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10 things you need to know about Disneyland Paris

10 things you need to know about Disneyland Paris

12 Mar 2013 BY Dominique's Villas

1 Disneyland Paris is not in Paris but 43km to the east, near Marne-la-Vallée. When Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, it was called EuroDisney and made no reference to the French capital. However, after recording several consecutive losses in its early years, the Park’s marketing was revamped to emphasize Paris. For those who prefer to stay in Paris, it is possible to drive to Disneyland, using the A4, direction Reims. However, using the RER ‘A’ (cost 6 Euros) is the easiest and most direct way, just 35-40 minutes from Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (the Arc de Triomphe stop) and Châtelet-les-Halles. Take the RER ‘A’ towards Marne-la-Vallée (beware, there are two branches) and alight at the last stop, ‘Marne-la-Vallée - Chessy’. The rail station is very close to the Park gates, much nearer than the car park.

2 When EuroDisney opened 15 years ago next year, because of a dispute with the French authorities, not a single road sign to the Park existed west of Paris, so many early visitors became hopelessly lost. Visitors by car from the UK should take the A1 towards Paris, and turn on to the A104 a few kilometres after Charles de Gaulle Airport. There are now plenty of signposts. Allow four hours for the journey from the Channel ports.

3 Only the expensive Disneyland Hotel is located adjacent to the Park, with all the attendant advantages of being able to return to your hotel room for a rest during the day if the younger members of your party grow tired. The other hotels all require the use of a shuttle bus to reach the Park.  There is little if any advantage in staying in these hotels, which sometimes have queues for shuttle buses. Instead, consider staying in Paris at the Novotel Paris Les Halles (book via Dominique’s Villas), close to Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Seine, and with a large car park next door.

4 Avoid the Disney Davy Crockett Ranch, located a full autoroute
junction from Disneyland. Quite apart from its distance to the Park, this budget accommodation looks in need of refurbishment, according to reports from visitors this year.

5 You get more for your money in the summer months in terms of opening times. These vary but the Park can be open for as long as 0900 to 2200 and for as little as 1000 to 1800. Whatever time of year you go, arriving at the Park before or when it is due to open is strongly recommended.

6 With more than 12 million visitors a year, the main problem in the Park is the queueing times. Although Disney has worked hard trying to reduce these by increasing the number of vehicles on certain rides and by better queue management, they are still depressingly long at peak times. The main advice on arrival is to head straight for the most popular rides, such as the revamped Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain Mission 2 and Peter Pan’s Flight. At these rides, and at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril (a very short ride after a long queue), Star Tours (looking outdated) and the new attraction for 2006, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, you can also insert your Park admission ticket into the FastPass machine at the entrance to the attraction. You receive a FastPass ticket, booking the time you can board and when you return you can access the attraction quickly via the FastPass entrance. Another option is to miss the main parade, usually around 4 p.m., and target the main attractions while everyone else is watching it. On nights with late closing, smaller children tend to tire and be taken home to bed, and you can walk straight on to Peter Pan, Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, three of the most popular rides.  Avoid weekends all the year round and preferably periods when continental children are on holiday.

7 Parents with very small children can still get a chance to sample the more white-knuckle rides, by taking advantage of an unadvertised arrangement known as the ‘Baby-Swap’. While the first partner rides, the second holds the baby and waits for them to come back and then has a turn of their own. Simply mention at the start of the queue that you are two parents with a baby and a member of staff (or “cast member”, as Disney insists on describing them) will explain how it works.

8 The unpredictable weather is Disneyland Paris’s biggest disadvantage over the California and Florida parks. Much of the queueing is in the open, so assume the worst: take full lightweight rainwear, including hoods or hats, for most of the year and wear warm clothes underneath during the winter.

9 Take sandwiches. Food in the Park is not good value for money and there can be long queues at the restaurants with table service. If you are determined to have a proper sit down meal, try to avoid peak meal times. The most attractive restaurant is called Blue Lagoon and from it you can watch visitors experiencing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

10 Resist souvenirs where you can. Prices reflect the euphoric mood that comes from having a really good time, as you will, if you know what to expect. In the last hour before closing time, souvenirs and Disney clothing are on offer at 50% of the original charge, at the exit gate.