Disneyland Paris Tips and Observations From a First Time Visitor

Share This!

Hi I’m Guy Selga, the Disneyland writer for TouringPlans. I spend multiple days a week in the Anaheim Disney parks, along with visits to Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland every year, but I never made it out to Disneyland Paris. That changed last week when I made my first visit. In this post I’ll share some tips and observations from the point of view as a first time visitor to Disney’s Parisian paradise. Also included in this post is what it’s like staying on site (I stayed in Disney Sequoia Lodge), food recommendations, and some loose touring strategies.

#1. My first tip is for when you are in the planning phase of your trip. Disneyland Paris doesn’t offer an option to only book a hotel stay on their website. You can only book a hotel plus theme park tickets package. This is obviously a problem if you’ve obtained your tickets some other way, or have an annual pass (more on annual passes later). This means you’ll need to call Disneyland Paris to check prices and make a hotel reservation over the phone. Save yourself a long distance international call and call the Walt Disney World phone number, (407) 939-3476. An automated system will answer. When it askes what you’re calling about, say “Disneyland Paris hotel reservations” or simply “Disneyland Paris” and Disney’s phone system will automatically connect you.

Another option to save yourself some time is to book through a travel agent. Our TouringPlans travel agents are ready and waiting to help you book your trip to Disneyland Paris, or anywhere else you may want to go in France and beyond. Click the link to get a quote.

#2. Be ready to explore everything. Especially the Main Street, U.S.A. arcades, any walkthrough attractions, and especially in, around, and under Sleeping Beauty Castle. Set aside more time than you expect to explore this beautiful park. My girlfriend and I spent hours on Main Street, U.S.A. alone. There is so much to see and it’s all a treat for the eyes. You will with out a doubt be visually rewarded for your efforts. The most famous example of this is the dragon underneath Sleeping Beauty Castle. It moves around, blinks, and you can even see it breathing.

Be sure to look up as well, this gorgeous ceiling is located in Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A.

Fun nods the Emporium shops in Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.

I mentioned the Main Street, U.S.A. arcades. If you’re not familiar these are indoor walkways that go along the rear of each side of Main Street. They are fantastic and beautiful in every way. Real gas lamps, gorgeous tilework, interesting art and props, ornate ironwork, and alternate entrances in to the various shops and restaurants. Each arcade is unique so be sure to visit both.

On one side you have the Discovery Arcade, which showcases actual patent models from the United States Patent Office in the 19th Century. In order to obtain a patent back then you had to create a scale model of your device. Disneyland Paris is home to one of the world’s largest collections of these authentic patent models. How cool is that?

Along the other side of Main Street, U.S.A. there’s the Liberty Arcade, which honors the Statue of Liberty and its creation. The highlight is a diorama showing the view of the Statue of Liberty from a passing ship. None of this needs to exist, it simply does because it’s awesome and interesting to look at. I love that. Main Street is also home to a actual barber shop where you can get a haircut or men can get a shave.

#3. Now is a good time to talk about Sleeping Beauty Castle, or Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant as it’s known in French. Is there ever enough superlatives to describe Disneyland Paris’ icon? It’s stunning, elegant, picturesque, charming, and any other word for beautiful you can think of. I’m a huge fan of that hillside and trees along the left. The interior is just as gorgeous as the outside and the best thing is you can explore all of it. Inside you’ll find these stunning stained-glass windows depicting the story of Sleeping Beauty. These aren’t cheap printed materials, they’re actual hand made works of art designed by Paul Chapman, the former stained-glass artisan to the Queen of England.

You can also exit out on to the balcony on the back of the castle and get a great birds eye view of Fantasyland.

4. Speaking of Fantasyland, you’ll find the typical assortment of Disneyland-style castle park attractions here, such as classic dark rides (Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and Snow White’s Scary Adventures, to name a few), and flat rides, such as Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups. But in Disneyland Paris the rides exterior décor is rendered in the expected level quality and beauty as seen in the rest of the park.

5. A quick note about shopping. Disneyland Paris merchandise is awful, with the same generic 20 or so items in every store. But I highly recommend you still go in every single shop in the park and soak it in. They’re all beautiful and have tons of details. For example, we wondered in to an unassuming shop in Fantasyland only to find a fill size recreation of the dwarves cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

6. Eat at Walt’s – An American Restaurant! The restaurant is a love letter to Walt Disney and contains a trove pictures and artifacts chronicling Walt’s life and legacy. The food is also fantastic. It was without a doubt the best food we had during our multiday visit to Disneyland Paris.

