A trip to Disneyland Paris for most families is the trip of a lifetime, but can also be very expensive! Because we only had 2 days to spend there, I knew we had to be clever with our planning in order to make the most of the experience. We went to Disneyland nearly 10 years ago when the kids were just 5 and 2, so I knew this time round it would be easier because of their ages (14 & 11) and that we’d be able to squeeze a lot more into less time. Before our trip I spent a lot of time researching and found some advice that was really helpful, so I thought I’d share it here for anyone else planning their trip to Disney. I promise you, with a little planning and A LOT of walking (I clocked up over 30,000 steps a day!) you can do & see everything in Disney in just two days! Here’s how we did it…
DAY 1 – TRAVELLING TO DISNEYLAND PARIS
As we were camping & travelling through France for 10 days in our campervan we didn’t want to shell out a load of cash on a Disney Hotel, so we booked a great camp site for 3 nights which was only 9km from Disneyland – L’International De Jablines . It was the perfect base for our 2 days there, with a shuttle bus that went from the campsite to the Disney Parks for just €2 per person each way! We took the kids out of school a few days before the half term as we knew the parks would be quieter in term time, in the hope that we wouldn’t spend the whole time queueing!
We travelled to France on a P&O ferry from Dover to Calais which cost £60 for a family of 4 and our camper. We decided to leave at 6.30am on Wednesday to avoid the rush hour traffic and allow extra time for our slow van to make the drive! We arrived at Dover by 9am and had a bit of a wait around until our ferry departed at 11am. There isn’t much to do at the ferry port, so bring activities and snacks for the kids to keep them entertained!
After a 90 minute ferry ride and a full days driving, we finally arrived on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm to find the campsite gates were shut! After a lot of hand waving/guesturing, me trying to remember my basic school French and the security guards limited English we managed to check in & they were very helpful, even though we couldn’t really understand each other! The campsite looked lovely, with a very clean modern toilet block, a shop selling the basics as well as fresh croissants, baguettes and pastries every day, and a play park for the kids. Once we set up camp and had a bite to eat we went to bed ready for an early start the next day.
DAY 2 – THE MAGIC KINGDOM
On Thursday morning after a quick breakfast we caught the shuttle bus and took a 25min ride to Disney, arriving at 9.30am. Even though the gates weren’t due to open to the public until 10am they let us in anyway, so it was worth getting there early! We had already pre-booked our park tickets in advance which was a lot cheaper than the usual entry fee at the door, and also saved queueing in line to get in. We booked our Disney Tickets months in advance and saved £100 by booking the 2 day park hopper tickets online through Attraction Tickets Direct. Just make sure you remember to print out your tickets before you go!!
The plan for the first day was to get on as many rides as possible in The Magic Kingdom, making sure to get Fast Passes for the most popular rides. We started at the back of the park and worked our way towards the front, which means that you avoid most of the large queues, as most people head for the nearest rides first! Because we went during term time it was fairly quiet and the longest we queued was 25 minutes, but most rides we walked straight on or it was a 5-10 min queue. We went on most rides in The Magic Kingdom and also hopped over to Disney Studios and rode a few of the big rides there too. At 6pm we met up with our friends at Cafe Mickey and had a fun dinner with all the disney characters and lots of opportunities to get photos and hugs with them. It was expensive, but worth it for the kids to see the characters without standing in line for hours. They each come round to your table & spend lots of time with the kids, and they loved it (even the adults too)!
After dinner we headed back into the Magic Kingdom for more rides and ended an amazing first day by watching the Disney Illuminations at 11pm. It really was magical, and we had a great viewpoint in front of the castle. Getting out of the park after the fireworks took a bit of time, but it wasn’t too bad. Once outside the gates we headed to the taxi rank and were lucky enough to get straight in a cab and back to our campsite which cost €30.
DAY 3 – DISNEY STUDIOS
We caught the shuttle bus again arriving at Disney by 9.30am and headed straight into the Magic Kingdom again to get on the Peter Pan ride. This is one of the most popular rides in the whole park (and my favourite!), so its best to do this first thing before the queues build up. Then we went on a few of the bigger rollercoasters – HyperSpace Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and the Indiana Jones ride. After those we headed over to Disney Studios for a few hours. The Ratatouille ride is a MUST, it was so good! Keep in mind that this ride had long queues, so get a FAST PASS or get there early. We only got to go on it once because the lines were so long after our first go!
After lunch we went back over to the Magic Kingdom to watch the Disney Stars on Parade, which was excellent! Then an afternoon filled with more rides and a bit of shopping for the kids to spend their pocket money.
At 6pm we headed to the Disney Village for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Again, like everything in Disney, it was pretty pricey, but a one off experience and I am glad we did it. It was so much fun, and a great way to end our last day. After the show finished we headed back into the Magic Kingdom for more rides, then at 10pm the heavens literally opened and we had an electrical storm which meant a lot of the outside rides had to shut early. We did plan to stay for the fireworks again, but it wouldn’t have been much fun in the pouring rain, and we had such a magical time watching them the night before so we didn’t mind leaving early. The only problem with leaving before closing time (which we didn’t realise), is that no taxis bother coming until the park shuts, so we had a hour wait in the rain for a taxi!
We had such an amazing time at Disneyland Paris and really made the most of our two days there, and have so many fantastic memories to keep forever!
MY TOP DISNEY TIPS!!
- Consider taking the kids in term time as the parks are so much quieter & avoid weekends at all costs!
- Arrive early at the gates as they often let you in before the official opening time
- Head straight to the back of the park & work your way towards the front, the queues will be less
- Take your own drinks & snacks as the food & drink is very expensive inside!
- Wear comfy shoes – you will do A LOT of walking!
- Wear layers so you are prepared for all weathers
- Bring a small backpack to carry everything
- Pack plastic ponchos incase of rain – they are small and lightweight, take up hardly any space and saved our bacon when the storm struck. I bought a pack of 5 for £2.19 from amazon, Disney charge €10 each!
- Bring your own refillable water bottles, there are drinking fountains all around the parks where you can fill up
- Pre-book your tickets ahead of time to save money
- Cut costs by camping nearby instead of staying on site
- Buy Mickey ears before you go, they are extortionate in the parks!! €25 -€35 a pair!!!
- Use the FAST PASS system for all the big rides to avoid queueing
- Download the Disney App to see live queue times, parade times, ride closures and to avoid long lines
- Get a spot for the fireworks approx 30 mins before they start. We stood in front of the castle at the top of Main Street (just to the right) and had great views.
- Watch at least one parade as they are fun and the kids get to see lots of characters up close if you are at the front
- Pack a travel charger for your phone – you don’t want to run out of juice & miss any photo ops!
- Don’t forget your camera or phone to record your memories!
Here is a little look at our time in Disney and our road trip around France…