Disneyland Paris – An Honest Review

Disneyland Paris: An Honest Review

This Spring Break, we had the enormous pleasure of visiting Europe after years and years of dreaming and planning! Our three girls are in French Immersion, and we knew that there was nothing more rewarding or encouraging than going to France to practice their French in real life. Of course, that trip has to include a trip to Disneyland Paris!

our family in Paris

I’m going to start by saying that this is such a polarizing park. We heard everything from “it’s small”, to “it’s not magical” and “you’re not going to like it”. Honestly, we had a feeling that wasn’t going to be our personal sentiments, and that’s exactly what happened for us. We fell in love with this charming and beautiful Park!

I’m going to start by saying that I did very minimal research about Disneyland Paris before going… which as a travel planner might seem a bit crazy! But I really just wanted to experience it for the first time without different narratives and opinions. And to get a feel for the experience and make our own opinions. There are some things that we never really found the answers to and stumbled our way through.. and there are things I felt that we did exceptionally well and thrived from.

Where to stay

If at all possible, I recommend staying on-site! There are quite a few options to consider at different price points. We are a family of 5, so it was automatically a bit more expensive for us.. but our whole family would agree that it is worth it.

The further away options 

There are 2 options “onsite” that are about a 10 min drive from the Disney Village and the 2 Disneyland Paris parks. You must have a car to stay there, but parking is free (if you find the correct parking lot!) There are also 5 “partner hotel” options that have free shuttles but they don’t have early entry.

That is the biggest “edge” you get for staying on-site – you will have early entry an hour before opening at both Parks for all of your Park days!

Disney Davy Crockett Ranch

We stayed here for 2 nights before going to the Parks, because we drove from Germany (and through Belgium) and wanted a car to drive ourselves to Versailles instead of depending on the Metro (which ended up being an excellent decision because of the strikes in Paris and the impact on the Metro system).

The actual accommodations are very similar to the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in Walt Disney World. We LOVED the space… Dan and I had a bedroom with a full bed and full bathroom. There was a main area with a couch, table and chairs and full kitchen. On the other side of the cabin there was a split bathroom with a shower on one door and a toilet on the other (LOVED this) and a bedroom with 3 twin beds and a trundle mattress for a 4th sleeper… so if you are a family that likes more room or you have more than 2 kids, this is a fun option. It was also VERY inexpensive! Cheaper than anything we’ve stayed at in a very long time.

The nice thing about Davy Crockett Ranch was there was a hub (although it was too far to walk to) with everything all in one area. Registration, the store (that had some options to purchase to cook in your cabin) with regular things to purchase (clothes, ears, stuffies, mugs, kitchenware etc) the main restaurant (which is a buffet and all you can eat) sports centers (tennis, table tennis, mini golf – which has a small extra charge) a playground, and some areas to explore.

The pool is definitely the best part of staying here! We knew about it ahead of time, but seeing it in person was great. The temperature was warm and fabulous! It had a water slide, floating devices, pool noodles, and multiple areas to swim and explore.

We (okay, mostly I!) was excited to stay here because we’ve been watching Every Disney Movie Ever Made (all 1400+ of them) and we loved to hate Davy Crockett!

A few things to note about swimming onsite at Disneyland Paris – 
You MUST take off shoes and socks to enter the locker and swimming areas. The girls had crocs/natives and were allowed to wear them.. but I had Converse so I had to take them off.
You have to show your key card to get in.. and then there are free lockers that you set a 4 digit code to have in/out access to.

We had the girls in their bathing suits, Crocs and the towels from the cabin and then showered there after… but that meant hopping in the car wet and the walk is about 2 min to your car so that was a cold choice! In June- September, that would be fine, but the rest of the year I recommend packing clothes to change.

They also required a parent to go in with the kids (even though ours are 15, 12 and 10), we couldn’t sit on the other side of the swimming area to watch. NOTE: I had heard prior to going that mens bathing suits MUST be tight. At Davy Crockett Ranch, we did see regular bathing suits but in Art of Marvel, they were all tighter. There is a vending machine with options, or you can skip swimming… or take your chances!

The hours were 8am to 10pm which is great!

