Those who know me will know that I am a big Disney fan. I have always loved the magic of Disney, and I have been fortunate enough to have gone to Disneyland Paris quite a few times throughout my childhood. I have also been able to take my own children to Disney a few times in recent years and let me tell you, Disney with kids is a whole new level of magic. I absolutely love seeing their little faces light up as that iconic castle comes into sight and I think Disney will always have a special place in my heart.
The last time we went to Disneyland was unfortunately when the Paris terror attack happened. We had only been in the park a few hours on our first day, gone back to the hotel for dinner and saw the attack on the news. The next day the parks were closed, with Disney Village being the only one to remain open. It was scary, with armed guards patrolling, and hard to enjoy the remainder of a trip which had been much anticipated, but obviously the main priority was the safety of ourselves and others.
I wrote a post at the time about how the attack wouldn’t stop me from going to Disney, but life tends to get in the way a bit and we didn’t get round to booking our return trip until last year and now there’s just a few months to go until we are back!
When deciding on a date to visit, we knew we wanted to be at Disney when the festive theming was up. I have been a few times in the days leading up to Christmas, which is lovely but this time we quite liked the idea of being there for New Year’s Eve so we have booked for three days right at the end of December and I. Cannot. Wait!
Ed hasn’t been to Disney before, and is not sure it will be for him, which almost feels like a challenge. It’s true he’s not a huge Disney film fan and isn’t overly into the characters or nostalgic quality of the park, but there’s something for everyone and I’m positive he will enjoy some of the rides, especially ones like Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror which I am always too big a wimp for!
For somebody who loves Disney and has been to Disneyland Paris several times (and Disney World in Florida once), I was a bit surprised I hadn’t written much about it before, but I think the main reason is that I am not great at giving advice when it comes to a trip. I prefer to simply enjoy the magic, but these are a few of the tips I have picked up from my visits to Disneyland Paris.
Do Your Research
It is worthwhile looking into deals and discounts before you book anything. Disneyland is hugely popular and for this reason the price is always going to be higher than other trips due to supply and demand, but there are deals to be had if you shop around. I have heard really good things about discount tickets sites such as ATD attractions and 365 tickets but you can also get some fantastic offers from Disney themselves if you are booking far enough in advance.
Generally speaking these offers are for additional days in the parks or upgraded meal plans, but it all helps in the long run.
Book a Hotel Off-Site to Save
We have stayed at Disney accommodation in the past and I would definitely recommend booking here at least once if you can afford to (the more budget ones are still really lovely) but if you are looking to save money for your trip I would definitely recommend looking into staying off-site at one of the hotels in the local surrounding area.
We stayed at the Explorers Hotel and have booked it again for our stay in December and it has hugely helped cut the cost of our stay. Our hotel includes breakfast, has a pool (which was a lifesaver last time we stayed when the parks were all closed and we needed something to do) and even provides a shuttle to and from the park just like the Disney accommodation.
Consider Different Travel Options
We have travelled to Disney via Eurostar, the Euro Tunnel and plane previously.
The cost of each varies but we have gone for the Euro Tunnel this time as it worked out a lot cheaper for our family of five and also gave us more flexibility with travel times as the Eurostar only goes at certain times during the day. Travelling by car does mean a little longer journey time but the money we have saved can be spent on food and souvenirs once we are in the parks.
Pack for Cold Weather
One of the main things to consider when booking a trip to Disneyland Paris in December is how cold it can be. We have been before when it has snowed and it can be tough walking around in the cold when your feet are wet.
I will be making sure to pack thermal clothing for ourselves and the children, as well as extra pairs of socks and all the scarves, hats and gloves to keep us warm and snug in the colder weather.
I am a big advocate for planning ahead when it comes to a trip to Disneyland, especially if there are a lot of you going (we are travelling with the extended family) and when you have things you will be upset to miss whilst there. I try not to be too regimental when it comes to organising our days as I find that can make things too tense and ruin the atmosphere.
Instead, I have a list of rides and attractions that are priority, followed by those we would like to do if there is time and go from there. I do the same with restaurants as well and find it works well to ensure we do everything we want to without rushing around to a strict schedule.
Extra Christmas Magic
Make sure you check out the special festive entertainment on offer over the Christmas period at Disneyland. As well as fun parades and shows, there are also festive characters around the park with meet and greet opportunities and special themed decorations.
The castle itself looks incredible and the Christmas market in Disney Village is worth a visit to get you in the spirit!
We’ve been to Disney in the summer and in February as well but I must admit, as a big fan of Christmas I definitely prefer going in Winter.
Meals Outside Peak Times
Restaurants and snack carts can get extremely busy at peak meal times. One of the best things to do is change up the times you eat your meals to avoid lengthy queues and taking longer to stop and eat than you need to.
Look into restaurants you would like to eat at in advance and find out dining times, book where necessary and then work your day around this. It’s also a good idea to go on the most popular rides during big parades or displays as the queue times will likely decrease at these points.
Don’t Spend More than You Need To
As we are going to be in Disneyland for New Year’s Eve, we were looking at booking additional tickets for their celebrations in the park but were a little put off by the price. It turns out that the studios park next door stays open past midnight with entertainment in the evening. As the main thing we would have been interested in was the fireworks display, which will be visible from the park next door anyway, we decided against the expensive tickets.
It can be really easy to get carried away once booking such a special trip, adding extras on and spending lots once you are there. If you can afford to and want to do this then that’s absolutely fine of course, but there is no need to get yourself into debt. Disney can be done on a budget and it will still be a magical trip however much money you spend.
Little bonus tip: It’s Christmas in Disneyland Paris between 10th November 2018 and 6th January 2019, so you don’t need to travel over Christmas itself to enjoy the extra festive magic!