Traveling with kids is not easy, traveling with kids to a Disneyland Paris which basically is a kingdom made for children, can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and do, so much color, music, people. I feel like in general as you start traveling with a family there is a learning curve you, every trip you take, you learn a new thing that will make the next time better and easier on you all. Here are a few of the things that made this trip really great for us.
Keep in mind, these tips were right for us and our children, make the adjustments according to your family. We are a family of 5 – 2 adults and 3 children – twin 8-year-old boys, and a 6-year-old girl.
- Preparation is key – We let our kids get familiar with the Disneyland Paris website. They watched the videos on each ride, chose the ones they wanted to see most, and in general, it gave them an idea of what to expect. As I wrote, the park can be a very overwhelming place, and they did get a little shell-shocked the first few minutes, but they got over it fast and started looking at the map for the rides they were interested in, so I fell like that helped a lot. Side note, if your child suffers somewhat from SPD (Sensory Process Disorder) whether it’s mild or more serious, that type of preparation really helps, also noise canceling earplugs at times (it can get very loud in some areas) are useful, and find a quiet corners where your child can decompress for a little while. My son has SPD (which got so much better with age) but still, He and I took “timeouts” where we sat down together in a quiet area, and just relaxed together.
- No Pressure – Know your children’s pace. Some families can go the whollllleee day, running around, squeezing a lot into one day, some families like mine-mine can’t. We like taking our time on trips, enjoying a slower pace, our kids need to take a break every now and then, eat something, drink, just roam around. One of the most common sights you see in the park is overstimulated children, or exhausted ones, having a tantrum, or sleeping in their similarly exhausted parent’s arms. For that reason, we bought a 4-day pass for the 2 parks (Disneyland Park and Disney studio). We didn’t rush, we let the kids set the pace and followed their lead, when they asked to go back to the hotel we left without feeling like we were missing out on anything. What is really great about the multi-day passes are 2 things – you don’t have to use them consecutively, you can use it within the time frame of 7 days, so after 2 days we decided to do something different and took the train to Paris, went sightseeing there, and went back to the park the day after again. Also, these passes come with the right for a Fast Pass in them. The Fast Pass allows you to gain entry to the ride you are interested in at a specific hour, without having to wait in line – you just come back at the designated hour show your fast pass and go right in. The trick is, however – you can only use one Fast Pass at a time – you can’t get another one until you used the one you already have. I strongly recommend you get your Disneyland tickets online. When you get to the park there are machines that scan your online ticket and print out the pass you use at the gates, easy and no lines. I got our tickets from here – it was the cheapest price we found.
- Nearby accommodation – we stayed at one of the Disneyland partner hotels-
Explorers Hotel and loved it. It’s a 10-minute shuttle ride to the park, the free shuttle goes every 15 minutes or so, this specific hotel is super family friendly, lots to do for the kids, and their breakfast is great. I originally intended to stay at one of the actual park hotels but there were no family rooms available, and we never split up to 2 rooms. The prices were significantly lower at the partner hotels, which allowed us to do more:)
- Visit Midweek – Try scheduling your visit for weekdays and not on weekends if possible. The differences in the waiting time and the lines for the rides are significant. Even the shuttles to and from the park were crazy busy during the weekend compared to weekdays.
- Know the layout of the park – it will make it easier to conserve your energy:) There is a LOTTTT of walking to be had in the park, so make a plan for each day.
The park is made of these sections:
Fantasyland – that is right ahead of you as you go through the gates – The Sleeping beauty castle is the entry to that part. In that sections the main attractions are:
The castle – which is basically a big gift shop and the castle where the kids can go upstairs and see displays that had to do with the story.
It’s a small world – a beautiful sweet ride “around the world”.
Peter Pan’s flight – another fun ride with characters out of the story
The Pinocchio ride – was very cute too.
The miniature area where there are cute train and boat rides that go through miniature displays of fairytales.
other major attractions – Meet Mickey mouse – a REALLY long wait to get to a room where you meet Mickey mouse and take a couple of pictures with him – and the princesses Pavilion which is the same only with princesses. We did the Mickey one and passed on the princesses – we took pictures with them when they were around the park separately.
The mad hatter teacups ride was closed at the time of our visit and the Disneyland Railroad didn’t work half the time and when it did there were insane lines so we skipped it. those are the main attractions in that section. All rides mentioned above are right for young children too and are not frightening (unless darkness and loud voices may be too much).
The other 3 sections of the park are:
Adventureland – main attractions:
Adventure Isle – some rope suspended bridges and caves – cute and fast.
Swiss family Robinson Cabin – A very very nice tree house built all around a real tree. The stairs climb all the way to the tree top and give you a nice view of the park.
The Pirates of the Caribbean ride – We loved it, all of us. There are other things to see of course but these were the main one for us at this part. The Adventureland is attached to another section of the park which is:
Frontierland – which is sort of a Disneyland version of the wild west.
Here the big hit among our family was the Big thunder mountain ride which was a lot of fun, even my 6 years old loved it and went on it twice. Not suitable for younger kids in my opinion. I also liked the Riverboat ride which was a nice way to calm down for 15 minutes:)
My kids were really looking forward to the Fantom Manor – however, it was closed for renovations at the time of our visit. The last section and the one we spent the least time in, is:
Discoveryland– It is located across the park from the previous two section, if you arrive at the gate it will be on your right.
The two main rides everyone loved there were:
The star tours and The Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
A few of the other seemingly fun rides were closed, and the same goes for the rest of the park, so always take that into consideration.
- Food – is a major issue when you travel with kids. There are places to eat all over the park and at the Disney village outside. We had a not so great experience at the Diner in the Disney village, so for the rest of our time there we ate inside the park. There are different places with a different price range. We went for the quick meals most of the time. There are big fast food centers in every section of the park, you can get burgers, chicken nuggets, salads, fries. Since we are vegetarians our options were slimmer but it was great to discover we can get veggie burgers there that the kids liked. We also tried the COCO inspired restaurant in the Frontierland section and it was great! it offers a fast food version of Mexican food, we were pleasantly surprised and the prices were very reasonable. Please note if you or your kids need Gluten free food – your options will be slim to none, so make other arrangements or be prepared to stick to salads and fries.
- Clothing – we visited the park in June – the weather was really nice most time, but it can occasionally rain. W- we brought plastic raincoats for the kids that we bought especially for that it was fantastic. The coats don’t take up any room in your backpack, weigh nothing, and do a great job keeping the kids dry. Other than that we were wearing long light trousers, short sleeved tops and we always carried a hoodie or a sweater for each of us in our backpack, because some parts of the park get chillier than others.
- WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES! you are going to stand and walk around a lot. If your little ones are not used to a lot of walking, there are some big kids strollers you can rent at the park.
- Lines – there are a lot of them, they are unavoidable. There is really no good way to get through them other than waiting patiently :). Some kids have more patience and do ok with lines, some get cranky. The earlier you get to the park the shorter the lines. We kept the kids busy at times, with games and yes with- our smartphones…
- Breath – it’s not easy being together 24/7, it’s not easy being away from the kid’s usual routines, it’s not easy being at a crowded noisy place for long hours every day. I personally needed a few moments of alone time, my husband, for example, needs it less. So at times when we were waiting for rides, the kids can go on with just one adult, I would take a coffee break on my own and sit at a quiet corner drink my coffee and do some people watching. Same goes for whenever one of the kids needed a break, we stopped sat together, talked about our day so far, ate something yummy and recharged a little. Don’t forget to stop and just look around and appreciate the fact that you are all there together.
This turned out to be a little long, but I hope it’s also useful!
Enjoy your summer and if you have any questions I would love to help.