Visit Disneyland, France
If you want to visit Disneyland, formerly Euro Disneyland and Disneyland Resort Paris located in the Paris suburb of Marne-la-Vallée, you should know that it is the Disney Empire’s European variant of their archetypal “Magic Kingdom” theme park. It was the second Disney theme park resort to open outside the United States, after Tokyo Disney Resort.
“To all who come to this happy place, welcome! Once upon a time, a master storyteller, Walt Disney, inspired by Europe’s best loved tales, used his own special gifts to share them with the world. He envisioned a Magic Kingdom where these stories would come to life, and called it Disneyland. Now his dream returns to the land that inspired it. Euro Disneyland is dedicated to the young and the young at heart, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration for all the world.” — Michael D. Eisner, April 1, 1992
Disneyland Paris consists of two parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, and a shopping district, Disney Village. Disneyland Park is the park everybody has heard of and expects, and Walt Disney Studios Park has a more general movie making theme – but it’s still very Disney. The Village is comprised of stores and restaurants.
Disney’s theme parks are famous for their “Audio-Animatronics,” attention to detail, service mentality, crowds, and high prices. The intention is to completely recreate the “magic” of the Disney franchise; employees are not “staff” but “cast members”; the park is kept insanely clean; and everywhere you will find a perfectly running machine. For example, you won’t find the same Disney character twice within sight – there are no duplicates. Children are clearly the focus of Disneyland, but older visitors are not neglected either.
All the theme parks follow basically the same setup, but of course there are many regional differences.
The total commercialism is something you have to either accept, ignore or enjoy. Besides the merchandise stores at every corner, many rides are “sponsored” by various large corporations.
To make the experience even more magical and enjoyable, the City of Light is just a half-hour train ride away.
With 15 million visits in 2017, Disneyland Paris has overtaken the Eiffel Tower as the most popular tourist destination in Europe and is in the top 10 most visited theme parks in the world. Likewise the ideal season to visit is when the number of guests is low and the weather is good. The general rule if you want to avoid crowds is to avoid the French school holidays. Keep in mind that during the low season some shows and parades may not run.
Special Events vary each year (that’s why it’s best to check the official Disneyland Paris website about what is offered during your visit) but there are two that are held each year at the same day: Disney Halloween Party and Disney’s Enchanted Christmas:
- The Halloween Party takes place on 1 day, from 20:30 to 2am on the last day of October. There guests can go trick or treating throughout the park, wear Halloween Costumes, meet their favorite villains and experience all attractions until 2am as the park becomes a giant party. The party is NOT free and one has to purchase a ticket in advance. Halloween decorations will be up in the last week of October and will be taken down once the first week of November is open.
- Disney’s Enchanted Christmas is a much bigger event that takes place in both parks from mid-November (right after Halloween) to the first week of January. Both parks will be filled with christmas decorations and Sleeping Beauty Castle will have thousands of bright lights on top of its towers. For the 2018 season the parks will feature a special parade called Disney Christmas Parade along with Mickey’s Magical Christmas Light and Merry Stitchmas (music shows) in front of the Town Square Theater and Castle Stage respectively in Disneyland Paris. Walt Disney Studios Park will also feature special events including: Goofy’s Incredible Christmas (a nighttime projection show in the Tower of Terror) and Tap, Tap, Tap along to Mickey’s Christmas Big Band (a special show in the Animagique Theater). New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a very beautiful way in Disneyland Paris (not Walt Disney Studios), as the park runs the Incredible New Year’s Eve Parade and the spectacular New Year’s Celebration Fireworks will light up the sky once the clock hits midnight. Christmas decorations are also very prominent to both Disney Village and Disney’s Resort Hotels.
Disneyland Resort Paris is well connected to both international airports in Paris.
Once you are in the park, your main mode of transportation will be walking. Disneyland is divided into four themed sections (Discoveryland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Fantasyland) and the central shopping and information area Main Street USA.
If you need to get from one side of the park to another, you can take the train which circles the Park and has a stop in each of the major sections. (Apart from Adventureland)
If you find yourself at the back of the park during heavy rain, there is an undercover walkway that will take you all the way from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride to the front of the park.
Bus services exist which can take you from Disney Village and the central entrance to the hotels. These buses are free of charge.
Wheelchair accessibility is very good, and there are very few areas that have the usual obstacles, such as confined stairs, that make access impossible. A very good system of disabled access for most rides is in place, but for safety and evacuation reasons, some rides still require that the rider be able to walk or climb a ladder. It is a good idea to get a disability pass from the Information Center on arrival at the park; doing so makes it easier for staff to identify and assist disabled visitors. The pass will not grant a disabled person the right to jump the queue, but it does allow assisted access to rides via the exit gates rather than the more restrictive entrance gates.
Disneyland Park Paris
Being the original park of the resort, Disneyland Park opened on April 13th 1992. The park, along with the rest of the resort, was plagued with financial problems for at least 20 years and hasn’t unfortunately opened any new attractions since 1994, with Space Mountain: La Terre de la Lune. In spite of this, it is considered the best “castle” park on the planet due to its incredible attention to detail. From the facades of Main Street USA to the hidden corners of Adventureland and the magnificent gardens of Fantasyland, it is obvious that imagineers have done a great work. Many of the headliners, including Big Thunder Mountain, Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight got huge refurbishments for the park’s 25th anniversary and now look better than ever!
Main Street USA
The official gateway to the park, lets guests walkthrough and experience a town in Middle America, in the 1900s in all its glory. You can also experience the mods of transportation that people used to use in this era such as horse-drawn streetcars!