Villages Nature Paris by Center Parcs
This is next door to Davy Crockett Ranch and looked to have some great quick/counter service food options. We did try to drive in for a meal and explore but weren’t allowed in without a wrist band.

The close options

Disneyland Hotel 

Disneyland Hotel

This is literally the entrance into Disneyland Paris, so it’s a great location! It was under refurb while we were there, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that it’s going to be absolutely stunning and super magical to stay there when it’s complete! It is obviously the closest by a lot to the 2 gates.

Disney Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel

This is the newest hotel of them all and where we stayed for the Park portion of our vacation. It is a 4 star hotel.  We had 3 nights here! It is amazing! Highly recommend. It’s the closest of the Hotels (other than Disneyland Hotel) and a pleasant 10 min walk through Disney Village. It’s themed like you are staying in New York (and you are given a Daily Bugle when you check in!!!!!) the main areas are mixed super heros, and the different floors are themed: Spider-man, Iron Man and Captain America.

The pool is a basic pool but has both an indoor and outdoor option – but the theming was neat!

We stayed in a “superior” room, which also had 2 bathrooms (YAY!) one with a bathtub (my fav!) and the other with a shower. It had a sofa bed (queen) and 2 full/doubles with double sided tv in the middle of the room and LOTS of space for our family of 5. The content on the TV had exclusive  Marvel art shows, which my husband LOVED.

There are several bars and food options in the hotel, as well as a themed shop. My husband bought a poster book with the art exclusive to the hotel and was pretty excited about that!

For all of the onsite hotels, you can do online check in 7 days before you arrive.. and one of the most important things to do is to pay attention to what you can sign up for. There was a “hero experience” that we assumed was meeting characters, but actually was several photo ops to take advantage of. The “hero” rotates, and we got Thor (which I was 100% ok with!) and then took our time in the different rooms to get photos!

The security for the hotels are pretty intense.. you have to put your bags through the bag check machine and unless you are in the “Disney Bubble” they won’t let you in via the parking lot! They will also require a hotel stay for the onsite experiences at the hotels.

Disney Newport Bay Club and Disney Sequoia Lodge

These are an extra 5 min walk past Marvel Hotel – Sequoia might be about the same length away (walking around the water the other way). Newport seemed nicer (and very similar to Yacht Club/Beach Club at Walt Disney World – minus the amazing pool). This pool looked nice, but nothing like Stormalong Bay. Newport is themed nautically and upscale… Sequoia is woods themed. We thought it was Bambi but didn’t see that as much as Rescue Rangers and classic characters. We happened to see Donald meeting with the hotel guests as well when we walked through!

My coworker stayed at Sequoia – the lobby area was great and newly renovated but she said the rooms were more dated and could use a refresh. But you are still on property, and that’s something!

Disney Hotel Cheyenne and Disney Hotel Santa Fe

These two are a 20 min walk away, or you can use the free shuttle. One is themed like Cars, and the other is themed like the Wild West with Woody and the gang. I only got a photo of Santa Fe when we were filling up gas.. we didn’t have enough time to explore these two hotels but I would say they are both excellent choices as well!

Disney Village

Similar to Disneyland, Disney Village is very close to the 2 gates. However, it is MUCH smaller! There are basically two elements – shopping and dining.

Shopping
There is the classic “World of Disney” store, with the usual items, albeit again, much smaller. However they had several other Disney stores (a gallery, a classic store, a clothing store) and the usual like Lego Store, Starbucks and a few other smaller vendors. This area does feel a little dated (think 90’s) but we liked the feel and felt it was more than sufficient to spend a few hours shopping and getting our souvenirs.

Disney Village

Dining
There are several “quick” options, like McDonald’s (if you haven’t been to a McDonald’s in Europe, it’s worth seeing… cappuccinos, macarons, others beautiful desserts) and some different offerings. We were SO excited about the 3 colored vegetable fries but ours came… not so ideally.

Starbucks is interesting, as many people choose to have “for here” options with a tray of food and drink at the store. We came knowing we would be coming home with 2 new “Been There Series” mugs… what we DIDN’T expect was FOUR options! The classic Walt Disney Studios/ Disneyland Paris (old style!) and then a 30th anniversary option and an Avengers Campus. I happily bought all 4, because YOLO.

