2012 has a lot of celebrations and not all of them are in London. Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 20th anniversary and travel writer Laura Porter visited for the first time with her young daughter. She shares some some tips to help you make the most of your time at Disneyland Paris.
From Marne-la-Vallée train station you’ll see Disney Village and the two Disney parks. Disney Village is free to enter and is mostly shopping and dining but it’s popular at night too for the Wild West Show and cinemas. Do note, a sandwich and drink from the station is cheaper at €6-7. Keep your bottle and refill from the water fountains before you go to the parks. In front of the station are the hotel shuttle buses. There are plenty of hotels to choose from – book before you go to get the best deal. My daughter absolutely loved the Magic Circus Hotel. You’ll need at least one day at each park so consider staying three nights.
Park 1: Disneyland Park
Arrive early, and definitely visit this park first as – yes, I know it’s a cliché – it’s magical! Four zones branch off from Main Street USA: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. Grab a map as you enter, along with a daily events schedule.
Go to Fantasyland first as it’s best done in the morning before the crowds get too bad. Ignore the carousel as it’s a common ride (and had ridiculous turn-around times) and head to Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo or the Tea Cups as they are close and all great fun.
It’s A Small World is an indoor boat ride through displays of moving dolls with a repetitive song. That might not sound appealing but we went twice as little ones love it. Captain EO, a 3D film, was OK but is only really good if you want to remember what Michael Jackson looked like when he was black.
Even with two days, we only saw Frontierland and Adventureland from the Disneyland Railroad, so plan your days well.
Where to Eat At Disneyland Paris
Be prepared to live on high sugar treats for a few days. And even though the park is open until 10pm, many food outlets are closed after the 5pm Parade. The best option for dinner is Victoria’s Restaurant (near Central Plaza) where pizza, salad and drinks for two was €16.
Park 2: Walt Disney Studios Park
This smaller park was simple to navigate, easier to find toilets, and less crowded. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was darn scary and not recommended for young children even with the 1m height restriction. The ride involves a hotel elevator freefalling again and again. The Flying Carpets over Agrabah is very similar to the Dumbo ride so there’s no need to do both.
Where to Eat At Walt Disney Studios Park
Blockbuster Cafe has the best kid’s meal deals for €6, plus you get a voucher for a free hot drink later too.
You can use your ticket on FastPass machines to get an allocated time to return. It’s not at all rides and you can only have one at a time.
There’s a major parade in each park but get there early as staff (fun police) will constantly move you back, and get in the way of photos, if anyone goes 1cm over the line.
It is slightly odd seeing adults wearing mouse ears – especially ones that light-up at night – but if you don’t give in to the fun at Disneyland then where can you?
Laura Porter is a freelance writer and has About.com London Travel, an online travel guide for visitors to London. You can follow her on Twitter at @AboutLondon All Images © Laura Porter. Disney provided her Disneyland Park Pass.