Have you always dreamed of visiting Disneyland Paris (DLP for short) but have no idea how to go about it? In this article, you’ll find the most important things you need to know if you want to plan your very first trip to the place Where Magic Gets Real. From places to eat, rides, transport, accommodations, there’s a little bit of everything about Disneyland Paris so first-timers can get a clear idea of what to do without feeling overwhelmed. Let’s start with the basics!
1. HOW TO GET THERE
Disneyland Paris is very easy to reach because it’s connected to central Paris and the major airports by metro. More specifically, by RER Trains (Réseau Express Régional) which are the commuter trains that connect the city to the suburbs. If you’re already around the central area, all you need to do is hop on RER line A (which is red) toward Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy station and get off at the very last stop. You’ll even see a cute little Mickey head next to the name of the station so you know where you’re going. The ride from central Paris is about 45 min long and costs €7.60. (Click here to plan your itinerary).
Another good but pricier option is using Uber. You can easily request a ride through the app or schedule for later. The price from central Paris is around €60 and it takes about 30 min. It’s a comfortable alternative and worth the cost if you’re riding with friends or family.
If you’re coming from Orly airport, you’ll need to take the Orlyval monorail that connects the terminals to the metro and get off at Antony to continue on the RER B (blue) line towards Mitry-Claye or Aéroport Ch. de Gaulle (it doesn’t matter which one). From there you’ll need to change to RER A at Châtelet–Les Halles and head to the magic! The full price from the airport to DLP (Orlyval included) is around €19.35 and it takes about 1h22.
You can also take the RER B line from Charles de Gaulle airport towards Saint-Rémy Iès-Chevreuse or Robinson (it doesn’t matter which), and change to RER A at Châtelet–Les Halles. The duration of the trip is about 1h25 and the fare is around €17.30. The quickest way to get to Marne-la-Vallée, though, is by taking the TGV train from the airport. Disneyland Paris is the first stop and it takes less than 10 min. Prices vary depending on the season but you can check here.
2. WHERE TO SLEEP
Although many people decide to stay in central Paris (I’ve done it before too), there are many great options of places to stay around the Disneyland Paris area. For a budget trip staying off-site the best area to stay is around Val d’Europe. There are many affordable hotels (like the Ibis where I usually stay), a big mall with a supermarket and a pharmacy, many restaurants and bars, and it’s just one RER stop away from the parks.
There are also several convenient DLP partner hotels very close to the parks that offer a free shuttle service such as the beautiful Hôtel Dream Castle, but you can also find wonderful places such as the relaxing Villages Nature Paris (keep in mind to stay at this resort you need to have a car because there is no shuttle service and taxi services are not allowed inside the property).
If you’d rather stay as close to the magic as possible, Disneyland Paris has 6 wonderful on-site hotels within walking distance from the parks located around the Lac Buena Vista area at the end of Disney Village. Their prices range based on their amenities but hotel packages include park tickets for every day of your stay, check-in and check-out days included.
Disney hotels all have fun and different themes so you can have a more immersive experience during your stay. If you want to channel your inner superhero you definitely need to check out Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. And if you feel like taking a walk in the woods you should check-in at Disney’s Sequoia Lodge, my favorite resort (click here to read more about this hotel).
One of the best perks of staying at a Disney Resort is that it allows you to enjoy Extra Magic Time by giving hotel guests access to the parks before their regular opening hours. Make sure to check out everything Disneyland Paris has to offer here.
3. DURATION OF THE TRIP
The question I get asked the most is “how many days do I need to see everything?” and the short answer is “it depends”. Disneyland Paris is made up of two parks, Disneyland Park which is the main park where Sleeping Beauty Castle is, and Walt Disney Studios Park (WDS for short). Seeing everything in one trip is impossible but if you prioritize the attractions, meet and greets, and entertainment you’d like to see the most, 2 days would be the bare minimum.
To make the most out of your days, you should get to the parks at least a half-hour (or more) before the opening time so you have time to go through security and get the bigger rides out of the way. Since Disneyland Park is bigger and usually closes later, you should visit it on your first day. Start your second day, bright and early, at Walt Disney Studios Park, and when it closes head back to the main park so you can go on a couple more rides.
