Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris lures travellers seeking culture, cuisine and tres chic couture. It’s easy to fill your travel days with visits to the best museums, galleries, and sites around the City of Light, but you’ll be forgiven for taken a petite time out to venture to the playground of the young (and the young at heart) – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio.
Hopping on the train from central Paris, we were transported to the magical lands of Disneyland Paris in an hour. Any airs of sophistication we’d channelled while sightseeing in Paris were soon swapped for our sparkly Mickey ears and a pep in our step as we hot-footed it to the most popular rides. We are by no means Disney pros, but we’ve visited Disneyland California and Walt Disney World, Florida, so we were keen to see how a French-infused Disney adventure would compare.
Entering the gates of Disneyland Paris, everything felt familiar – but different enough to pique our interest at every turn. Cast Members (Disney staff) were somewhat more subdued than their US counterparts, but no less polite. Meet and greets with the characters are plentiful, more interactive, and some with a boisterous energy that was hard to match. I’m looking at you, Tigger – breaking plates with your leaps of joy at Plaza Gardens buffet breakfast!
Our visit coincided with the busiest week of the year at Disneyland Paris. We visited the week after Christmas, while many Europeans were enjoying a holiday break. It was the last chance to glimpse Disneyland Paris festooned in its Christmas finery before the Grinch returned it to its everyday magic.
Knowing it would be a busy time of year, and with no little ones in tow, we decided to maximise our time on rides and forego queuing for character meet and greets throughout the day. Instead, we booked a character dining breakfast at Plaza Garden before Disneyland Paris officially opened for the day. The buffet breakfast was tres fabulous, and fuelled us well for our day of fun. It also gave us the chance to take some happy snaps with a variety of characters. Tigger, Eeyore, Pinocchio, Guiseppe, Pluto, and Goofy entertained the children and adults alike. At times, their accompanying Disney Cast Members had a tough time containing their enthusiastic antics.
It’s impossible not to get swept up in the joy of seeing storybook and movie characters come to life, and it was the perfect start to the day.
Let The Fun Begin
With full bellies, it was time to strategically tick off all of our must-do Disneyland Paris rides before the crowds swelled.
We soared above London’s skyline on Peter Pan’s Flight, defeated Zurg on the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast ride, and shrunk down to the size of Remy for the 4D Ratatouille: The Adventure, as we went on a rollicking ride through Gusteau’s kitchen. We’re not roller coaster daredevils, so we had time to park hop between Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park during the day.
Staying close to the Parks in a Disney Hotel, and spending a minimum of two days at Disneyland Paris, is what I’d recommend if you’d really like to have the time to appreciate everything on offer.
Entry to shows is included in Park tickets, and we recommend seeing as many as possible.
If you only have time for one, make it the Lion King. Disney’s production of the Lion King is high-quality, and entertaining for the whole family. The costumes are exquisite, the performers are polished, and the aerobatics ensure a pace to keep even the youngest audience members engaged. This was a winner with our entire family.
Paris may be famous for its runway haute couture during Fashion Week, but Disney’s beloved characters prefer to ride high atop festooned floats in a parade every day. The atmosphere is joyous, with the streets lined with eager Guests waving enthusiastically, hoping to catch the attention of their favourite Disney character.
The magic of Disneyland Paris continues into the evening. Armed with Hot Hands (warmers), we staked out a good vantage point to watch Disney D-Light, a spectacular show that includes drone light choreography which illuminates the sky over Sleeping Beauty Castle. Ensuring the crowd isn’t left wanting more, Disney D-Light is followed by the Disney Illuminations night-time spectacular. A combination of captivating music, dazzling fireworks, and animation projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle was the perfect finale to our visit to Disneyland Paris.
Magicall Disneyland Paris
- Disneyland Paris is “committed to providing a magical experience” for all its Guests. Inclusion is at the heart of everything Disney does, and it’s constantly making changes to create an environment where everyone feels welcome.
- Disneyland Paris offers comprehensive accessibility information on their website to plan your trip.
- Guests with a recognised disability can apply for a Priority Card online, up to one month in advance of a visit to the Parks. The Priority Card assists Guests who find queuing difficult, and those with access needs. Guests will need to provide proof of disability for a Priority Card. The accepted documentation differs between locations, and information on that can be found online. For Australians, a parking permit, NDIS plan document, or the Australian Companion Card are accepted.
- At the Disneyland Park, First Aid provides a private change room with a height adjustable change bed and a transfer lift.
- All table service restaurants in the two Parks are wheelchair accessible and equipped with audio description.
- For Guests with a visual impairment, Disneyland Paris offers a service called Virtuoz, a tablet that assists with understanding the environment and exploring the Parks through touch and sound. Pick up your tablet and headphones from City Hall.
- Mickey and the Magician is the first show at Disneyland Paris to have audio description implemented.
- All theatres are equipped with magnetic induction loops and offer seating for guests with a mobility restriction and their comapnions.
This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits. You can subscribe to the magazine here.