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How To Plan A Trip To Disneyland Paris

If you live in Europe and can’t quite be bothered with the flight to Disneyworld in Florida then how lucky you are to have Disneyland Paris on your doorstep (sort of).  My sister Georgina recently returned from a trip to Disneyland Paris with her 5 and 2 year old.  Was it a magical trip? Or an exhausting disaster?

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There’s an advert on TV for Disneyland Paris (the ‘new’ name for EuroDisney, if you’re old like me).  You know the one.  It depicts a daughter growing older.  The message?  Take your kids to Disneyland Paris before they’re too old to appreciate the magic.  We’re suckers for advertising …

PLANNING OUR TRIP

Useful sources of information

How to get to Disneyland Paris 

Options from the UK

  • Flying
  • Eurostar
  • Driving via ferry crossing, or via Eurotunnel

From London, it doesn’t take that much longer to drive than it does to fly (or take the Eurostar) so we opted to take the car across the Channel, using the Eurotunnel.   We found the benefits of the Eurotunnel to be; cost, luggage space, flexibility, the ability to strap the kids in with snacks and iPads for the entire journey.  Not to mention the endless games if I-Spy and ‘are we nearly there yet’.

When to go to Disneyland Paris

As with all popular destinations, it goes without saying that you should avoid peak times (weekends and school holidays) if possible.  We opted for a Monday-Friday stay in early July, when most kids are still at school.

Where to stay

Disney Hotels.  These hotels are generally the closest to the park.  Your booking includes free parking at Disneyland and access to ‘Early Magic Hours’ (8am-10am at Disneyland Park), plus these hotels generally have the Disney magical vibe about them.  Some of these hotels also offer extra FastPass options.

Other Accommodation.  There is a plethora of options available in the local area, including well-known hotel chains, boutique options and rentals via airbnb.

We chose the Davy Crockett Ranch.  We wanted to stay at a Disney Hotel in order to make use of the ‘Early Magic Hours’ in the park.  However, we really wanted to be able to have two separate bedrooms, and ideally a kitchen/diner as well, and all for a fairly reasonable price. 

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Making our booking

I was pretty overwhelmed by the options online, so I chose a travel agent that could talk me through all the possibilities, Magic Breaks.  They were very helpful on the phone and via online chat, and responded very quickly to my email queries after the booking.

Our Package included:

  • Eurotunnel crossing
  • Accommodation
  • Disneyland tickets
  • Photopass
  • Character breakfast at Café Mickey

We didn’t end up using the Photopass at all in the end, but it was that it was included.

We considered the meal packages, but as we had self-catering facilities at Davy Crockett, we decided to just pay for our meals as we went along.  Under 3s eat for free in most restaurants.

Planning our meals

It’s worth booking ahead if you want to eat at specific restaurants.

Character dining.  Our travel agent was able to arrange character meals for us.  We opted for breakfast with characters at Café Mickey, and I also considered lunch with the princesses at Auberge de Cendrillon.

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Booking Disney restaurants.  Most other Disney restaurants can be booked up to 60 days ahead of time by phoning a dedicated phone line.  Some of these are buffet style, others offer an ‘a la carte’ menu.  I called the reservation line before our trip and booked our first two nights’ evening meals at the Davy Crockett restaurant.  It’s a bit of a hassle to book restaurants in advance, as it can take a while to get through on the phone line.  It is worth it though, as the restaurants do get busy at peak times, and you can always cancel/amend bookings if you need to.

Other restaurants.   You’ll also find fast food style outlets in the park, and a few places in the Disney Village that don’t take bookings.  I have heard that some (Planet Hollywood in particular) offer deals via the French Groupon site, so it’s worth taking a look on there.

Self catering at Davy Crockett Ranch.  As we had a small kitchen in our cabin (fridge, freezer, hob, kettle and microwave) we took some basic food items along with us.  These came in really useful for breakfast and snacks during the day.  Be aware that you are not allowed to have full-on picnics in the Disneyland Park, but there is a small picnic area just outside the gates.

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