I’m a huge Disney fan, and my love for Disney doesn’t end with Walt Disney World. My family has also enjoyed numerous vacations on the Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney. So, when we booked our Adventures by Disney vacation to London and Paris, I definitely wanted to add on the optional Disneyland Paris (DLP) extension. I knew that I couldn’t leave Paris without a chance to visit the Disneyland Paris parks.
A two-night stay was recommended, so that’s what we decided to book. While it’s definitely not the same as our beloved Walt Disney World, we did enjoy our stay at DLP. We especially loved the Disneyland Paris rides – some of which were different from their US counterparts. Here’s our complete guide and review of Disneyland Paris , with everything that you need to know!
Complete Guide and Review of Disneyland Paris
DLP is located about 30-45 minutes away from the center of Paris, in a small town called Marne-la-Vallée. It offers 2 theme parks as well as an entertainment/shopping/restaurant area called Disney Village. There are also several Disney operated hotels on property, as well as three 9-hole golf courses. It’s definitely smaller than Walt Disney World, and you won’t need to spend as much time exploring. But, there are some fabulous Disneyland Paris rides, so you’ll have plenty of things to do during your stay.
Disneyland Paris Parks
DLP offers two theme parks. Both are located adjacent to each other, and within easy walking distance. It’s quick to move between the parks, making it easy to park hop.
Walt Disney Studios Park is most similar to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at WDW. The rides and attractions here are all inspired by movies, including some popular Disney movies. It isn’t a large park, but there are plenty of fun rides and attractions packed into the park. There are several sections to the park, including Toon Studio, the Production Courtyard, the Backlot, and the Front Lot. Toy Story Playspace, inspired by Pixar’s Toy Story movies, is located in the Toon Studio area.
At Walt Disney Studios Park, you’ll also find the Art of Disney Animation, where you can learn how to draw a Disney character. Instructions are given in both French and English. You’ll also be able to see several shows and characters. Unlike other Disney parks, you’ll need to use a special app to book a reservation to see the characters at the Studios.
During our stay, the park was also hosting Le Rendez-vous Gourmand de Disneyland Paris. This International Food and Wine festival offers food and beverages from the various areas of France as well as other European countries. During our first day, we got some snacks from the booths. The offerings weren’t as robust as the International Food and Wine Festival in Epcot, but there were some delicious options.
Located adjacent to Walt Disney Studios Park is Disneyland Park. This park is most like the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It features five “lands” like the Magic Kingdom, including Adventureland, Fantasyland, Discoveryland, Main Street USA, and Frontierland. The center of Disneyland Park is Sleeping Beauty Castle, complete with a dragon.
In addition to rides, shops, and restaurants, you’ll find character greetings, a parade, shows, and more. Everynight (weather dependent) the park hosts the Disney Illuminations show.
There’s also Disney Village, a small area filled with entertainment, restaurants, and shops. During our stay, we ate a few times at Disney Village and did lots of shopping. You’ll also find a cinema, Billy Bob’s, and the PanoraMagique tethered hot air balloon. If you enter Disneyland Paris though Disney Village, you’ll go through security at that entrance.
Both parks offer the FastPass system. It’s the same system that used to be used at Walt Disney World, where you’ll receive paper passes that you get from a kiosk at each ride. Like at WDW, FastPass is only offered at select attractions.
Hotels at Disneyland Paris
Looking to stay near Disneyland Paris? They have several USA themed hotels that are great for families. All of them are close to the action, and there’s a shuttle that can take you to the parks. When we booked our DLP add-on through Adventures by Disney, we were offered two options – the Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hotel New York. The price difference was pretty significant, so we decided to book the Hotel New York.
The Disneyland Hotel is a luxurious hotel that is conveniently located right in the front of the Disneyland Park. It’s pretty much the front entrance of the park – you have to go under or around it to enter the park.
Disney’s Hotel New York is a more moderate hotel, and is just about a 10 minute walk from the parks. It offers several restaurant and bars, as well as a gorgeous indoor/outdoor pool. See our full review here.
There are other hotels as well – all themed after locations in the United States. You’ll find Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch, Villages Nature Paris, Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne, Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe, Disney’s Newport Bay Club, and Disney’s Sequoia Lodge.
Guests of Disney hotels have an added perk of extra Magic Hours to the parks. Only select attractions are open during this time, but you can take advantage of this opportunity to ride the most popular things.
Disneyland Paris Rides
Of course, what’s a theme park without rides? Luckily, you’ll find lots of great rides at both parks. Here are some that you can’t miss:
Walt Disney Studios Rides
Ratatouille: The Adventure: This trackless 3D ride takes you on a journey through Remy’s attempt to prepare a meal. It’s a popular ride, but definitely worth riding. It’s such a unique experience. Note that this attraction will be closing for refurbishment in the late summer 2018.