Pictures of Walt Disney in the lobby.

To start I had the chicken pot pie and crunchy vegetable salad, which was very tasty.

My main course was the Cajun-spiced arctic char. It was perfectly cooked and so satisfying.

It’s also really fun to watch the people and parade go by from the second level of Main Street, U.S.A. The restaurant’s lobby is on the first floor but the rest of the restaurant is located on the second floor.7. I have to bring up the rest of the park’s food, which is either bad, or oddly hard to obtain, or both. Many of the quick service menus in the parks feature the most bland and uninteresting items you can imagine; the most basic hamburgers, chicken fingers, and pizza to name a few. Many restaurants close early in the day (before dinner even), or simply never open at all. I read many blogs and planning guides that mention Village Disney dining options (that’s their version of Downtown Disney/Disney Springs) such as Earl of Sandwich or McDonalds. These obviously would never be your most people’s first choice when dining in France, but at least they are open and serving food for dinner. We did have a fantastic meal at Restaurant Agrabah Café in Adventureland, which is a buffet featuring Middle Eastern meats, couscous, salads, kebabs, and deserts. We had heard good things about Agrabah and it definitely lived up to expectations. We’ve also heard good things about Captain Jack’s Restaurant des Pirates (which is located inside of Pirates of the Caribbean, like Disneyland’s Blue Bayou), and Cowboy Cookout Barbecue. No matter which table service restaurant you decide to dine at we highly recommend making a dining reservation ahead of time. This can be made on the Disneyland Paris website or their official app, both of which are available in English. For snacks, we got some good baked goods at Cable Car Bake Shop on Main Street.

 

8. I do not drink alcohol but there is occasionally a cart on Main Street, U.S.A. that sells champagne. This is obviously unusual for a Disneyland-style castle park, yet it’s culturally appropriate.

My girlfriend, @JLap64, was really REALLY in to it.

They pour the champagne right in front of you and you get to keep the glass. This was around $15.

9. Real quick, lets hop over to Disneyland Paris’ other theme park. Walt Disney Studios park is as bad as anything you’ve ever heard about it. We thought the Mickey and the Magician stage show was really good. The less time spent in and thinking about the Studios park the better.

Avengers Flight Force (a re-themed Rock ‘n Roller Coaster) is also fun. But wow what a depressing park!

What view?

10. Now let’s talk about Disneyland Paris’ unique headliner attractions. Hyperspace Mountain, previously known as Space Mountain, features a uphill launch that takes you from outside the mountain to inside, loops, and a very eye-catching design that is different than the other iterations of the ride. It’s thrilling and a lot of fun. If you’re unaware, Tomorrowland is known as Discoveryland in Disneyland Paris. The land uses a retro futuristic aesthetic instead of the spacesport theme the other Tomorrowlands have. Unfortunately Space Mountain received a permanent Star Wars retheme a few years back that deleted the previous Jules Verne. This new theme clashes horribly with the land and the ride’s own exterior, but it’s still a fantastic ride overall.

Next is Phantom Manor, which is the park’s equivalent to Haunted Mansion. You can tell the Imagineers wanted to make something different yet familiar with this one. As you can see, the exterior is run down, unlike the other Mansions in the US and Japan. This matches the surrounding storyline and aesthetic of Thunder Mesa (the town depicted in the park’s Frontierland).

The storyline stars a bride that is constantly stalked by a menacing phantom. I don’t want to spoil much here but I’ll just say that it’s a fantastic ride that is worthy of its Haunted Mansion heritage.

Pirates of the Caribbean is another fantastic rendition of a classic ride with many elements that you’ll recognize from the American parks, but also several new ones, such as sword fighting pirates, another pirate swinging from a rope, and an encounter with Barbosa. Check out the video I posted on Twitter which is embedded above.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is something special at Disneyland Paris. It’s located in the middle of Rivers of the Far Rest (called Rivers of America in the US parks). This makes for a stunning set piece in Frontierland. The ride itself is thrilling and one of the highlights of the park. Big Thunder seems to be the most popular ride in Disneyland Paris with high waits throughout the day. Ride it first thing during early entry, or during the park’s fireworks show at the end of the night to avoid the long wait time.

