We had a fabulous holiday to Disneyland Paris. We don’t regret taking our nearly 3 year old toddler. But I must admit that I was too impatient to take him and I know that he would have faired better had he been a little older. It was very tiring and sometimes it all just got too much for his little body in more ways than one. But that means we can go again now right?
At the time we were already in France so a trip to Disney seemed like a natural thing to do. We found a good deal via the Disneyland Paris website and booked to stay at the Davy Crocket Ranch for 3 nights. In hindsight I wish we’d stayed for 2 nights longer and had more chill out time. We were constantly on the go and it was tiring for us, let alone Jamie. Below I have compiled my list of top tips for visiting with young children – I hope it helps!
The long and short of it was he loved it, he still remembers it well and talks about it approx. one year later. Plus we can take him again now right? I am of the thinking that toddlers will find the experience of Disney that little bit more magical and amazing than older children. They take so much more in and just imagine how fun it will be to them. Quite an experience I’m sure. We simply have to go back as I would love for Jamie to meet the characters at the meet and great dining and this time I need to take my decent camera. So for now Disneyland Paris is not getting ticked off the list as there is still more to see and do. There are more rides we can go on now for a start, especially as 5 rides were shut when we went.
If you are visiting with toddlers / young children here are my 15 top tips for a happier holiday.
Disney for toddlers
If you don’t take a buggy don’t worry. They hire them out so if your kids are flagging you can easily get one and pop them in it. Jamie refused but that’s Jamie for you. They cost 15 Euros for the day with a 50 Euro deposit. They have some great moving walkways to help you get to the park put they are just from the car park and don’t take you all the way there. It’s quite a hike from the car park to the main entrance alone.
If you go in the autumn and winter months the evening fireworks will be at a more toddler/younger child friendly time so it may be worth considering this if you don’t mind colder weather. But remember the weather in northern France can be pretty much like ours – dull, wet and cold!
Be aware of foreign school holidays. Although our British holidays were done and dusted most of Europe was still not back at school. We had not realised this and Disney was incredibly busy.
You don’t have to pre book to meet the characters. Some of the characters have meet and greets available during the day around main street at no extra cost. You have to queue but I’m sure your kids will appreciate it. Unless you have a kid like ours who ran away from Mickey mouse!
We will be adding meet and great experiences to our next visit. We have a much braver and far more confident boy now who loves meeting characters. Plus I now have an amazing zoom lens for my much loved camera. It would be fun to review again in much more detail. But for now next on our agenda is Walt Disney World Florida.
Jamie ran away from Mickey Mouse!
Try to get a good spot for the parade. We tried to aim high but we were soon turfed off the wall we picked. Get there in plenty of time so you can have a good space at the front. As you can see from this photo we picked a pretty rubbish spot and learnt from our mistake.
Research and pre book character meet and greets – Exclusive Character dining at Disneyland Paris. They look amazing and great fun for the little ones. The characters are also located around Disneyland and Disney studios park to meet and greet for free. Within Disneyland they have a Princess Pavilion where you can meet and greet Disney princesses. It is advised to queue here early.
Thank goodness we were staying at a Disney resort as this allowed us into Disney 2 hours before the park opened to the general public (between 8am and 10am). Not all the rides are open during these 2 hours but they do rotate what is open and trust me it is more than worth it. Participating hotels that offer the 2 magic hours are Disneyland hotel, Hotel New York, Newport bay club, Sequoia lodge, Hotel Cheyenne, Hotel Santa Fe, Davy Crockett Ranch.
Davy crockett ranch is the furthest accommodation from the park. It suited us as we booked a lodge with 2 bedrooms (husband snores!). Parking was included at no extra cost at the park. Because we were arriving at 8am we could park right at the front end of the car park. The walk from the car park to the main gates takes approx. 10-15 minutes. The drive in takes approx. the same length of time.
Make sure you are all wearing comfy and sensible footwear.
Make sure you always have your little ones hands if they aren’t in a buggy. Jamie is great at holding hands and had long outgrown reigns. You could always buy an anti loss strap from ebay if you have an unpredictable toddler.
You can check which rides are suitable for little ones on my post here – Disneyland Paris – Which rides are suitable for toddlers and young children.
Take advantage of your Disneyland Paris FASTPASS. We didn’t and we missed out on going on Ratatouille in Walt Disney studios park. You have to use your park entrance ticket at the entrance to the ride you want to fast track. This then gives you a time slot to come back later. You must do this early on in the day as the slots go quick. Later on you return at your given time and your wait time will then just be a few minutes – wait time was 2 hours for Ratatouille on the day we went and we wish we’d known all of this in advance. The fastpass is only allowed to be used once at a time, so you can’t have more than one fastpass on the go at a given time.
Try to stick to a schedule. Decide which park you are visiting. We did not need anymore than a day at Walt Disney studios park. Disneyland itself we did need two days and we could have done with 2 more to be able to fit in some shows and more general chill out time. You can easily do all the rides in 2 days though. It’s best to work your way around each area before moving onto the next. Plan where you want to eat in advance and go on the rides in that area before you eat there.
Eating earlier can avoid the crowds. Some of the sit down restaurants such as Bistrot Chez Remy (next to the Ratatouille ride) and the Blue Lagoon restaurant are very expensive. But I tell you what the food was fabulous. It also got us away from the hustle and bustle for a while. There’s plenty of good self service places to eat. It really is worth sitting down and studying where to eat via the link above in advance. It will give you a great idea of where to eat and the prices you can expect to pay. You can take a picnic and they have a designated area slightly off site for this. Some restaurants are inside the theme parks others such as Café Mickey, McDonalds, Planet Hollywood and our favourite and reviewed Buffalo Bills Wild west show with Mickey and friends can be found in the Disney village. Here is a great link to all the places to eat at Disneyland
We also loved the eat all you can buffet at Davy Crockett’s Ranch in the evening. The food was really good.
If you have a baby you can use the baby switch service. Basically your other half can queue alone and go on the ride by themselves. When they are finished you can then go on without queueing while your partner has the baby. Great hey!
Take a water bottle and refill from their many free water fountains.
I’ve read quite a bit lately about pushchairs/buggies being stolen so take a good bike lock to secure your buggy.
Most of all have fun. It was an experience we will never forget and hopefully Jamie will remember the fun we had through memories, photos and my very long video that I made. You can watch that at the end of this post.
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