Pro tip: the last two hours before the Disneyland Park fireworks show Illuminations, at closing time, is the best moment to go on some rides that might have been crowded during the day. Lines are usually very short at Phantom Manor, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Tours, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
4. TYPES OF RIDES
Speaking of rides, have I mentioned that Disney isn’t just for kids? A common misconception when it comes to the Disney Parks is that all the rides are small and slow and there’s not much for adults to do but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thrill rides, dark rides, boat rides, walkthroughs, meet and greets, shows, snacks, shopping. No matter what you like, Disneyland Paris has something for everyone.
Adrenaline lovers shouldn’t miss Big Thunder Mountain, Hyperspace Mountain, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at Disneyland Paris Park, nor should they miss The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, RC Racer, and Crush Coaster at Walt Disney Studios. If you’re more of a dark-ride kind of person, then you shouldn’t miss Ratatouille at WDS, nor Peter Pan’s Flight, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Phantom Manor at Disneyland Park. (Check out all of DLP’s rides here)
5. WHERE TO EAT
If you’re looking for some hunny to fill your tummy, I’ll teach you a knack for finding a snack inside the parks. There are four different kinds of places where you can get some food: Restaurants, Quick Service, All-you-can-eat Buffets, and Snack Bars.
Restaurants, also called table service at the parks, are very popular so if you want to make sure you get a table, I strongly recommend you book it in advance (booking is free). At Walt Disney Studios Park you can shrink to the size of Èmile and enjoy everything Bistrot Chez Rémy has to offer. Disneyland Park has several dining options. Auberge de Cendrillon (currently closed) where you can encounter Cinderella and some of her royal friends. Captain Jack’s where you can live your best pirate life. Silver Spur Steakhouse where you can dine like a real cowboy. The Lucky Nugget Saloon where you can enjoy some live music and occasional shows. Walt’s (currently closed), a Victorian-style restaurant that celebrates the life of Disney.
Quick Service is your best option when you don’t feel like planning in advance. There are many options around the parks to choose from but the most popular places are Café Hyperion, Hakuna Matata, and Pizzeria Bella Notte at Disneyland Park, and Restaurant en Coulisse at Walt Disney Studios Park. Keep in mind that at Quick Service restaurants guests pay for their food in advance and choose where to sit with their trays.
Disneyland Park only has two All-you-can-eat Buffet restaurants, Plaza Gardens where you can usually meet Mickey Mouse and some other Disney characters (meets currently suspended), and Restaurant Agrabah Café which is incredibly delicious and my favorite one.
If you’re looking for something to eat on the go or just feel like grabbing a quick meal, Snack Bars are for you. There are so many places to choose from but my two favorites are Casey’s Corner where you can get tasty hot dogs and Café de la Brousse where the best chicken strips are sold (extra deliciousness points if you can also get some corn fries from right across at Hakuna Matata).
There are many dining options outside of the parks as well. The Disney Village, a shopping and dining area right outside the parks’ entrance, has several restaurants and bars that you can go to if you want to take a small break or after your park day. It’s also worth getting a table at any of the restaurants at the Disney hotels or just getting a drink at one of the bars. They’re open for everybody, hotel guests or not and you are free to enjoy them at any time. (Note that if you plan to visit the Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel the only way to get a table is by calling directly since online bookings are not available. Click here to read more about the restaurants there)
6. THE DLP APP
For anyone visiting the Disney parks, downloading the Disneyland Paris App is a must. It’s available for free for IOS and Android and it’s very easy to use. From the app, you can see the parks’ opening hours, buy your park tickets, explore the maps of the parks and see the wait times for every attraction in real-time, find out meet and greet times and spots for Disney characters, see what time the parade and shows are, book a table for your favorite restaurants (usually, up to 2 months in advance), and buy a Disney Premiere Access to join a dedicated priority line at some select attractions (previously known as FastPass+ even though it’s not quite the same). The app is a great way to get acquainted with the parks before your visit so that you don’t miss anything.
There are so many wonderful things for first-times to discover at Disneyland Paris. Scratch that, there’s an infinity of amazing things to discover at Disneyland Paris for everyone! Do you want to know more about the parks? Then join me and enjoy adventures by following me on Instagram @cateatdisney and don’t miss out on any of the fun.
“Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn – and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young-in-heart, to those who that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”– Walt Disney