouille. If your interest is piqued in this area, check out my Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy Review and Bistrot Chez Rémy Review.
In addition to time for exploring Parc Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios Park, you will want to set aside a bit of time to explore the hotels and Disney Village, too. The hotels are pretty cool, whereas Disney Village is a mostly dated, sad take on Downtown Disney. The highlights of Disney Village are Earl of Sandwich and Five Guys, which are great late night meals after the parks close.
Depending upon your level of interest and stamina, seeing these areas can probably be accomplished after the parks close, depending upon what time the parks close. During my visits, even on busier days, the latest the parks closed was 10 pm; many nights the parks closed as early as 7 pm.
Most Parisians eat late dinners, so hotel restaurants are frequently open until 11 pm or 12 am (with the bars and lounges open even later), giving us ample time to enjoy the hotels after our days at the park were complete. During the summer months, the parks may be open until 11 pm or midnight, so you may have to find another time to visit the hotels and Disney Village.
Once you’ve determined how many days to visit Disneyland Paris, you need to decide whether a vacation package is for you. These work a lot like vacation packages at other Disney Parks in that they can contain a hotel, park tickets, and meal plan, or just a hotel stay.
Many of the best discounts for Disneyland Paris bundle these components together. In fact, to save money on a hotel, you almost always have to purchase park tickets from Disneyland Paris (unless you have an Annual Pass). Sometimes, the discount will be for a percentage off the room, sometimes it will include free a Half Board or Full Board Meal Package (more on this below), sometimes it’ll include free park tickets, and sometimes it will include free nights.
For example, Disneyland Paris promotions often include 30% off a room plus free Half Board dining and buy 2 nights get 2 nights free at a hotel. (Both promos include park tickets.) Alternatively, there are hotel discounts available for Annual Passholders of up to 40% off. All of these discounts are pretty representative of what’s generally offered.
What further complicates matters is that different versions of the Disneyland Paris website (e.g. the United Kingdom version, Belgium, Germany, etc.) offer different prices for the same promotion. I recently priced out a December trip, and it was ~$120 more expensive on the U.S. site than the U.K. site. Since you can book via any of these sites, regardless of where you live, it’s best to comparison shop among the different versions of the site, and book where it’s cheapest.
This can all be pretty challenging if you’re a newbie, particularly given the language barriers and default currencies on the various Disneyland Paris sites. However, it’s worth it because you’ll save the most money this way. Aside from the comparison shopping to get the best price, planning a Disneyland Paris vacation is easy as compared to a Walt Disney World vacation.
I’m going to make the assumption that anyone reading this is flying to Europe from overseas, not a European driving to Disneyland Paris for a day trip (if you’re driving and looking for advice…try Google Maps, I guess?). From Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris there are three main options: TGV, RER, or VEA shuttle.
The TGV is the best of these options, and it drops you off right outside Disneyland Paris’ gates. The process is very simple; head to Terminal 2 and purchase a ticket for the TGV at a kiosk in the airport with a destination of “Marne La Vallee Ches.”
This train takes 10 minutes to get from CDG to Disneyland Paris (it’s literally the first stop). The caveats here are that this train is substantially more expensive (one-way ticket prices vary, but are typically $15-30) and there can be over an hour gap between trains. Moreover, we do not recommend buying a ticket for this in advance due to flight delays, customs, etc.
The Magical Shuttle is the second-best option, but it stops at a number of hotels (think Disney’s Magical Express). However, it’s convenient and pretty easy. Prices for this vary, but it’s generally the most expensive option. You can book tickets here.
The RER is the final option. This can be time consuming, as you have to go from CDG airport to central Paris and switch lines to head back to Marne-la-Vallee. Both CDG and MLV are outside Paris, so doing this essentially means you have to backtrack. It’d be like taking a flight from Chicago to Detroit with a layover in St. Louis. However, if you’re buying a RER pass or your hotel is on the RER line, this may be your best option. It’s relatively straightforward, it just takes about an hour to accomplish.
If you’re coming from somewhere other than CDG airport, consider the Eurostar train, which also drops you off right outside Disneyland Paris’ gates. We traveled the Eurostar (aka the “Chunnel”) and it was an excellent experience. This is a great way to get to Disneyland Paris if you’re primarily visiting another major city in Europe. What’s especially nice is that a Eurostar station is right in MLV. My assumption is that this was built as part of Disney’s agreement to bring a park to Paris…because there’s no other reason why little ‘ole Marne-la-Vallee would have a Eurostar station.