This elaborate land, left of Main Street USA, pays tribute an American town in the Wild West in the 19th century, called Thunder Mesa. The town that flourished during the Gold Mining Boom, but it’s now abandoned and strange legends are said to haunt it.
Fastpass offered: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
This land is focused in the many adventures that Disney characters have faced. Split into 3 themed areas based on Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and Aladdin with heavy arabian and indian influences, it is a complete gem and considered one of the best of its kind.
Fastpass offered: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril
The place where all Disney fairytales come to life. This is the most iconic land of every Disneyland-style park around the world and not for nothing. Here you can soar high above Neverland with Peter Pan, meet your favorite princesses in the Princess Pavilion and even take a joyful tour around the world in It’s A Small World.
Fastpass offered: Peter Pan’s Flight
Note: Fantasyland closes 1 hour earlier than the rest of the park to accommodate with the firework show behind Cinderella’s Castle.
This area takes the “Tomorrowland” idea a step further. The land fully immerses you in the concept of the stories of Jules Verne that talk about the wonders of human innovation. While the land has lost some of the charm it once had, it is still great.
Fastpass offered: Hyperspace Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Walt Disney Studios Park
The sister park of Disneyland Paris opened in 2002. Since then it has received a lot of criticism of lacking the feel of “Disney” and being miniscule. Some of the acclaims are true (Walt Disney Studios park is currently the smallest Disney park on the planet but not the one with the least rides) but the park features some very unique and exciting attractions, worth doing at least once. The park will undergo major expansion between 2019-2023 that will transform the Backlot into a full-fledged land based on Marvel Characters, add a brand new lake, expand the current central boulevard and add 2 new lands based on Frozen and the Star Wars franchise. Unfortunately all of these additions and remakes will see the closure of some fan-favorite rides such as the Studio Tram Tour: Behind The Magic and Rock n’ Rollercoaster. So catch them while you still can!
Journey into the world of movies into the Front Lot, the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park and set the climate for the magic about to unvolve.
- Disney Studio 1— Welcome to Hollywood! Stroll down this small boulevard inspired by the real Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles and jump into the limelight and surprising run of films. All of this inside and air-conditioned! Don’t forget see the 10 different shops. The Studio also serves as the entrance to the park, like Main Street USA over in Disneyland Park.
Step into the Production Courtyard. Filled with awesome rides, majestic shows and dining worthy of stars, this is the first land that guests run into after Studio 1 and really helps set the tone for the park.
Fastpass offered: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Step into the park’s largest land and join the cast in some of Disney’s greatest animated stories. Shrink to the size of mouse, ride the East Australian Current or go up and down in a paratrooper operation, this land is tons of fun and also has heavy influences from Pixar. The land was formerly known as Animation Courtyard, until 2007.
Fastpass offered: Ratatouille: The Adventure, Magic Carpets of Agrabah
Single Rider offered: Crush’s Coaster, RC Racer, Ratatouille: The Adventure
Crank up the volume in Rock n’ Rollercoaster, see for yourself a stunning car show or experience the special effects from the movie Armageddon, the Backlot is filled with experiences full of adrenaline. The Backlot will be transformed into a Marvel-themed land and will probably close in late 2018 or early 2019.
Fastpass offered: Rock n’ Rollercoaster
If you can plan your timing somewhat, you may wish to take advantage of the free FastPass system. When you get to a ride, you can get a so-called fast pass that allows you to bypass the bulk of the queue at a set, later time. Even when the park is only moderately crowded, it’s a good idea to get fast passes for popular rides early (Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan and Tower of Terror for example). FastPass exists only for a few of the most popular rides. On non-peak days with low queues they may not bother issuing Fastpasses on some attractions, only issuing them for the two or three most popular rides in the park.
If there is one thing you will never have a problem finding in Disneyland Paris, its stores. Various themed and general stores are spread liberally throughout the park, selling Disney merchandise and general memorabilia. They carry everything from pencils to books, from Indiana Jones fedora hats to Cinderella costumes. The sky is basically the limit on the money you can spend at Disneyland Paris – you can buy glass/crystal trinkets and sword replicas in the central castle. If you come to Disneyland Paris with children, be prepared to reach deep into your pockets; cowboy hats and pistols or knights’ swords seem to be essentials for boys; Cinderella costumes for girls. Either way, a set of goodies for a child will probably set you back approximately €50. Add to these plush dolls, t-shirts and action figures … it’s easy to spend €50-100 a head on “souvenirs” – or more.
The main shopping area of Disneyland Paris is Main Street USA. The largest store at Walt Disney Studios Paris is Disney Studio 1, which you will see straight ahead after you enter the park. Disney Village has a large collection of retailers, including a Disney Store.
Disneyland Paris sports many restaurants and bars that have mostly one thing in common: They’re expensive. Some are simple fast-food spots, others are quite fancy. The food is often expensive. Cafe Mickey is expensive (€130 for four people) but the characters came around and you may save some time not queuing up in the park to have the kid’s pictures taken with the characters.
Remember that the park closes early in the winter, spring and autumn so it is hard to eat dinner in the park after dark.
Disney offers various hotels in and around the park. They vary in quality and style. All should offer a free safe to store your valuables during the day, including notebook computers (Laptops). Inquire at the reception. Most are within easy walking distance from the Park
As well as the above, there are several outer hotels, all of these offer transport to the park but they don’t have a Disney theme and may not be included in special offer packages.
Be a kid again visit Disneyland, France
Official tourism websites of EuroDisney
For more information please visit the official government website: