Denise's CornerDisneyland Paris

My 25 Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris in 2019

This article was modified on January 14th, 2019 and July 15th, 2019. It was originally published in August 2018 and we’ve visited twice more since then.

Hi everyone!

I’ve been asked quite a bit lately for Disneyland Paris tips. I first visited Disneyland Paris in 2002 with friends for the 10th anniversary, and have visited Paris and/or Disneyland Paris another 9 trips since – 6 of those trips have been visits since and including 2014. I am not making a general tips list for foreign travel, this is just specific to Disneyland Paris and Paris. I’ve added some of our videos to the article as well as photos.

Visiting Disneyland Paris doesn’t have to be expensive, we usually stay off-site so we can stay longer for less money. In 2016 we had booked a 7-night Disney cruise for early 2017, but switched to Disneyland Paris when I figured out we could stay for almost 3 weeks for a similar price when all costs were included. Visiting Disneyland Paris is almost always less expensive for us than visiting Anaheim in part due to a less expensive annual pass and other factors. Of course, it depends on how you travel as to how much you will spend (and where you are flying from, how many in your family, etc.). More on that in the tips.

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1 – Choose a time of year to visit – I like to visit Disneyland Paris and really all Disney parks during events. Disneyland Paris has a great Halloween season, we’ve visited 3 times for the season since 2014. In May 2018, we were able to visit for the end of Pirates and Princess Festival, the FanDaze event and the kickoff of Marvel Summer of Superheroes. In September/October, we were there for Disney Loves Jazz and Halloween. And we visited for a week during Christmas, when there were so many wonderful shows going on. Disneyland Paris offers events most of the year now and it helps for nailing down dates to figure out what you are interested in. Daytime is much longer in the summer – during mid-June, there was still a little light in the sky at 11:00pm.

Mickey’s Halloween Celebration parade at Disneyland Paris

2 – Decide on staying off-site or on-site – I stayed at the Sequoia Lodge in 2002 and enjoyed it, and we just stayed at the Hotel Cheyenne in December – but these are the only times I’ve stayed on-site. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 I stayed in the city and made day trips to Disneyland Paris, but now we usually base out of the Val d’Europe area. I really like the Hôtel L’Elysée for the location, right across from the RER station – it’s just one stop to Marne-la-Vallée, which lets out at Disney Village. It can be quicker than the hotel shuttle (as little as 12 minutes from hotel to park) and often less crowded. We also have stayed at the HiPark Serris, which isn’t my favorite hotel but I do like that there are kitchens and that the hotel is a fairly quick walk to and from the parks (15-20 minutes). There are other options as well. When researching for last October, I found prices as low as $60 USD for a HiPark studio – very reasonable for a great season. On-site tends to be much more expensive, but not always. We booked the Hotel Cheyenne for under $100.00 USD a night just after Thanksgiving and the Sequoia Lodge and Newport Bay were also very reasonable. For a first visit, some guests will want to stay on-site. My favorite hotel right now is probably the Newport Bay Hotel, it looks great after a lengthy refurbishment.

Sequoia Lodge

3 – Check the Refurbishment Schedule – Disneyland Paris isn’t always great at giving too much information ahead of time, but it is getting better. Right now, everyone is waiting for Phantom Manor to open and that is currently scheduled to reopen in spring, 2019 (updated 7/15 – Phantom Manor reopened on May 3rd). Walt Disney Studios will be undergoing a multi-year transformation and some attractions will be closing, but nothing that I will miss too much.

Phantom Manor under refurbishment

4 – Consider buying a Disneyland Paris Annual Pass – The prices aren’t as inexpensive as they were in early 2017 and prior, but they are still a very good deal. The most expensive pass, Infinity, tops out at 399 Euros as of this writing, but there are less expensive passes as well. The Infinity pass includes a lot of benefits, from 20% off shopping to 15% off restaurants to free storage and a non-alcoholic welcome drink at table service restaurants. The use of several resort pools and parade & fireworks viewing is also included, based on availability. So if you are at the parks for a few days or more, definitely consider a pass.

Sequoia Lodge Quarry Pool

5 – Disneyland Paris resort packages can sometimes be a good deal – I rarely recommend packages but there are times that a bundled package can be a decent deal. The packages include tickets and guests can add a meal plan. Some friends recently stayed at the Sequoia Lodge with a special package including meal plan, and the price worked out reasonably for staying at the resort – though I thought the Half Board Plus seemed pretty restrictive for them as far as food. Breakfast is no longer included with all rooms as it used to be.