All of this seems complicated and intimidating at first (at least it did to us), but it’s really simple once you understand the basics.
Where to Stay
Disneyland Paris has seven official resorts, with a variety of nearby “off-site” hotels. We have a Disneyland Paris Hotel Comparison post that compares and contrasts the hotels, offering our recommendations on where to stay. We’ll cover some of the same ground below, but if you’re debating which hotel to book, that’s really the post to read.
We’ve stayed in the recently renovated Sequoia Lodge (click here to read our Sequoia Lodge Review) and Hotel New York (click here to read our Hotel New York Review). We’ve also stayed at Newport Bay Club (click here to read our Newport Bay Club Review) and several off-site hotels.
Other hotels include Disneyland Hotel (the flagship Victorian-themed hotel), Hotel Cheyenne (themed to be the ‘streets’ of a Western town), and Hotel Santa Fe (designed with a cold, Southwestern pueblo style). If you were schooled by Count von Count, you probably noticed that I only mention six of the seven resorts. The last, Davy Crockett Ranch, is a campground located a bit further away that I did not visit.
Assuming you don’t have a car for your visit to France, you’ll have a few ways to get to and from Disneyland Paris: your feet, taxi, RER train, or shuttle. The 6 on-site hotels can each by accessed by walking (or shuttle). Disneyland Hotel is about a one minute walk from the turnstiles, Hotel New York is ~10 minute walk, Sequoia Lodge is ~12 minute walk, Newport Bay Club is ~15 minute walk, with Hotels Cheyenne and Santa Fe a tad above the 15 minute mark.
In terms of pricing, Hotel Cheyenne and Santa Fe are on the low end of the scale, with ascending prices for Sequoia Lodge, Newport Bay Club, Hotel New York, and finally, Disneyland Hotel. Nightly rates range from ~$100/night for Hotel Santa Fe to over $1,000/night for Disneyland Hotel. Average rates for each hotels are all over the place depending upon what kind of discount you can score.
These price fluctuations can make booking a Disneyland Paris hotel a bit frustrating. Generally speaking, we far prefer staying on-site rather than off-site. However, we are not paying over $400/night for Newport Bay Club or Sequoia Lodge. Conversely, ~$150/night makes those resorts a no-brainer (we’d even be willing to pay around $200/night).
Note that Hotel New York reopened in June 2021 after a multi-year closure for a top to bottom redo during which time it was converted to “Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel.” This new-look resort celebrates 80 years of Marvel storytelling in a typical New York setting, with a contemporary Art Deco style.
Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel is inspired by a New York art gallery, paying tribute to the city that is home to many iconic Marvel characters and the artists who created them.
We’ve stayed at several off-site hotels in Val d’Europe, which is the first stop from Disneyland Resort Paris on the RER A line. Combining the time it takes to walk from Disneyland Paris to the RER station (3 minutes), the time it took on the train (5-15 minutes, depending upon the train schedule), and the time it took to walk from the station in Val d’Europe to our hotel (3 minutes), you have about a 25 minute commute, at worst. Several of these hotels are also within walking distance of Disneyland Paris (25-35 minute walks, depending upon the hotel).
The whole town of Val d’Europe is relatively new, having been masterplanned in conjunction with Disney. It has a Celebration/suburbia vibe to it, but with traditional French stylization. While it doesn’t have the same historical allure of the quaint villages in France, it has its own modern charm and is not too cookie cutter. All of this is to say that the hotels of Val d’Europe are probably solid options if you don’t want to pay the insane prices of Disneyland Paris hotels.
Generally, these hotels in Val d’Europe can be booked for $75-150/night, which makes them (typically) cheaper than Disneyland Paris on-site hotels. You can also walk from some of the hotels to Disneyland Paris (Hipark Serris is the hotel closest to the parks, for what it’s worth), which is much more convenient than taking the RER, we think.
Another option, particularly if you’re spending time elsewhere in France, is Airbnb…
We have a post that discusses our Tips for Using Airbnb in case you’re unfamiliar with the service. We’ve used it several times in Europe, including a couple of times in Paris. It’s an inexpensive alternative to a hotel, and nice because it also allows you to live like a local, whether that means doing some laundry halfway through your trip or just going to the market to get fresh produce (and cheese…AND WINE!) to prepare you own meals.
Other than that, the biggest upside is price. You can find sometimes find deals on hotels in Val d’Europe, but deals on nice accommodations are less common in Paris (proper) or other cities. The value proposition of renting your own apartment or flat is significantly greater than booking a hotel. (Plus, you can use my sign-up link for a free credit your first time using Airbnb!)
