Living 15 minutes from Walt Disney World and visiting the parks frequently, I consider myself something of a Walt Disney World pro. When it comes to the other Disney parks around the world however, I’m way more of a novice! So when it came to booking our trip to Disneyland Paris with kids, I had to start from scratch.
I’ve put together 10 tips about visiting Disneyland Paris with kids for those more familiar with the US parks to highlight some of the biggest differences that you should be aware of when booking your trip. Everything from the location of the park (did you know Disneyland Paris isn’t even in Paris?!) to details about the rides that you might not have considered. Hopefully these tips prove helpful when booking your Disneyland Paris with kids trip!
1. Disneyland Paris is not in Paris
Despite the name, Disneyland Paris is not actually in the city of Paris. If you’re visiting Paris, then Disneyland is certainly close by but you won’t be able to walk there or anything. You’ll need to figure out transportation.
Disneyland Paris is actually in Chessy, which is about 20 miles outside of Paris. If your vacation is just a Disneyland Paris trip, then I’d recommend staying at one of the Disneyland Paris hotels themselves (more on that below) since it does take time to get back and forth from Paris to the parks. But if you just want to visit for the day, there are a few options transportation options.
The easiest – and the option we chose – is to take the train. There is a train station actually in Disneyland Paris so you can jump off the train and step right into the parks! The train station is called Gare de Marne-la-Vallee Chessy, so that’s the station you want to head towards.
From the center of Paris, you want to find the closest RER station to where you are, and then take the A line East to get to Chessy. The station we were at had a little picture of a Mickey head next to the A line picture so we knew we were headed in the right direction! The journey took about 40 minutes and cost about €7 for an adult round trip.
The RER is a train line, so this is different to the Metro system that runs throughout the city of Paris (the Metro is the Paris version of a subway system). If you have Metro tickets, they won’t work on the RER and you’ll need to buy separate tickets.
There is also a shuttle bus run by Disneyland Paris that departs from Gare du Nord (shuttle 1) and the Eiffel Tower (shuttle 2). This is a more expensive option and leaves at set times so is more restrictive. We found the RER option to be a much better option in terms of flexibility and price.
2. They speak French!
I mean, obviously! This might seem like the most ridiculous tip because OF COURSE they speak French in France! But I saw so many people genuinely confused when menus, signs, and ride instructions weren’t in English that I wanted to include it here.
Cast Members working at Disneyland Paris will speak some level of English, but for most of them it’s not their first language and I wouldn’t expect anyone to be fluent in a language other than their own native language.
Almost all menus had English translations but, as with anything that has been translated, sometimes it still wasn’t super clear exactly what the meal was going to be. If you have food allergies, I would definitely learn the French translation so you know what to avoid in the original French without having to second guess the translation.
Ride spiels and shows were mostly in French with a few English translations thrown in. It didn’t take anything away from the experience for us, but there were times we weren’t 100% sure what was going on!
When we visit another country, I always learn the basics of the language and teach my children those as well: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, etc. I think this is a polite and respectful thing to do and we found that when we at least attempted to speak French, people were much more friendly and willing to help us translate what we were trying to say. I would encourage anyone visiting Disneyland Paris with kids to to learn at least the basics of French.
3. The weather will be unpredictable
If you’re used to Walt Disney World, then you know that the weather is usually pretty predictable: it’s going to be hot and sunny. Of course there are summer thunderstorms, and winter can be all over the place with some freezing days thrown in, but trends tend to be similar across the seasons. Paris is a whole different story!
When we arrived in Paris, it was 106 degrees and stiflingly hot. The next day, it was in the 60s and it poured with rain all day. Anyone visiting the parks across those two days would essentially need their entire wardrobe to be comfortable!
This was in July, and throughout the year things can be even more unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to get snow in Paris in the winter, and it can be very wet throughout the year. You can check the weather forecast leading up to your trip to get an idea of what you might want to bring, but I would also be prepared for it to change at the last minute.
I would always travel to Disneyland Paris with kids with a poncho, rain jacket, or small travel umbrella (read through my tips for travel rain gear for the whole family). I would also bring as many layers as possible, and a warm winter jacket if you’re visiting in the winter.
As with all Disney parks, lots of the attractions are outdoors so you’ll be out in the elements most of the day and you don’t want to be too hot, too cold, or too wet and unable to enjoy the day.
4. Rain will not make the parks quieter
At Walt Disney World, hurricane season is from June to November and during those months, there are daily afternoon storms. These often last an hour or two before clearing up, but sometimes they go on all evening or even last all day.