For sit down dining, there are several options.. the most notable “Annette’s Diner” (as in Annette from Mickey Mouse Club, Monkeys Uncle, Babes in Toyland) which is an expensive option with average “american” food, and Rainforest Cafe! Rainforest is average food at best, but the last time we were at Walt Disney World, we told our youngest (who was literally obsessed with the going!) that the next time we saw one, we would eat there… so alas, this is where we at the first night. We didn’t have a reservation, and went around 5pm. When we left at 6pm, the line was massive, so just know in all cases that the early bird gets the worm – both with walk ups and reservations.

There is also several kiosks with options like pretzels and pastries.

Expect to spend a pretty penny on all food in Paris (not just the Parks). We thought the American Parks were expensive…but Paris was overall significantly a LOT more (not to mention the Canadian dollar added 50% to every dollar). 

The Two Parks

The main Park is Disneyland Paris (previously “Euro Disney”). This darling of a Park is significantly underrated in my opinion! This is considered the “Sister Park” to Disneyland in Anaheim, so it’s easy to understand that people will compare it. However,  we were blown away by the intentional and incredible details! We are still struggling to understand the negative feelings some people have with Disneyland Paris… so i’m starting with a few “myth busters”.

Myth #1: “it’s too small”
I have NO IDEA why people say this. We looked up the size of Disneyland Paris, and it’s actually the 3rd biggest in footprint! Which means, even with Galaxy’s Edge, it’s bigger than Disneyland in Anaheim. We loved the larger streets, bigger and better queues, and so many things to see and do. Walt Disney Studios Park is definitely smaller in footprint, yet has AMAZING rides! Paris only has one less “coaster” than Disneyland (Disneyland – Matterhorn, Space, Big Thunder, Gadget Go Coaster, Incredicoaster and Goofy’s Sky School). (DLP – Indiana Jones, Space Mountain, Avenger’s Flight Force, Crush’s Coaster, Big Thunder) and they are all so great!

Myth #2: “it’s not magical”
Perhaps magic is in the eye of the beholder? We had all the feels… from walking down Mainstreet and seeing the MAGNIFICENT Sleeping Beauty Castle, to the nooks and crannies with extreme level of detail (tip – ALWAYS look UP at Disney, especially in the stores!) and the character interactions (we meet so many, and they were FANTASTIC!) but nothing beat when we saw a little red headed Merida have her hand grabbed by the real Merida and skip down the street!

I have heard the staff don’t speak English, and every single person did (and asked who else did), and that they aren’t as friendly. We didn’t have that experience. I will say that I strongly suspect that there is an intentional culture shift to be more consistent with the other Parks… as the Cast Members all were fantastic.

One of the details we LOVED was there were Disney characters throughout the parks in different places. Wall-e and Eve, Kaa from Jungle Book, Carle and Russel from Up.

Myth #3: “it’s not as good as the American Parks”
I don’t know if it’s just because the culture is slightly different, but we did not find this to be true at all. Danny even dared to say he feels it’s the most “detailed” of all of the Parks. Apples to apples comparison on many of the rides and lands, Disneyland Paris comes out on top!

Disneyland Park

This is very similarly laid out to the traditional Parks. It starts with Mainstreet USA as you enter the Park. The castle with Fantasyland is straight, Discoveryland is to the right (like Tomorrowland) and Frontierland and Adventureland on the left (although they are flipped!) There is a LOT to see and explore.. even more so than the Parks in America, in that they have a lot of free roaming areas and pathways.

We used the Disneyland Paris app to see the wait times. One BIG thing to note is that while we find the american Parks inflate their wait times (you can expect them to usually be about half of the time they post)… Disneyland Paris was either exactly right or slightly longer for the most part. The app also gets overloaded and goes down a lot. You can mobile order at a few places (you do have to put in your address and pay info each time, which was annoying) or you just line up and order.

The rides are fantastic! Unfortunately the weather was VERY cold, VERY windy and VERY wet. When we first arrived we looked at some shops on Mainstreet. One of the things we LOVED is there are two areas, to the left and right of Mainstreet labeled “Arcade” that are indoor passageways to the other areas of the Parks. This was brilliant to stay warm, and there are bathrooms on both sides as well!

