Archive for March, 2011

Top Ten Tips for Disneyland Paris

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Disney

We’re just back from Disneyland Paris with the kids and a super time was had by all, however it pays to do some homework before you go. Here are the top ten things, in no order, we learned from others or just on our own. Worth nothing that these are purely personal ideas which may not apply to your needs or plan.

–          Age: The idea of Disney appeals to all parents however the reality of access to rides, queuing, eating out and a lot of walking does not make an easy journey for the very young. Unless you have kids about to go over the age threshold then hold off on taking the younger ones until the age of about six if at all possible. Worth nothing the very young won’t even remember their trip so don’t be in a rush to bring the under fives.

–          Hotel Choice: We stayed three nights which equated to about two and a half days in the parks. Nearly all of this time was spent outside of the hotel. We got up, had breakfast and we gone by 9am. We did not see the hotel again until 9pm. For that reason we stayed in the 2* Santa Fe hotel which is part of the Disney complex. The hotel is basic but clean and a decent shower to get you going in the morning. Rooms had a flat screen TV with one or two English channels, mostly news but the Disney channel itself was in English. Different families will have different needs but there may not be much point in trying to book a hotel with a pool if you plan to be in the parks all day.

–          Transfers: The package deals will most likely include a VEA (Red Bus) transfer from the airport to your hotel. The transfer can be a two stage process i.e. the first white bus comes every 20mins which then takes you to the main shuttle which also arrives every 20mins. The bus can cost time and be a bit of an unpleasant scrum so we paid an extra €80 for a private transfer from the airport. He was waiting at the gate with our name on a card adn took us direct to the hotel. We landed at 13:30 and, as we carried hand luggage only, were checked in and in Disney park by 15:30. Journey time from the airport to the hotel was about 45minutes. We used  http://www.parisshuttleservice.com but others have recommended http://www.shuttle-transfers.net

–          When: Go midweek if possible. We went Wednesday-Saturday and the crowds in the hotel Saturday morning we a lot bigger to what we had seen Thursday and Friday mornings. Park queuing times will be less midweek. Tuesday to Friday would be the ideal choice for me.

–          Time of year: Outside of peak times you get much better deals. We went in March, and were there for St. Patricks Day, but the weather can be your enemy. Paris can be very cold and it can be wet at this time of year so you need to try plan for all types of clothing. Rather than bring a big bulky coat that will get in the way bring layers that you can take on and off as needed. Add waterproof jackets (or ponchos) and hats, scarves and gloves and you get the idea. Footwear can be the deal breaker here, if it rains everything gets wet very quickly. The Disney shops have children’s wellingtons which you can buy if you’re stuck.

–          Hotel Breakfast: The first queue of the day is for hotel breakfast, Some (most) hotels issue you with  a card that has your requested time on it e.g. 8:15-8:45. Miss this time and miss breakfast. In the Santa Fe they let everybody in regardless of what the card said but I heard of people turned away in the Newport Bay Club for turning up at the wrong time. In the Santa Fe hotel the breakfast room was huge and they let batches of people in every few minutes. Up to you to find a table after that by wandering around. We liberated a few breadrolls every morning which we brought to the park. The kids munched on them while waiting for rides.

–          Early opening: Disney hotels advertise early park access for those who stay with them. You can get in from 8am instead of 10am which is normal opening time. This is a swizz and none of the rides, or even the lands themselves,  are open. Maybe because it was Patrick’s Day on the only day we got there early. It appears to be a ploy to get you to have breakfast in the park with the characters (which they charge you for). Get to the park around 9:30am and get in. Don’t leave it until 10am or there’ll be a queue. If you plan to head early I would check on Google to find out what you can actually do at that time.

–          Fastpass: At the park itself there is the “Fastpass” option. This will only apply to a few of the more popular rides but use it wisely, you will want to avoid the 50minute queues for Big Thunder and Peter Pan. Here’s what you do: If you are staying in a Disney hotel get to the park about 9:30 or 9:45. Most of the lands (Adventure land, Frontier land etc) will still be roped off and closed. Pick the “big ride” you’re interested in for that area e.g. Big Thunder for Frontier Land and make a break for that as soon as they open the rope. This will 1) Save you having to queue 2) Having to use your Fastpass for that ride, remember Fastpass can only be used on one ride at a time, when you’re done on Big Thunder go off and Fastpass the Peter Pan ride (one of the most popular as its open to all ages).

–          Planning: There is a lot of walking and queuing which can be very tiring, towards the end of the day feet (and backs) are beginning to suffer so hold off on the more auditorium based, seated, type shows until the afternoon. In particular the Cinemagique and Stunt shows in the Disney Studios. Also, don’t dismiss the Lilo and Stitch show as for the small kids only, it’s amusing and entertaining for both kids and adults. Captain Eo (Michael Jackson 3D movie) and Star Tours and also worth leaving until a bit later when a seat is appreciated.

–          Thrill Rides: I wouldn’t automatically dismiss any of the rides or shows in Disney no matter how lame they seem. You can spot the thrill rides a mile away, some folk like them, some don’t. The Studios seems to have the majority of the thrill rides. Word of advice here: beware Crushes’ Coaster (Nemo), no fastpass system, huge queues and apparently a nice soft ride the young ones will enjoy. The reality is that this is all but a full on coaster in the dark and not the pleasant jaunt through Nemo’s world that it would seem.

95% of what we took in between the Park and the Studios was worth doing. I’m not going to tell you what wasn’t. Some scared the absolute daylights out of us (Tower of Terror) and some were just so well put together you had to admire (Stitch Live!).

Enjoy