If you’re a Walt Disney World pro, you’ll know that if the day is going to be very wet, the parks are usually a lot quieter and if you brave the weather, you’ll be rewarded with shorter lines. This is mostly because rainy days are quite rare so people are willing to stay home those days and wait for the sun to come back out.
This is not the case in Disneyland Paris! With rain a possibility most days, rainy days do not deter visitors one bit! Many visitors are also from European countries where rain is common so they’re more than willing to go out and hit the parks with umbrellas in hand! This means parks will not be any quieter during rainy days and if you’re expecting shorter lines those days, you’ll be disappointed!
The day we were there it poured with rain almost all day. We had rain jackets and umbrellas and we powered on, despite the rain. The park was still packed, the wait times for rides were still long, and the only difference we could tell was that some of the shows and parades didn’t go on in the rain. Otherwise it was business as usual!
5. You can walk around inside the castle
If you’re a Walt Disney World pro then you’ll know that while you can walk through Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom, the only way you can actually go up into the castle itself is to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table – either that or win a stay in the Castle Suite, which most of us are never going to see! But in Disney Paris, anyone can walk around the castle interior!
When you enter the castle, you have a few options. You can enter one of the shops found there (one is a Christmas shop, the other is Merlin l’Enchanteur which is a store that specializes in jewelry and glass products.)
You could also climb the stairs to walk the interior balcony. This is where you’ll find the story of Sleeping Beauty, with parts of the story depicted in beautiful stained glass windows. The story is written out in books around the balcony so you can read along. You can also go and stand on the exterior balcony, which overlooks Fantasyland.
It’s really cool to be able to walk around the inside of the castle, and they’ve made great use of the space. It’s also a perfect rainy day activity since it’s all enclosed (except the outside balcony).
6. Height restrictions are in cm, not inches
France uses the metric system, which means height restrictions for rides will be in cm, not inches. You’ll find these restrictions listed on the park map, as well as at the ride entrance but if you don’t know how tall your child is in cm, it won’t mean much to you!
Before your trip, it’s worth measuring your child and converting the measurement into cm so you have an idea of which rides your child might be able to ride and can plan ahead.
If you do forget to measure your child in cm and have no idea what the conversion might be, then you can always have them measured at the ride. There are height markers kids can stand under the same way they do in the US parks, so this is a back up option!
7. There is a dragon under the castle!
I think this is one of the coolest things about Disneyland Paris: there’s a dragon under the castle!
If you’re stood facing the back of the castle in Fantasyland, walk to the right of the castle and you’ll see the entrance to the dragon’s lair. It’s pretty dark in here so be careful with little ones, but once you walk down into the dark you’ll find the lair of the dragon – complete with a moving, roaring dragon!
I absolutely love this! It’s such a fun feature and ties in so perfectly to the story of Sleeping Beauty. When asked what their favorite thing about Disneyland Paris was, both of my kids said it was seeing the dragon!
8. There are two parks (that you can easily walk between)
If you’ve visited Disneyland in California, then this will be a familiar feature of the parks to you, since it’s the exact same layout there. But if you’ve only ever visited Walt Disney World and are used to having to take transportation to get between the parks, then this will be a welcome change!
Disneyland Paris has two parks: Disneyland Park (sometimes referred to as the Magic Kingdom) and Walt Disney Studios. The two parks are next door to each other and you can simply walk across the plaza between them. This makes it really easy to visit both parks in one day and to go back and forth between the two.
9. There is a hotel right at the entrance to Disneyland Paris
If you’ve ever stayed at on property at Walt Disney World, you’ll know that there are a handful of hotels that are so close to the parks, you can walk to them. Disneyland Paris goes one better by having a hotel that’s literally at the park entrance!
The Disneyland Hotel is right at the entrance to the park, and an amazing place to stay! Not surprisingly given the convenience of the location, it’s the most expensive of the Disneyland Paris hotels but if it’s within your budget then it’s definitely worth the splurge! You can even watch the fireworks over the castle from some of the rooms!
You can find more information on the Disneyland Paris hotels here.
10. Disney Village is a (much )smaller version of Disney Springs
If you’re used to Disney Springs with its countless shopping and dining options, then Disney Village in Paris might come as a bit of a surprise. While there are dining options and a few stores, it’s a much smaller version and can be thoroughly explored in less than an hour.
That being said, it is worth having a walk around if you have time. There are some places that you’ll also find in the US: a Planet Hollywood, a Rainforest Café, and a Lego store, for example. But there are also some fun and unique options like King Ludwig’s Castle, Annette’s Diner, and Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon. They also have a balloon ride like the one found at Disney Springs.