We started with Phantom Manor (their version of Haunted Mansion) which we did as many times as we could because it was SO different and SO fantastic. We then did Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril… which is an outside coaster (with a loop!) The height restriction for this is VERY high (140 cm – 55 inches) and Lexie was JUST tall enough… like very very very close to not being tall enough. We went into the lines if they were 25 min or less (most were less). We were VERY pleasantly surprised how low the lines in general were for the rides, especially the more thrilling ones! Early in the morning and after dinner there is a SIGNIFICANT drop in wait times as well, so definitely take advantage of that.

The Curious Labyrinth from Alice in Wonderland was absolutely adorable! We loved exploring this maze with all the photo ops!

Unfortunately Big Thunder was closed while were were there. But we loved their version of Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain (note – this is more “Rockin’ Roller coaster” than Space in the American Parks, so mentally prepare for that!), Buzz Lightyear (similar to Disneyland but a few different scenes). There is something incredibly thrilling and exciting about experiencing a ride you know like the back of your hand in a new way!

The biggest line was still Peter Pan (always worth doing, but never waiting more than 30 min!) and things like Dumbo (which again, isn’t worth the extreme wait). We did it very late on the last night and only waited 20 min.

There are a LOT of rides/attractions (25+) and things to do in this Park. Some of the things are more experiences, but are still great! One of the things were most excited about is that Sleeping Beauty Castle has walkthroughs both ABOVE (with a Christmas store and stories/stain glass windows and a terrace) and BELOW (where you can see an actual giant DRAGON!)

We managed to do nearly every single ride over our 3 Park days, meet a few characters (Geppetto and Pinocchio, and Phantom Mickey!) The waits for Mickey Mouse officially and Princesses were EXTREMELY long (princesses at one point were 280 MIN!!!!!!!) so we only did the spontaneous ones. We did 5 of our favourite rides THREE times each as well.

We saw both Parades (Disney Stars on Parade and Dream… and Shine Brighter!) which are easy to get a last minute spot for. They are slightly modified in the rain (as in there were less characters, and they didn’t do the stage show in the middle) but both were fabulous!

The other BIG thing about Disneyland Paris is that in both parks, they have drones for their nighttime shows. Unfortunately, all 3 nights were too windy and we didn’t get to see them at all. The projections though in both parks were absolutely spectacular, as well as the music. The fireworks were just ok – but the drones would’ve made up for that.

Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios

This is the smaller of the two parks in footprint but has 11 rides, and ALL of them are fantastic. Between the two, we liked Disneyland Park for the feels but Hollywood Studios for the rides. We used both of our early entries to head straight for Crush’s Coaster.

Here is what we did that worked like a charm – we got into the security lines at our hotel at 7:45am. It takes less than 5 min to get through (you take off your bags and put them through a bag check like at the airport). Then I lined up for Starbucks breakfast, and sent Dan and the girls into the regular line. The Parks opened at 8:30am for early entry. Starbucks was supposed to open at 8am and moved very quickly (but didn’t open exactly on time). I took our food to go and we ate before the park opens.

Starbucks for breakfast

Right at opening, you put your ticket on the scanner, and the doors open… and then EVERYONE goes into a full blown sprint to get to Crush’s Coaster. We put on our “Disney walk” and refused to sprint (we saw teenagers knock over a stroller and doors get slammed into peoples faces… saving 10 min is never worth that). Then once we were off that ride (which is an INCREDIBLE storytelling ride that ends with the same feeling/experience as Guardians of the Galaxy in Epcot). We did it 3 times! Twice with early entry, and once at the end of the 3rd night (waited 10, 10 and 20 respectively). This ride gets up to 100+ minutes.

The other rides here are:
Avengers Flight Force – this used to be Rockin’ Roller coaster. We have heard VERY strong negative feelings about this ride but we LOVED it. The pre show is with a french speaking Iron Man (hilarious!) and Captain Marvel, who shows reasons why the other Avengers can’t be there to assist (including the video from Miss Marvel on the Disney Wish, which blew our minds that they have combined so much storytelling into the one ride). I think I liked this more than even the Space Mountain!

Tower of Terror – similar to the Disneyland OG but with different video sequence(s) (LOVED that the 2 times we went was different!)