11. As I mentioned earlier, this is my first visit to Disneyland Paris so I don’t have any experience staying on site at Disneyland Paris beyond this one visit. But I will try to touch on some of the advantages and disadvantages of staying in one of Disney’s official hotels. We stayed at Disney Sequoia Lodge, which is thematically equivalent to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World. We would have splurged on Disneyland Hotel, which is at the entrance to the park, and has rooms that look out in to Disneyland Paris, but this hotel is closed for a multi-year refurbishment.

Sequoia Lodge’s exterior. It’s not as rustic or natural looking as Wilderness Lodge, but it’s still nice.

Here’s our room, which was a standard room with a king bed. It’s very barebones and basic. Nothing was worn down to the point of looking in shambles, but it definitely felt tired and out of date. We did find the bed to be comfortable but it’s on the firm side, which I like.

The dresser and TV area. On the right side under the TV you may notice the rooms single outlet. Yes that’s right, the room only has a single outlet to charge your phone or any other devices you may need to charge. We had to unplug one of the lamps to get an extra outlet. Also, there are no outlets next to the bed.

The bathroom is again, totally fine but basic. My girlfriend said the hairdryer was comically bad. The shower was nice and had good water pressure. I personally had no problem with the size of the tub, but some people may find it too small.

We did like the view from the room, which was nice and woodsy.

I’m torn on recommending staying on site. Walking to the parks is nice, but it’s still a decent walk (a little under a mile), the included 1 hour early entry perk is huge, but the rooms are so basic and out of date. Most times of the year the official Disney rooms will be expensive. We payed $400 a night and that was with an annual pass discount. 
12. Speaking of annual passes, you should consider getting one if the math works out for you. My girlfriend and I went to the parks for 2 and a half days, which required a 3 day ticket. This would have cost us $279 (Disneyland Paris ticket prices fluctuate throughout the year). Disneyland Paris has four tiers of annual pass, with various levels of perks and blockout dates:
  • Discovery: $229
  • Magic Flex: $319
  • Magic Plus: $369
  • Infinity: $499

(Single day tickets range from $78 to $106, depending on the date)

Note: all these prices are using the current exchange rate from August, 2022.

The pass with no blockout dates during our visit was the Magic Plus pass so we went with that. With the pass 10% off every dining and merchandise purchase, and saved hundreds of dollars on our hotel room. This made the pass a no brainer. Also, annual passholders get in to the park 30 minutes early every day!

If you do decide to get an annual pass make sure you make you purchase with plenty of time in advance of your trip. Disney sends the annual passes in the mail, and there is no option to pick them up when you get to the park.

Whether you’re buying a ticket or annual pass, purchase it as soon as your travel dates are locked in so you can make park reservations.

13. Disneyland Paris has an odd amount of merch with the American flag+Disneyland Paris logo.

Very weird!

14. Disneyland Paris currently has two nighttime spectaculars. Disney D-Light is a special show for the park’s 30th anniversary and features an impressive drone display along with a catchy theme song.

The drones form the parks 30th anniversary mouse ear logo and it’s even more impressive in real life. I can’t wait for this technology to be used in other Disney nighttime spectaculars. Disney Illuminations is Disneyland Paris’ end of the day fireworks show that takes place at park closing (which was 11 pm during our visit). It contains the usual collection of songs from Disney animated and live action classics.
We had a fantastic time visiting Disneyland Paris before heading in to the city. I can’t recommend this glorious park enough. Hopefully this post will help you plan your visit or at least inspire you to take a trip there someday. Let’s continue this post in the comments and make it a collaborative effort. Leave any questions you may have or better yet, your own Disneyland Paris trip planning tips.

Follow me on Twitter: @GuySelga

Again I wanted to link to our fabulous TouringPlans travel agents who can help you book your trip to Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line or almost anywhere else in the world. Click the link to get a quote.

 

You May Also Like...

Guy Selga Jr.

Disneyland writer for TouringPlans.com and co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Also a Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. Twitter and Instagram: @guyselga

14 thoughts on “Disneyland Paris Tips and Observations From a First Time Visitor

  • August 25, 2022 at 9:35 am
    Permalink

    I will be in Paris for another reason in December.

    Can I do DLP in one day? I have about 5 days in France and don’t want to spend more than one day at DLP.

    Is one day worth it?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • August 25, 2022 at 10:56 am
      Permalink

      I just got back from there and we did a one day park hopper pass and we got through just about everything in both parks. You have to have a good plan to do it but we did. Highly recommend eating at a restaurant as quick service food is very limited in the Disneyland park and carts serve repetitive and boring options.

      Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:25 pm
      Permalink

      In my opinion you’re not really seeing Disneyland Paris if you rush through it all in one day. You may ride all the rides but that park is so much more than rides. The walk throughs and shops and exploring all the details is very worth it. If you do only have one day I recommend skipping the Studios park entirely.

      Reply
  • August 25, 2022 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for this post. I also experienced the weird lack of food at the park. Our first night in France we ate Doritos and Diet Coke for dinner. I think on another day the middle eastern buffet was actually open but the wait was 90 minutes and they couldn’t say if anything was vegetarian or not and my friend didn’t want to pay a million euro for green salad. I had a nice crepe from a cart once and a hilarious cheese salad that was a huge block of a cheese and a couple of very anemic-looking pieces of lettuce. This was a few years ago so maybe that’s easier now. I also agree about the other park being a sad place. Being spoiled Disneyland people we were taken aback by how surly the cast members were to the point where it was comical. Waiting an hour for the train was so bizarre to us. (Spoiled Disneyland people). It’s a really interesting experience and the castle dragon and Alice in Wonderland maze were really special.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:25 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for the comments!

      Reply
  • August 25, 2022 at 2:51 pm
    Permalink

    There’s some excellent food at Disneyland Paris, but you have to know where to find it. Bistrot Chez Remy, over in the studios park, is very nice and worth the time. There’s even some decent quick service options but you have to know where to go and sometimes you’re just looking for the one nice option amongst a sea of meh. Cowboy Cookout is nice. There are some great options at the Gourmand food chalets in the studios park too; not cheap, but nice.

    Things on the food and merchandise front have come on a great deal in the last few years, so I’m hopeful it will continue to improve as time goes on.

    Hotel-wise, the Hotel New York Art of Marvel is absolutely stunning and worth every penny. Newport Bay is also good, but not as good as Marvel is (which makes sense since it has recently reopened after its own refurbishment).

    I love Disneyland Paris; as a Brit it’s my home park so I’m a bit biased, but even though it’s not WDW it’s still a wonderful place to be.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:26 pm
      Permalink

      Good tips about dining. Thank you!

      Reply
  • August 26, 2022 at 10:45 am
    Permalink

    We just got back from our first trip to DLP as well! Couldn’t agree more with all of your thoughts and adventures! Great bucket list item! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:26 pm
      Permalink

      Nice! I hope you had a great trip. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  • August 27, 2022 at 8:40 pm
    Permalink

    I have been to all the Disney parks around the world (more than once) but Disneyland Paris is my ‘local’ Park (4 hour drive). I have been there 20+ times since the year 2000 and stayed at all the resort hotels (and offsife once). Disney studios park is not perfect but it does have the best ride (crush’s coaster is amazing) and a wonderful sit down restuarant (Chez Remy ‘ try it!). They are also expanding the park. The champagne in Disneyland Park is new and Walts is sadly only open at peak times (this is my fave in the whole resort). Of the hotels, I would recommend the Art of Marvel. The bar and sit down restuarant there are something very special. Being able to walk to the parks from the hotels is a great perk plus there are free shuttles (and the fact the parks are very close together). Phantom Manor Is wonderful especially the final scene and exterior. Thunder and Pirates are also great versions. The castle is very beautiful and the dragon is cool. The merch in the whole resort has really gone down hill lately-it used to be more varied. The steakhouse in Disney village is a great option for food. I think the perks of staying at a DLP hotel currently are better than the parks of staying at a WDW hotel (almost none right now).

    Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:28 pm
      Permalink

      Good comment. Thank you. You’re lucky to have such a beautiful park be your local Disney park.

      Reply
  • August 27, 2022 at 11:09 pm
    Permalink

    Fun post. Totally agree about the shopping being underwhelming. Wanted to say that you can book hotel only reservations through multiple booking engines, a suggestion we got by calling the USA number for DLP reservations, (a $10 phone call btw). We used Hotels.com, and booked using a “double stamps” promo code, a nice bonus. We were there in June 2022 and paid only $160 per night to stay at Newport Bay. Rates ranged from $112 for Cheyenne and up to $360 for Art of Marvel. But June is considered the off season so that’s probably why prices were so good.

    Chez Remy was a trip highlight and Tower of Terror was the best version of any we’ve tried.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2022 at 12:29 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you for the great tips, and yes you can use those booking sites, but not if you have an annual pass.

      Reply
  • September 21, 2022 at 7:50 pm
    Permalink

    What are the best times of year to visit DLP?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *