Holiday | The Ultimate Day at Disneyland Paris

Monday 18th February 2019

People always ask 'what are the best things to do' and I never know how to answer! There are so many sides to your time at Disney that no one is ever going to be in total agreement in which the best way to do it is but I thought I'd share ours for first time visitors who are either going for a short break or just visiting for the day whilst holidaying elsewhere in France.

I have always been with small children so naturally, I will be gearing recommended activities towards families with young children as I think this is my main reader audience but please note that in reality I would have needed to factor naps and things into our day but for the purpose of this post I'm gunna pretend that's not a thing. My experiences and opinions are personal and this 'ideal day' in no way limits the possibility of you enjoying your time at Disneyland Paris however you want to (especially as there are plenty of things we're yet to experience and cannot comment on) but I hope it gives you some ideas of how to spend your time in the place I love the most in the world.

Before You Go
Here are a few things to consider before you even begin your trip:

Access Passes:
Ivy is entitled to something called a Green Pass - this is an access pass for visitors with certain permanent disabilities which means the holder and up to 4 other guests do not queue with the general public. If you have a temporary condition or are pregnant, you may be entitled to an orange pass which allows the holder and up to 4 other guests to book a time slot to come back to the attraction they are trying to go on. This means for us that we do not spend the average time queuing although during our first ever trip, we were not aware Ivy would be entitled to this and did queue up as normal. If you feel there is a chance you could be entitled to one of these access passes, it is certainly worth looking into as it will make your trip much, much easier. To get hold of your pass, you take your proof (blue badge/DLA letter/stamped letter from a doctor) to City Hall as you enter the main Disneyland Park and you will be issued with your pass. Simply show it to staff as you turn up to a ride or meet and greet and they will explain to you what to do and where to go.

Read more about access passes here

Fast Passes:
If you're not entitled to an access pass and do not have young children, it may be worth exploring the option of purchasing a fast pass where you do not need to queue (or queue considerably less time). The standard fast pass system is open to anyone with a ticket - turn up to the attraction and put your ticket in the FP machine and you'll be given a time to come and and join the FP queue. You can only hold one of these time slots at a time and they do run out so do this early on in your day. If you do it early enough, you may do your first ride and have time to go and get another time slot elsewhere. Purchasing a fast pass will give you more options to join the FP queues or in some cases, will mean practically no queuing at all. We were gifted the Ultimate VIP Fast Passes during our complimentary days in Disneyland Paris parks but we did not feel they offered queue skipping on enough rides that are suitable for young children for them to really be worth the cost for us. If you have older (or taller), thrill seeking children they definitely could be worth it. If not, just plan your free Fast Passes well and prioritise getting these slots.

Read more about fast passes here

Other Ways To Beat The Queues:
If you're not entitled to an access pass and do not want a Fast Pass, the best thing you can do to avoid the queues is download the Disneyland Paris app before your trip and check it as much as you can to get a feel for queue times in the parks. This fab app has a map of the parks with live waiting times for all rides and meet and greets. This will help you prioritise your fast pass(es) when you first arrive and prepare you so you're not shocked when you arrive and see some of the popular attractions are 2 hours long (which is what you'll be looking at if you want to meet a Princess). It will also give you a good feel for which rides are in which parks as Disneyland Paris is made up of two separate parks which are close enough to access in one day but not close or easy enough to keep dipping and diving between the two.

You can also use the Lineberty app at 9.45am where you can book meet and greet time slots in the park and then the super clever little thing texts you when you should make your way towards where you need to be. Get on the app a few minutes early and refresh as these go really quickly.

If you are staying at a Disneyland Paris hotel, I insist you get up early make use of your Extra Magic Hours which means you can enter the park from 8am before the general public are allowed in at 10am. Attractions open during EMH are listed here which have much lengthier queues after 10am.

And lastly, you can book some meals you'd like to have in the parks 60 days before you arrive by calling +33 1 60 30 40 50. A fab way of meeting loads of characters all at once is breakfast at Plaza Gardens, lunch or dinner at Cafe Mickey (in the village) or Inventions or lunch or dinner with the princesses at ADC. We've noted our favourite food places a little lower down this post.

Best Rides For Visitors of All Ages
The thing I love most about Disneyland Paris is there are not many age, height or ability restrictions on a lot of the rides so you can truly enjoy your time in the park as a whole family. If you are going with particularly young children, I would highly recommend taking a sling for the queues (as you have to leave your buggy at the start of the ride which we usually lock up for safety's sake). To get the most out of your rides, make sure you go for a wee before you join any queue, take plenty of snacks and arm yourself with games to play together like i-spy and top trumps.