Web-Slingers and Remy’s Adventure – both are exactly the same as the Disneyland counterparks. Web-Slingers has a super long line so this was the one time we took advantage of single rider and waited less than 10 min, since we’ve done it so much at Disneyland.

The other rides – There are 2 cars themed rides. One is the same ride mechanism as Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (in DCA in Disneyland) and Alien Saucers (in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World). The second is new and we didn’t know what to expect… but it was EXCELLENT! It’s called Cars Road Trip. Protip: We preferred this at night!

Then Toy Story land had RC Racers (watch the app – this can be 5 min or over an hour. Worth doing for sure with less than 10 min wait). RC Racers is a horseshoe “rollercoaster” similar to a Pirate ship and actually SO fun! Slinky Dog Zigzag (which is a circular ride like the Music ride at amusement Parks) and  Toy Story Parachute Drop (we didn’t get on this cause of the rain but it’s like Jellyfish in DCA). Flying Carpets over Agrabah is the same as in Magic Kingdom (and Dumbo).

We also saw the “Mickey and the Magician” show, which was fantastic. It was the classic formula of a story (Mickey is cleaning for the magician, told not to practice magic) with little pieces of favourites like Lion King, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast. Highly recommend it!  The theatre was MASSIVE, but we still recommend getting there at least 30 min early. And the Animator’s Building had drawing classes, meet and greet with Olaf, and the Toy Story animation wheel that used to be at DCA!

Closing Thoughts about the Parks

If at all possible, we recommend 2 days for Disneyland Paris, with Park Hoppers. There is a “premier access” option… one of which is unlimited access to the 14 rides that have it, but is astronomically priced (for our family of 5 it would’ve been $600 euros for Friday, and $800 euros for Saturday… for the one day!) or you can pay for each ride individually. We aren’t into that sort of thing, so used the morning and evenings to get on the most popular rides.

If you are able to get in with early entry, we recommend that you use it at Walt Disney Studios for Crush’s Coaster, and Disneyland for Peter Pan. You can also get into the line for these right before close and they will be very low – but keep in mind the night shows in each Park are also at close, and both are worth seeing – so without premier access we were thankful for 3 nights.

Getting to Disneyland Paris and around town

From Charles de Gaulle airport, there is a taxi area (make sure you go to the official queue area, and not have someone say they are a taxi!). The cost to and from Paris area from the airport is a fixed $60- $66 euros (no need to tip!). The cost to and from the Disneyland Paris area is $100 to $130 euros.

We rode into downtown Paris and did that first, then headed to Disneyland Paris (after some time in Germany and Belgium). We found renting a car a fun way to see things that weren’t in the downtown area. The roads were easy to navigate. Parking everywhere was the hardest piece but we figured it out.

Taxis in and around town Paris is tricky, so we stuck with walking as much as possible… and using the Metro! The Metro was easy to navigate (as long as you took a look at what line you needed). It’s not super cheap (it cost us $10 euros for the 5 of us every single time we did a single way) but the daily rate was way more. The Metro also goes to and from Disneyland Park, and spits you right by the gates and Disney Village. We saw lots of people with luggage! Try to download the RER app before you go and get familiar with things.

The other option is Uber but we found it expensive.. and then there is a Magical Shuttle from Disney but it wasn’t available when we needed it (5:30am). However we had concierge at Art of Marvel get us a taxi the night before and they were ready right when we needed them.

We recommend staying in Paris for a few days, or staying on property at Disney and using the Metro to get into town – but note that it is a few hours of travel.

Food Offerings onsite

This was another area we heard wasn’t very good. However, we had lots of tasty food!  Nothing was blow us out of the water great but it certainly wasn’t terrible. We did notice an obsession with american foods like burgers and hotdogs. We would’ve preferred if they leaned into European foods like waffles and crepes and pasta, as that would’ve made more sense to us. The sit down restaurants were extremely expensive ($55 euros for adults in most cases) and very mediocre food. We tried two – Chez Remys (it felt like the right thing, considering that our trip was all about Paris and French experiences) and Captain Jacks.

Breakfast – we made the mistake on the first day of thinking we could get something in the parks, but nothing was open before 11am. I wanted to try the “Croque McQueen” (a croque monsieur themed with cars!) but it was literally never open when we went. The best bet is getting into Disney Village with enough time for Earl of Sandwich, McDonalds or Starbucks.

Starbucks had a hot beverage (a tall) and a breakfast sandwich and a 3rd option (we chose 3 pancakes with jam or syrup) for $11.95 euros x2. That was a great amount of food for the 5 of us!

Counter Service – we LOVED our meal at Hakuna Matata, Cafe Hyperion and Stark Factory. The kids meals are about $9 euros, and included a treat and a drink. We didn’t find the portions to be as large as the American Parks, and more expensive as previously stated. But definitely tasty. Use the mobile app to see if there is something you want, and you can pre-choose a time, just like the American Parks. We did that for the 3 mentioned and loved it. The rest is just drop in and eat, which works great. You can also go to the Disney Village for options like Earl of Sandwich and McDonalds if you want something cheaper.

Chez Remy – not worth the price tag, and STRANGE dishes. The theming was adorable though! There was a menu for kids (3-11 but thankfully they let Audrey pick from it too which saved us $20+ euros). We did notice that our table was peeling, which is unfortunate for the price tag. The food choices were very strange! But everything tasted good.

Captain Jacks – this is definitely more about the experience (seeing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride while eating) and the food was extremely tasty, but small portions and so pricey we left hungry. We did have the best cappuccino of our whole trip there, though.

Walt’s looked great (and we’ve heard great things about the food) and Pym’s Kitchen is actually a buffet that looks awesome (if you can get over the price tag!) Plaza also is a character dining, which we had and I canceled.. and I also canceled the Davy Crockett Tavern as it was so expensive.

For table service, make sure to try to grab a reservation well in advance (the app says up to a year before but I got them 60 days before). You don’t need a credit card to reserve, but cancel with a few days notice if you can to give others a shot!

Snacks – we tried the mickey beignet (TERRIBLE) and a 30th themed madeleine (tasted like a dry pound cake). I don’t think their snack game is as strong so pack snacks you enjoy! (we enjoyed pepperoni sticks, beef jerky, fruit snacks, granola bars, and trail mix).

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Closures 

Unfortunately Disneyland Paris doesn’t seem to announce ride closures with a lot of notice… so you will find out what’s closed likely way after you book! For us it was Big Thunder (HUGE blow… guess we will have to go back!) and “it’s a small world”. We noticed they announce about a month and a half ahead.

The other thing is we noticed that some of the attractions weren’t open the whole day. Most notably, the Disneyland Railroad. It seems to be open only in the afternoons, but that wasn’t posted anywhere.

Organization 

We had heard it’s not as efficient of a Park, but we found the boarding process to be efficient and quick. The areas that were confusing or frustrating were:

Lines into the park – on the first day we went for early entry, they were holding back the lines, and had us line up in several lines, THEN line at the entrance. The left line was only for Annual Park Holders but there were NO signs. We were in that line, asked and found out, and went to the back of a different line when we realized.

When they started to check passes to make sure early entry was valid, 80% of the people in the line we were in started to merge at the FRONT of our line into the line. This for us is a few factors – lack of clarity on Disney’s part (having boards with signs would fix that) and just the culture in general (there was several other times that people created an additional line halfway through and just pushed/merged in). YES, it’s frustrating.. but things move very quickly, so it’s just something you deal with.

There are also several places in the ride lines that will split then merge into a giant space, or, just be a dead end! Hard to know which one. Just know things are a bit more relaxed and things will be fine!

We also park hopped within the first hour (30 min to do Crush’s Coaster and Tower of Terror) and then we wanted to hit up the Disneyland Parks before regular entry. The lines to get into Disneyland Park were HUGE but Audrey was determined that there would be separate lines for early entry, and even though they weren’t marked, she was correct! There were two quick moving lines on the right hand side and we got into Peter Pan and Snow White and Pinocchio, all in under an hour total. This means for park hopping, there is no limit on times that you can enter and reenter, which we loved!

walking to the parks

Park registration

If you have dated tickets with the hotel like we did, you don’t need to make these. If you have regular tickets (which you can buy through me!) park reservations are required.

Bags on rides

Unlike in the American Parks, most of the rides don’t have bags to tuck things like ears in. We had to get creative a few times which wasn’t as enjoyable. For all of the coasters and other fast rides, everything had to be on the floor (which is fine with a backpack, but we only had a very very small shoulder pouch). The ears we tucked under our thighs or zipped into our coats. The two exceptions were Star Tours had the same baskets under them, and RC Racers had cubicles that you could use, but if you were the person closest it’s a bit annoying to go past 3 other people to do so.

Smoking

There are smoking areas in the parks but people largely ignore them and smoke and vape wherever they please. There are signs saying that there are fines, but we didn’t see it stopping most people! We didn’t like it, but it’s much much worse in Paris itself and it’s just all part of the culture, so just be prepared.

Parking

If you have a car and are at Davy Crockett Ranch, parking is included everywhere (the resort, the Parks and Disney Village). HOWEVER, the parking lot by Disney Village that google tells you to go (under the metro) is NOT included.. so don’t make the same mistake that we did and take the time to find the proper place to park!

No French? No problem

As I mentioned, our girls speak French, but Dan and I are hopeless. However, not only did every one of the Cast Members speak English, but I was in awe to see that many also spoke Spanish! They would seemlessly change, even for simple instructions like “row one and two”. It was actually very inspiring! We still encouraged our kids to speak French as much as possible for the practice. But if you are English only, no worries!

The War and it’s impact

We have been watching the war in Ukraine to make sure that when we went, it was going to be a safe experience for our family. I will say, that it was helpful to be in Europe as it made things a lot more “real” for our kids and us. It’s important to not sweep it under the rug and pretend there isn’t an actual war happening.

There were a lot of refuges in and around Paris city, so that was one impact. They were appreciative of food or money when it’s possible.

Additionally, the prices of food and water have significantly increased, particularly for residence of Europe. We noticed that there were no hot tubs, and that the water fountains for display AND the water fountains for drinking were on at very limited times. For drinking this was problematic because even the places that have the coke drink machines wouldn’t let you fill up water… and it’s $3.30+ euros per water bottle at least. We found it difficult as we always fill up for free at the american parks.

There are also strikes all over Europe. We got out of the Paris center before the big riots, but it is impacting some of the experiences (like museums) and most especially, the Metro. On one of the days, most of the Metro lines were either canceled or significantly reduced, making it extremely difficult to navigate the city and we had to change things up from our original plans. Be aware of what you could be facing, listen to the news and authorities, and avoid the protest areas at all costs.

Tiny Cappuccinos

There are no Starbucks IN the two parks (the horror!) The main coffee shop was closed so I was very worried about where I was going to get my coffee fix. However, that was the last thing i needed to worry about because literally everywhere in Europe there are machines with excellent made to order cappuccinos and other espresso based drinks. Even when we got off Space Mountain, where the photo order booth is, you could get cappuccinos! We took full advantage of the quick and delicious options, often!

Tax Rebate

In Europe there is 19% included in all purchases, so the price you see is the price you get! If your receipt was more than $100 you can ask for a tax rebate receipt. Don’t forget your American/Canadian passports). You must get the receipt validated within 72 hours.

We did this at Primark (which, side note, has very cheap Disney clothes and there’s one within 5 min of the Disney Parks!) and the Disney stores in Disney Village. It does take some extra time and not everything can be validated. It didn’t work with Legostore OR the Starbucks mugs. Then at the airport (either before or after security) you go to a booth (which again, takes time) and get the 19% back. We got back $31 euros, so not totally sure it was worth the extra hours but it’s done now, and it does cover 2 of my mugs haha!

tax rebate

Planning a future trip

I would LOVE to help you plan a trip to Paris is this is something you are thinking about doing! There is a Frozen expansion coming 2024/2025, and eventually Galaxy’s Edge as well. We saved for a long time for this trip, and all of us would say that the concerns and worries about going to a foreign country were worth the experience! If you’d like to chat about a future trip, here is my no obligation quote form! www.enchanted-vacations.ca/erica-jones.

Have you been to Disneyland Paris? Was there any questions that you have that we didn’t cover? We’d love to hear from you!

Have a magical day!
Erica

4 thoughts on “Disneyland Paris – An Honest Review

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  1. This is excellent, Erica – so well-written and insightful! Loved your take on it all. 🙌🏻

    1. Oh man and both isn’t an option? 🙈 Disneyland but they are small enough to do both in a day!

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