When I planned my weekend trip to Paris–including Disneyland Paris, I certainly learned a lot. Being in a foreign place and a new atmosphere added a heightened level of anxiety over trip planning. The website I found the most helpful was www.DLRPmagic.com. This website offers a lot of trip planning tips and guides to the rides, the parks, dining, and everything in between. I also found my Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Paris very helpful; it helped me to choose which rides to miss, how to plan my tour, and how to pick and choose where I should eat.
I definitely learned some things from planning this trip, and now I know what not to do next time. First, I searched and searched looking into staying on Disney property, so I could be close to the parks to take advantage of the extra magic hours. However, even the lowest-cost hotels were far out of my price range (more than $200 per night for the cheapest), especially with the Euro-Dollar exchange rate. I knew I only had 2 and a half days in Paris. This was ambitious, I know, but I’m only a college student. My weekends abroad were limited. I ultimately decided to stay in downtown Paris and make a day trip out to Disneyland on the Saturday of my stay. I knew that the Saturday would unfortunately have more crowds, but park hours were very limited, and Saturdays offered the most time in the parks. I also figured touring Paris itself, like the Lourve and the Eiffel Tower would be better to do on a Friday rather than Saturday.
Mistake #1: While I was purchasing my boyfriend’s plane ticket from Edinburgh to Paris through Orbitz, I saw this promotion where it said “add an attraction.” I sort of did this on a whim, but I ended up paying for an outside service to provide bus transportation to Disneyland from downtown Paris, and to skip the queue to buy park tickets because they were purchased ahead of time. Weary of the fact that I’ve never been to a foreign country before, and I don’t speak French, I was scared of the public transportation and thought the motorcoach ride would be the easiest. It ended up costing $265 for 2 people for a 1 day ticket. It wasn’t until later I learned that DLRP offers student prices, and I could’ve gotten a day parkhopper for 45 Euro. Don’t I wish WDW had that! But be careful, certain discounts are not available during holidays or weekends. Anyway, we were able to get to the motorcoach place fine, but we then learned that they would bring us to park opening, but they would pick us up to return at 7pm when the parks close at 10. This really, really bothered me. I was paying a premium for this service, and they didn’t have the option for us to spend the entire day in the park! So we ended up having to pay 7 Euros pp to take the RER train back to the city center anyway. Also, our motorcoach ended up departing late, and we weren’t there for rope drop. Needless to say I was stressing about this to the max.
Looking back on it, if you are planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort Paris, I would highly recommend staying in downtown Paris as we did and taking the train to Disneyland. The RER train stop is right at the intersection of the entrances to the Walt Disney Studios and Parc Disneyland, and it’s about a 35-45 minute train ride back to city center. I felt safe, and the cost was reasonable, compared to staying on property. We saved a lot of money by not staying on property, and the extra magic hours weren’t worth it. Usually the extra magic hours at DLRP are only offered in the morning, and only certain attractions are open.
Also, if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t go in the winter. Normally Paris has a temperate climate, but we were in temperatures of 10-20 degrees. Being outside all day in this weather wasn’t fun. Not to mention, I thought the crowd levels would be pretty moderate seeing as we were going the first week in December, but the park was absolutely packed. We only rode 1 ride in the Walt Disney Studios, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, because all of the other wait times were much too long. It was still nice just to walk around and soak in the atmosphere, though. Also, I would plan 2-3 days at the DLRP. Trying to do both parks in just one day with the crowds we were experiencing was just too much. The wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight was 120 minutes, if that gives you any idea. And if you do only have one day to tour the parks, I would suggest sticking with one park, the Parc Disneyland.
If you have your own suggestions for visiting Disneyland Resort Paris, please let me know in a comment or tweet!