Disneyland Park: It's a Small World (MY FAVOURITE EVER), Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo's Flying Elephants (purely as it's the most iconic ride there!), Phantom Manor if you think your children , Buzz Lightyears Laser Blast, Thunder Mesa Boat, Disney Railroad which does a whole lap of they Disney park and is really lovely, Casey Junior and the Fairytale boats in the back corner of Fantasyland.

Walt Disney Studios: Ratatouille

If you do fancy something that is absolutely not suitable for young children, you can use the Parent Swap system (ask a Cast Member as you arrive at the start of the attraction as each can differ but on the whole it means one of you queues and then get's given a ticket then once parent 1 has ridden you give the ticket to parent 2 and they go through the exit and get on the ride without queuing) for Tower of Terror in the Studios and Big Thunder Mountain in the Disneyland Park

Best Places To Eat In The Park
There is just about something for ever budget at Disneyland Paris with everything from snack counters to buffets to fine dining available within the parks themselves. Due to dietary requirements and to save money, we get breakfast in Starbucks at 7.30  in the village every morning (the hotel breakfast was nice but expensive and ate into our EMH), snack as and when throughout the day on things we bought from home or counter service restaurants and then only have a big sit down meal at the end of the day. Due to this, there are lots of places we haven't sampled despite our numerous trips. If meals are more important to you than they are to us, it may be worth looking at a meal plan (which you can learn more about in our Disneyland post here) or you can book some sit down restaurants 60 days before your trip on this number +33 1 60 30 40 50. If you're happy to just go with the flow, my only advice is to avoid eating at obvious meal times (grab lunch at 11 instead of 12) and don't get too hung up over the price of food - it's the same in theme parks here.

Disneyland Park: Plaza Gardens character breakfast is the best way to start your day, Fries from Hakuna Matata (I still dream of these), Mickey-shaped pizza at Belle Notte, fish and chips at Toad Hall where two people can eat for €12, Cookie Counter on Main. St, Casey's Hotdogs.

Walt Disney Studios: here you can get Mickey-shaped Waffles, Chez Remy for the restaurant interiors

Disney Village: Vapianos where affordable fresh pizza and pasta are cooked infront of you, Rainforest Cafe for lots of choice, Annettes Diner even if just for the milkshakes

You can view all places to eat here

Best Photo Opportunities and Absolute Must-Sees

Disneyland Park: Meet Mickey in his house in Fantasyland, walk through skull rock, the stain glass windows inside the castle, see Malificent's dragon under the castle, Alice In Wonderland's Labyrinth, try and pull the sword from the stone, Stars on Parade at 5pm, and the fireworks called Illuminations at park closing which are so wonderful they made me cry

Walt Disney Studios: you must go to the Mickey and the Magician show, grab a selfie with Mickey and Walt infront of the Hollywood backdrop, fill up a jar of screams at Monster's Inc, Walk through Toy Story playland to Gusteau's

How I Would Spend One Day at Disneyland Paris
Take this with a pinch of salt - there are so many variables to your individual day at Disneyland Paris including you entrance ticket type, weather, how busy the park is, what time you arrive and what time the park is open until (which can be 11pm!) and of course, what your personal preferences are but here is roughly how I'd plan to spend my day trying to get in as much as I could!

Whether you arrive during EMH or at general opening at 10am, I would begin my day by heading up Main St via Buzz's laser blast to get a fastpass time and then through the castle (or under it past the dragon) to Fantasyland where you can find most of the rides suitable for young children. I'd then see what the queue is like for Princess Pavillion to see if it's worth the wait time. Don't forget to book yourself a meet and greet slot on Lineberty!

After a/some ride(s), I'd leave Fantasyland via Adventureland and walk through skull rock before coming back out on Main Street ready for the themed parade which shows 2 or 3 times in the mid part of the day and then I'd grab some lunch at a counter service restaurant like Hakuna Matata, Belle Notte or Casey's Hotdogs.

After lunch, I'd head over to the studios for an hour or two, see Mickey and The Magician, walk through Toy Story land and ride Ratatouille, then if we were lucky enough to get the kids to sleep at the same time, ride on Tower Of Terror

I'd get back to the main park for 5pm to see the stars on parade and then spend the evening in Frontierland before Illuminations at park closing

Have you got a trip to Disneyland Paris booked? Let me know which bits you're most excited about! I hope this has given you plenty of ideas for things to enjoy however long or short your stay.

You can see all our content from Disneyland Paris here

Some images in this post were taken during a trip where our park entry tickets only were gifted to us by Disneyland Paris. This post was not agreed with Disneyland Paris prior to our stay and was not sent to them to authorise prior to posting. As always, all words and thoughts are entirely our own