Disneyland Hotel

6 – Learn a few French phrases – Bonjour (hello), S’il vous plaît (please) and Merci (thank you) are important. In Disneyland Paris, most Cast Members can speak at least some English and many can speak a lot – so you won’t be likely using much more than that. The phrase I otherwise use most often is Je voudrais une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît, requesting a carafe of tap water, and I ask the phrase in French as it is specific to wanting tap water and not sparkling water (or any other bottled water).

7 – Pick an airport transportation option before leaving home – Over the years, I’ve used the RER to get to Disneyland Paris from CDG airport, as well as Super Shuttle and Magical Shuttle. Magical Shuttle was not magical at all, Super Shuttle is what we’ve gone with most with mixed results – the last few times it was actually very good. Uber is another option, there is also the very fast TGV train but I’ve not used it yet. There are quite a few options for transport.

8 – Gratuity is included at restaurants – It is customary to leave a Euro or two at the end of a meal, but the 20% gratuity we see in America is not expected. When you see a 29.99 Euro menu item, it is 29.99 inclusive – tax as well. Every so often at a restaurant elsewhere (especially somewhere like a boat cruise with dining), you may see “service non compris” on a receipt. That means the gratuity is not included. And sometimes you’ll see “service compris” – service included, but that is the standard and I see it less on receipts in France than I used to.

9 – Restaurants at Disneyland Paris are not always open – The counter locations on Main Street are open most of the time, but other restaurants are not. Each day, there are restaurants which are closed and some close earlier than others. I don’t know if this will change, but it is getting easier to learn the dates and times of restaurants ahead. If there is a certain restaurant you want to visit, make sure to find out the dates it is open. Disney Village has some nice choices in a pinch, including the two-story Earl of Sandwich with an expanded menu over what we have here in America. And McDonald’s has pretty good macarons at its McCafe – especially for the price. For table service, we enjoy Annette’s.

10 – Don’t expect French cuisine at Disneyland Paris restaurants – Disneyland Paris offers theme park food. I have only had wonderful meals at Walt’s Restaurant over the years so there are some exceptions to this, but generally I stick with Cowboy Cookout in the Disneyland park for many meals. At Disney Village, my choices tend to be Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks, Annette’s and such – I do like Disney Village choices for food. But visit the city of Paris itself for the best dining.

11 – Order a “menu” instead of just a main course – Sticking with the food theme, you’ll notice in Disneyland Paris that meals (menus) are generally much cheaper to order than the main course and other components separately. At Walt’s, my main course (entree) was 39.99 Euros whether I ordered it with or without a starter. Of course, you can just order a hamburger or other main in the counter service restaurants, but often it isn’t much more to add on the drink and side with it.

Our tour of Walt’s Restaurant – a must-do each trip!

12 – Visit the dragon under Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Sleeping Beauty gallery aboveLe Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant is a beautiful castle, and has so much to see inside. One of the highlights is the audio-animatronic dragon below, La Tanière du Dragon. It may be sleeping when you arrive, but it doesn’t stay sleeping. And the steps inside the castle lead up to La Galerie de la Belle au Bois Dormant, which includes stained glass and tapestries telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. There is a balcony to walk outside that is usually open.

La Tanière du Dragon

13 – Use Fastpass at the parks – Disneyland Paris still uses paper Fastpasses and so everyone has the same opportunity to have Fastpass on the day of.

14 – Don’t miss Alice’s Curious LabyrinthThis elaborate hedge maze leads to the Queen’s Castle and there are some fun surprises along the way!

Alice’s Curious Labyrinth

15 – Ride Big Thunder Mountain – The Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris is the best by far of any. Space Mountain (currently Hyperspace Mountain) with the new trains is much smoother as well and now a must-do for me after years of avoiding the attraction. Phantom Manor is also my favorite Haunted Mansion attraction that I’ve ridden.

Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris

16 – Don’t skip Walt Disney Studios Park – During the visits when I made day trips to Disneyland Paris years ago, I did skip this park as it really was a half-day experience. When Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002, it had a few terrific attractions along with a couple of disappoinments and not much else. Some of my favorite attractions are now here – Crush’s Coaster, Ratatouille: The Adventure, Mickey and the Magician (one of my favorite Disney park shows ever), Tower of Terror and more. Big changes will be coming to this park over the next 5+ years.

Walt Disney Studios Park still has a tram tour – for now

17 – Visit Disneyland Paris hotels – Each hotel is different from the next, and there are a variety of restaurants, bars and shops available if you want to stay for a bit. The Hotel Cheyenne has the Chuck Wagon Cafe (we had a terrific dinner there), and the Captain’s Quarters is a comfortable bar in the Newport Bay Club – it was the first visit for me in 2018. The Disneyland Hotel was beautiful for the holidays, as was the Sequoia Lodge.

