Planning a trip to Disneyland Paris

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Wanting to take a trip to Disneyland Paris?  Who wouldn’t?  For any fan of the Disney theme parks, going to Disneyland Paris should be a mandatory box on the bucket list.  Getting there, however, is not quite as straightforward as a visit to Disneyland or Walt Disney World.  Over the next few posts I hope to provide some guidance, especially for some of the more practical tips that I never really found until I experienced it in person.

Part of the problem is that specific information is fairly lacking in the United States.  A visit to the US version of the Disneyland Paris site will often leave you a bit confused.  There is a definite lack of specific reservation and touring advice, which can make it difficult to commit to spending thousands of dollars on your own.

For example, for the US parks it is quite easy to pick and choose exactly what you want whether it be hotels, just park tickets, etc.  By contrast the Disneyland Paris site links hotel and park tickets.  I had originally hoped to buy a 2 day ticket as well as 2 nights hotel since we would be arriving late the first day.  But no luck, you have to buy 3 days of park tickets with no option to change it.  Think of it as a prix fixe menu rather than a la carte.

So for the first time I decided to use a travel agent, just to be sure I didn’t completely mess things up.  Major credit goes to Michelle Cunningham at MEI-Mouse Fan Travel for making the process a lot easier.  She did a great job investigating different room and price options to find just the right combination for us.  If you decide to stay at a non-Disney hotel you probably have more flexibility in regards to tickets, etc but since I didn’t go that route I can’t comment on that.

Planning resources are really hard to come by.  Compared to the huge variety of stateside Disney park books, the isn’t much for us here that detail Disneyland Paris.  There was an Unofficial Guide written back in 2010 but that is now hard to find (as well as out of date AND expensive).  I primarily used 2 books:

1. Top Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris by Kevin Yee.  Available as an e-book ($2.99) or paperback at Amazon.  This book is relatively short but offers a lot of good, practical advice specific to these parks.  Kevin is a regular columnist over at MiceChat and has major Disney credibility.  He covers a lot of the preparation for the trip as well as details of the parks and attractions.  Highly recommended.

2. Independent Guide to Disneyland Paris (from a Former Cast Member) by John Coast.  Also available as an e-book ($6.99) at Amazon.  A much longer text, as well as organized in a fashion similar to typical stateside park guides.  This book seems to be updated on a regular basis, and I purchased the 2014 edition.  Like Kevin’s book it is details the parks as well as getting to/from them.  Particularly useful was the chapter Disneyland Paris for Walt Disney World Regulars, so you know what is similar as well as different.

Both books are quite affordable so really there is no reason to not pick them both up.

Other things to consider during the planning phase:

  • Make sure your passport is up to date, and will not expire close to your travel dates
  • Check to see if your mobile phone is capable of usage in Europe.  Some companies offer plans for global travel and will save a lot of money in roaming fees, though calls will still be quite expensive.  Data is even better while you’re there if you have the option as free WiFi can be hard to find.
  • Ask your bank/credit card companies if they have a Chip and PIN card available for any of your accounts.  Chip and PIN cards are much more widely accepted than traditional magstripe cards and will make your life easier.  I will discuss money options in more detail in a separate post.
  • Check the average weather during your visit window.  Disneyland Paris can be quite chilly during the winter and even spring months.  Even during the summer the evenings can be on the cool side.

The next post will discuss some things about money during your trip.  Following that will be information about the parks, hotels and getting around.  I will wrap everything up with a set of Do’s/Don’ts from personal experience.

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