We’ve had some really great Airbnb experiences all around the world, and wouldn’t hesitate to use it again near Disneyland Paris, or anywhere in Europe, for that matter.
Off-Site v. On-Site?
For us, the Disney on-site hotel experience isn’t just about the room. All things considered, the Disney hotels we’ve stayed in at Disneyland Paris are nicer overall than the off-site hotels. Aside from price, the one upside to the Val d’Europe hotels is getting more spacious suites and multi-room villas.
Beyond being immersed in the Disney bubble, there are some perks to staying on-site at Disneyland Paris. The big ones are being within walking distance of the parks, Extra Magic Hours, taking advantage of the Full or Half Board Meal Plans, and exclusive character meets.
By far, the biggest of these is the Extra Magic Hour perk. Guests staying in the Disney-owned hotels are able to enter the parks 2 hours before the general public to experience select attractions every morning. The first hour of Extra Magic Hours is generally pretty dead–it’s easy to get totally empty photos of Main Street, and you can experience attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight with minimal waits.
If you do decide to stay on-site, my unscientific recommendations for hotels would be: Hotel Cheyenne (value), Sequoia Lodge (moderate), or Disneyland Hotel (deluxe). Hotel Cheyenne had a fun feel to it and no pretenses of being artfully designed, likely making it a hotel kids would enjoy. Sequoia Lodge has theming is reminiscent of a National Park lodge, except with Frank Lloyd Wright inspiration oddly found throughout the architecture.
If you’re thinking about booking a Disneyland Paris vacation package, you should know about the various Meal Plans the on-site hotels offer. These are sometimes bundled into packages for “free” or available as an add-on.
This is somewhat like the Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World, except it uses pre-paid physical vouchers. Disneyland Paris offers Full and Half Board Meal Plans: the Half Board plan includes 1 meal voucher for lunch or dinner, plus a breakfast voucher. The Full Board plan includes 2 meal vouches for lunch and dinner, plus a breakfast voucher.
There are four different tiers to each of these Meal Plans available, escalating in price and what’s included. At the lowest end of the spectrum is the Hotel plan, which includes breakfast and dinner at your hotel only. Standard gives you a choice of 5+ buffet restaurants. Plus provides access to 15+ buffet and table service restaurants. Premium is available at almost every table service restaurant in Disneyland Paris, including character meals and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
The bottom line with these Meal Plans is that they can be a really good value if you do a little research and book expensive restaurants. For example, even though the Premium Plan is $100+ per person, per night, doing daily meals at places like California Grill and Auberge de Cendrillon could amount to a daily value of over $150. Same goes for the lower tiers.
On the other hand, if you choose an expensive plan and end up doing mostly counter service meals, there’s the potential for losing a lot of money each day on the Disneyland Paris Meal Plans.
Our ultimate take is that the Meal Plans are a good option if dining is an important part of your trip and you plan to do your research ahead of time to determine where to eat (and make reservations ~60 days in advance). If dining isn’t so important or you don’t intend upon doing the research, skip the Disneyland Paris Meals. There’s one big reason for this…
The reason is that a lot of the food at Disneyland Paris is not very good. Given that this is France, you’d expect Disneyland Paris to have some stellar dining options. Unfortunately, expectations here don’t comport with reality. Restaurants at Disneyland Paris are not that good and are not that “French.”
The good news is that dining has been improving in the last few years, and we’ve had some good meals at Walt’s – An American Restaurant and Captain Jack’s in the last couple of years. Nevertheless, we are still cautious about Disneyland Paris dining, as we’ve had hit or miss success in the ast.
We’ve since tried out many other restaurants at Disneyland Paris, some good, some really bad. The general trend is towards improvement, which is definitely reassuring. For reviews of individual restaurants, read our Disneyland Paris Restaurant Reviews. We also have a Guide to Drinking at Disneyland Paris for those who want to go out after the parks close!
If you want to avoid disappointment, we’d recommend approaching dining at Disneyland Paris from the perspective of experiencing restaurants with cool themes. Our Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Disneyland Paris post should help with this.
This is how we have approached dining there, and it has worked pretty well. The two restaurants at which we ate the first time, Walt’s and Captain Jack’s, were beautiful, and worth the experience, even considering the food. Walt’s has a similar feel to Club 33 at Disneyland, and Captain Jack’s overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, much like Blue Bayou at Disneyland.
