If you are taking a trip to France this year and have decided that you want to visit Disneyland Resort Paris, but have also decided you don’t want it to take over to much of your time, then read on because in this guide I will give you the best advice on how to plan your day and get the best out of the short time you will have there.
Even in the bleakest of winter, Disneyland Park here at Disneyland Resort Paris is generally open the whole day, allowing most guests to enjoy the best bits of the park at a leisurely pace. Opening times vary with the seasons, and peak seasons such as the height of summer and Christmas will always see longer opening hours.
But, let’s say for this article the park is open from 9am to 8pm, which are its base opening hours out of season (off-peak). That gives you 11 whole hours to enjoy the wonders Disneyland has to offer!
Start your adventure by getting up early (a tip that is advisable at any Disney resort!) and making your way towards the magnificent, towering pink chateaux known as Disneyland Hotel.
Pass through the lovely well maintained gardens preceding the hotel, stopping to take a quick (remember you only have one day here!) picture of the Sorcerer’s Wand Statue, followed by a stop at the flower bed that has been grown into the legendary face of Mickey Mouse himself.
Just beyond the grass verge donning this great work of craftsmanship you will now see numerous tunnels that travel below the dreamy pink hotel; this is where you enter Disneyland Park!
The tunnels do have a sign above them stating that you are indeed about to enter the park.
As you pass through the queuing system you will meet the ticket booths. If you have already purchased you theme park tickets, you can use a separate lane for quicker access.
At the end of the tunnels are the Entrance Booths/turnstiles.
As with the other Resorts, pass your ticket through the machine and the bar will rotate to let you through.
You will now have arrived in a plaza area that features amenities for Guests such as restrooms etc.
In front of you up on a raised platform you will see the Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station. Try not to be tempted to ride this right away as the queues are always longer at Main Street and seeing as you only have one day, you can afford to see this later if you have time (unless you have some real train enthusiasts in your party).
Pass under the Station through the tunnels. Here you can store items you don’t want to carry all day in the locker halls. You can also pick up extra guide maps here.
Once you arrive in Town Square, you will probably get quite excited and rush to the first thing you see (usually the Castle or the shops!)
Try to avoid this temptation, and instead stand and wait for the Omnibus at the foot of the train station. Nobody ever queues for this first thing in the morning and it is a good way to see Main Street (especially from the top deck), without being tempted to buy everything in sight! The journey is one-way and will drop you off at the foot of the beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle.
From here you can take one of four routes to the lands that surround the Castle and Central Plaza area.
If you stand facing the Castle (don’t stand too long!), on your right you will find the entrance to Discoveryland, in front of you, through the Castle, you will find Fantasyland, to your immediate left Adventureland and slightly behind you to your left, Frontierland.
Most people find it easiest to work round the park in a clockwise movement, but seeing as everybody does this, perhaps a wise word in your ear would suggest heading left to Discoveryland first. Here you find some of the best attractions in the park, and if you have never been to a Disney Park, perhaps this is a good place to start because you can have some spectacular experiences through these attractions! Ones that you will never forget! People often underestimate the genius and intricate craftsmanship and detail that goes into a Disney Park and Paris is no exception!
So, we are heading to the left into Discoveryland. The top three attractions to do here would be Space Mountain (not for the little ones), a high speed adventure from the Earth to the Moon catapulted from Jules Verne’s Columbian Cannon. Then there is Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, a 3D experience that is a must for first time Disney-goers (if you have been to another version of this attraction in another park, you should probably give this a miss, as it isn’t as good as the US ones, but still if it’s your first time- it is a must). You get shrunk, hissed at, roared at, shaken about, sneezed on and brought back to size in this disaster film inspired by the movies of similar titles.
The other attraction that is definitely worth a stop at if you are new to this kind of entertainment (!) is Star Tours. A thrilling intergalactic jaunt onboard a transport ship that has gone off course! Meet your favourite Star Wars characters on the way, including R2-D2 and C3PO.