RC Racer: Inspired by the Hot Wheels toy featured in Toy Story, this ride is so much fun! It’s a bit of a thrill ride, but feels more tame that the roller coasters. There’s no FastPass for this one, so go early.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Avec Aerosmith: While the background story of this ride is a bit different from WDW, the general ride is the same. Instead of traveling in a limo to an Aerosmith show, you ride through an Aerosmith music video. This ride is changing themes in the near future.
Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin: This ride is smaller than the Slinky Dog ride at Walt Disney World, and is best for younger kids.
Studio Tram Tour: Behind the Magic: I miss the backstage ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I was glad to ride this one. Narration is done in both English and French, so you won’t miss out on anything.
Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop: Like RC Racer, this is another popular ride based on Toy Story. The line was long, so my son and I chose to ride as single riders. It’s a bit similar to Tower of Terror, but much more mild. We loved it and would have gone on again and again if there was no line.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: This ride is just like the one at WDW, including the pre-show, which is spoken in English with French subtitles.
Crush Coaster: I heard great things about this ride, but we weren’t’ able to ride it. The lines were long, and there’s no FastPass option. When we arrived during Magic Hours, the ride was down. I would definitely recommend going as early as possible.
Big Thunder Mountain: This was my favorite ride at all of Disneyland Paris. It’s a bit different from its US counterpart, because it goes under a tunnel to a small island where most of the ride takes place. It’s SO fun and we absolutely had to ride it more than once.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast: This is another one similar to the US ride at the Magic Kingdom. It’s a FastPass ride, and we went on it twice because we couldn’t get enough.
Disneyland Railroad: This classic ride takes you through the park.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril: I’ll be honest. We didn’t like this ride. It was really short, and our heads banged around during the entire ride. I’d recommend skipping it.
Pirates of the Caribbean: This attraction is just like the WDW ride, but is partly in French, with a larger drop in the ride. It’s a classic and can’t be missed.
Star Tours: It’s just like the ride at Hollywood Studios, but is in French. I get motion sick on Star Tours, so I sat it out while my family rode.
Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain: My son loved this version of Space Mountain, which is Star Wars themed. Unlike the WDW counterpart, it goes upside down and is ever more of a thrill ride.
Phantom Manor: DLP’s version of the Haunted Mansion was unfortunately closed for refurbishment during our visit.
There are other rides at Disneyland that we skipped, including it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, the Orbitron, Les Voyages de Pinocchio, and Les Mystères du Nautilus. Our kids were just more interested in the thrill rides.
Shops at Disneyland Paris
You’ll find lots of shops scattered throughout the parks and Disney Village. We especially loved the exclusive DLP merchandise – I had to hold back from buying everything. One thing that I did notice is that there is less attraction-specific merchandise. So while there are shops at the end of some of the attractions, they generally sell more park merchandise than attraction merchandise.
Disneyland Paris Food
If you are staying at a Disney hotel, there are some meal options you can include in your package. Options include breakfast, half board, and full board. Our package through AbD included the breakfast buffet at our hotel, which was delicious.
The food was the most disappointing part of our experience, however. It was fine, but wasn’t as good as the delicious food we had in Paris. Admittedly, we only ate quick service food. So the fine dining establishments may have been much better.
There are several fun themed restaurants, like Bistrot Chez Rémy and Captain Jack’s (in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride). If we had more time, I would have tried one of those. The table service restaurants were expensive though, so you’ll definitely want to budget for them.
Since Europeans tend to dine later in the day, we found the restaurants to be less crowded earlier. If you don’t have reservations, that’s probably the best way to eat without crowds or waits.
Disneyland Paris Tickets
You’ll find several different ticket options for your visit to DLP. You can choose one or multi day, tickets, depending on your plans. Adults are considered anyone age 12 and up, while kids’ tickets are available for those aged 3-11. Children under three don’t need a ticket.
When purchasing a single day ticket, you have the option to choose dates. Select dates may be offered at a lower rate. You can also decide whether you want to visit just one park, or be able to visit both.
There are also multi day tickets, which include both parks. You can also choose to add on special events or a dinner show. When you are at the parks, you can also purchase the PhotoPass option, so that you can get all of the professional pictures taken during your trip.
Overall Disneyland Paris Review
As Disney fans, we definitely had to take advantage of our time in Paris to explore DLP. I’m so glad that we did. While it’s definitely much smaller than Walt Disney World, there are still so many fun rides and attractions. It was nice to be able to get around so easily, without boats, monorails, or buses. Because it’s smaller, you don’t need to spend too much time there – two or three days would be perfect.
To learn more, visit the Disneyland Paris website.