Counter Service meals are generally okay. It’s about what you’d expect from average counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. In general, the options are not adventurous, but rather, are stereotypical theme park foods. Lots of pizza, burgers, salads, and fried foods.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as portion sizes are large and prices are not out of line (by normal Disney standards). In addition, the design of many of these restaurants is truly impressive. Toad Hall features more detail than all of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, and serves some pretty good fish & chips, too.
In terms of portions, the only portion size that will be smaller in Disneyland Paris is soda. There are no free refills in any restaurant (this is typical of Europe) and soda sizes in general are much smaller. So, if you’re a Coke addict, a trip to Disneyland Paris might prove costly!
Although not as good as what you’ll find in the city of Paris, Disneyland Paris snacks are solid. We highly recommend the Cable Car Bake Shop on Main Street. Not just for its sweets, but also because it’s a beautifully designed, intimate location.
One thing to mention so that you don’t get too excited while planning specific places to eat is that Disneyland Paris often closes some of its restaurants depending upon crowds. This has been a huge issue in the last few years, and judging by the calendars published thus far, it will remain a huge problem throughout Summer 2021.
This can be very frustrating for planning purposes, and playing the “what’s open today?” game while in the park is equally frustrating, as the signs up indicating which restaurants are open differ from spot to spot. You often don’t know what is open until you walk up to a particular restaurant.
To make matters worse, even the limited slate of restaurants that is open often closes before 5 pm. This means that lines for dinner at the 2-3 restaurants that are open into the evening hours are ridiculously long. We’ve heard frequent reports of guests waiting 45 minutes for a (terrible) burger at Cafe Hyperion. Don’t make that mistake.
One of the easiest ways to avoid this issue is to pack snacks and eat dinner in Disney Village. There are several good options there that are all open late, including Earl of Sandwich, McDonald’s, and Five Guys. All of these restaurants are comparable to their U.S. counterparts.
Earl of Sandwich is our favorite pick; it serves most of the same sandwiches as the Earl of Sandwich locations in the United States and is reasonably priced. It’s definitely disappointing to be in one of the world’s greatest food cities and eat at U.S. chains after the park closes, but unfortunately, that’s the sad reality of dining at Disneyland Paris.
Our over-arching recommendation for those with finite travel budgets would be to save your money for dining in the city of Paris and eat on the cheap in Disneyland Paris. You may want to give at least one table service meal a try before adopting this strategy, though.
What To Do
We’ve found that most people visit Disneyland Paris for 2 days, and if that’s your plan, our 1-Day Disneyland Paris Park Itinerary and 1-Day Walt Disney Studios Park Itinerary provide step-by-step touring plans for “perfect” days in each of the parks. If you have 3 days or more, simply explore at a leisurely pace in those additional days.
Additionally, we have tips for buying Disneyland Paris tickets in our Disneyland Paris Ticket Tips & Info post, which covers where to find discount park tickets, and the pros & cons of getting an Annual Pass versus buying single day tickets (it’s a closer call than you might think!). Remember that if you’re staying on-site at a Disneyland Paris hotel, there’s a good chance your package will include park tickets.
Then there’s the attractions. Chances are you’ve visited a Disney theme park some time in your life, and you have an idea of what attractions are worth experiencing. The biggest differences in Disneyland Paris are park design, layout, and level of detail. Many of the attractions are very similar in general nature to their US counterparts.
If you’re interested in developing a strategy for attractions or figuring out which to do and which to skip, check out our Disneyland Paris Attractions Guide and our Walt Disney Studios Park Attractions Guide. These guides have ratings for every attraction in Parc Disneyland and WDSP, and our recommendations for doing them.
In general, Disneyland Paris excels because it offers a lot to explore and excellent execution on theme. A die-hard Disney fan will notice differences in many attractions from the US versions, making every attraction a worthwhile experience. A casual guest will probably find that many attractions are “exactly the same” as their US counterparts.
Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum, you will enjoy the details and design if you slow down to enjoy them. That’s what we strongly recommend doing, and that’s how we believe Disneyland Paris is best enjoyed. Spend some time in the shops on Main Street, wander through the restaurants, and look for clues about the backstory.
What About Maintenance?
If you’ve done any research into Disneyland Paris, you might’ve already read horror stories about the park’s upkeep. Historically, it has been so bad that we’re dedicating an entire section in this guide to the topic. Thankfully, this is not nearly as big of a problem as it once was. By and large, maintenance at Disneyland Paris is now close to on par with the U.S. Disney Parks.
A dramatic refresh to the entire resort called “Project Sparkle” has been ongoing for over 3 years now, and has revitalized several popular attractions and entire lands. This is finished in the parks and is now continuing with the hotels. Disneyland Hotel is next up for a refurbishment, and that will likely take until 2023.
Thankfully, Disneyland Paris has already turned a corner in terms of maintenance and refreshing the park. Now, we are seeing all of the hard work and refurbishments pay off, and Disneyland Paris is sparkling as a result. Let’s just hope it stays that way!
What to Pack
The items on our Unique Disney Packing List will be helpful in any of the Disney theme parks. Specific to Paris, one thing you will need is a voltage converter. We highly recommend this BESTEK Portable Travel Converter with multiple outlets. You can find cheaper ones, but they will be larger, heavier, and take up valuable real estate in your suitcase.
Another thing we recommend, particularly if you plan on traveling internationally beyond France, is purchasing a pocket MiFi unit. For years, we rented these when traveling, until we did a bit of research and discovered they’re fairly cheap to purchase.
I bought this Huawei 4G LTE Mobile Wifi Hotspot and then purchased a cheap (~$40 Orange Holiday) 10 GB SIM card at a Relay store in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport when we landed. If you have an unlocked phone, you can just put the SIM card directly into that, but we prefer the MiFi unit so that we can connect multiple devices. We find this to be a more efficient strategy when traveling internationally.
If you are going to be staying in multiple hotels during your European vacation, we highly recommend packing cubes or compression bags (I prefer the cubes) for organization. You can read more of our “carry-on philosophy” and which types of bags we use here. Seriously, this is really critical if you’re going to spend time on the rails or walking through Europe. So much easier than dragging around a ton of luggage!
When packing, also keep in mind that the climate of Paris is not the same as that of Orlando or Anaheim. Paris has legitimate winters, complete with snow and all. If you’re visiting any time from October through March, you should pack for cooler weather. Our Packing for Disney in Winter Guide is a start, but during the height of winter, you will want really warm clothes for many days.
It should come as no surprise that Europe does not use the US dollar as a currency. You can order euro from your bank prior to your trip, but withdrawing from an ATM is the better and easier route so long as your bank doesn’t charge exorbitant fees. It didn’t used to be the case, but now this is typically the better option.
Ideally, you’ll have a chipped credit card and will use that for the vast majority of your purchases. Chipped cards make international travel a breeze because they largely eliminate the need to deal in cash (besides from street vendors and other “older” retailers that don’t accept cash). We used chipped credit cards throughout our trip and just carried a bit of cash that we almost never used.
Moving on to another important “issue” for many people: smoking. While Disneyland Paris’ website will lead you to believe that smoking is only allowed in designated areas, the reality is that people smoke in every outdoor area. This is part and parcel of European culture, and something to keep in mind if smoke bothers you.
Free wireless internet is now available throughout Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park, the Disney Village, and all resort hotels. This is a relatively new development that roughly coincided with the rollout of the official Disneyland Paris app. There’s also free WiFi at the Disney Village McDonald’s and Earl of Sandwich, and most of the off-site hotels.
The toilets at Disneyland Paris are all highly advanced prototype “SMRT-1” devices that feature facial recognition, and will greet you by saying, “How do you do, sir/m’am?” It is customary and appropriate to respond to this by saying, “I’m well, how are you?” It is not considered rude to decline to respond to any of the toilet’s additional conversation.
Just kidding on that last tip…although it is a foreign country, it’s not a foreign universe! If you can navigate the US parks, you’ll be fine in Disneyland Paris!
For the most part, this should cover everything you need for planning for a trip to Disneyland Paris. I update this guide regularly based on changes in Disneyland Paris (and I have a Disneyland Paris Annual Pass burning a hole in my pocket, so I plan on making another return trip soon), so rest assured that the information here is current. With that said, if you have any unresolved questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.
If you need help planning your Disneyland Paris vacation beyond this, we recommend contacting an experienced (no fee), Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, which will also help you find the best deals. Want to see more photos or read about Disneyland Paris in agonizing detail? Check out our “Impressions de Bricker” Disneyland Paris Report, which covers our visit during the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, or our Disneyland Paris 20th Anniversary Trip Report, which covers our first visit to Disneyland Paris!
Have you been to Disneyland Paris? What did you think? Planning and trip and have questions? Please leave them in the comments! If you’re a Disneyland Paris “regular” and you have tips of your own, please add them in the comments. I might just borrow them for the guide itself.