A student’s guide to Disneyland Paris

I recently visited ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, Disneyland Paris which can be an exciting and overwhelming experience for your inner child. Here are some tips from my recent visit to help out if you ever plan to visit in the future.

Where to stay?

There are a variety of hotels such as the main hotel right at the main entrance. There are also other cheaper nearby options such as the western-themed Hotel Cheyenne where I stayed at, which is only a 15-minute walk from the Disney Village or alternatively if you want to make a move to Disneyland there is a TGV train connection to the Disney Village. It can also serve as a direct connection from England.

Where to eat?

There a variety of restaurants but some I particularly recommend are

Big Meals (Around €30 -Planet Hollywood located in the Disney Village (If you want to buy any merchandise from the shop you can get a 20% discount if you show your receipt within 24 hours) and Chuck Wagon Cafe, located near Hotel Cheyenne.

There is also Toad Hall Restaurant, located in Fantasyland which offers an all-you-can-eat buffet with great value. Annette’s American Diner, located in the Disney Village-a good American diner spot. Smaller meals (Less than €10)-Earl of Sandwich, does breakfast deals as well as some cheaper options as well as dinner. The Disney Village does also includes McDonald’s and Starbucks. You can also find Food trucks around the parks which offer snacks and treats.

General tips

Firstly, make a few days for your trip if you want to cover everything. There are 2 parks: the main Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Park which is slightly smaller.

Download the Official Free Disneyland Paris App. It includes opening, closing and waiting times for the attractions and restaurants as well as a map of the parks although paper maps are also available around both parks.

During the trip, I had access to a fast pass which allowed me to access the park an hour before it opened to the public, but use your time wisely as it flys by quickly (Make your plans in advance and know which rides will fill up quickly if you want to use it). You can get this by simply choosing to stay at one of the Disneyland Hotels.

If you want to skip the queues during the day you can purchase a fast pass at a minimum of €30 which allows you to skip the queues on certain rides.

Some rides offer single rider experiences. Be careful with this because some rides which offer this can lead to longer waiting times compared to group rides such as Crush’s coaster.

It is possible to bring your own food/snacks in to the park but I don’t recommend taking a picnic.  The only bag checks are at the entrance to the Disney Village.

The fun doesn’t end when the park closes, although the parks officially close at 6pm on weekdays and 8pm on the weekend after the illuminations, the Disney Village remains open until 11pm or midnight. There are restaurants, shops and bars as well as some classic entertainment. One spot I particularly recommend is Billy Bob’s bar which does a variety of western themed entertainment.

Don’t worry about using French. The staff at the parks do understand English. You can still use French if you want to though. As you may possibly guess, Disneyland can get expensive. Bring plenty of cash if you want to splash out on gifts. If you shop before 3pm you can leave your purchases in the shop to collect later.

Information will last until June 2020 as new Avengers/Marvel themed attractions will be completed by then in the form of the Manhattan Hotel located right outside the Disney Village and a new Avengers HQ in the Studio Park. Also, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast located in Discoveryland is currently closed for renovation and will be re-opening July 2020.

Best rides/shows-These are the rides/attractions to not miss out on when you go.

Hyperspace Mountain- This classic ride has recently been given a Star Wars makeover, but the change of entering hyperspace and an imperial Space battle rather being shot out of a cannon towards the moon still doesn’t take away from the thrill this ride has to offer.

Big Thunder Mountain-The main attraction of Frontierland, this ride takes you on a runaway train through a Gold mine with drops, turns, and twists.

Phantom Manor- provides a good spooky experience starting as a walking tour and proceeding to ride pass ghosts and other monsters

Crush’s Coaster-Located in the Studio Park, This lets you experience the thrill Marlin and Dory experience while riding the EAC (East Australian Current) with Crush and the turtles in Finding Nemo. I particularly recommend doing it towards the beginning of the day or after lunch as it can get busy quickly and the wait can be quite tedious especially with those seagulls. 

RC Racer- My personal favorite ride in the Studio Park’s Toy Storyland. This ride is like the swinging Viking ship except here, you’re riding RC as he goes up and down a halfpipe made up of Hot Wheels track.

Tower of Terror-Inspired from The Twilight Zone, this ride takes you to another world via an elevator. You are sat down and taken up the elevator. You will then drop like a rock down multiple times (Don’t forget to scream please and keep a hold of your bags). This was my personal favorite ride at the parks.

Meet Mickey Mouse-If you choose to meet the mouse himself, I would recommend leaving it later on in the day. You will only get a few minutes to talk and get some photos with Mickey and whilst you’re waiting, you can observe a variety of the old school Mickey Mouse Shorts from the 30s.

Disney Stars on Parade- In the afternoon all of the costumed Disney characters parade down Main Street. I would suggest arriving 15-30 minutes before the parade starts to find a good observation spot.

Disney Illuminations-At the end of the day, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is lit with projections, lasers, and pyrotechnics as Mickey Mouse makes his way through some of Disney’s most popular films. Again I would suggest arriving 15-30 minutes before the illuminations to find a good observation of the castle.

Weaker rides/attractions-These were the rides I was not as keen on. You can still try them out if you want to. This is just my opinion.

Pirates of the Caribbean- Despite its legendary status, personally I think this ride is a bit overrated. This is simply a boat ride with a few drops (you don’t get wet) taking you through the various adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate gang.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril- Despite being a good thrill ride, this, unfortunately, won’t satisfy your inner adventurer. There is a lack of identity to make it feel more like Indiana Jones. It is in desperate need of some arrows, a giant boulder, fake lava, spears, saws, and illusions.

Star Tours-This 3D Star Wars Experience can be a bit of a lottery. Despite an interesting wait, when I went, I ended up with Endor around the Wreck of the second Death Star and a space battle from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ which I am not too familiar with. Other locations do include however Tattooine, Kashyyyk, Naboo, and Coruscant.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Adventures of Pinocchio- These rides are quite similar taking you through the events of their respective films. Whilst they do have their scary moments (The wood scene and some appearances of the Evil Queen’s old hag disguise in Snow White and Pleasure Island (Where the boys transform into Donkeys) in Pinocchio, they don’t have the thrills sticking to the rails.

Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop-This can be described as a child’s version of Tower of Terror. Inspired from the Green Army Men’s drop-in Toy Story, this fall is a lot slower compared to the Tower although it is something hearing a recording of R Lee Ermey’s Sarge (Who the base is named after in his honor) barking orders like Hartman from Full Metal Jacket.

By Stuart McComb

All photographs were taken by Stuart McComb

Feature image courtesy of WDW news

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