Hotel Cheyenne Room Tour

18 – Use Disneyland Paris WiFi –  I always buy a sim card, but Disneyland Paris added WiFi recently and has been expanding it – so you may not need to use your phone plan each day or need as much data to be online if purchasing a sim card. Currently I buy my sim card from Orange in the Val d’Europe mall. It isn’t the cheapest but is easy to purchase and has great coverage.

19 – Shop tax-free if you live outside the EU: There is a location in the World of Disney to get your paperwork. Guests have to spend 175.01 EUR in one day just as any other participating location in France, but merchandise can be purchased from any of the shops at Disneyland Paris – not just World of Disney. It can be a pain and not necessarily worth it, I try to save up most shopping for one morning if I want to spend that much or more. That is just the first step before claiming the refund at the airport. You can find out more about shopping tax free here. I recommend shopping early in the day, as the World of Disney tax refund location can get very busy at night.

20 – Save money by visiting Auchan for groceries and souvenirs – I visit the grocery superstore Auchan almost every day during Disneyland Paris trips. I pick up drinks, snacks, souvenirs for gifts like soaps, lotions, chocolate, etc. It is in the very large Val d’Europe mall and there are also some nice restaurant choices there and other shopping. Auchan is a hypermarket with two levels. Most grocery items are on the bottom level and there is a large beer, wine and spirits selection along with a nice deli. As much as I visit Auchan, I do still duck into other grocery stores when I find them in Paris for items that Auchan does not carry.

21 – Visit the city of Paris – This really should be #1. It takes an hour or less to get into Paris from Disneyland Paris, and there is so much to see there – I love walking around the various Parisian neighborhoods and visiting favorite locations like Vandermeersch Boulangerie-Pâtisserie in Porte Dorée as well as finding new locales. I like Paris itself best during spring/summer when the hours are longer – like in May/June, when the sun goes down closer to 11pm. If you are wanting to purchase the Paris Museum Pass, there is a tourist kiosk outside the Marne-la-Vallée train/RER station that sells the pass along with tickets to other Paris locations. They can also answer questions.

22 – Consider the Navigo Pass for the RER – If you are going into Paris from Disneyland Paris, check the pricing on the Navigo Pass, especially if you are staying from a Monday through Sunday or within much of that time frame. Bring a small passport type photo for it with you or you can have photos taken in a photo booth for about 5 Euros. For myself, it is worth buying the Navigo (formerly the Carte Orange) if heading into Paris at least once, and then the pass can also be used between the Val d’Europe and Marne-la-Vallée stations. It saves a lot of time instead of standing in line for tickets to have a pass for the week.

23 – Book a tour in Paris – While I usually like feeling like a local, occasionally I like to feel like a tourist too – like taking a Fat Tires bike tour through Paris or a walking tour through Montmartre. Some tours will take you further, like Mont St.-Michel or the Loire Valley and you may discover aspects with some tours that you couldn’t book on your own. And London is only a few hours away via the Eurostar.

24 – Use a credit card with travel insurance – This is one general tip, but I really like to save money where I can. For example, the Costco card includes travel insurance, which can save quite a bit of money in addition to the usual credit card reward. Also, I usually book through Swagbucks (a rewards program) and often on Expedia where I am a gold member. I really try to stack any incentives as much as possible – but that isn’t exclusive to foreign travel.

25 – Need a doctor? – Val d’Europe has almost everything, including a doctor’s office with a pharmacy next door. It cost me about $30 in 2017 to visit a doctor for a sinus infection and they took me same day. I’ve read there is a dentist in Val d’Europe as well. And if you need a doctor called in, ask your hotel. Remember to bring your medications, both prescription and anything you may need OTC with you – it is much easier that way.

And I won’t add this as a tip per se, but just take in all the details of Disneyland Paris. There are so many, including in the arcades behind the shops on each side of Main Street.

Traveling to Disneyland Paris (and the city of Paris) doesn’t have to be daunting and it can be reasonably priced. The value of the Euro matters as well – our 2014 trip was more expensive because of the weak dollar and then the 2016 trip felt like a luxury one because the dollar was stronger. And watch the newest airline rules – starting very recently, I am seeing more “basic” fares that include no checked bags and such. Sometimes a credit card like several of the Delta Skymiles cards will offer a free checked bag. So definitely compare different rates to get the best deal.