All of that, if the crowds aren’t flocking in like rabid maniacs (!) should take around an hour and a half; but it’s worth it. If there are queues already, you can take advantage of Disney’s revolutionary FastPass service on Space Mountain and Star Tours. This allows coming back to the ride at a later time and more or less getting straight on it! (See location for details).
The next logical step to take on your visit will be to Fantasyland.
Try not to get carried away and want to go the more child like rides such as the carrousel or the Flying Elephants, as these (unbelievably) often have the longest queues and there are much better uses of your short time here!
Peter Pan’s Flight is a must. The scenes inside are beautiful and the whole ‘flying’ concept is wonderful. This again is one very popular attraction and will almost certainly require long queuing or a FastPass.
The other classic attraction that is a must see for first timers is ‘it’s a small world’. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say ‘it’s a small world after all!…’
If you get spare time later in the day, try and take a stop back at Fantasyland to ride Pinocchio’s Fantastic Journey and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Those two attractions will probably take you around and hour to an hour and a half, depending on queues and how long you spend looking in the lovely Fantasyland Shops.
Next to Fantasyland is the very green and lush Adventureland.
There are two major attractions here. But surprisingly, both of them often get overlooked or passed by, by many people! But that’s not to say they aren’t worth a visit – they are – trust me…
Pirates of the Caribbean is a smashing adventure through incredible scenes of battling pirates and adventurers. You also pas through dark caverns and treasure hoards. There are a few surprises on the way too…
Look out for scenes that feature in the movie of the same name that was based on this attraction.
The other high thrill ride of the park (along with Space Mountain) is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril: Backwards!
And it’s just that – backwards!
It’s a high speed roller coaster where you have no idea what’s coming next as you can’t see behind you! There are a few dips and twists, and even a loop… Once you have recovered from the exhilarating Indian Jones it should well be around lunch time (around 2pm probably), take a stroll down into Frontierland. You can relax a bit now as you have seen the bulk of the park and really, once Frontierland is done you can do what you like!
Obviously this is just a guide, and the time may well be around 4pm now. Like I say the crowds and weather are very unpredictable.
The two main attractions of Frontierland are the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Phantom Manor.
Big Thunder Mountain, like Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight is one of the main attractions people come to see at Disneyland Park, so be prepared for long queues. I have queued in the height of summer in previous years when FastPass hasn’t been available and believe me, it can be very uncomfortable.
If you can get a FastPass, then all the better. Nevertheless it is a brilliant ride, not too fast or intense like Space Mountain, but a really good jaunt!
Finally the Phantom Manor. All I will say about this is that it’s haunted by 999 hilarious ghosts, but they have room for one more!…. as the Voice says ‘next time, remember to bring your death certificate!…’
Well, that’s it really for the main attraction! I know it sounds like a lot, and you probably think it isn’t at all possible. Let me assure you it is! I have taken day trips to the Resort and stayed onsite there and I have seen everything my party planned to do! Sometimes more!
Obviously everybody is different and you may not want to ride some of the things I have suggested anyway, but these are generally the things that Guests to the Resort want to see as they are the best bits. But, like I say, take your time, don’t rush about and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to see it all.
You will have a fantastic day no matter what. Guaranteed.
My final suggestions are as follows:
For parties with young children, try and see the more whimsical attractions, such as those offered in Fantasyland, but try no to let them get to carried away with pointless rides such as the Flying Elephants!
For a mixed family group, or with slightly older children, try to vary the day between the different age groups and ride categories (thrill, whimsical etc). That way everybody sees a good selection and there aren’t any fights!
For older parties (teens and adults) you will probably want to do the bigger and bolder attractions such as Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, but remember, this is Disneyland, and no matter your age you won’t look silly going on ‘it’s a small world’. Plus you are likely to be surprised at how much you do enjoy the less hair raising rides. Believe me, I know!
Have fun! And don’t forget that death certificate I talked about!!